Which 2020 NBA free agents will provide the most value over the next three seasons?

This year’s free agency has a lower wattage than last year’s, but there are good players and bargains to be found.

At the top of the list is Los Angeles Lakers superstar Anthony Davis, who has a big decision about what kind of deal to sign.

Here is the list of the top free agents, from No. 1 to No. 25, according to statistical projections.

MORE: Free agents, team by team | Trade lists for 30 teams


How the projections work

I’ve put together three-year WARP projections that combine two different metrics: the results of my SCHOENE projection system based on the development of similar players at the same age based on box score stats; and ESPN’s real plus-minus (RPM) to incorporate how players have impacted team performance while on the court.

Though stars will typically sign for more than three years and older players might get shorter contracts, three years offers a good ballpark of the value players will provide on their next deals — with some notable exceptions, which we’ll discuss as part of the rankings.

Note that this ranking includes players with options for 2020-21 who will reportedly decline those options and become free agents.


1. Anthony Davis

Los Angeles Lakers
Forward/center
Age:
27 (as of Dec. 1)
Unrestricted

Projected three-year WARP: 29.6

Now that he has declined his player option, Davis will be far and away the best free agent this offseason.

In his article on the Lakers’ offseason, ESPN’s Bobby Marks discussed the various ways that Davis and the Lakers could approach a new contract, assuming Davis plans to stay in L.A.

2019-20 RPM: +2.5 | 2019-20 WARP: 13.8


2. Fred VanVleet

Toronto Raptors
Guard
Age:
26
Unrestricted

Projected three-year WARP: 22.5

After two years as the NBA’s premier backup point guard, VanVleet demonstrated he could maintain his productivity in a full-time starting role next to Kyle Lowry in 2019-20.

With Davis nearly certain to re-sign in L.A. and the Raptors carefully managing their 2021 cap space for a possible run at Giannis Antetokounmpo, VanVleet is the best free agent with a realistic chance of changing teams. That makes him a prime target for teams with cap space — most notably the New York Knicks with their need at point guard.

2019-20 RPM: +1.9 | 2019-20 WARP: 7.4


3. Christian Wood

Detroit Pistons
Forward/center
Age:
25
Unrestricted

Projected three-year WARP: 12.7

During 2019-20, Wood mimicked VanVleet’s career trajectory, starting out as a hyperproductive backup to Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond and becoming a starter after Drummond was traded at the deadline.

From Feb. 3 onward, Wood averaged 22.3 points and 9.5 rebounds in 34.1 minutes per game, shooting 56% from the field and 41% from 3-point range. He finished 16th in the league in RPM, and he is just entering his prime, having turned 25 last month. All of that makes Wood a fascinating target.

2019-20 RPM: +3.5 | 2019-20 WARP: 6.1


4. Brandon Ingram

New Orleans Pelicans
Forward
Age:
23
Restricted

Projected three-year WARP: 11.6

Along with Davis, Ingram is the other free agent who seems sure to get a max deal this summer after making his All-Star debut in his first season in New Orleans.

While Ingram’s advanced stats didn’t quite match his impressive combination of volume and efficiency as a scorer, he should comfortably beat a projection that is still weighted about half to his less efficient previous two seasons with the Lakers.

2019-20 RPM: +0.6 | 2019-20 WARP: 5.0


5. Davis Bertans

Washington Wizards
Forward
Age:
28
Unrestricted

Projected three-year WARP: 11.5

Always one of the league’s most accurate 3-point shooters in San Antonio, Bertans was turned loose to also become one of the most prolific shooters in Washington.

Per 36 minutes, his 10.7 3-point attempts ranked him third behind James Harden and Buddy Hield. Since Bertans still converted at a 42% clip, that made him a hugely valuable offensive weapon.

2019-20 RPM: +1.8 | 2019-20 WARP: 4.3


6. Bogdan Bogdanovic

Sacramento Kings
Guard/forward
Age:
28
Restricted

Projected three-year WARP: 11.2

Sacramento’s failed Bogdanovic sign-and-trade with Milwaukee means that he is still in play.

With nine 3-point attempts per 36 minutes, Bogdanovic wasn’t far behind Bertans on the list of volume shooters, making 37% of them. Also capable of creating plays off the dribble, Bogdanovic is a well-rounded offensive wing who should hold his value through his next contract.

2019-20 RPM: +0.8 | 2019-20 WARP: 5.3


7. Malik Beasley

Minnesota Timberwolves
Guard
Age:
23
Restricted

Projected three-year WARP: 10.9

Stuck in a reserve role on the deep Nuggets, Beasley flourished after his pre-deadline trade to Minnesota, averaging 20.7 points and 3.5 3-pointers per game on 43% shooting beyond the arc.

Since Beasley won’t turn 24 until next month, he still has plenty of room for improvement as he heads into restricted free agency.

2019-20 RPM: +0.2 | 2019-20 WARP: 1.6


8. Danilo Gallinari

Oklahoma City Thunder
Forward
Age:
32
Unrestricted

Projected three-year WARP: 10.9

In terms of immediate impact, few free agents can help more than Gallinari, coming off another season when he managed elite efficiency (.612 true shooting percentage) in a larger-than-average role on offense (25% usage rate).

Gallinari’s three-year projection is a bit more muted because of his age and injury history; he last played 70 games in a season back in 2012-13, when he suffered an ACL tear in April.

2019-20 RPM: +2.4 | 2019-20 WARP: 6.7


9. Derrick Jones Jr.

Miami Heat
Forward
Age:
23
Unrestricted

Projected three-year WARP: 10.3

At 23, Jones is atypically young for an unrestricted free agent. He entered the NBA at age 19 after one season at UNLV, and he is unrestricted after his fourth season because he went undrafted and was not on a rookie contract.

Elite length, quickness and leaping ability form the basis of Jones’ game, making him an impactful help defender and above-the-rim finisher. But he has added enough skill to become a viable contributor and could be dangerous if he translates his improvement as a free throw shooter (77% last season) to the 3-point line (28%).

2019-20 RPM: -1.8 | 2019-20 WARP: 3.6


10. Hassan Whiteside

Portland Trail Blazers
Center
Age:
31
Unrestricted

Projected three-year WARP: 10.3

Box score-based stats such as WARP still haven’t solved the Whiteside issue. He piles up blocks (a league-leading 2.9 per game last season) and rebounds (13.5 per game) while shooting at a high percentage (62%), yet his teams tend to play only a little better with him on the court. By now, there’s a big enough sample to suggest that’s no fluke, and Whiteside’s limited playmaking and overpursuit of blocks hurt more than his strengths help.

Given the leaguewide depth at center, it will be interesting to see how teams value Whiteside now that the max deal he got in 2016 free agency is complete.

2019-20 RPM: +1.4 | 2019-20 WARP: 9.1


11. De’Anthony Melton

Memphis Grizzlies
Guard
Age:
22
Restricted

Projected three-year WARP: 10.1

After a disappointing rookie season in Phoenix, Melton’s strong college stats translated to success in a reserve role in Memphis.

He’s too limited a playmaker to be a full-time point guard, but he thrived playing off the ball next to Tyus Jones on a strong Grizzlies second unit.

In the mold of Marcus Smart, Melton wreaks havoc defensively, but he must improve his 3-point shooting (29% last season) to become viable offensively in a larger role. Just 22, Melton has time to get there.

2019-20 RPM: +0.3 | 2019-20 WARP: 2.9


12. Langston Galloway

Detroit Pistons
Guard
Age:
29
Unrestricted

Projected three-year WARP: 10.1

Quietly, Galloway had a strong season off the bench for the Pistons, making a career-high 40% of his 3-point attempts and averaging double-figure scoring (10.3 PPG) for the first time since his 2014-15 rookie campaign.

Exclusively a spot-up shooter, Galloway practically never turns the ball over (his turnover rate has been the lowest in the league two seasons running) and plays bigger than his size (6-foot-1) defensively, using strength to compensate. He belongs on a contending team in need of shooting.

2019-20 RPM: -0.7 | 2019-20 WARP: 3.7


13. Gordon Hayward

Boston Celtics
Forward
Age:
30
Unrestricted

Projected three-year WARP: 8.9

Buyer beware now that Hayward has opted for free agency instead of the $34.2 million he was set to make in the final season of a four-year max contract with the Boston Celtics. Although Hayward was productive last season, ranking fifth among free agents in WARP, it’s unlikely he’ll be as valuable on a long-term deal in his 30s.

Hayward still may surpass this projection if he’s able to stay healthy. Because of the time he’s missed over the last three seasons, including 81 games with the fractured tibia he suffered in his Boston debut, Hayward is projected to play just 52 of 72 games in 2020-21.

2019-20 RPM: 0.9 | 2019-20 WARP: 6.1


14. Jordan McLaughlin

Minnesota Timberwolves
Guard
Age:
24
Unrestricted

Projected three-year WARP: 8.8

Undrafted out of USC, McLaughlin spent all of 2018-19 in the G League before landing with the Wolves on a two-way contract. He outplayed veteran Jeff Teague before Minnesota moved Teague to Atlanta, making 38% of his 3s with an assist-to-turnover ratio better than 4. McLaughlin’s G League performance wasn’t quite as strong, and 57% accuracy on 2-point attempts will be hard to maintain at 5-foot-11.

Nonetheless, McLaughlin should make an impact for his next team.

2019-20 RPM: -0.2 | 2019-20 WARP: 1.9


15. Jordan Clarkson

Utah Jazz
Guard
Age:
28
Unrestricted

Projected three-year WARP: 8.8

A volume scorer for noncontenders throughout most of his career, Clarkson improved his efficiency last season by making a career-high 37% of his 3-pointers and demonstrated he could contribute in the playoffs. Interested teams should be somewhat wary of regression beyond the arc.

2019-20 RPM: +0.8 | 2019-20 WARP: 5.7


16. Joe Harris

Brooklyn Nets
Guard/forward
Age:
29
Unrestricted

Projected three-year WARP: 8.0

An ideal complementary piece on a good team because of his strong 3-point shooting (42% last season, down from a league-leading 47% in 2018-19), Harris is a little older than you might think because he entered the league at age 23 and took three years to find a home in Brooklyn.

2019-20 RPM: +0.7 | 2019-20 WARP: 3.5


17. Chris Boucher

Toronto Raptors
Forward/center
Age:
27
Restricted

Projected three-year WARP: 8.0

Next year’s Christian Wood? Boucher is actually a couple of years older than Wood because he finished college at age 24.

An ACL tear set back his development, but Boucher got a chance last season in Toronto and swatted 7% of opposing 2-point attempts while excelling on the offensive glass and showing a modicum of 3-point ability (32% on 5.2 attempts per 36 minutes).

Teams will likely remain skeptical due to Boucher’s lack of size for a center (he is both 6-foot-9 and rail thin).

2019-20 RPM: +0.9 | 2019-20 WARP: 3.8


18. Kris Dunn

Chicago Bulls
Guard/forward
Age:
26
Unrestricted

Projected three-year WARP: 7.0

In his fourth season, Dunn reinvented himself in an off-ball role, making a career-high 54% of his 2-point attempts (up from a previous high of 46%) and ranking second behind Patrick Beverley among guards in defensive RPM.

Dunn’s poor shooting (31%) is highlighted off the ball, but he has demonstrated he is a quality rotation player.

2019-20 RPM: +1.8 | 2019-20 WARP: 2.3


19. Alec Burks

Philadelphia 76ers
Guard
Age:
29
Unrestricted

Projected three-year WARP: 7.0

With Golden State, Burks supplied needed shot creation to the short-handed Warriors. He played as well or better after a deadline deal to Philadelphia, though he was never able to solidify his role with the Sixers.

On a short-term deal, Burks should be an excellent value because his improved 3-point shooting (38.5% last season) allows him to play off the ball in addition to running an offense.

2019-20 RPM: -0.5 | 2019-20 WARP: 5.7


20. Montrezl Harrell

LA Clippers
Center
Age:
26
Unrestricted

Projected three-year WARP: 6.4

Harrell’s postseason struggles showed how dependent he is on top-tier quickness for a center, a concern for how well he’ll age.

Still, Harrell was a deserving Sixth Man award winner based on his play before the season stopped. According to Second Spectrum tracking, the 1.04 points per chance the Clippers averaged on pick-and-rolls with Harrell as the screener ranked him third among the 62 players who set at least 750 ball screens.

2019-20 RPM: 2.3 | 2019-20 WARP: 3.7


21. Shabazz Napier

Washington Wizards
Guard
Age:
29
Unrestricted

Projected three-year WARP: 6.1

Having started much of last season in both Minnesota and Washington, Napier has established himself as a quality backup point guard capable of stepping into the lead role. He offers enough playmaking and spot-up shooting to be effective regardless of the players around him.

2019-20 RPM: -0.6 | 2019-20 WARP: 2.7


22. Jae Crowder

Miami Heat
Forward
Age:
30
Unrestricted

Projected three-year WARP: 6.0

If Crowder could maintain his 40% 3-point shooting from the first two rounds of the playoffs, he’d rank much higher on the list. Alas, Crowder shot just 34% during the regular season, in line with his career mark.

He remains a quality role player at either forward spot, trending more toward the 4 as he ages.

2019-20 RPM: -1.1 | 2019-20 WARP: 4.9


23. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Los Angeles Lakers
Guard
Age:
27
Unrestricted

Projected three-year WARP: 5.8

Caldwell-Pope is neither as bad as Lakers fans might have thought he was during his first two seasons in L.A. nor as good as he looked in the 2020 playoffs, when he was the Lakers’ most reliable wing player.

Because the Lakers would have limited options to replace Caldwell-Pope, he has a chance to beat his $8.5 million player option by hitting free agency and re-signing using full Bird rights.

2019-20 RPM: -0.8 | 2019-20 WARP: 1.2


24. Chris Chiozza

Brooklyn Nets
Guard
Age:
25
Restricted

Projected three-year WARP: 5.6

On his third team in two seasons after going undrafted, Chiozza gave the Nets capable point guard play after Kyrie Irving was lost for the season.

Chiozza projects this well largely because Brooklyn outscored opponents by 6.0 points per 100 possessions with him on the court, boosting his RPM. Skepticism about whether that will continue is appropriate.

Still, Chiozza has earned a full NBA contract after playing on two-way deals last season.

2019-20 RPM: 2.0 | 2019-20 WARP: 0.6


25. Jevon Carter

Phoenix Suns
Guard
Age:
25
Restricted

Projected three-year WARP: 5.4

The Grizzlies and Suns swapped Carter and Melton as part of last summer’s Josh Jackson salary dump, and Carter enjoyed a better sophomore campaign after moving to shooting guard.

Carter is also a tenacious defender, in his case primarily because of his ability to pressure ball handlers. His 42.5% 3-point shooting was a pleasant surprise.

2019-20 RPM: -0.7 | 2019-20 WARP: 2.3

MORE: Free agents, team by team | Trade lists for 30 teams