NBA executive names top free agents teams must avoid overpaying

The action of the NBA offseason is set to begin. After the 2020 NBA Draft will come free agency. This year’s class features an underwhelming set of actually attainable targets for teams, but still features clear standouts like Fred VanVleet and Montrezl Harrell.

Star players like Anthony Davis and Brandon Ingram headline this class but will not be available to outside teams. That means players like Fred VanVleet, DeMar DeRozan, Montrezl Harrell, and Danilo Gallinari will likely be realistic targets for teams looking to add talent.

When discussing this year’s free agency class, an NBA executive who requested to remain anonymous, shared insight into some of the top available names. The executive pointed out a few intriguing free agents that teams should be wary of overpaying.

The executive named Montrezl Harrell as being the top talent that NBA teams should avoid overpaying in free agency. Standing at 6-foot-8, he lacks the height to be a forceful enough rim protector and is heavily reliant on post-ups and interior play finishing.

“The top name that jumps out is Montrezl Harrell. He’s a great energy big that can post-up well and does a lot of good things as a play finisher near the rim. He just doesn’t protect the rim at a high-level and isn’t a big you want switching like (Bam) Adebayo. That limits the potential ceiling of a unit.

“At the right price, there is clear value to be had with Harrell. He just doesn’t have a skill-set you’d want to hand out a huge deal to get.”

Perhaps what makes pondering a potential pursuit for Harrell is him coming off the bench for the Los Angeles Clippers. Posting averages of 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds is impressive, but can he do the little things beyond the box score as a starter to help an NBA team win at a high level?

The NBA executive expressed some concern with the idea of handing out a major contract to Fred VanVleet— the free agent many considering being the best of all realistically attainable talents. The executive believes VanVleet is best suited to stay with the Toronto Raptors.

“I’d probably not feel too great about having to give a massive contract to Fred VanVleet. I’m not convinced he would thrive leading an offense as a high-usage guy. He is clearly a knockdown catch-and-shoot threat but he’s too terrible of a finisher around the basket to be a go-to guy. His lack of consistency as a pull-up shooter doesn’t help either.

“The best option for him would be to stick around with the Toronto Raptors and take over as the lead-guard when Kyle Lowry is gone, whenever that may be.”

There has been plenty of intriguing flashes from VanVleet, but like Harrell, he has limitations that can’t be overlooked by teams around the NBA. No player was less efficient than VanVleet on finishes around the basket with at least a medium volume of attempts last season.

It would take some truly high-level facilitation or shot creation impact from VanVleet to overcome such inefficient results on finishes around the basket. He just doesn’t check those boxes either. A team like the Detroit Pistons, who are in need of perimeter firepower, should take note.

As long as a team is able to land Fred VanVleet or Montrezl Harrell on a reasonable contract, there’s not much to question. When it becomes potentially problematic is when a big pay-day is required in NBA free agency to land their services.

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