The summer of free agency is rapidly approaching and and many rumors and intriguing possibilities have surfaced. Free agency is the most exciting part of the off-season, both for the players and the fans. It is a time where big name superstars and role players find themselves in a new city, playing with a brand new organization.
Last summer, we saw former Oklahoma City small forward, Kevin Durant, bolt for the opportunity to play in the Bay Area alongside 2-time MVP Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Miami Heat legend Dwayne Wade decided that being extremely underpaid in the city he brought three championships to was enough, as we saw him relocate to Chicago to sign with the Bulls for one season. Dwight Howard had a homecoming and headed East to join the Atlanta Hawks.
Free agency is also where we see many big name players with expiring contracts get rewarded for their high level of play by their original teams, who offer them newer and more lucrative contracts. The most notable players who re-signed or agreed to extensions with their teams are Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), Hassan Whiteside (Miami Heat), DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors), and Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons). The Memphis Grizzlies’ Mike Conley came away with the biggest pay-day, as he re-signed with Memphis on a 5 year, $153 million deal.
Here, we explore the top three point guards on the market this off-season, taking an in in depth look at their most recent seasons and what they have to offer.
Honorable Mentions: Jrue Holiday (Pelicans), George Hill (Jazz), Jeff Teague (Pacers), Derrick Rose (Knicks), Rajon Rondo (Bulls), and Patrick Mills (Spurs)
3) Kyle Lowry
Current Team: Toronto Raptors
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2016-2017 Earnings: $12,000,000
2016-2017 Season Statistics: 22.4 PPG, 7.0 APG, 4.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 46.4% FG, 41.2% 3P
Kyle Lowry had a pretty good season this past year for the Toronto Raptors. He scored a career best 22.4 points per game, while dishing out a solid 7 assists on a nightly basis. His shooting improved by a decent margin this year, as he improved his field goal percentage from 42.8% to 46.4%. Lowry also had his best season from beyond the arc this year, shooting 41.2%, marking the first time he has broken 40% from three in his career.
Alongside his back court counterpart DeMar DeRozan, Lowry led the Toronto Raptors to a 51-31 overall record, good for third seed in the Eastern Conference, trailing only the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers. On top of this, Lowry rightfully earned his third NBA All-Star nod this season, as he was voted in as a reserve by assistant coaches around the league.
Lowry has established himself as a reliable point guard who can distribute the ball and knock down jumpers, on top of his ability to get to the rim, while holding his own on defense. However, he seems set on the idea of leaving Toronto, and wishes to seek a roster spot on a championship contending teams. Earlier this month, Lowry was reported to have made it clear that he wants a ring. Expect him to sign with an immediate contender, such as the Spurs.
2) Chris Paul
Current Team: Los Angeles Clippers
Free Agent Status: Player Option
2016-2017 Earnings: $22,868,827
2016-2017 Season Statistics: 18.1 PPG, 9.2 APG, 5.0 RPG, 1.9 SPG, 47.6% FG, 41.1% 3P
Chris Paul just turned 32. Though he is out of his prime, Paul is still playing at a high level as one of the more elite guards in the league. He shot a career best 41.1% from three this season and dished out the 4th most assists per game in the league, with 9.2. Through the 61 games he played in over the course of the season, Chris Paul able to thrive as the leader of the team, whether it was finding the open man, hitting big shots, or playing aggressive defense.
Paul led Los Angeles to a 51-31 record, even with Blake Griffin out for a good portion of the season. However, Chris Paul missed the NBA All Star Game this year, marking the first time in nine seasons that he wasn’t named to the All Star roster. The Clippers ultimately locked up the 4th seed in the highly competitive Western Conference, but fell to the 5th seed Utah Jazz in seven games.
The Clippers will most likely try to keep their core players together and extend the life of Lob City, meaning Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan (who is already locked down). Paul is expected to opt out of his contract and re-sign with the team. However, in the case that he opts out and fields his options, we may see the 32 year old head south to San Antonio.
1) Stephen Curry
Current Team: Golden State Warriors
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2016-2017 Earnings: $12,112,359
2016-2017 Season Statistics: 25.3 PPG, 6.6 APG, 4.5 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 46.8% FG, 41.1% 3P
The back-to-back MVP saw his numbers slightly decline this year, which wasn’t surprising with the new addition of Kevin Durant to the Warriors star-studded roster. However, this did not mean much as the Charlotte native still had an impressive year. Over the course of 79 games this season, Curry averaged 25.3 points per game and drained a whopping 324 three pointers, earning him his 4th consecutive All-Star appearance.
The Golden State Warriors are currently engaged in a Western Conference Finals showdown with the San Antonio Spurs, with the Warriors being the heavy favorites. The Warriors went 67-15 this year, placing them atop the Western Conference at the one seed, along with home court advantage throughout the postseason. With the Warriors playing at such a high level, it is hard to see Curry turn down a max contract from them and play elsewhere, especially now that he is playing alongside Kevin Durant.