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NBA Free Agency: 5 Best centers the teams should target

The LA Lakers will have two centers potentially entering the NBA free agency market
The LA Lakers will have two centers potentially entering the NBA free agency market

The NBA Free Agency window begins just under three weeks from now, at which point teams will approach players they hope can improve their rosters for the 2021-22 campaign.

While much of the focus has been on the plethora of talent available on the market in the backcourt, there are also several high-level centers, a position that plenty of sides in the league need to target. In this article, we will highlight five big men who are either unrestricted free agents, restricted, or have player options in their contract.

Top 5 big men to target in NBA free agency

Although teams' playing style focuses on perimeter shooters and athletic two-way wings, we have seen the change in fate some franchises can have by utilizing an elite big man in the paint.

The battle for the MVP title this year came down to two centers, Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, with the former winning, while Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert earned another Defensive Player of the Year award.

While this trio will not be available on the NBA free agency market, the five players we have listed below could have a huge impact on the sides currently needing a boost in their frontcourt.

#1 Andre Drummond

Andre Drummond will enter the NBA free agency market unrestricted this summer
Andre Drummond will enter the NBA free agency market unrestricted this summer

Andre Drummond is probably the most high-value prospect on the NBA free agency market this summer. Despite playing just 46 games this year after his buyout with the Cleveland Cavaliers left him without a team for some time, the 27-year-old can expect several big offers in the offseason.

That is possibly why he won't be returning with the LA Lakers as they simply can't afford the kind of contract his numbers deserve. Furthermore, with Frank Vogel's defense-first policy, it is unlikely they would pay that kind of money for a player who won't play north of 30 minutes per game.

We can expect to see the 2-time All-Star in a new jersey next year, playing for a team that badly needs rebounding and points in the paint. Drummond is a 4-time rebounding champion and averaged 12 boards per contest this season, along with 14.9 points, 1.4 blocks and 1.1 steals.


#2 Jarrett Allen

Cleveland Cavaliers' Jarrett Allen will be one of the most-watched centers on the NBA free agency market
Cleveland Cavaliers' Jarrett Allen will be one of the most-watched centers on the NBA free agency market

There are several teams around the league who could make an offer for Jarrett Allen in the NBA free agency window, including the Charlotte Hornets and Dallas Mavericks. The Cleveland Cavaliers big man will be a restricted free agent this summer and is likely to earn more than $20m a year in a new deal.

Although the Cleveland Cavaliers can match whatever offer sheet Allen receives in NBA free agency, it would still be worth their while for other teams to pursue the young center. After moving to the Cavs from the Nets in the blockbuster deal involving James Harden, Allen averaged 13.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.

Throughout his four-year career in the league, he has shot at 61% from the field and has a tremendous upside in his potential. Signing him now could prove a steal for most teams, which is why he will receive so much interest, with his value likely only going one way in the coming years.


#3 Richaun Holmes

Sacramento Kings big man Richaun Holmes
Sacramento Kings big man Richaun Holmes

After earning more minutes with his move to Sacramento, it appears that Richaun Holmes could be getting a contract in the range of $15-$20m per year when he enters the NBA free agency market. Holmes improved on his career-high numbers from last year by putting up 14.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks this season. He connected with 63% of field-goal efforts and almost 80% of his free-throws.

The 27-year-old continues to go under the radar but could be ready for the next step in joining a bigger market and competing in the playoffs. He is an athletic big who is an excellent option on the pick-and-roll, something the Dallas Mavericks need, and can also protect the rim.


#4 Nerlens Noel

Nerlens Noel becomes a free agent this summer
Nerlens Noel becomes a free agent this summer

If the Sacramento Kings were to lose Richaun Holmes in the free agency market, they could lead the contenders to sign Nerlens Noel from the New York Knicks. The Knicks have a complicated situation regarding their big men this offseason. While they could try to bring Noel back on another team-friendly contract, there is also a chance they could pursue a greater offensive threat at the five.

Although the 27-year-old offers little on offense, teams who need rim protection from their big man should look no further than the former 6th overall pick. Especially given the fact he was paid just over $5m this year by the Knicks and likely won't be able to earn much more than that this summer.

Noel stepped up after Mitchell Robinson was injured for the Knicks and averaged 2.2 blocks and 1.1 steals throughout the campaign. He finished with a defensive rating of 101 and led the league in defensive box +/- with 3.5.


#5 Montrezl Harrell

LA Lakers bench star Montrezl Harrell
LA Lakers bench star Montrezl Harrell

Another center who could be on his way out of the LA Lakers franchise this summer is Montrezl Harrell. The energetic, former Sixth Man of the Year has a player option with the organization and could opt out of it given his frustrations throughout the season regarding his playing time under Vogel.

Should Harrell announce he would prefer to test the NBA free agency market, he can expect an exorbitant number of offers. Despite his lower importance to the Lakers than he had with the Clippers, he continued to prove the dynamic effect he can have off the bench with his ferocious power in the paint, both scoring and rebounding the ball and competitiveness.

In fact, Harrell finished the campaign with a career-high offensive rating of 127 and his best defensive rating of 106. He will have done his worth no problems despite receiving fewer minutes and can provide a flexible small-ball option to a playoff team looking to compete for a championship.

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Edited by Parimal
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