If you thought this summer was busy for NBA players and executives, you ain't seen nothing yet. Next year's free-agent frenzy could completely shake up our basketball picks.
No matter how much the NBA tries to keep a lid on things, capitalism manages to seep through the cracks. Look at how many free agents were on the move this summer: LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMarre Carroll, Monta Ellis, Roy Hibbert, Greg Monroe, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Josh Smith, Deron Williams – and that's just the guys who didn't re-up with their original teams.
It's only going to get crazier. Looking ahead to 2016, there are enough quality free agents out there to start a brand-new league. Hmmm... not a bad idea, come to think of it. But we'll settle for starting our own NBA team, with the following five players on the floor for the tip-off. The basketball odds wouldn't stand a chance.
Point Guard: Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
Conley (18.6 PER, +2.7 BPM) will be an unrestricted free agent after making $9.68 million this year. His value to the Grizzlies was evident during the playoffs; despite breaking his face, Conley came back early and had Memphis up 2-1 on the Golden State Warriors in the Western semis.
Shooting Guard: Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
We also saw how much better the Wizards were last year with Beal (14.0 PER, +0.5 BPM) on the floor. He shot 40.9 percent from long range, posted 4.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists per 36 minutes, and was even a plus defender according to Real Plus-Minus (+0.55 DRPM). Dwyane Wade might be the bigger name, but we're looking toward the future, too.
Small Forward: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
The big kahuna from the 2016 free agent class. Durant (27.6 PER, +6.1 BPM) is coming off a Jones fracture, and we'd obviously be hesitant to pay big money for any athlete with foot problems. But if Durant gets through this year in good shape, someone is going to throw $30 million a year at him. Might as well be us.
Power Forward: Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks
Horford (21.4 PER, +3.8 BPM) definitely brought the Hawks a lot of success after missing most of 2013-14 with a torn pec. He's technically a center, but technically, there is no such thing. There are only guards, wings and bigs, and Horford will be an excellent defensive complement to the other big man we're going to sign.
Center: Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors
Freedom~! Valanciunas (20.6 PER, –0.5 BPM) will be a restricted free agent after next season, but Raptors head coach Dwayne Casey doesn't seem too invested in him, based on his usage patterns and Casey's stated desire to play small ball. So we'll gladly take Valanciunas. He's got a nice short game, he can rebound (11.9 per 36 minutes), and he's still developing. Plus, we can probably get him on the cheap in a market that's going to include players like Hibbert, Al Jefferson and Joakim Noah. Now all we need is a bench. And a coaching staff, and an arena...