2022 NBA free agent rankings: Zach LaVine, Bradley Beal, Kyrie Irving among top players

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Zach LaVine (8) and Bradley Beal (3) are two of the top free agents in 2022 NBA free agency.
Zach LaVine (8) and Bradley Beal (3) are two of the top free agents in 2022 NBA free agency.

NBA free agents can officially begin negotiating with teams on Thursday at 3 p.m. Arizona time.

Here's a look at some of the names to watch in 2022 NBA free agency:

2022 NBA free agent rankings:

Who's the No. 1 free agent in the NBA in 2022?

Several sites list Chicago Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine as the No. 1 free agent in the NBA as the 2022 free agency period gets set to open.

Hoops Hype's Frank Urbina wrote of LaVine: "Explosive 2-guard who can score from all three levels and has elite athleticism. Injuries remain a concern. Made the playoffs for the first time this season while proving he’s not an empty-stats guy."

SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell wrote about why he has LaVine as the top free agent on the market.

He wrote: "LaVine’s numbers speak for themselves. Over the last two seasons, LaVine is averaging 25.8 points per game on ridiculous 62 percent true shooting by making 55 percent of his two-pointers, 40 percent of his threes on 7.6 attempts per game, and 85 percent of his free throws. He willingly became the No. 2 option on the Bulls in a contract year to allow DeMar DeRozan to run the offense in crunch-time, and finally made the playoffs for the first time since he was drafted in 2014. While his defense still isn’t great, LaVine’s scoring package combines movement shooting with the ability to pressure the rim as a driver. That’s what almost every team wants around their superstar."

The Sporting News also ranked LaVine as the No. 1 free agent in the 2022 class.

Stephen Noh wrote: "LaVine is coming off his second consecutive All-Star game appearance. He’s one of the most talented scorers in the league, averaging 24.4 points per game last season. While knee problems slowed him down, offseason surgery should remedy those issues. He’s also hitting his prime. LaVine will be eligible for a five-year, $212 million contract from the Bulls. There was some early speculation that he could switch teams, but those rumors have fizzled out. Barring something shocking, he should sign that maximum deal with the Bulls soon after free agency begins."

NBC Sports, however, had point guard Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets ranked No. 1 on its list of free agents. Irving has a player option.

Mike Deprisco wrote: "Irving has stated his desire to re-sign with the Nets and continue to play alongside Kevin Durant. The contract length and value will be interesting to see after a tumultuous season for the Nets, which included Irving's stretch as a part-time player after refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19."

Sportsnaut listed Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who also has a player option, as its top free agent.

Vincent Frank wrote: "Beal has reportedly made his free-agent decision, but has not let the Wizards or any other team know. There’s been a lot of talk about him returning to D.C. With that said, Washington’s lack of success with Beal in the mix could lead to him testing the open waters. The Portland Trail Blazers have come up as a recent potential landing spot for the star guard. Since the start of the 2019-20 campaign, Beal is averaging 29.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists on 47% shooting. He’s an elite scorer.

Hoops Rumors also listed Beal as its No. 1 free agent in 2022.

Luke Adams wrote: "Four or five players have a legitimate case to be considered this summer’s top free agent. I’m giving the nod to Beal despite a disappointing 2021/22 season in which he was limited to 40 games and made just 30.0% of his three-pointers. Even in his down year, Beal continued to expand his ability as a play-maker, posting a career high 6.6 APG. And in each of the two prior seasons, he averaged more than 30 points per game. He’s entering his age-29 season, so there’s no reason not to believe a bounce-back year is in the cards, along with a potential $200MM+ contract this summer."

Kyrie Irving and James Harden are a couple of the biggest names in the 2022 NBA free agency market.
Kyrie Irving and James Harden are a couple of the biggest names in the 2022 NBA free agency market.

Who are the other top NBA free agents on the market?

Hoops Hype had the Philadelphia 76ers' James Harden, who has a player option for 2022, ranked No. 2 on its list of the top free agents in the NBA in 2022 behind LaVine.

It put Kyrie Irving third, followed by Bradley Beal.

The Phoenix Suns' Deandre Ayton, a restricted free agent, rounded out its Top 5.

Of Harden, it wrote: "Has he lost a step athletically or are injuries to blame for his slight decline? That question will have to be answered by the Sixers and prospective suitors. Even a step slower, however, he remains a top-level scorer and playmaker."

NBC Sports had Bradley Beal No. 2 behind Kyrie Irving on its list, with James Harden No. 3 and Zach LaVine No. 4.

It put Deandre Ayton as the fifth best free agent in the 2022 NBA free agency class.

It wrote of Ayton: "The Suns had a chance to sign Ayton to a rookie-scale extension before this season began, but the two sides couldn't agree on terms. Whether the Suns go deep into the luxury tax for Ayton to keep their core together long-term is one of the bigger storylines of the 2022 offseason."

Sportnaut had Kyrie Irving ranked No. 2 on its list after Bradley Beal. Zach LaVine was No. 3 and Deandre Ayton was No. 4.

It placed Charlotte Hornets restricted free agent Miles Bridges at No. 5.

Of Bridges, it wrote: "Bridges, 24, might not have a ton of name recognition. But the former Michigan State star has proven himself to be a solid two-way forward. He’s took that to a whole new level this past regular season, breaking out in a big way. Bridges averaged 20.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists on 49% shooting. Considering his age, it should come as no surprise he’ll be one of the most coveted NBA free agents and should land a max contract offer. Whether that’s with the Hornets depends heavily on their ability to trade high-priced wing Gordon Hayward."

Hoops Rumors had Zach LaVine behind Bradley Beal in its ranking, and James Harden behind LaVine at No. 3.

It put Deandre Ayton at No. 4 and Kyrie Irving at No. 5.

The Sporting News went with Bradley Beal after Zach LaVine and put James Harden No. 3.

It ranked Kyrie Irving No. 4 and Miles Bridges No. 5, ahead of No. 6 Deandre Ayton.

SB Nation had Bradley Beal second in its ranking of NBA free agents for 2022, behind Zach LaVine.

James Harden was third, with Deandre Ayton fourth and Kyrie Irving fifth.

Will restricted free agent Deandre Ayton be a hot commodity in 2022 NBA free agency?
Will restricted free agent Deandre Ayton be a hot commodity in 2022 NBA free agency?

Who are the other major free agents to keep an eye on?

Here are some other free agents to watch in 2022 NBA free agency:

  • Guard Jalen Brunson, unrestricted free agent, Dallas Mavericks

  • Guard Anfernee Simons, restricted free agent, Portland Trail Blazers

  • Guard Collin Sexton, restricted free agent, Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Forward/Center Bobby Portis, player option, Milwaukee Bucks

  • Center Mitchell Robinson, unrestricted free agent, New York Knicks

  • Wing Luguentz Dort, team option, Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Center Jusuf Nurkic, unrestricted free agent, Portland Trail Blazers

  • Guard Russell Westbrook, player option, Los Angeles Lakers

  • Wing Bruce Brown, unrestricted free agent, Brooklyn Nets

  • Guard Malik Monk, unrestricted free agent, Los Angeles Lakers

  • Center Mo Bamba, restricted free agent, Orlando Magic

  • Forward Kyle Anderson, unrestricted free agent, Memphis Grizzlies

  • Forward/center Chris Boucher, unrestricted free agent, Toronto Raptors

  • Guard Gary Payton II, unrestricted free agent, Golden State Warriors

  • Forward Nicolas Batum, player option, Los Angeles Clippers

  • Forward Thaddeus Young, unrestricted free agent, Toronto Raptors

  • Guard Gary Harris, unrestricted free agent, Orlando Magic

  • Forward P.J. Tucker, player option, Miami Heat

  • Guard Tyus Jones, unrestricted free agent, Memphis Grizzlies

  • Guard Ricky Rubio, unrestricted free agent, Indiana Pacers

For point guards to watch in 2022 NBA free agency, click here.

For shooting guards to watch in 2022 NBA free agency, click here.

For small forwards to watch in 2022 NBA free agency, click here.

For power forwards to watch in 2022 NBA free agency, click here.

For centers to watch in 2022 NBA free agency, click here.

NBA's highest paid players in 2021-22 season:

Reach Jeremy Cluff at jeremy.cluff@arizonarepublic.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jeremy_Cluff.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: 2022 NBA free agent rankings: Who are top players in NBA free agency?