Top 30 free agents by the numbers

LeBron James best of top 30 FAs of 2014 by WARP, Win%, more

Updated: July 4, 2014, 1:35 PM ET
By Kevin Pelton | ESPN Insider

LeBron JamesJim McIsaac/Getty ImagesLeBron James' three-year WARP of 53.8 is 21.7 better than the next-best player.

Editor's Note: Signings are not official until the NBA's moratorium on free agent signings conclude on July 10.


There are two important questions regarding NBA players who became free agents at midnight ET: How much are they worth, and how much are they going to make? Insider's Amin Elhassan has addressed the latter question, projecting contracts for his top 30 free agents, and I'm here to provide a quantitative look at how much value the 30 free agents rated best will provide over the next three seasons.

To evaluate free agents, I've incorporated two ratings: my own player win percentages, based on the box score, and ESPN's real plus-minus. Together, the two ratings give a complete view of player performance.

Using an aging factor, I've projected both metrics for next season and combined them to a create a wins above replacement player (WARP) metric that estimates value based on this season's playing time and each player's injury history. Then, using the development of similar players at the same age from my SCHOENE projection system, I've projected 2015-16 and 2016-17 WARP totals for a total value over the next three seasons -- about the typical length of a contract in free agency.

Let's take a look at how that method ranks the top 30 free agents available.


1. LeBron James, F, Miami Heat
3-year WARP: 53.8 | 2014-15: 21.1 WARP, .780 Win%, +8.4 RPM

Using this exclusive analysis, I've determined that James is the best free agent available. If the ranking itself is not notable, James' dominance over the rest of the field is. He rates as more than 60 percent more valuable than any other free agent, making him a bargain at his maximum possible salary.