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Breaking down the NBA free-agent point guard market

Keith Smith
·7-min read

Last season’s point guard pool was the deepest of all of the positions entering free agency. This year? Not so much. There are quality backups throughout, but there are only a few starters, and even fewer game-changing lead guards available whenever free agency does begin. Outside of the first few players on this list, most of the potential free-agent point guards will be looking at getting part of the mid-level exception or minimum contracts.

Top free agents: | Shooting guards | Small forwards | Power forwards | Center

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 21:  Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors dribbles the ball during the first half of an NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Scotiabank Arena on February 21, 2020 in Toronto, Canada.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Fred VanVleet will be the top point guard on the market. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

1. Fred VanVleet

Age: 26

VanVleet is the lone starting point guard that is expected to be available this summer. He’s got the ability to play on or off the ball, but is more of a true point guard than he is a shooting guard. In his first year as a full-time starter, VanVleet put together a career-year for the Raptors. He averaged 17.6 points and 6.6 assists per game this season as part of career-highs nearly across the board. A handful of the teams with cap space need a starting point guard, meaning VanVleet is a lock to cash in this summer. If VanVleet is back in Toronto, it’s likely a sign they see him taking over at point guard when Kyle Lowry’s contract is up after next season.

Fits with: Raptors, Knicks, Pistons, Suns, Hawks

2. Goran Dragic

Age: 34

For the first time since 2012, Dragic returned to a bench role, prior to opening games during the restart. The change rejuvenated him. He stayed healthy and his numbers are up across the board. Dragic is still a crafty scorer off the dribble and can knock down spot-up shots as well. Defensively, Dragic works well in a scheme where he can gamble for the occasional steal with bigs behind him to provide protection. With Miami having cap space this summer, but bigger hopes for the 2021 offseason, Dragic could cash in on a big one-year deal for what is likely his last big NBA payday.

Fits with: Heat, Hawks, Suns

3. Mike Conley (player option)

Age: 33

Conley has a player option for $34.5 million. His fit with Utah was a little bumpy, but he’s not opting out of that much money. Beyond that, Conley figured things out late in his first year with the Jazz Utah will hope that carries over to next season.

Fits with: Jazz

4. De’Anthony Melton (restricted)

Age: 22

You have to do some projecting here. Melton had a rough rookie season on a terrible Suns team in 2018-19. This year on a surprisingly good Grizzlies team, Melton mostly came off the bench but looked a lot better. He’s got a solid all-around offensive game, and has been a competitive defender. Given Memphis has Ja Morant and Tyus Jones locked in a point guard for the next few years, a decently sized offer sheet could steal Melton away.

Fits with: Grizzlies, Pistons, Knicks, Hawks, Suns

5. Kris Dunn (restricted)

Age: 26

Dunn was finally figuring out his ideal role in the NBA when his season was cut short due to a knee injury. Instead of playing as a pure lead guard, Dunn was slotted in as a combo guard with Tomas Satoransky and rookie Coby White handling most of the playmaking. Zach LaVine did a lot of the ball-handling as well. Dunn was able to focus on getting to the rim and playing defense. Those are skills he definitely has. Slot him as a combo guard next to some solid shooters, and maybe you find some success.

Dunn was finally figuring out his ideal role in the NBA when his season was cut short due to a knee injury. Instead of playing as a pure lead guard, Dunn was slotted in as a combo guard in Chicago with Tomas Satoransky and rookie Coby White handling most of the playmaking. Zach LaVine did a lot of the ball-handling as well. Dunn was able to focus on getting to the rim and playing defense. Those are skills he definitely has. Slot him as a combo guard next to some solid shooters, and maybe you find some success.

Fits with: Hawks, Suns, Pistons, Magic, Rockets

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 06: Jeff Teague #00 of the Atlanta Hawks dribbles against the Washington Wizards during the first half at Capital One Arena on March 06, 2020 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
Jeff Teague has value as a backup. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)

6. Jeff Teague

Age: 32

This is where the class falls off a bit. Teague was in the middle of a bounce-back season with Minnesota when he was traded to Atlanta. He’s probably a backup at this point in his career, but could be one of the better backup lead guards in the league. The ideal situation for him is probably to play 20-25 minutes a night with good scorers around him.

Fits with: Hawks, Suns, Rockets, Magic

7. Reggie Jackson

Age: 30

Jackson seemed to find new life after signing with the Los Angeles Clippers following his buyout from the Detroit Pistons. He shot the ball well in his limited action in LA. Carrying less of a load, Jackson also seemed to play freer. He almost looked like the guy everyone loved during his days with the Thunder. Jackson would be a great fit for any contender looking for backcourt depth, especially those where the starting point guard might have injury issues.

Fits with: Clippers, Rockets, Magic, Warriors, Lakers

8. D.J. Augustin

Age: 33

Augustin was replaced by Markelle Fultz as the Magic starter last season, as was always the hope. After two outstanding shooting seasons in Orlando, Augustin’s numbers slipped a bit. Some of that could be due to knee soreness he dealt with. At this point, Augustin is an ideal backup and a guy who can start for a few weeks if your starter goes down with an injury.

Fits with: Magic, Lakers, Warriors, Hawks

9. Michael Carter-Williams

Age: 29

The former Rookie of the Year winner rebuilt his career in Orlando. In 2018, Carter-Williams caught on following an injury to backup point guard Isaiah Briscoe. He played so well that the Magic re-signed him last summer. With Markelle Fultz taking over as the starter and D.J. Augustin behind him, Carter-Williams found himself playing a new role. He became Orlando’s defensive stopper off the bench, while functioning as a secondary playmaker on offense. Carter-Williams took over 61% of his shots in the paint, which makes up for his lack of a perimeter shot. At 6-foot-5 with good length, MCW might have finally found his role as a lite-version of a Tony Allen type of defender/playmaker.

Fits with: Magic, Hawks, Suns, Lakers

10. Shabazz Napier

Age: 29

It’s taken more years than expected, and several stops, but Napier finally blossomed this year into a solid NBA point guard. He was good for Minnesota as the starter and played even better following a trade to Washington. Napier’s shot is still streaky, but he’s good enough off the dribble to get in the paint to make plays. Like most others in this group, he should be a backup.

Fits with: Hawks, Suns, Wizards, Warriors

The Next Five

Rajon Rondo #9 of the Los Angeles Lakers with a three point basket against Austin Rivers #25 of the Houston Rockets during the first quarter in Game Two of the Western Conference Second Round
Rajon Rondo and Austin Rivers are both on the guard market this offseason. (Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

11. Austin Rivers (player option)

Age: 28

Fits with: Rockets, Lakers, Suns, Warriors

12. Rajon Rondo (player option)

Age: 34

Fits with: Lakers, Hawks, Magic, Nets

13. Brad Wanamaker (restricted)

Age: 31

Fits with: Celtics, Suns, Pistons, Rockets

14. Langston Galloway

Age: 29

Fits with: Pistons, Hawks, Suns, Knicks, Lakers

15. Yogi Ferrell

Age: 27

Fits with: Knicks, Suns, Hawks, Nets

Other free-agent point guards: JJ Barea, Jevon Carter (restricted), Matthew Dellavedova, Shaquille Harrison (restricted), Frank Jackson (restricted), Brandon Knight Emmanuel Mudiay, Raul Neto, Gary Payton II

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