Ranking the Top 2021 NBA Free Agents at Point Guard
The 2020-2021 NBA season is over and now it’s time to shift our focus to NBA free agency.
While the 2021 NBA free agent pool may not be as top-heavy as it has been in previous years, there are still plenty of quality players out there.
In this list, I’ll be looking at the five best free agent point guards available. However, I will not include any player that has yet to decline their player option. That’s why you won’t see Chris Paul on this list. For the record, he would be number one if he declined the player option.
Let’s move forward with my NBA free agent point guard rankings for 2021.
5. Dennis Schroder
It’s hard to believe that Dennis Schroder will only be turning 28 in September. It seems like he’s been around a lot longer than that. This point guard will enter his ninth season in the league this fall.
Schroder backed up fellow point guard Jeff Teague during his first three seasons with the Atlanta Hawks. In his third season, Schroder averaged 11 points and a career-high 6.3 assists.
Since becoming a starter in 2016, Schroder has made his presence known offensively. Here’s his scoring per year since then.
- 2016: 17.9
- 2017: 19.4
- 2018: 15.5
- 2019: 18.9
- 2020: 15.4
He finally got his chance to start when the Hawks traded Teague ahead of the 2016-2017 season. Schroder averaged 17.9 points that season, but really elevated his game in the postseason. In six postseason games, he averaged 24.7 points and 7.7 assists.
During the 2017-2018 season, he averaged a career-high 19.4 points. The Hawks then traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Schroder went back to the bench. But he did finish second in Sixth Man of the Year voting after averaging 18.9 points in 2019-2020.
The Thunder traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers last season. Despite playing a career-high 32 minutes per game, his scoring average was the lowest it had been since the 2015-2016 season.
His value really took a hit during the 2021 playoffs. Schroder struggled big time, averaging just 14.3 points. He shot 30.8 percent of those from three-point range.
Los Angeles offered Schroder a four-year, $84 million contract extension during the season but he declined it. Schroder reportedly is looking for a contract that pays him between $100-$120 million.
I’d have to imagine it’ll be a five-year contract as opposed to four. $25-$30 million a year is a steep price for Schroder.
Now, he could return to Los Angeles because they hold his Bird rights. That means the team can go over the salary cap to re-sign him. There are also rumors going around that he could join the Washington Wizards in a sign-and-trade.
The Lakers appear interested in other free agent point guards, so I think Schroder will be moving on to his fourth team in the five seasons.
4. Spencer Dinwiddie
Spencer Dinwiddie is a player who just continues to get better as time goes on. He only played 46 games in his first two seasons in the NBA with the Detroit Pistons.
Following a brief stint with the Chicago Bulls G-League affiliate, Dinwiddie signed with the Brooklyn Nets in December 2016. That season, he had a career-high 44.4 field goal percentage and 37.6 three-point percentage.
He started 58 games in the 2017-2018 season. Though his shooting numbers dipped a bit, he averaged over 10 points for the first time in a season. Despite moving to a bench role, Dinwiddie averaged 16.8 points the following season.
Dinwiddie had the best period of his career in the 2019-2020 season. Here are his averages for the season.
- 20.6 points
- 6.8 assists
- 3.5 rebounds
- 41.5 field goal percentage
During this full season, his points, assists, and rebounds all represented a career high.
Unfortunately, Dinwiddie barely had a chance to increase his numbers, as he tore his ACL just three games into the 2020-2021 season.
Following that season, Dinwiddie declined his player option, making him an unrestricted free agent. He has already come out and said that he wants a five-year deal worth $125 million. That is a bit hefty for someone coming off an ACL tear.
Right now, it appears the Lakers are his top choice, but the Clippers remain in the race. Neither team would be able to sign Dinwiddie straight up at his asking price, so they would have to execute a sign-and-trade.
It’s worth noting that only the Nets can offer Dinwiddie a five-year deal. Dinwiddie said he’s willing to return to Brooklyn if they offered him that deal, but it’ll be tough for the team, considering the money they have dedicated to their big three.
3. Lonzo Ball
Lonzo Ball generated a lot of hype on and off the court before he entered the NBA. His father, LaVar Ball, made Lonzo a household name while he was still in college.
The buzz grew even more when his hometown team, the Los Angeles Lakers, drafted him second overall in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Ball had solid all-around stats, averaging 10.2 points, 7.2 assists, and 6.9 rebounds during his rookie season. He did shoot a career-worst 36.0 percent from the field. Ball’s shooting got a little better in his second season, but most of his per-game numbers went down.
Los Angeles traded Ball to the New Orleans Pelicans in a package for Anthony Davis.
Following that, he continued to improve his shooting, as he shot 37.5 percent from three-point range. That number was up over five percent from his previous season. During the season, he averaged 11.8 points, 7.0 assists, and 6.1 rebounds.
In the 2020-2021 season, he averaged a career-high 14.6 points. He also started in every game he played for the first time in his career. Ball’s field goal percentage of 41.4 and three-point percentage of 37.8 both marked career highs.
Maybe the most underrated aspect of his improvement, though, is his free throw shooting. Just look at his numbers in four seasons.
|Season||Free Throw Percentage|
For now, Ball is a restricted free agent. That means the Pelicans can match any offer made to him. However, the Pelicans have indicated they won’t match a big offer for Ball.
As he is just 23 years old, it’s likely Ball will get an offer in the $20 million a year range. While that may be too rich for New Orleans, there are some other suitors out there.
Right now, it appears the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls are the frontrunners to land Ball. However, don’t count out a reunion with the Lakers.
2. Mike Conley
Mike Conley will be entering his 15th season in the NBA this fall. He’s still without a doubt poised to be one of the best NBA free agent point guards in 2021.
Conley has never been among the league’s most elite players, but his steady numbers make him a valuable player.
Conley spent the first 12 years of his career with the Memphis Grizzlies. For the majority of his time with the Grizzlies, he averaged between 12 to 17 points with around six assists. He also shot right around 44 percent from the field.
What may turn out to be the best season of his career came in 2016-2017. Conley averaged 20.5 points, 6.3 assists, and 3.5 rebounds. He also shot a career-high 45.7 percent from the field. In the playoffs that season, he averaged 24.7 points. Conley averaged a career-high 21.7 points in his final season with the Grizzlies.
Before the 2019-2020 season, the Utah Jazz acquired Conley. Conley struggled during his first season with just 14.4 points, but he played an integral role in the Jazz with the best record in the league in the 2020-2021 season.
He shot a career-high 41.2 percent from three-point range. In turn, he upped his points per game to 16.2. Conley also made the All-Star team for the first time in his career.
Jazz guard Mike Conley will replace injured Suns guard Devin Booker on Team Durant in the NBA All-Star Game and in the 3-Point Contest, the league announced.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 6, 2021
It is Conley’s first All-Star appearance. pic.twitter.com/ZwlK4mKMl4
When Conley was a free agent in 2016, he signed a five-year, $153 million contract, a deal that made him the highest-paid player in NBA history. Of course, many players have surpassed that number since then.
At 33 years old Conley won’t receive a big offer like that anymore. However, he still offers a lot of value for whatever team he signs with.
Right now, it looks like Conley will return to Utah. Teammate Donovan Mitchell teased the expectation recently on social media.
Both sides have expressed interest in remaining together, but the Jazz’s cap situation could complicate things.
We’ll see if Conley is willing to take less to make life easier for Utah. If not, look out for a team like the New York Knicks or Dallas Mavericks.
1. Kyle Lowry
It may seem like Mike Conley’s been around for a while, but Kyle Lowry entered the league a year sooner. Lowry spent the first three years of his career with Conley in Memphis, but he didn’t make much of an impact during that time.
Lowry then spent the next four years with the Houston Rockets. During his final two seasons with the team, he averaged 13.9 points and 6.7 assists.
The Rockets then traded Lowry to the Toronto Raptors ahead of the 2012-2013 season, where he quickly became an icon. Lowry made six consecutive All-Star game appearances from 2015-2020. His best two seasons came in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017.
Here are a few numbers from those seasons. Note that the stats in bold represent a career high.
|Points Per Game||21.2||22.4|
|Assists Per Game||6.4||7.0|
|Rebounds Per Game||4.7||4.8|
|Steals Per Game||2.1||1.5|
|Field Goal Percentage||42.7||46.4|
|Three-Point Field Goal %||38.8||41.2|
He also played a big hand in Toronto winning their first-ever NBA Championship in 2019.
After nine seasons with Toronto, it looks like Lowry will be moving on to the next chapter in his NBA career.
Even at 35 years old, Lowry has multiple suitors. The Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat both attempted to acquire Lowry at the trade deadline, and both teams will likely continue their pursuit.
In addition to Philadelphia and Miami, the New Orleans Pelicans and New York Knicks may strongly pursue Lowry. However, it appears Lowry has a preferred destination, and it isn’t any of those teams.
People close to Lowry believe he wants to join the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers have a hole at the point guard position with Dennis Schroder likely on the way out. Because of their salary cap, they would need to execute a sign-and-trade.
Looking Ahead in 2021 NBA Free Agency
While this isn’t the top-heaviest group, it still represents quality pieces. Just about all these point guards are going to receive big offers. I expect all of them to make a significant impact on whichever team they sign with.
It’s anyone’s guess where these five-point guards wind up. However, as noted, they’re all going to get paid, and they just might help their next team compete for a title in 2021.
If you like these 2021 NBA free agent point guard rankings, be sure to be on the lookout for breakdowns of the other main positions.