With the NBA Finals starting this Thursday, the NBA season is nearing the end. It’s a good time to take a look at free agency and some of the top available players, and the Clippers chances of landing them. Today I’ll start out with the top 5 available centers:
1. Andre Drummond /6-10/ Team: Detroit / 16.2 ppg, 14.8 rpg (Restricted)
Drummond exploded last year for the Pistons, earning his first All-Star nod. He’s already on his way to being one of the top centers in the NBA. If he improves on his abysmal free-throw shooting, he’d be unstoppable. Detroit is not letting him go.
Clippers chances: 0%
2. Hassan Whiteside / 7-0 / Team: Miami / 14.2 ppg, 11.8 rbg, 3.7 bpg (Unrestricted)
Whiteside emerged as a dominant defensive force this season for the Miami Heat. The guy averages nearly four blocks a game. That’s a defensive game changer for you. Whiteside’s behavior has been questioned. You can bet that someone will be more than willing to give him the max. He’s only 26.
Clippers chances: 10% (only a major overhaul of Clippers roster would give them money to pursue him)
3. Dwight Howard / 6-11 / Team: Houston / 13.7 ppg, 11.8 rpg (Player option)
Howard’s fallout with the Rockets has been well-documented this season. If this list was being compiled two years ago, unquestionably Howard would be the top-ranked free agent. Howard has fallen on hard times. His numbers and on-court presence aren’t as dominant as they were. He is still valuable for a team looking to contend. He won’t be a franchise player, but he can be a great third option or potential solid number two.
Clippers chances: 20% (a trade of DeAndre Jordan and clearing some cap could lure in Howard to L.A.)
4. Joakim Noah / 6-11 / Team: Chicago / 4.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg (Unrestricted)
Nothing went right for Noah this season. After starting the season relegated to the bench by new head coach Fred Hoiberg, Noah had his minutes slashed in half; therefore, his numbers and effectiveness dipped. To make matters worse, he injured his shoulder and missed majority of the season. News coming out of Chicago is that Noah is set to leave the club.
Clippers chances: 15% (Noah won’t break the bank, he wouldn’t be an ideal fit for the Clippers, as they have a much younger version of Noah in DeAndre Jordan)
5. Al Jefferson / 6-10 / Team: Charlotte / 12 ppg, 6.4 rpg (Unrestricted)
Jefferson is another player whose production has declined. The Hornets started shifting away from using him as a low-post presence. The need for a back-to-the-basket post-up center is evaporating. Jefferson is still a useful starter in the league and would be a nice fit for some team in contention.
Clippers chances: 20% (Jefferson would be a nice addition if he took a pay cut, and in case Jordan is traded)