Which NBA free agents will provide the most value over their next contract?
Changes to the collective bargaining agreement, which make extensions a bigger tool for players and teams, have taken some of the luster off free agency. In a different scenario, Most Valuable Player award winners Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic and LeBron James could have become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Instead, all three will begin lucrative extensions in 2023-24.
Free agency remains an important tool for teams looking to change their fortunes. So let's take a look at the top players available by my multiyear SCHOENE player projections, which factor performance over the past three seasons and the development of similar players at the same age and utilize adjusted plus-minus data from NBAshotcharts.com to incorporate value not captured by the box score.
The results are projections for how much value — wins above replacement player (WAR) — players will provide over the next three seasons, which is about the average length of new contracts in free agency. The rankings are dominated at the top by point guards, with the top three players all lead ball handlers.
Who follows them? Let's break it down.
1. Kyrie Irving | Dallas Mavericks | G
- Unrestricted free agent
- Projected WAR: 29.7
When Irving is on the court, he remains a star contributor. During the 20 games he played with the Mavericks after the trade deadline, Irving was two 3-pointers away from 50/40/90 shooting splits. Although Dallas' season collapsed after the deal, that was primarily due to what happened when Irving was on the bench; the Mavericks were outscored by 10 points per 100 possessions with Irving sitting, according to NBA Advanced Stats.