Best NBA Free Agents of Last 5 Years

Best NBA Free Agents of Last 5 Years
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

The New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets are participating in summer league games and looking for ways to improve their rosters.

With NBA free agency underway, EmpireStakes.com – your source for NY sportsbook promos - decided to look back at the best signing of each free agency class since 2018. To qualify for this list, the player must have signed with a new team and contributed all win shares to that team.

We utilized free agency records from Sportrac.com and statistics from Basketball-Reference.com to compile the list.

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Best NBA Free Agent Signings Since 2018

Here is a list of the best recent free agents:

Year, Player, Team Contract Terms Win Shares Stats
2018, LeBron James, Lakers  4 Years/$154M 30.2 223 G, 27 PPG, 8.2 AST, 8 TRB, 1.2 STL 
 2019, Jimmy Butler, Heat 4 Years/$142M 39.8 231 G, 21.5 PPG, 6.3 TRB, 5.9 AST, 1.8 STL
 2020, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Hawks 4 Years/$72M 10.3 161 G, 15.1 PPG, 3.6 TRB, 3 AST, .400 3P%
 2021, DeMar DeRozan, Bulls 3 Years/$85M 17.3 150 G, 26.2 PPG, 5 AST, 4.9 TRB, .504 FG%
 2022, Jalen Brunson, Knicks 4 Years/$104M 8.7 68 G, 24 PPG, 6.2 AST, 3.5 TRB, 0.9

Other Notable Signings For Comparison

Year, Player, Team Contract Terms Win Shares Stats
 2018, Julius Randle, Pelicans 2 Years/$18M 6.1 73 G, 21.4 PPG, 8.7 TRB, 3.1 AST, .524 FG%
 2019, Kawhi Leonard, Clippers 3 Years/$103M 24.6 161 G, 25.3 PPG, 6.7 TRB, 4.7 AST, 1.6 STL
 2019, Kevin Durant, Nets 4 Years/$164M 19.1 129 G, 29 PPG, 7.1 TRB, 5.8 AST, .535 FG%
 2019, Kyrie Irving, Nets 4 Years/$141M 17.9 143 G, 27.1 PPG, 5.8 AST, 4.8 TRB, 1.3 STL
 2020, Gordon Hayward, Hornets 4 Years/$120M 8.3 143 G, 16.6 PPG, 4.9 TRB, 3.9 AST, 1 STL
 2020, Danilo Gallinari, Hawks 3 Years/61.4M 7.4 117 G, 12.4 PPG, 4.4 TRB, .434 FG%, .392 3P%
 2021, Kyle Lowry, Heat 3 Years/85M 9.8 118 G, 12.4 PPG, 6.4 AST, 4.3 TRB, 1.1 STL
 2021, Lonzo Ball, Bulls 4 Years/$80M  2.2 35 G, 13 PPG, 5.4 TRB, 5.1 AST, 1.8 STL
 2022, Collin Sexton, Jazz 4 Years/$70.9M 2.5 48 G, 14.3 PPG, 2.9 AST, 2.2 TRB, .506 FG%

 

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Knicks Shrewd to Land Brunson

Without a doubt, a culture-changing acquisition happened to the Knicks when they acquired Jalen Brunson, formerly of the Dallas Mavericks and Villanova, in 2022.

Brunson, then 25, signed a four-year, $104 million dollar contract with New York and immediately has paid dividends.

You can’t bet on the MVP race at New York betting apps, but Brunson (+4800) is up to 12th in odds for the award at FanDuel.

Brunson played in 68 games last season and averaged 24 points, 6.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds and one steal per game. He led the Knicks to a 47–35 record and beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs before losing to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Knicks head into next season very much on the minds of New York sportsbooks.

For comparison, future Hall of Famer LeBron James signed a four-year, $154 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018. He has played in 223 games, averaging 27 points, 8.2 assists, eight rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. 

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Free Agency Flopped for Nets

Every NBA fan knows the story about the Brooklyn Nets signing two of the league’s star players - Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving - to four-year contracts. Durant signed for $164 million and Irving $141 million.

Pre-season prognosticators penciled in the Nets to at least win one NBA title during the duo's tenure. Add in a prolific scoring guard named James Harden and it was a given that multiple trophies would have resided in the Barclays Center.

FanDuel NY and other leading sportsbooks had the Nets as favorites to win the Eastern Conference, at least.

Instead, Durant, Irving and Harden together played just 365 minutes total over 16 games (10 regular-season, six playoff games).

The results: Harden was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, Durant went to the Phoenix Suns and Irving to the Dallas Mavericks.

Individual production from Durant and Irving was not a problem during their stints in Brooklyn. Durant played in 129 games (29 ppg., 7.1 rpg., 5.8 apg.) and Irving played in 143 games (27.1 ppg, 5.2 apg., 4.8 rpg., 1.3 steals per game).

Now, the Nets are back to the drawing board. They have dipped to the 18th choice to win the league at BetMGM and now are trying to improve in all facets of the game to make a return appearance to the NBA postseason.

You can find FanDuel and BetMGM New York promo codes on this site if you are considering a wager.

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Author

Lou Monaco had been East Coast Scene columnist for Gaming Today in Las Vegas since June 2019, covering the East Coast sportsbook scene with emphasis on NJ and PA. He also currently is a part-time writer for the high school sports department for NJ Advanced Media (NJ.com) in Iselin, NJ. Lou has over 30 years sports experience with previous stints at ESPN SportsTicker, Daily Racing Form and Oddschecker.

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