2022 NBA Free-Agent Rankings: Harden, Beal, Lavine Among Top-10 Guards
Many marquee players who were tipped by nearly every sportsbook to enter the open market during 2022 have now signed extensions. Therefore, the free-agent crop for next summer isn’t quite as impressive as expected. Nevertheless, no shortage of high-quality players could be available, so who is on the cards to be free agents for next July’s NBA season?
What Should I Know About NBA Free Agents?
NBA free agents are players who can sign up with a new team during the next season. There are 2 types of free agents – unrestricted and restricted.
Most free agents will be of the unrestricted type who can sign up to any team they desire without any questions asked. However, a few free agents are restricted in the National Basketball Association – mostly young players who are coming to the end of their first contract.
While unrestricted free agents can negotiate freely with other teams and sign up for a contract with the team of their choice, a restricted free agent cannot. Although they can negotiate freely, they can only sign an offer sheet, not a contract. The player’s original team can then decide whether or not to match the other team’s offer. Thus keeping the player on their team but under the same terms agreed with the other team, with the caveat of a one-year predetermined salary based on several factors that the team must have offered the player. Should the team revoke the qualifying offer, then the player will become an unrestricted free agent. Should the player sign the offer, they will become an unrestricted free agent following the next season.
Who Are the 11 Best NBA Free Agents for 2022?
According to the best basketball bookies listed on BetZillion, the top 10 best NBA free agents for 2022 are lined up to be some big names. These include:
1. James Harden – Brooklyn Nets
This top-tier NBA passer and scorer has an impressive driving ability thanks to a strong right shoulder. He is one of the most needed players for all teams.
2. Bradley Beal – Washington Wizards
Over the past few years, Bradley Beal has turned into an impressive 2-guard, becoming a great scorer who can hit even the most difficult jumpers. It puts him in a very strong position next season.
3. Kyrie Irving – Brooklyn Nets
This crafty ball-handler can hit all kinds of jumpers, even hard-to-contest fadeaways, and quick pull-ups.
4. Zach LaVine – Chicago Bulls
This athlete has amazing leaping prowess and has spent the past few years bringing the remainder of his game up to match this impressive ability.
5. Russell Westbrook – Los Angeles Lakers
Although Westbrook may lack efficiency to his 20-point triple-doubles, he remains a great player who puts in some serious effort with every game.
6. Dennis Schroder – Boston Celtics
Having turned down the lucrative Lakers extension offer before battling COVID, Schroder is ready to recoup his lost wages with an appealing deal.
7. Collin Sexton – Cleveland Cavaliers
A truly polarizing player. Sexton is a major offensive weapon but has failed to improve the stats for the Cavs since signing for them.
8. John Wall – Houston Rockets
With a huge $47.4 million player option for the 2022/23 campaign, Wall’s free-agent appeal is significantly limited following his terrifying injury history.
9. Victor Oladipo – Miami Heat
Victor was named as the MIP (Most Improved Player) for the league just 3 years ago. Oladipo has since seen his career derailed by several injuries, including surgery on a torn quad tendon, which could be sidelined for some time.
10. Gary Harris – Orlando Magic
Dealt with Orlando from Denver at last March’s deadline. Harris has a single year left of his 4-year 2018 contract that he signed for $84 million. A versatile and solid, 2-way player, Harris has struggled with his health over recent years and will need to put up some substantial numbers over the season to come.
11. DeAndre Ayton – Phoenix Suns
A new contender has also entered the rankings for 2022 Free Agents – DeAndre Ayton. The Center for the Phoenix Suns hoped to extend his contract with the team, expecting to scoop a maximum salary deal. However, Robert Sarver, the team’s owner, refused point-blank to offer him one, and that means that no agreement was reached by the rookie scale extension deadline. With that in mind, it appears Ayton is set to become a 2022 restricted free agent.
A stalemate was reported between Ayton and the Suns’ ownership group a couple of weeks ago. The representatives for the 23-year-old player believed their client should receive a similar commitment to that received by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Trae Young, and Luka Doncic from their teams. Unfortunately, the group thought that Ayton hadn’t reached the same level as these young stars and was only prepared to extend him a qualifying offer.
Of course, that qualifying offer is nothing to be sniffed at – it’s worth an impressive $16,4MM – possibly the biggest QO in the history of the NBA. However, it’s unlikely that Ayton will accept the offer, and he will, therefore, almost certainly be free to consider alternative free agency options.
An Ever-Evolving List
Of course, any NBA enthusiast knows that the list of potential free agents for 2022 is constantly evolving and changing, and who knows who will appear or disappear from its rankings within the next few months. After all, we need only look at last season’s disappointments with several of the most tipped players signing up to extensions unexpectedly to see how quickly things can change in the world of top-level basketball.
Meanwhile, bettors and basketball bookmakers alike will be waiting with bated breath to find out what will happen over the next weeks and months and whether there will be any clues as to which the biggest and most impressive moves for next season will be. There’s perhaps no better time to place a wager on the outcome that you think is most likely, so why not take a punt today?