It’s a good year to need a contract in the NBA. This year’s free agents get the benefit of seeing a huge increase in the league’s salary cap. With TV revenues expanding the coffers, the cap is expected to rise from $70 to $94 million, higher than what was previously expected. That means more money for everyone, including the No. 1 player on everyone’s list, Kevin Durant.

But not everyone can afford a top-tier free agent like Durant, nor does every team require a superstar to get them into title contention. A need in free agency may be more specific — a playmaker to augment an already talented offensive scheme, for instance, or perhaps defensive help in the form of an imposing rim protector.

No matter what a team needs, here is a specialist who is available in free agency.

Perimeter shooters

Jerryd Bayless, G, unrestricted

Bayless took 4.4 three-point shots per game, accounting for more than half his total field goal attempts. A career 36.5 percent shooter from beyond the arc, Bayless might not hit the 43.7 percent he did this season, but he hit wide-open threes (45.9 percent) almost as well as when he was guarded (41.9 percent).

Eric Gordon, G, unrestricted

Gordon saw his three-point percentage dip from its 2014-15 levels, but he did take a career-high 6.5 long-range attempts per game, making a respectable 38.4 percent of them. He could help a team in need of a sharp-shooting guard in transition, where he posted a 59.2 percent eFG% during the regular season.

Mirza Teletovic, F, unrestricted

In his fourth season in the NBA, Teletovic hit 39.3 percent of his three-point attempts for Phoenix, bringing his career mark to 37.5 percent. He could also be counted on defensively, holding opponents to 34.9-percent shooting in spot-up situations.

Bradley Beal, G, Washington Wizards, restricted

Beal has trouble staying healthy, but his ability to knock down three-point shots has never been in question. He has consistently averaged better than four three-point attempts per game, and his 39.7-percent career mark is enough to make any defense respect his shot. Beal is especially good in the corners, having gone 22 for 47 during the regular season.

Evan Fournier, G/F, Orlando Magic, restricted

Fournier has steadily increased his three-point attempts without sacrificing his accuracy. He was one of 13 players this season to take four or more per game and hit 40 percent or higher.

Isaiah Canaan, G, Philadelphia 76ers, restricted

In his first full season with Philadelphia, Canaan took more than six three-point shot attempts per game — more than two-thirds of his field goals — and made 36.3 percent. Only one other NBA player has met or exceeded these marks before their 25th birthday, Atlanta’s Kyle Korver, showing how rare a talent Canaan can be.


Rajon Rondo, F, unrestricted

At 30 years old, Rondo showed he still has some gas left in the tank. The Kings guard made 74.2 passes per game — a league high — and created 27.1 points per game off of assists. His 21.5 potential assists, a measure of passes to a teammate who attempted a shot, was also a league high and almost two more per game than the next-best passer, John Wall (19.7 potential assists per game).

Ish Smith, G, unrestricted

Smith’s 64.2 passes per game led to 12.9 potential assists and 15.5 points per game. On a per-possession basis, the 76ers produced more in transition and the half court on those passes, not insignificant for a team that ranked dead last in points per 100 possessions (96.6).

Mike Conley, G, unrestricted

Conley led the Grizzlies in passes made per game (62) and significantly boosted the team’s scoring efficiency in transition (0.98 points per possession to 1.5) and in half-court sets (0.95 points per possession to 1.3) through his passing ability. He also reduced his turnover percentage to a career low 9.5 percent of possessions.

Marcelo Huertas, G, Los Angeles Lakers, restricted

Huertas has just one year of NBA experience, but at 32 years old, the Brazilian national team player doesn’t look like a rookie when creating opportunities for his teammates. During the regular season he led the team in points created by assists (8.1) and would be a welcomed addition to any team struggling to create offense out of the pick-and-roll.

Tim Frazier, G, New Orleans Pelicans, restricted

Frazier changed jerseys a lot over his two years in the NBA, making stops in Philadelphia, Portland and New Orleans, and saw his assists per game drop from 5.5 to 3.2 in just one season. He had a potential assist-to-pass ratio of 23.5 percent in his sophomore year in the NBA, though, on par with his performance during his rookie year (25.2 percent).

Get him on an above-average shooting team and he could be a great bargain.

Evan Fournier, G/F, Orlando Magic, restricted

At 6 feet 7 and 205 pounds, Fournier can play shooting guard or small forward, versatility that is rewarded in today’s modern NBA. His usage remained constant in 2015-16 (he played a role in 20.1 percent of Orlando’s offensive plays) yet he improved his assists to a career-high 2.7 per game.


Hassan Whiteside, C, unrestricted

Whiteside set career highs in points (14.2) and rebounds (11.8) per game this season, with 44.9 percent of those rebounds contested. The 7-foot center also scored 1.2 points per possession on put-backs off of offensive rebounds during the regular season and playoffs combined.

Zaza Pachulia, C, unrestricted

Pachulia averaged 26.4 minutes per game in Dallas and led the team in both offensive (3.3) and defensive (6.2) rebounds per game. More than two-thirds of his offensive rebounds were contested but he was below average in scoring off put backs (0.91 points per possession), so any team looking to add him to its roster will need to compensate in that regard.

Joakim Noah, C, unrestricted

A former defensive player of the year, Noah has played just 96 games over the past two seasons. When he was on the court, the Bulls grabbed 54.7 percent of available rebounds, compared to 49.3 percent with him on the bench.

Andre Drummond, C, Detroit Pistons, restricted

Drummond led the league in total rebounds (1,198), grabbing 139 more than DeAndre Jordan. Not many of those were contested (43 percent), but he managed to score more than half the time on 58.7 percent of put-backs, averaging 1.07 points per possession on those plays.

Jared Sullinger, PF, Boston Celtics, restricted

Sullinger, a third-year pro out of Ohio State, set a career high in rebounds per game (8.3) and accounted for 27 percent of all defensive rebounds for the Celtics when he was on the floor.

Festus Ezeli, C, Golden State Warriors, restricted

Ezeli isn’t someone you want to build an offense around, but his 5.6 rebounds per game and 52.1 percent shooting off of put-backs can be used to strengthen a squad that’s lacking on the glass.

Rim protection

Hassan Whiteside, C, unrestricted

Hassan Whiteside led the NBA in blocked shots (269), and it wasn’t particulary close — there was as big a gap between Whiteside and DeAndre Jordan, who finished second with 177, as there was between Jordan and Kevin Durant, who finished tied for 30th with 85.

Plus, opponents who tried to shoot against Whiteside within six feet of the basket saw their field-goal percentage drop by 10.7 points, going from a robust 60.4 percent to a worrisome 49.7 percent. That helped Whiteside save the most points per game at the rim (2.27) than any other NBA player.

Al Horford, C, unrestricted

The league as a whole shot 60.3 percent at the rim during the 2015-16 regular season. Against Horford, players made just 49.4 percent of their attempts. He was also strong defensively in the low post, allowing 0.76 points per possession on 37.8 percent shooting. And after seeing Cleveland win a title, who wouldn’t want this defense against Kevin Love on their team?

Bismack Biyombo, C/F, unrestricted

Biyombo has been on three teams in four seasons, but at every stop he has blocked at least one shot per game and holds opponents that otherwise shoot 60.8 percent within six feet of the basket to a 47.8 field goal percentage.

Andre Drummond, C, Detroit Pistons, restricted

Drummond blocked 1.4 shots per game and was a defensive stalwart near the rim. Opponents that regularly shot 60.4 percent within six feet of the basket saw their success rate drop to 58 percent against Drummond. At the rim, that dropped even lower, to 52.6 percent.

Jared Sullinger, PF, Boston Celtics, restricted

Sullinger held opponents to 54.3-percent shooting at the rim and was not afraid to step out to midrange to block a shot.

Festus Ezeli, C, Golden State Warriors, restricted

After Whiteside, Ezeli saved the most points per game (2.02) because of his ability to protect the rim. No player saved more points per 36 minutes (4.32).

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