A certain level of clarity has been achieved for the 2023 NBA Free Agency offseason now that the contract extension deadline is over. Brandon Clarke and De’Andre Hunter were among the players from the 2019 NBA Draft class to reach extensions at the last minute, taking star players off the board before they even had a chance to test the open market.
Each of these players has the potential to develop, even if it is restricted to a specific function compared to some of their rivals. They will all become free agents between the ages of 22 and 25, enabling them to realise their potential in a new location.
1. Jaxon Hayes
Jaxson Hayes, a centre with the New Orleans Pelicans, has had his early career marred by off-court troubles, but when engaged, he is a productive young centre. His lifetime field goal percentage is 63.4%, and at 6 feet 11, he has exceptional athleticism. Hayes is adept at moving around the court on both sides of the floor. Hayes unquestionably possesses the skills necessary to succeed in a second deal, yet his basics still need to be refined, and it’s unknown how much further he can advance. Compared to other positions, teams often need to be more patient while developing rookie centres. However, the Pelicans already have a vast salary sheet and are in a win-now mentality.
2. Rui Hachimura
Rui Hachimura, a forward for the Washington Wizards, had a challenging 2021–22 year. Hachimura didn’t appear quite right upon his return to the lineup after missing the first half of the year due to personal concerns. Nevertheless, Hachimura, who is 6-foot-8, has always been a valuable defender thanks to his sturdy build and uncommonly rapid lateral movement for a man his stature. The 24-year-situation old’s wasn’t entirely horrible, too.
His field goal attempts were reduced, with him mostly coming off the bench. He converted 49.1% of his shots and 44.7% of deep shots (55 out of 123). He exudes confidence when attempting spot-up mid-range jumpers or posts fadeaways, which will keep a defence on its toes in critical situations.
3. Matisse Thybulle
The top restricted free agent to pursue in 2023 is Matisse Thybulle if your squad needs a defensive boost and has some extra cash to burn. Although his all-around game is improving with time, no one is bringing him to their team as a premier playmaker or scoring option. He is good at spreading the floor out and cutting for easy baskets, but he is more of a modern-day defensive specialist.
In seven categories of their perimeter defence rankings, including on-ball defence, ball screen navigation, passing lane defence, and off-ball pursuing, the Basketball Index placed Thybulle at A+ or better. His value in the NBA free-agent market will indicate how much the league values defence in this contemporary, perimeter-focused game.
4. Darius Bazley
Bazley knows how to get himself open and put defenders on their heels, despite being a much less skilled playmaker than the renowned sixth man.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t improved his efficiency to the necessary level. In the 2021–22 season, Bazley shot a career-high 42.2% from the field despite being limited to a lower usage rate than the previous year.
In all likelihood, Oklahoma City would have zero trouble matching a deal on the prerequisite of Darius cultivating a certain level of maturity as a player and developing the capacity to impact the game off the ball.
5. P.J Washington
Given the circumstances in Charlotte, fourth-year forward P.J. Washington should reasonably anticipate more shot attempts and playing time this season, just in time for him to compete for a high-priced contract. Washington, who was moved to the bench, was very efficient on 2-point field goals, making 11.3% more than in the previous seasons.
Washington is a skilled shooter and is active close to the rim. He doesn’t have the most incredible natural talent on the defensive side of the ball, but he consistently gives it his all. Furthermore, despite being selected in a less-than-ideal circumstance, Washington has been a net asset for all three years.
6. Cam Reddish
Reddish has 17 more turnovers in his career than assists, although he shoots 38.7% from the field overall. His career 3-point percentage is 32.5, which is poor for a player whose baseline function in the league was projected to be 3-and-D. It will be challenging for Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau to assign Reddish a position in the upcoming season.
Due to these variables, it will be challenging for Reddish to establish himself before becoming a restricted free agent. But a team with a lot of cap space might be eager to shell out the cash required to lure him away from New York.
7. Coby White
Coby White, a combo guard for the Chicago Bulls, is the latest player to be the subject of trade rumours. He still hasn’t decided on his position with the franchise that selected him. He has been forced back into the lineup by injuries, but it is evident that the team hasn’t been impressed enough to give him any priority thus far. He will then join NBA free agency in 2023 as the highest-drafted player from his class.
White is an excellent choice for most teams because of his fearlessness and great shot-creation potential. In some ways, it would make the most sense for him to be the sixth man for a successful club, but he also presents a high-upside swing for a rebuilding team that needs guard help, such as the San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder. As the year progresses and trade deadline rumblings arise, anticipate White to be mentioned in more trade speculations.
8. Cam Johnson
Cameron Johnson, who was already among the top shooters in basketball, was a player on whom the Phoenix Suns outwardly appeared to reach on draught night. Since then, the 6-foot-8 forward has shot brilliantly and shown why he was chosen in the lottery. Now that Jae Crowder has asked to be traded, he is being used as a full-time starter for the first time.
In turn, Johnson has a great chance to make money thanks to his superb shooting and covertly effective defence. His age—26—plays against him since teams may question how much farther he can advance in this league. But because he draws and moves so well off the ball, it may not really matter.
9. Grant Williams
Grant Williams of the Boston Celtics was one of the unexpected stars of the 2021–22 campaign. He had the finest shooting year of his career and based his price tag on it. This ultimately resulted in negotiations between the Celtics and his representatives, according to Keith Smith. There is much pressure on the 6-foot-6 forward, who personifies the nickname “Swiss Army Knife,” to perform well in the forthcoming season.
Williams can always count on being an impact defender and a sensible player in general who chooses his spots well and competes at the highest level, however. Other players can make an impact on a game without stuffing the stat sheet, but on some nights, he can do both. Now that free agent addition Danillo Gallnari is expected to miss the entire season due to an ACL injury, the Celtics need all the help they can get from him.