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John Schuhmann

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Carlos Boozer and Chris Bosh can't carry a team but both can be a strong No. 2.
Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images

Free agents by the numbers: A look at the bigs


Posted Jun 26 2010 9:33AM

The Lakers are the champs and John Wall is the No. 1 pick. Now is when the real fun begins.

Free agency starts on July 1, and with it the promise of an eventful summer. When it comes to this illustrious free-agent class, it's clear who's at the top of the list. But once you get past the stars, a deeper look at the numbers can help you find more value. A guy that has been productive in limited minutes might just need the right opportunity.

Over three days, we'll break down the top free agents. We won't do it by position, but by role, because there's a big difference in what point guards Carlos Arroyo and Nate Robinson bring to the table.

Earlier this week we looked at the alpha males and floor generals. Today, we go inside, starting with the big men who draw the most attention. Then we look at the guys who provide support.

Notes:

Players are ranked by efficiency per 40 minutes (EP40), with a minimum of 1,000 minutes played in the 2009-10 season.

Efficiency = Pts. + Reb. + Ast. + Stl. + Blk. -- TO -- missed FG -- missed FT

All ages are as of July 1.

POST PRESENCES

Beyond LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in this free agent class is a strong group of big men. None of them are great defenders or can carry a team to the Finals by themselves, but the top three guys below could certainly be the second best player on a championship squad. They're All-Star caliber and they can draw a double-team, which is key to offensive success in this league.

1. Chris Bosh, 26 years old, Toronto Raptors
24.0 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.97 BPG, .518 FG%, 29.6 EP40

No player in the league averaged more points and rebounds than Bosh did this season. He had the best statistical season of his career, ranking fourth in the league in efficiency per game.

Bosh likes to work out of the high post and he's a solid shooter out to 20 feet (he shot 48 percent from 15-19 feet this season). He can also find the open man when he's doubled.

Defense is another story. Bosh isn't a horrible defender, but he isn't a difference maker on that end either. The Raptors were the worst defensive team in the league this past season, a significant blemish on Bosh's otherwise strong resume.

2. Carlos Boozer, 28 years old, Utah Jazz
19.5 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 3.2 APG, 0.46 BPG, .562 FG%, 29.5 EP40

Boozer is one of the best low-post players in the league and a double-double machine. He also ranked sixth among all forwards in assists per game this season and like Bosh, he shoots the ball well out to 20 feet.

But even more than with Bosh, defense is a problem with Boozer. The Jazz were a much better defensive team with him on the bench than they were with him on the floor. Speaking of Boozer on the bench, he has averaged just 59 games in his six seasons in Utah.

3. Amar'e Stoudemire, 27 years old, Phoenix Suns
23.1 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.01 BPG, .557 FG%, 27.2 EP40

Stoudemire is a physical specimen. He has worked his way back from a pair of major injuries and made himself a solid mid-range shooter. But because the Suns have run such a unique system for most of the last six years, you can't know exactly how well he'll fit in on another team.

He's not necessarily a guy who can go to work in the low post. A high percentage of his shots are assisted and he has an awful assist-turnover ratio of 0.38. He's obviously more comfortable running pick-and-rolls and scoring on the move.

The Suns have been a bad defensive team over the last several years and Stoudemire is one of the reasons. He gets a block per game, but doesn't give you much more than that defensively. He isn't a great rebounder on that end either.

4. Shaquille O'Neal, 38 years old, Cleveland Cavaliers
12.0 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.17 BPG, .566 FG%, 23.5 EP40

Not many teams can match his size, so O'Neal will still draw some attention in the low post. But as it was with the Cavs this season, feeding him the ball might be more of a disruption to your offense. Cleveland was both a better offensive and defensive team with O'Neal on the bench than they were with him on the floor. At this point in his career, he still has some value, but it won't be easy to find a good fit.

5. Luis Scola, 30 years old, Houston Rockets (Restricted)
16.2 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.32 BPG, .514 FG%, 23.0 EP40

With Yao Ming out for the season, Scola got almost 300 shots than he did a year earlier. But even with the extra workload, he scored efficiently. He's got a polished low-post game and is a solid shooter out to 16 feet or so.

Scola is older than the first three guys on this list, but he's durable, having played every game in his three years in the NBA. He's a restricted free agent, but the Rockets just used a lottery pick on Patrick Patterson, a power forward who's ready to contribute right away.

WILDCARD

Yao Ming, 29 years old, Houston Rockets
2008-09 Stats: 19.7 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.95 BPG, .548 FG%, 28.4 EP40

It's hard to imagine that Yao would exercise the early termination option in his contract or seriously consider leaving Houston if he did exercise it, but at this point, there has been no definitive word as to what his plans are.

After missing just two games in his first three seasons in the league, he's averaged just 47 over the last five. The Rockets missed him more on the defensive end than they did offensively. They were the fourth best defensive team in 2008-09 (when he played 77 games) and the 17th best this season.

INTERIOR ROLE PLAYERS

This is the most abundant free agent category, and there's a need for two or three good ones on every roster. You're not asking these guys to score a lot and you're not running plays for them. You just need them to do the dirty work, like set screens, grab rebounds, rotate defensively and block shots. There's quality in this list below, but you might have to look past a couple of guys with hollow numbers.

1. David Lee, 27 years old, New York Knicks
20.2 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 3.6 APG, 0.49 BPG, .545 FG%, 29.0 EP40

Yes, Lee has been playing in Mike D'Antoni's system. And yes, defense is certainly an issue. But Lee's numbers stand out among all big men, not just free agents. He ranked third in the league (behind only James and Kevin Durant) in efficiency per game (27.0).

No matter what system he's playing in, Lee has become much more than a rebounder over the last two seasons. He's one of the better pick-and-roll big men in the league, a good shooter out to 15 or 16 feet, and a decent passer as well. He's head and shoulders above the rest of this list.

2. Drew Gooden, 28 years old, Los Angeles Clippers
10.9 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.83 BPG, .478 FG%, 22.8 EP40

The key statistic for Gooden may be the number of teams he's played on over the last two seasons: five. He spent time with the Mavs and Clippers this season and both were much worse teams with him on the floor, especially defensively. Solid individual numbers don't make up for that.

3. Amir Johnson, 23 years old, Toronto Raptors
6.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.80 BPG, .623 FG%, 22.5 EP40

Johnson's not a starter on a playoff team, but you could do a lot worse when looking to sign guys for your second unit. Johnson played almost 1,500 minutes off the bench for the Raptors this season, and they were a better team, especially defensively, with him on the floor. Just don't ask him to shoot from beyond five feet.

4. Jermaine O'Neal, 31 years old, Miami Heat
13.6 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.36 BPG, .529 FG%, 22.3 EP40

O'Neal's market value took a hit in the playoffs, when he shot just 9-for-44 against the Celtics, but he had a solid regular season, his best statistically since 2006-07. He's not going to draw many double-teams in the post anymore, but he's still a pretty efficient scorer and not many players defend the rim as well as he does.

5. Craig Smith, 26 years old, Los Angeles Clippers
7.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.33 BPG, .569 FG%, 22.1 EP40

Smith is similar to Johnson, just more earthbound. He'll give you solid minutes off the bench, and is a little bit more of a scorer than a rebounder, averaging 19.0 points per 40 minutes.

6. Tyrus Thomas, 23 years old, Charlotte Bobcats (Restricted)
9.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.57 BPG, .462 FG%, 22.1 EP40

Thomas has some great physical gifts, but he hasn't quite figured out how to use them yet. Among free agents power forwards who played at least 1,000 minutes this season, he was the second worst shooter. And for some reason, he took 45 percent of his shots from eight feet and beyond. He also averaged more than three turnovers in less than 23 minutes per game. Still, he's just 23 years old.

7. Brendan Haywood, 30 years old, Dallas Mavericks
9.1 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 0.6 APG, 2.05 BPG, .562 FG%, 22.0 EP40

Haywood ranked fourth in the league in blocks per game and both teams that he played for this season were better defensively when he was on the floor. He's limited on the offensive end, but if you surround him with enough scoring, he can start and be the defensive anchor of a good team.

8. Louis Amundson, 27 years old, Phoenix Suns
4.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 0.4 APG, 0.92 BPG, .551 FG%, 20.8 EP40

Amundson was the guy doing the dirty work on the best second unit in the league. He knows his limitations; Two thirds of his shots came right at the rim.

9. Kris Humphries, 25 years old, New Jersey Nets
7.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.70 BPG, .441 FG%, 20.4 EP40

Humphries has a $3.2 million player option for next season that he probably should exercise. He's the only free agent power forward that shot worse than Thomas this past season. An energy guy, Humphries has solid scoring and rebounding numbers (15.9 points and 12.4 boards per 40 minutes), but like Thomas, his basketball IQ leaves a lot to be desired.

10. Udonis Haslem, 30 years old, Miami Heat
9.9 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.29 BPG, .494 FG%, 19.5 EP40

Haslem will probably get a better contract than everybody but Lee on this list. His lack of blocked shots is one of the main reasons he's so far down, but he's a solid defender. You would just like a slightly better shooting percentage from your power forward.

11. Ben Wallace, 35 years old, Detroit Pistons
5.5 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.22 BPG, .541 FG%, 19.4 EP40

Wallace reportedly thought about retiring a year ago. Instead, he returned to Detroit and had his best season since he left in 2006. The numbers above don't come close to measuring the impact he has defensively. The Pistons were a solid defensive team with him on the floor and a terrible one with him on the bench.

12. Kenyon Martin, 32 years old, Denver Nuggets
11.5 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.05 BPG, .456 FG%, 19.2 EP40

Coming off another knee injury, it's doubtful that Martin will exercise his early termination option and give back the $17 million left on his contract. When healthy, he's a beast defensively and on the boards, but he's averaged just 54 games in his six seasons in Denver.

13. Anthony Tolliver, 25 years old, Golden State Warriors (Restricted)
11.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.72 BPG, .430 FG%, 19.0 EP40

Playing at the Warriors' pace, Tolliver's stats are inflated.

14. Josh Boone, 25 years old, New Jersey Nets (Restricted)
4.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.76 BPG, .525 FG%, 18.9 EP40

Shooting 33 percent from the free-throw line, Boone's numbers are deflated.

15. Hakim Warrick, 27 years old, Chicago Bulls
9.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.24 BPG, .482 FG%, 18.1 EP40

Warrick took 47 percent of his shots from eight feet and beyond, and made just 37 percent of them.

16. Tyson Chandler, 27 years old, Charlotte Bobcats
6.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 0.3 APG, 1.08 BPG, .574 FG%, 18.1 EP40

Chandler has an early-termination option on a contract set to pay him $12.6 million next season.

17. Zydrunas Ilgauskas, 35 years old, Cleveland Cavaliers
7.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.78 BPG, .443 FG%, 17.9 EP40

If you need a 7-foot-3, slow-footed veteran who shoots better from beyond the arc (48 percent) than he does from inside it (44 percent), Z's your guy.

18. Brad Miller, 35 years old, Chicago Bulls
8.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.78 BPG, .430 FG%, 17.8 EP40

In 2008-09, Miller took 56 3-pointers and made 41 percent of them. This season, he took 132 3-pointers and made 28 percent of them.

19. Kurt Thomas, 37 years old, Milwaukee Bucks
3.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.66 BPG, .476 FG%, 17.5 EP40

Derrick Favors was four years old when Thomas played his first NBA game.

20. Juwan Howard, 37 years old, Portland Trail Blazers
6.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.14 BPG, .509 FG%, 14.7 EP40

Howard had more double-doubles this season (two) than he had in the last two seasons combined (zero).

21. Joel Anthony, 27 years old, Miami Heat
2.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 0.2 APG, 1.36 BPG, .478 FG%, 13.8 EP40

Anthony is a very good interior defender (3.31 blocks per 40 minutes), but not much else.

WILDCARD

Ian Mahinmi, 23 years old, San Antonio Spurs
3.9 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.5 APG, 0.31 BPG, .636 FG%, 27.7 EP40

If you're looking for a (very) hidden gem in free agency, this guy may be it. Mahinmi has played just 189 minutes in his two seasons in the league, but they've been productive. He scored 24.3 points and grabbed 12.5 rebounds per 40 minutes this season.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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