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NBA free agents ready to cash in after 2022 playoffs

Back in 2018, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green told the team leader that there were “players with 82 games” and “players with 16 games”. The former may run numbers during the regular season, but as teams progress further into the playoffs, they often fall by the wayside.

A player who has played 82 games often has outstanding skills, whether it’s three-point shooting or blocking defense, but he also has a distinct weakness. If they are a liability at either end of the court, teams start using it repeatedly in the postseason.

A handful of future free agents have used the 2022 NBA playoffs to prove they’re out of 16 games. That should put them in line for a hefty salary as free agents this summer.

The next five, in particular, are likely to have earned themselves a nice raise for their performance in this year’s playoffs.

Jalen Brunson, PG, Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks could have offered Jalen Brunson a four-year, $55.5 million extension before the start of the season, but they delayed it until after the February trade deadline, according to ESPN. Tim McMahon. At that point, Brunson was averaging 16.0 points on 50.3% shooting, 5.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game.

“I told him once the season starts, that’s it,” Brunson’s father, Rick, told McMahon. “I told the Mavericks, ‘Once the season starts, there will be no contract talks,’ and I went against my word. In January, I thought he had done enough that he deserved. [the extension]. I said, “Hey, take the money, man.” He wants security. He wants to live here. And they refused.”

The decision could net Brunson an additional $30-40 million depending on how he handled the Mavericks’ advance to the Western Conference Finals.

In their first-round win over the Utah Jazz — the first two games of which went without star guard Luka Doncic — Brunson posted 27.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. His mastery with 41 points, eight rebounds and five assists in Game 2 kept the Mavericks out of a 0-2 hole without Doncic, and they won three of their next four to round out the Jazz and send them to potentially existential corkscrew.

Brunson struggled in the first two games of the Mavericks’ second-round series against the top-seeded Phoenix Suns, shooting 9-for-28 (32.1 percent) with nine rebounds, five assists and four assists. But in the last five games of the series, he averaged 21.8 points on 48.9% shooting, 4.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and just 1.4 assists per game, including 24 points on 11 of 19 shots in their dizzying away game 7.

NBA executives who spoke to McMahon predicted that Brunson would earn at least $20 million a year from his next contract. He will be one of the top prizes in the free agent class this year, especially if James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine re-sign with their teams.

Kevon Looney, C, Golden State Warriors

Kevon Looney got off to a solid start to the playoffs, averaging just 4.0 points and 4.8 rebounds in 14.3 minutes in the Golden State Warriors’ first 10 games. Draymond Green’s fifth-place play has long been their trump card in the postseason, limiting minutes for a traditional center like Looney.

But in the final Game 6, defeating the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference semi-finals, Looney grabbed an outrageous 22 rebounds, including 11 offensive shields. He then turned that monster game into a strong showing against the Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals.

In the Warriors’ five-game win over Dallas, Looney averaged 10.6 points on 70.6% shooting and 10.6 rebounds in 28.0 minutes per game. Neither Dwight Powell nor Maxi Kleber could stop him from dominating the glass or acting as a cross or drop threat.

After a quiet game with 10 points and five rebounds in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, Looney scored 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting and 12 rebounds in Game 2. Thus, he became the first Warriors center to have a 20-10 playoff game since Robert Parish in 1977, according to StatMuse.

“You kind of have a core group of guys who represent your culture, your identity, what you do,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr recently told reporters. Connor Letourneau belonging Chronicle of San Francisco. “Mostly they are mentors and leaders. We feel their presence every day. It affects the whole group. That’s what Loon is for us.”

Looney has made a measly $5.2 million this season, but he could be looking at a serious promotion if any team deems him a starting center after this playoff series. The Warriors have to balance player retention with the threat of a hefty luxury tax that could limit how much they’re willing to spend on Looney.

Victor Oladipo, SG, Miami Heat

Victor Oladipo was a two-time All-Star in 2017/18 and 2018/19, but a quadriceps tendon injury derailed his career. He played in just 52 games in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons combined, and in the most recent campaign he has been bouncing between the Indiana Pacers, Houston Rockets and Miami Heat.

Last summer, he re-signed with the Heat to a one-year, $2.4 million contract as they gave him the opportunity to slowly rehab after suffering a serious illness. second operation on this quadriceps tendon. This decision may soon pay off as Oladipo has established himself as a key rotation player on his way to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Oladipo played just eight games in the regular season, making his season debut in early March. The Heat kept him out of the first three games of their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, but he broke the rotation in Game 4 and then scored 23 points on 8 of 16 shots in their final Game 5 victory, which came without Jimmy Butler and Kyle. Lowry.

Heat head coach Eric Spoelstra turned down Duncan Robinson due to his defensive limitations, opening up an opportunity for Oladipo to cement his role off the bench. He had three double-digit records in a four-game stretch against the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, although he cooled off against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, averaging 9.7 points per game on just 30.6 percent shooting.

“Once he recovered, you immediately saw his defensive presence and now how powerful he can be.” – Spoelstra told reporters. “And then, on offense, as the playoffs went on, it was so funny and crazy, like he was getting better at the most intense moments.”

The Hit have Bird’s rights to Oladipo, so they can go over the salary cap to re-subscribe him to any salary up to the maximum. His playoff performance could see other teams come to us with some or all of the mid-level eliminations as well.

Tyus Jones, PG, Memphis Grizzlies

Tyus Jones has established himself as one of the NBA’s top backup point guards over the past few years with the Memphis Grizzlies. The playoffs briefly gave him the opportunity to prove what he can do as a starter.

When All-Star point guard Ja Morant suffered a bruised right knee bone during the Grizzlies’ second-round series against the Warriors, Jones moved to the starting lineup in his place. He finished with 19 points on 8-of-18 shooting, six rebounds and five assists in Memphis’ three-point loss in Game 4, but he bounced back with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, nine assists, three rebounds and two steals in the playoff. victory in the fifth game.

Jones struggled off the field in the final loss in Game 6, scoring just seven points on 2-of-12 shooting, but he grabbed nine rebounds, eight assists and two steals. He also took over complex of defensive tasks throughout the series, from bigger guards and wings like Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins to smaller combination guards like Jordan Poole and Stephen Curry.

Jones started 23 regular season games in Morant’s absence, and the Grizzlies went 19-4 in his starts. But with Morant fixed as a Memphis franchise point guard, it’s unclear if Jones will be satisfied with re-signing as a substitute.

“Of course I would love to be a starter in this league,” Jones said. Damichelle Cole belonging Commercial attraction of Memphis. “I think any player in this league that you ask will say that. I’d be lying if I said no. At the same time, this is not the end of everything, be everything.”

Jones made $8.4 million last season, but he could expect a significant raise if any team makes him their next starting point guard. ESPN Bobby Marks Proposed teams must cross Jones “off their wish list” if they hope to receive a $10.3 million mid-career non-taxpayer exemption this summer.

Gary Payton II, PG/SG, Golden State Warriors

After racing between the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, and Washington Wizards during his first four seasons in the NBA, Gary Payton II finally found a home with the Golden State Warriors. He averaged career points (7.1), rebounds (3.5) and minutes (17.6) per game during the regular season, and he started 16 games for them this year after starting just 23. games in their first five seasons in the NBA combined.

The 29-year-old also had an impact on the path to this year’s championship.

In the final Game 5 defeating the Denver Nuggets in the first round, Payton scored 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, three rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block in 26 minutes. He then scored eight points on 4-of-5 shooting, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block against the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals while defending superstar point guard Ja Morant.

From that point on, Payton’s playoffs nearly came to a halt as he broke his elbow early in Game 2 when Dillon Brooks fouled him from behind when trying to block pursuit. He missed the remainder of the series against the Grizzlies and the Western Conference Finals, but returned in Game 2 of the NBA Finals and scored seven points on 3-of-3 shooting, three rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes.

Payton helped the Warriors seize control of the Finals in Game 5 with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, five rebounds and three steals in 26 minutes off the bench. This is an incredible turn for someone who almost got a job with the Warriors as pre-season video coordinator.

Unless otherwise noted, all statistics through NBA.com, PBPStats, Glass cleaning or Basketball Handbook. All salary information Spotrak or RealGM. All coefficients through Bookmaker FanDuel.

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