This season's NBA free agency period does not feature a lot of big names, but it is loaded with a number of players who could help potential suitors out in a big way. Outside of the paint, there is a glut of talented point guards who could help put a number of teams into contender status.
Williams is obviously the prize of free agency in 2012. After the Nets' draft pick was lost in the lottery to Portland as a condition of the trade for Gerald Wallace, there is little hope the newly situated Brooklyn Nets and Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov have the assets to keep Williams.
Last season, Williams was again one of the league's elite performers at the point guard position, averaging 21 points per game on 40.7% shooting and 8.7 assists per game-fifth-best in the NBA. His Player Efficiency Rating - PER was also excellent, as he notched a 20.34 rating last year.
Williams can turn basically any team into a contender instantly, as he is a tough guard who can score both on the drive and with his jumpshot, blending his scoring well with his passing ability. It is expected Williams will take these assets to Dallas, where the pairing of Williams and Dirk Nowtizki would make the Mavericks a definite contender for the Larry O'Brien trophy next June.
Editor's Note: Deron Williams re-signed with the Nets.
Gordon is the best shooting guard available on this year's market, but his restricted status as well as his injury woes from last season will more than likely prevent him from leaving New Orleans.
On the bright side, Gordon is still only 23 years old, and has established himself as one of the league's premier marksman from three-point range. If a team were to sign him, he would make a huge impact in the scoring department as he would bring four-year career averages of 18.2 points per game on 45.2% field goal percentage and a 37% clip from long range.
3. Steve Nash, Point Guard
Although Nash may not be regarded as highly as some of the younger point guards in this league, Nash would still make a huge impact on any team he would end up with. After years with the Phoenix Suns, who are looking to cut costs and acquire younger players, it appears Nash's tenure in Phoenix is just about over, a city where he won 2 NBA MVP awards.
Last season, Nash's numbers dropped in the scoring department, but Nash still averaged a double-double with 12.5 points and 10.7 assists per game-and posted an impressive PER of 20.29-while carrying the Suns to a 33-33 record. His assist totals ranked second in the league this season behind only Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics.
From the field, Nash was still excellent as he shot 53.2% overall and 42.8% from three-point land. For whoever loses out on Williams, Nash would certainly make a more than suitable consolation prize.
Editor's Note: Nash signed with the LA Lakers.
4. Goran Dragic, Point Guard
Dragic is probably the most interesting free agent on the market this season. Last season, he only started 28 games after Rockets starter Kyle Lowry went down, but in those games Dragic averaged 18 points and 8.4 assists per game. Overall, he finished the season with 11.7 points and 5.3 assists while only playing an average of 26.5 minutes per game.
He posted an impressive PER of 18.03, and more than likely will be pursued aggressively by teams that are in need of a starting point guard. At only 26, Dragic showed flashes of his potential during his team in Phoenix, as well as coming off the bench in Houston but his performance as the starting point guard proved to league executives he is ready to become one of the league's better point guards with a full-time role.
Editor's Note: Dragic signs with the Phoenix Suns.
Wallace is the best available option at the 3 this summer, but many expect the Brooklyn Nets to make a strong push to re-sign him in their efforts to bring Williams back. Either way, Wallace brings a versatile game to the small forward position, and rebounds very well for the position as he averaged 6.7 per game last season, and posted an overall PER of 15.98.
Wallace can also score, as he finished the season at 13.8 points per game but averaged 15.2 per game in the 16 games he played as a Net after he was acquired in a trade with Portland. If he was acquired by a contender, he would make for a solid role player who can shoot the three-ball and is athletic enough to guard three positions, from the two to the four.
Editor's Note: Wallace signs with the Nets.
6. Lou Williams, Point Guard
Williams is a combo guard that would likely start for whatever team he goes to. Williams led the Philadelphia 76ers in scoring last season at 14.9 points per game while only playing an average of 26.3 minutes a night. The 25 year old guard posted a 20.22 PER as well, highest on his team, and seems poised to take the leap into becoming another one of the league's stellar point guards when he gets a chance to run the point full-time.
7. Ramon Sessions, Point Guard
Sessions is another young point guard, at 26, who will immediately help whoever if he signs with if the Los Angeles Lakers are unable to bring him back. Between his time spent in Los Angeles and Cleveland last season, Sessions averaged 11.3 points and 5.5 assists per game, while shooting very well from beyond the arc at 44.3%, earning him a PER of 16.79.
In the 23 games he played for the Lakers, Sessions upped all of his numbers, as he shot 47.9% from the field and scored 12.7 points per game in contrast to shooting 39.8% and 10.5 points a contest as the backup to Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving. With his time spent with a contender, Sessions can certainly help a team looking for a new floor general if he leaves L.A.
8. O.J. Mayo, Shooting Guard
Mayo has been a backup for most of his career, with the Grizzlies' coaching staff opting to play players like Tony Allen to gain a defensive asset in the starting lineup and use Mayo off the bench as a scoring threat. Wherever Mayo goes, that will change. After nearly being traded in the past two seasons at the trade deadline, Mayo is a certainty to leave Memphis.
Mayo is another young player who will make an impact with whomever he signs with, having definitely proven his scoring ability in his four seasons in the league, as he would bring his career average of 15.2 points per game and could give a team a shot in the arm offensively.
9. Ray Allen, Shooting Guard
Although Allen is not one of the fresher names on the market this year, he still is a productive two guard and is already rumored to have drawn interest by this year's champions, the Miami Heat.
Last season, Allen continued to shoot the ball as well as his reputation holds, scoring 14.2 points per game on 45.8% shooting from the field. His three-point field goal percentage of 45.3% was tied for fourth-best in the league.
10. Jason Terry, Shooting Guard
Like Allen, Terry is another older player but one who will certainly help the team he goes to. As we saw as recently as this season, Terry can still score and has not lost anything off of his very accurate shooting stroke.
Although 34 years old, Terry averaged 15.1 points off the bench in 31.7 minutes per game last season for the Dallas Mavericks. For teams whose bench production is lackluster, Terry could be a quality option if he can be signed for the right price as it is rumored Terry is looking for a long-term deal for more than he is worth.
Editor's Note: Terry signed with the Celtics.
For more on NBA free agency, check out our 2012 NBA Free Agency Guide: Post Players!