The NBA playoffs are nearing the end of the second round and players around the league are beginning to separate the good from the great.
Under the brightest lights, these games have massive implications for the future value of upcoming free agents. Of course, executives around the league always have tough decisions to make about who they plan to re-sign as well as who they plan to pursue or let walk during free agency. But with postseason play, some of those hard choices are becoming easier to make.
For this exercise, we have also included salary projections from ProFitX, which is a financial and performance index powered by artificial intelligence. Their program models historical and future performance data to monitor and project insights on contracts.
As part of our ongoing series at HoopsHype, we are looking at whose free agency stock has gone up – and down – over the last several games.
Stock up: Jeff Green (Brooklyn)
Without guard Kyrie Irving on the floor due to injury, and James Harden clearly not yet at 100 percent, the Brooklyn Nets got a huge assist from Jeff Green on Tuesday evening.
Green, 34, was a perfectly serviceable complimentary piece for the star-studded Nets during the regular season. He served as an occasional starter who slotted in well in an otherwise often thin frontcourt that briefly lacked depth after trading Jarrett Allen. But during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Green was so much more than just a member of the rotation.
In his second game back after missing six consecutive appearances with a foot injury, Green finished with 27 points on 7-for-8 shooting from beyond the arc. He also added three assists and a block during the performance, which helped Brooklyn secure a come-from-behind victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Jeff Green tonight:
+12 +/- (highest on team)
The real All-NBA snub. pic.twitter.com/YOkJf9DRfZ
— StatMuse (@statmuse) June 16, 2021
Now that Green has already played for 10 NBA teams, two short of the most in league history, he has made it clear that he would like to “settle down in Brooklyn” and remain with the Nets for the foreseeable future.
But he also reiterated that he doesn’t know what else he needs to do to prove that he is not a “minimum guy” on his next deal.
Green, who shot a career-best 41.2 percent on three-pointers during the regular season and leads the East in contested three-pointers on defense per game in postseason play thus far, should have sealed the deal for a multi-year contract at least around the value of the mid-level exception.
Estimates from our friends ProfitX, meanwhile, have home pegged between $9 million and $11 million average annual value.
For the latest news and rumors on Jeff Green, click here.
Stock down: Georges Niang (Utah)
Before we get into the bad, let’s start with the good: by all accounts, as we wrote earlier this season, Utah’s Georges Niang was one of the most improved defensive players in the league during the regular season.
But that version of Niang is not the same one we are seeing against the L.A. Clippers during the second round of the playoffs. He hasn’t recorded a steal in the postseason and he is fouling too often, committing violations on 6.8 percent of his team possessions. That currently ranks as the worst among all non-big men in the league since the playoffs began, per Cleaning the Glass.
Georges Niang is a disaster pic.twitter.com/5PIm3sYyvz
— Slightly Biased (@BiasedSlightly) June 15, 2021
His offensive woes are even worse, however, as he hasn’t made a shot in any of his last three games. In fact, during the series against the Clippers, he is a dreadful 1-for-10 from the field. He has also recorded four costly turnovers, including two back-to-back in Game 3. Among all who have logged at least 40 minutes in the postseason, Niang has lost the ball out of bounds (1.28 per 100 possessions) more often than everyone except Andre Drummond.
Most concerning: During the entirety of the playoffs, he is just 1-for-8 from the field on shots that are not three-pointers. Let that sink in: over the course of nine postseason games and with more than 100 minutes of action recorded, Niang has made just one layup and nothing else within 24 feet of the basket.
It is safe to assume that when it comes to his unrestricted free agency, the recent play will likely hinder Niang.
For the latest news and rumors on Georges Niang, click here.
Stock up: Torrey Craig (Phoenix)
There is always room for gritty guys like Torrey Craig who are able to make their team better without necessarily needing the ball in their hands to make an impact.
While those are not always the type of players whose name pops when casual fans look at the box score, as Craig could go most of the game without taking a shot, a contending roster needs players who are able to play within their role. It is hard not to appreciate the level of determination that he plays with whenever he is in the game.
Just watch Torrey Craig on this sequence. pic.twitter.com/5uuJNbGUfd
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) June 10, 2021
The Phoenix Suns were always going to stand out on offense thanks to the prowess of Devin Booker. Craig, who won Best Defensive Player in Australia’s NBL in 2017, makes them a more complete team.
He has allowed just 0.303 points per possession on defense during the playoffs, according to Synergy, the best mark among all players in the playoffs. While he is just 6-foot-7, he leads his team (minimum: 50 minutes) with 1.8 blocks and 11.2 rebounds per 36 minutes during postseason play.
It’s going to be an expensive offseason for the Suns with looming extensions for Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, plus whatever happens with Chris Paul’s player option.
However, re-signing Cameron Payne and Torrey Craig should be very important. Phoenix’s bench unit is so solid.
— Evan Sidery (@esidery) June 10, 2021
Suns head coach Monty Williams recently said that his team would be in a “different place” without Craig. He added that the organization absolutely needed him when they were able to get him when they acquired him for cash consideration from the Milwaukee Bucks earlier this season.
Meanwhile, his former head coach Mike Malone said that he wished Craig “was still in a Nugget uniform” after the Suns eliminated Denver from the playoffs.
With that kind of praise, it seems obvious that he will be worth every penny of whatever deal that he is offered during the upcoming offseason. But the question is simply how much Phoenix will be able to offer. Frankly, whatever number you currently have in your head, is not enough.
For the latest news and rumors on Torrey Craig, click here.
Stock down: Tony Snell (Atlanta)
Coming into the season, few expected Tony Snell to have a particularly big impact on the Atlanta Hawks. The organization was stacked at his position, but due to various injuries, Snell was able to get consistent minutes.
The 6-foot-6 wing used his time well, shooting an absurd 56.9 percent from beyond the arc during the regular season. He averaged 1.26 points per possession, via Synergy, which was 99th percentile among all players. Snell was also the most efficient player in the league when shooting off the catch. Ultimately, no matter which way you looked at it, Snell had one of the most underrated seasons in the NBA.
But the reality is that the playoffs have not been as kind to Snell and he has come crashing back down to Earth.
Tony Snell gonna regress all the way to the mean by halftime?
— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) June 15, 2021
Snell has literally made just one field goal during the entirety of the playoffs and it was the first game, which means he has been held scoreless since May 23. He is shooting just 1-for-7 on his three-pointers and 0-for-4 within the arc.
Atlanta is averaging 92.4 points per 100 possessions when he has been on the floor during the playoffs but 114.2 points per 100 when he is not, per PBP Stats. Their defensive rating when he has been off the floor is 108.3 but has spiked to 124.3 when he is playing. That results in a net rating swing of 37.8 points per 100 worse when he is on compared to when he is not.
While he could have been in line for a big payday thanks to his excellent catch-and-shooting ability, those aspirations seem less likely after a very rough month of action.
For the latest news and rumors on Tony Snell, click here.