The 3 NBA Free Agents Who Will Have The Biggest Impact Next Season

Each guy will be a game-changer for some lucky squad in 2020.

Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson would have been Top 3 on this list if not for Durant’s Achilles injury and Thompson’s ACL tear suffered during a costly NBA Finals.

Therefore, these guys will loom largely in 2021 and be a vital part of some team’s structure. 

Thompson is expected to get a max-deal from Golden State and Durant will be offered the same, however, reports say that he’s leaning towards signing with one of the thirsty New York squads and joining the mix in the 2020-21 season. 

There are still some big-time superstars, franchise stars and semi-stars available for the picking. 

These three players, however, will have the greatest impact on whatever team they decide to join when the free agent frenzy pops off at 6 p.m. on June 30). 

Kawhi Leonard 

Leonard is the hottest thing going right now after leading Toronto to the franchise’s first NBA Championship. If he chooses to return to the Raptors then they become the automatic favorites to repeat.

If he goes to the Lakers and teams with LeBron and AD  then that would change the balance of power in the NBA again. He’s also rumored to have interested in going to the Los Angeles Clippers (he’s from nearby Riverside, Calif.) and is expected to grant the Knicks a meeting. 

Leonard is a supreme difference maker and wherever the two-time NBA Finals MVP goes that team will show tremendous improvement. 

Kemba Walker 

29-year-old Kemba Walker is older but healthier than Kyrie Irving, 27. Irving always seems to be one hard hit or knee buckle away from getting hurt. Walker has been stuck in Charlotte as MJ’s only piece of value for his entire career and is surely ready to get into a larger market and show the NBA world what they’ve been missing.  

The UConn product is a dynamic scorer and playmaker who averaged 25.6 points per game last season, good for 12th in the league.

Of course, he has an interest in returning to the Charlotte Hornets as they can offer him a five-year, $220 supermax deal – $30 million more than other teams – but he has also expressed a desire to play with a contender. 

The Celtics, Lakers, Knicks and plenty of other teams with max-space could use a guard of his stature. If you put Kemba in a winning atmosphere for the first time in his NBA career,  he will explode and his game will be respected on a whole other level as he’s won everywhere he has been in his career. 

DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins didn’t do a bad job after getting thrust into duty in a high stress, hotly -contested NBA Finals coming off of a serious injury. The know-nothing fans and analysts who criticized his play have probably never had to return from quadriceps injury following an Achilles injury the previous season.  He was rusty, but he was a gamer.

Cousins has been undervalued because of it and when he is fully healthy he should return to the walking double-double that he’s always been. He was a shell of himself in those playoffs, but he gritted it out and tried to compete. 

With a full summer to recover, Cousins could return to All-Star form and assume his place as a Top 5 big man in the game. Adding an inside, multi-faceted force like Cousins to the mix could seriously impact a club.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.