It’s very easy to forget just how talented the NBA is.
Every single player in the association, from the superstars to the two-way guys, is one of the very best in the world at their profession. Even a G-Leaguer would look like they have superpowers if matched up against your average joe at the park. With opportunity, any player could have a big night under the bright lights. Just look at Cam Thomas, who seldom received playing time to start this season before scoring 40+ points in three straight games when given a chance.
The downside to the stacked state of the league is that NBA-caliber ballers are left sitting in the free-agency pool. Guys who were contributing to rotations just a year ago lost their spots altogether due to the overload of talent (which raises the argument for expansion, but that’s a conversation for another time). That said, the trade deadline created a lot of job openings across the league, which means we should see some of them back soon. Here are seven free agents worthy of filling those spots.
The only player in NBA history to notch a 50/50/100 season (who also hasn’t missed from the charity stripe since 2019), Tony Snell is a reliable and efficient catch-and-shoot threat who could fit in a lineup with any star player. The 6’6″ forward is a career 41% shooter from the corner, the best bang-for-your-buck shot in basketball, and a key weapon in any great offense’s attack. He’s low-maintenance, gives effort on defense, and would provide solid wing depth for a contender come playoff time.
Potential Fits: Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets
An undrafted free agent in 2017, Dozier broke out as a rotation player with the Denver Nuggets. Unfortunately, a torn ACL last year knocked him out of the league, and, outside of a cup of tea with the Kings, he hasn’t gotten another chance since which should not be the case. The South Carolina product is a 6’6″ off-guard with Inspector Gadget arms that he uses to create turnovers on defense. On the other end, he’s a smart secondary ball-handler and connective passer. He’s tearing it up in the G-League this season, averaging 20/6/4 for the Iowa Wolves, and deserves to return to the NBA.
Potential Fits: Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz
Nwaba is a six-year veteran who has only been to the playoffs once in his career (which was with the Nets in 2020- they were swept in the first round), so he hasn’t yet been able to prove his value to winning. His claim to fame is on the defensive end, where he uses his athleticism and strength to bother opponents on the ball and rotate over to swat shots. FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR metic has consistently pegged Nwaba as a positive defender and the tape backs it up. While his lackluster three-point jumper (32% on 1.1 attempts per game for his career) would make it tough to give him significant minutes in the postseason, his defense would be valuable to any team looking to boost their play on that side of the ball.
Potential Fits: Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings, Miami Heat
Duane Washington Jr.
Almost every player in the NBA can knock down a spot-up triple, but the true specialists can get their buckets in a variety of ways and young guard Duane Washington Jr. fits that description. He’s a smooth movement shooter who can fly off screens and absolutely oozes confidence; he’s never met a shot he doesn’t like. His pull-up three-point percentage this season with the Suns (before he was waived) ranks in the 88th percentile (via BBall Index). Washington is just 22 years old with real offensive upside and is undoubtedly worth taking a flier on for a rebuilding organization.
Potential Fits: Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets
While they aren’t flashy, the value of high-energy hustle guys cannot be understated in basketball. Terry Taylor, an undrafted two-year man who played his college ball at Austin Peay State, is just that. He’s listed at 6’5″ but rebounds like he’s 7’7″, giving non-stop heart whenever he’s on the hardwood. Players like him are hard to come across but any team would love to have one and Taylor should definitely be picked up.
Potential Fits: Miami Heat, Charlotte Hornets, Memphis Grizzlies
In a 2021 interview, Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. had this to say about his teammate Armoni Brooks: “He’s the best shooter I’ve ever seen in my life. I swear to god.” While that was an exaggeration, Brooks has proven that he has the torch from outside the arc. He shot 38% from three-point land on eight tries per contest in his rookie campaign with Houston and is posting equally impressive numbers in the G-League this year. He’s shown some scrappiness defensively as well and could aid any team that needs shot-making.
Potential Fits: Washington Wizards, Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers
Like Washington and Brooks, Cannady is another sniper from deep range. The former G-League Finals MVP has had two short stints with the Orlando Magic and brought his strap with him- he connected on 15 of his 37 three-point attempts in five outings last season, a 40% clip. However, he’s never had a real chance, partially due to a severe ankle injury he suffered in 2021. His time should come soon though as he continues to scorch nets in the G.