5 Inexpensive Free Agents That Every NBA Team Should Be Monitoring

NBA free agency has become synonymous with chaos. Whether it be LeBron James going to Miami in 2010 or Brooklyn’s spending spree in 2019, NBA teams have consistently shown their infatuation with throwing money at big-name players. Thus, in a free agency headlined by stars like James, Paul George, and James Harden, there is no doubt that countless general managers are eager to spend.

However, as today’s NBA is dominated by fear of surpassing tax thresholds, most teams have changed their approach and are unwilling or unable to go star hunting. Instead, they must use other options, such as the mid-level exception, which gives teams up to $12 million to spend to sign impact players on a budget. So, who are the lesser-known players in this year’s free agency class that could help a team win a championship?

5 Free Agents That Every NBA Team Should Want

Naji Marshall

Best Fits: Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Cleveland Cavaliers

Naji Marshall is a 6’6 wing who spent the first four years of his career in a bench role for the New Orleans Pelicans. The 26-year-old went undrafted out of Xavier and has proven to be an important role player for the Pelicans. This past season, he averaged 7.1 points on 46.3% shooting from the field and 38.7% from three. Marshall has a 7’1 wingspan, which allows him to guard multiple positions and cut and finish around the rim with touch.

In the Pelicans’ recent playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Marshall showed flashes of excellence, scoring 16 points on four for seven shooting from three in the Pelicans’ final game. Marshall’s ability as a role player and glue guy makes him an appealing option for several teams who could use their mid-level exception to sign him. A team like the Brooklyn Nets should be interested in Marshall, as his mix of past production and potential could prove invaluable to a team like the Nets, who are still trying to find their identity. 

Derrick Jones Jr. 

Best Fits: Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans

Derrick Jones Jr. is a 27-year-old 6 ‘6 wing who just posted a career-best 8.6 points per game for the Dallas Mavericks. He is most known for his elite athleticism and leaping ability, which have put him on countless highlight reels and Sports Center Top 10s. Jones will be a sought-after free agent because of his part in the Mavericks’ recent run to the NBA Finals. During this 22-game playoff stretch, he was efficient from the field and became a willing three-point shooter, hitting 37% from deep. Furthermore, Jones was a big reason for the Mavericks’ turnaround in the second half of the season, and he helped turn their defense into one of the best in the league.

He brings athleticism, energy, and activity on both ends of the floor, and his switchability on defense makes him a top target for many teams. Jones has expressed interest in returning to Dallas, but their cap limitations may take the possibility of a reunion off the table. Multiple other teams can offer Jones more than the Mavericks, and his versatility and impactfulness on the biggest stage make him an ideal fit for a contending team. A team like the Pacers, who are trying to take the next step toward winning a championship, should have Jones at the top of their boards.

Kelly Oubre Jr.

Best Fits: Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks

Kelly Oubre Jr. is another experienced wing who just had one of the best years of his career for the Philadelphia 76ers. He is a proven scorer who has averaged more than 15 points per game for the last six seasons, and at 6’8, he is a capable rebounder, averaging five per game last year. One of Oubre’s biggest flaws, and why some teams are not interested, is his three-point shot, as he made just 31% of threes last season. However, when it mattered most, Oubre was hitting. His play got better in the playoffs, and in 37 minutes per game in the 76ers’ first-round series against the New York Knicks, Oubre shot 48% from the field and 39% from three. He was not afraid of the moment, and despite playing in the most famous arena in the world, Oubre never lost his confidence and scored double-digit points in five out of six games.

Another part of his game that took a significant step forward in the playoffs was his defense. Oubre used his 7’3 wingspan to bother MVP candidate Jalen Brunson and, at times, was the only 76er who could do anything to slow the talented point guard. Oubre’s abilities could prove valuable to a team like the Los Angeles Lakers or New York Knicks, who need some firepower off the bench. He is a proven scorer that any contender should want on their team. 

Malik Beasley

Best Fits: Orlando Magic, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs

Malik Beasley is the prototypical “sharp-shooter” who earns a ton of money in the modern NBA. Duncan Robinson made $90 million off nothing but his three-point shot. Therefore, the 27-year-old Beasley may be in line for a huge payday. Beasley is coming off a career year for the Milwaukee Bucks, where he shot 41.3% from beyond the arc, making 2.8 threes per game. He brings the elite spacing required to succeed in today’s version of basketball and excels as a spot-up shooter next to a lead guard. Last year, Beasley shot 46.7% on corner threes, almost ten percentage points better than the league average. Despite his successes in Milwaukee, per NBA Insider Chris Haynes, Beasley and the Bucks are destined for a divorce. A team like the Orlando Magic should jump at this opportunity, as Beasley can provide the shooting that the Magic desperately needs. The Magic were in the bottom five in team three-point percentage, and Beasley would help drastically improve that.

Tyus Jones

Best Fits: San Antonio Spurs, Orlando Magic, Utah Jazz

Over his four years spent playing for the Memphis Grizzlies, Tyus Jones developed into one of the best backup point guards in the league. He stabilized the offense when Ja Morant was on the bench and showed flashes that he could thrive in a starting role. Then, last offseason, Jones was traded to the Washington Wizards and given the keys to the starting point guard position. He put up career highs across the board, averaging 12 points and 7.3 assists on 49% shooting from the field and 41% shooting from three.

Jones is a traditional point guard that can control a game and run an offense to perfection. He has elite vision, and his 7.35 assist-to-turnover ratio last year was the best among all players in the NBA who appeared in at least 50 games. Jones is everything that one could want in their point guard, and any team with cap space should be interested. If the San Antonio Spurs decide against trading for a point guard, Jones would be a perfect fit next to Victor Wembanyama. He would provide a steadying force to the young team, and Jones possesses the ability to get Wembanyama the ball from anywhere on the court. Instead of experimenting with Jeremy Sochan as the ball handler, signing Jones would have the Spurs competing for a play-in spot. 


NBA championships are won on the margins, so teams have to capitalize on the less expensive talent that is available. These five players have shown flashes of their abilities, and there is no doubt they could have an impact on a contending team. Having star players is nice, but high-quality role players, like Derrick White, are essential to building a winning basketball team.

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Rose Fish

Another great article with backing it up with facts!

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