2022 Free agency preview
Deep pockets & Top 14 players
by Timmy Frenchie
Here is the yearly edition covering the best free agents the WBA has to offer. The ranking is based on talent level. A ranking summary is available at the end of this article. Also included is the estimated new salary, which could help general managers preparing their lucrative offers if they have enough cap money to do so.
But first, let us review teams that have the most cap space this off-season. This will be based on teams’ financial situations as we just ended the playoffs. Ranked will be based on the amount of dollars of free salary cap space and an estimated salary cap of 67.7 million for next season. Although this ranking could slightly change with the upcoming draft and trades made before the free agency period begins, it appears that organizations listed below will have tons of financial flexibility when free agency starts.
Estimated cap space for free agency: 49.7$ millions
This team is fully engaged in a complete rebuilding process. They are projected to select the 1st round pick in this draft. Management has traded all their stars before last season start to acquire young prospects and to put emphasis on the future. By trading all those assets, they also traded approximately 40$ millions in salary to pay in 2022-23. That move could be paying big dividends this off-season as they should have around 50$ millions to spend in free agency. New rookies’ projected salaries were already considered and deducted for this calculations.
Having the deepest pocket of them all, Outlaws have the financial capacity to sign 3 max-contract players. But that’s unlikely to happen since this team won only 7 games last season and that could scare many players. Still, the sun and the beach in Cancun could attract some players too. Expect Outlaws to make a splash in free agency by signing multiple impact players to good deals.
Estimated cap space for free agency: 42.2$ millions
Even though the Xtreme will begin free agency with lots of cash to spend, there are questions marks if this team is headed in the right directions. Their floor general Omar Rozier is entering that period as a free agent after blossoming into a superstar in his first 4 years with the pros. Rozier has mentioned numerous time his desire to play for a contender and the Xtreme are nowhere close to that status. I would be surprised to see Rozier playing in a Miami uniform next season, especially after his monstruous season statistically. Talacka and Woods were overpaid but solid veterans. The void that could be created by the departure of these 3 players would be difficult to fill even with 40$ millions to spend. This will be a crucial off-season for the Xtreme as they could sign a star and re-sign Rozier, making them a much better team than last season. They could also miss badly if they don’t resign Rozier and can’t attract another star. In that case they would take a step back and be considering a challenging season.
Estimated cap space for free agency: 40$ millions
After multiple seasons of 30 wins or less, this team appears to be heading in the right direction. They finished with 36 wins last season, and that number could go up in the next few seasons if management play their cards right this summer. Having two young big men with good-to-great potential is a rarity. Hanying and Critchfield still need time to develop but they should be both impactful players in the WBA. And Cincinnati also has other prospects that could develop into decent role players. If the Hitmen are able to snatch one or two good prospects in this year free agent class, this team could be on the rise. And on top of that we can expect Gorman to stay in Miami to finish his career as he should be re-signed using bird rights.
Estimated cap space for free agency: 37.8$ millions
This team already has a nice young core on board. Bourgeois, Muntean, Baylor and Paredes are all 26 years old or younger and have demonstrate that they can shine in this league. They also are all under contract for next season at least. Bloods should be able to add a top 5 pick to that equation in the next draft. With that amount of cap space when free agency comes, they could add 1 or 2 max player that would propel them in the playoffs. They have improved their total wins by 20 last season compared to the previous one. If all pieces fall into places during this offseason, don’t be surprised to see them improving their record by another 20 wins this season.
Moscow Snow Bears
Estimated cap space for free agency: 33.5$ millions
It was a disappointing season for the Snow Bears last season. It seems that interim management went a little too crazy with questionable moves and put this franchise in a difficult position. They play below .500 basketball for the regular season, the first time in 4 years below that mark. Post-season was not better as they were swept in the first round. This team rely ultimately on their 2 stars, Acklin and Davidson. Both of them are entering this off-season as free agents which could mean trouble for the Snow Bears. Having more than 30 millions in cap space is irrelevant in their situation, as Acklin and Davidson should both be re-signed in the first few days of free agency. And there is also the possibility that one of them pack his bag and leave this squad for a better situation. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Snow Bears at the moment. There are even rumors of a previous GM taking the reign of this franchise once again and moving it in another more peaceful area.
Estimated cap space for free agency: 29.5$ millions
Another team with a great young core. Lamerand, Pribi and Fola are all under 24 and are key pieces to the Fury improving success. Even if the re-signing of Lamerand should eat almost half of their cap space, management should still be in position to add another major piece to the puzzle in free agency. Fury also owns the projected 6th pick in the draft, making them one of the most promising team in the league. If management make the right moves this summer, Frankfurt will be climbing in the World Conference standings next season.
Estimated cap space for free agency: 27.8$ millions
The resignation of the general manager just after playoffs ended put the future of this Franchise in Jeopardy. Replacement general managers are hard to find these days and there is a possibility that this team could be dismantled if there is no one to take over. This would be a shame since this team was heading in the right direction after several moves made by management last season. Sending Da Gama, arguably the best player in the league, in development league was a risky move but it paid off has he became even more powerful than ever. Disco also acquired a mid-first round pick for next draft by giving an old and washed up veteran. They also have a projected top 3 pick. Their roster needs a little shake-up after a difficult season that decrease troops morale but having more than 20 millions in cap space will help you with that. Anyway, all that is moot if there is no team in London next season.
New York Firestorm
Estimated cap space for free agency: 23.3$ millions
The Cinderella story of the WBA last season. Firestorm won 40 regular season games last season, their best results since the 2017 season. But what make that season so special is their first round win against the fading Brooklyn Rage dynasty in the playoffs. They were able to beat them 4 games to 2, most of them by a substantial margin. This was no fluke. And it looks like the Firestorm are hungry for more. All major key players are back next year, and management should be able to another start to the mix. And if they could get rid of Debuisnes contract, they might be able to acquire 2 stars. With this year free agency class quality, it could be something to consider.
Estimated cap space for free agency: 21.3$ millions
Giants just finished an exceptional season, winning 65 games and reaching the Conference Finals. They have steadily climbed back from that horrible season of 28 wins only 2 seasons ago. The impact of rookie of the year Duggons was felt around the league as he played his first regular season as a pro. Gabon was glad to have help from veteran Gordon and Jefferson this past season, but they are also happy that these two are off the book for next season. With 20 millions in cap space, Management is looking to add another superstar in Gabon. The fact that this team is now consider a contender might attract a big name from the list below.
Top 14 players
Chris Acklin. Small Forward. 207 lbs. Age: 23
Undoubtedly the best player in this year free agent class. Although he played the point guard position for the Snow Bears last season, Acklin might be better suited to play at the 2 or 3 spot. A gifted athlete with great scoring abilities, Chris has been averaging 28.5 points per game since his arrival with the pros 4 season ago. His 3 pts efficiency has dropped substantially this season, and that trend may continue in the future. Nobody is perfect. But Acklin combination of great defense and even better offense makes him an elite player that will receive multiples max offers this off-season. Since he is a loyal player and does not care much about winning, expect Moscow to retain his services for the next 5 seasons.
Estimated new salary: 90 millions over 5 years
Kenyatta Davidson. Power Forward 6-10. 252 lbs. Age: 26
When it comes to scoring efficiency, Davidson has nothing to envy to his teammates and superstar Acklin. We could even say that Kenyatta is even better, having a True Shooting percentage average of 64% since joining the WBA, compared to 60% for Acklin. This quick big man knocked down his 3 pointers at a 43% rate this season, the best of his career. His length and athletics abilities helped him grabbed lots of defensive rebounds making one of the league’s top power forward in that area. But there is a reason why Davidson is ranked behind Acklin in this top free agents list: his defense. Kenyatta is only a sub-par defender and will get exposed by any player with decent scoring skills.
After many changes made by the Snow Bears organization, resulting in a disappointing season, I would not be surprised to see Davidson joining a contender, as he could be a key piece in a championship run.
Estimated new salary: 90 millions over 5 years
Matias Gutierrez. Small Forward. 6-6. 214 lbs. Age: 27
This WBA veteran has already played for 5 teams since joining the league 8 years ago. In a more limited role with the Eastern Conference champions this season, playing only 25 minutes per game compared to his career average of 32, Guiterrez excelled by posting his best field goal %. His great scoring abilities are also paired with great handle and excellent perimeter defensive skills. On the downside, Matias will commit lots of fouls. At 27 years old, it seems that betting all-in on Matias is a very good idea as he is entering his prime. One of a few Burning players included in this list, it will be interesting to see which players stays in Albacete and which choose to depart. Even with a gigantic budget, the Burning hell cannot afford to retain all those players and some lucky teams should benefit from this.
Player option at 17 986 092$
Estimated new salary if he were to decline player’s option: 100 millions over 5 years
Michal Askins. 6-7. Shooting Guard. 223 lbs. Age: 27
Great scoring skills. Strong defense. Uber-Athlete. What else could you ask for? Askins has been scoring points 20 per game on over 50% shooting last season. He is also grabbing more than 6 boards and dishing more than 6 assists along the way. Massacre management have built a very nice team in Boston, and Michal is a key piece. If not their true leader. Look for him to continue his championship aspiration with the same team.
Estimated new salary: 100 millions over 5 years
Edgardo Blanco. Shooting Guard. 6-5. 206 lbs. Age: 23
Blanco is one of those players that flies under the radar. Since Blanco is not a volume scorer and since he is playing a supporting role in a team crowed with talented players, his input might sometimes be unnoticed. But Blanco is averaging 18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.6 steals on a 36 minutes average this season. He can score from anywhere on the floor and just surpassed the 50% mark on his field goal season percentage average for the first time of his young career. But what makes him a very valuable asset is his defense. Lighting quick and long, Blanco is an elite perimeter defender. Right in the middle of the Conference Finals, Albacete management have surprisingly announced their intention to sign-in trade Blanco this off-season. I am sure he will draw interest from multiple squads.
Estimated new salary: 90 millions over 5 years
Curtis Starman. Shooting Guard. 6-3. 206 lbs. Age: 27
Starman can sure light it up. He took that to another level this past season, winning the WBA scoring crown for the first time of his career. In a league filed with superstars, you must be special to average 33 points per game. Curtis is that special. In his historical campaign, he was also grabbing 5 boards and dishing out 5 assists per game, so he is not a one-dimensional type of player. Warriors management must be crossing their fingers for Starman to accept his player option at a very decent 13.8 millions next season. If he declines, he could get offered much more in free agency.
Player option at 13.8 million
Estimated new salary if he were to decline player’s option: 75 millions over 5 years
Guilhem Lamerand. Center. 6-10. 248 lbs. Age: 22
The Frenchman is an unorthodox player. He has great defensives skills although he does not produce any steal or block. He is one of the leagues top rebounder even thought his jumping ability is very limited. And you rarely see a 6’10’’ player running that quickly. Guilhem is not a scorer. He is averaging less than 10 points per game for his career, and we should not expect a significant increase in that area. Lamerand could be a great fit surrounded by high volume scorer as he could provide elite rebounding and defensive skills to complement them.
Estimated new salary: 90 millions over 5 years
Omar Rozier. Point Guard. 6-5. 213 lbs. Age: 24
Mr. Triple Double himself. Omar received lot of press coverage as he recorded 16 triple-doubles this season! He also had many nights where he was a rebound or an assist shy of getting one more. His average of 21 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists really demonstrate how much Rozier contribution impact all facets of the game. He is the best defensive rebounding point guard in the league. He also is the point guard with the most turnovers in the league. And his defense skills are decent but nothing to write home about. Rozier is only 24 years old, and the team that will sign him will benefit from his explosive game for the next 5 seasons, right for the prime of his career. This appears to be a good deal, if Rozier can stay healthy of course.
Estimated new salary: 90 millions over 5 years
Claude Weidner. Small Forward. 6-6. 265 lbs. Age: 27
Even with limited stamina, this player found a way to distinguish himself and become an asset in this league. His numbers have been constant over the years, as Claude is able to give you 20 points and 6 rebounds on any given night where he can play 30 minutes. His sheer strength and a knack for offensive rebounds helped him become one of the league top small forwards in that area. After playing for numerous teams, it appears that Weidner has found his niche in Boston. If Claude decides to decline his player option, expect Massacre management to pay him good money to stay with the team and help them make multiple championship runs over the next few years.
Player option at 17.9 million
Estimated new salary if he were to decline player’s option: 90 millions over 5 years
Lazaro Hendricks. Center. 6-8. 257 lbs. Age: 28
Lazaro is a force and his presence on the court is felt. At only 6’8’’, which could be a little short for a center, he finds way to positively impact the game in different ways. He is a reliable inside scorer, a strong rebounder at both end of the court, and also a superior inside defender and shot blocker. At 28 years old, his game shows no sign of slowing down soon. He is one of the key pieces behind Albacete huge success over the past 2 seasons. A very loyal player, we expect Hendricks to stay in Albacete, unless Burning Hell management cannot find a way to pay all those talented players listed on their roster.
Estimated new salary: 30 millions over 3 years
Keenan Holter. Point Guard. 6-2. 207 lbs. Age: 26
Keena Holter is only 26 years old, but it seems he’s been in the WBA for ages. After spending 6 season in Tokyo, this steady floor general brought his talent to Las Vegas where he helped the Gamblers in winning 49 regular season games and a playoffs series. He also posted career best in scoring and FG%. Good point guard are hard to find these days in the WBA and Keenan is a very solid option at that position. His passing skills, scoring range and tough defense are proven values. As he just began his journey in Las Vegas, expect Keenan to ink a long-term deal with the Gamblers this summer.
Estimated new salary: 45 millions over 5 years
Brandon Duggins. Power Forward. 6-9. 259 lbs. Age: 23
Duggins was drafted in the second round 2 seasons ago and is quickly put the league on notice that he is an impact player. Getting twice the playing time in his second season, he boosted his scoring average with an impressive 21 points per game. That makes him a league top 10 scorer among Bigs. A strong inside presence at both ends of the court, Brandon was able to block more than 2 shoots per game, also making him a league top 10 in that category for PF/C. At only 23 years old, Duggins looks to increase his paycheck substantially has he is getting only 703 103$ this season. Many team are looking for an efficient inside scorer and Duggins is just that and even more. He could be a worthy addition as a backup for a contender.
Estimated new salary: 37 millions over 5 years
Roylen Fillum. Shooting Guard. 6-5. 214 lbs. Age: 23
It seems that Fillum didn’t get the proper opportunity to prove himself in the WBA, having averaged only 16 minutes of playing time since he joined 4 season ago. Although his game is lacking in many areas (Handling, passing, rebounding and defense to name a few), Roylen possess great athletics and scoring abilities. He is a top 5 point guard if you look at True Shooting %. Surrounded by a talented squad that complement his scoring skills, Fillum might be able to find a niche in the WBA for a few more years. But the clock is ticking, and Roylen has to step up.
Estimated new salary: 30 millions over 5 years
Almantas Talacka. Small Forward. 6-5. 212 lbs. Age: 30
Talacka’s production has dropped substantially this past season, scoring 12 points less per game. His FG% and 3pts % also haven’t been lower in his 8 year career. Primarily a scorer, Almantas would not be that coveted if his offensive game is decreasing that quickly. His athletic abilities and overall skills could help him produce one or two solid seasons. Beware of overpaying long-term for him.
Estimated new salary: 16 millions over 2 years
Top 14 free agent summary
- Chris Acklin
- Kenyatta Davidson
- Matias Gutierrez
- Michal Askins
- Edgardo Blanco
- Guilhem Lamerand
- Omar Rozier
- Claude Weidner
- Curtis Starman
- Lazaro Hendricks
- Keenan Holter
- Brandon Duggins
- Roylen Fillum
- Almantas Talacka
Good luck to all general managers!