The 2020 NBA free-agent class isn’t seen as anything special, mostly due to the fact that 2021 being great, so many teams seem to be preparing for that and not looking into this summer’s class. There are, however, a couple of sneaky good free agents that contending teams must take a look at.
The Australian-born Aron Baynes is entering his mid-30s but is in the midst of one of his better seasons in the league. He’s often been a role player, most notably for the San Antonio Spurs in their prime mid-2010s years, but he’s grown every season since.
He’s not a starter in this league. At least not for a team with playoff or even championship potential. Baynes, however, is as good of a back-up center as a team could want. First of all, he’s one of the toughest players in the league. He welcomes any defensive match-up and plays with energy and hustle almost second to none. His desire to win is clear. With this in mind, don’t be surprised if he decides to depart from the Phoenix Suns this summer.
He’s split time as a starter and back-up this season, due to Deandre Ayton’s suspension, but his averages are great. In 22 minutes of play, he’s averaging roughly 11 points and six rebounds per game. A great facet of his game, however, is his ability to stretch the floor. Baynes is shooting 35 percent from three this season, and although this isn’t elite, he offers something many centers cannot.
A great fit for him would be the Houston Rockets. They can commit to a small-ball starting line-up, but bring Baynes off the bench for size and added three-point shooting.
It’s important to note that Malik Beasley is a restricted free agent. He never truly got his chance to break out while with the Denver Nuggets, but his trade to the Minnesota Timberwolves showed his true potential. This season he’s averaging 11 points, three rebounds, and an assist per game on a 43-39-82 shooting split. His last ten games with Minnesota, before the season’s postponement, he averaged 20 points, five rebounds, and two assists per game on a 47-42-70 shooting split.
At just 23-years-old, Beasley is still only going to improve. He’s a very athletic defender with a strong shooting stroke. He’d be a great weapon off the bench, but if his time with the Timberwolves indicates anything, Beasley is ready to start.
Don’t be surprised if Minnesota does everything they can to retain Beasley. He’s a great role player to have alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell. If he leaves, however, the Los Angeles Lakers would be a great spot for him for contention if they trade the underperforming Danny Green.
Christian Wood still hasn’t gotten the respect he deserves, at least outside of the Detroit Pistons fanbase. He’s transformed into a legitimate starter in his third season, averaging 13 points, six rebounds, and a block this season. Keep in mind, however, that he spent the majority of the season behind Andre Drummond.
Once Wood was unleashed after the Drummond trade, he played like an All-Star. He averaged 24 points, 10 rebounds, and a block per game in the Pistons’ last ten games. He’s got the size necessary to succeed as a big man, and also plenty of athleticism. More improvement and flashes of brilliance were expected of him prior to the season’s postponement, and the belief he had from within the Pistons organization was likely a major factor in them trading Drummond for pennies on the dollar.
Wood may choose to stay with the Pistons given their commitment to him. With this being said, however, the Pistons are years away from being considered contenders. If winning is what’s most appealing to him right now, he would form a fearful front court duo alongside Pascal Siakam with the Toronto Raptors. He might top the list of sneaky good free agents.
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