In today's game, there are few roles as impactful as that of a 3-and-D player - someone who can be entrusted in being a game-changer on the defensive end while knocking down perimeter shots at a high clip.
While this year's free-agent class might not have as many players that fall under the traditional guise of a 3-and-D player - typically a switchy wing with length - there are a number of guys that fit the above definition and stand to make an impact on both ends of the floor wherever they land.
In the spirit of deviating away from the standard definition, I've taken a cue from NBA.com's Scott Rafferty's ranking of best shooters in free agency by listing out the best 3-and-D players like an All-NBA team - two guards, two forwards and a centre.
Here are the top 3-and-D players from the 2020 free-agent class.
Fred VanVleet, G, Toronto Raptors
When All-Defensive Teams were announced for the 2019-20 NBA season, it came as a surprise that VanVleet received just two total points. It was good enough for recognition, but not nearly enough recognition for VanVleet's value as a defender.
VanVleet is incredibly active on the defensive end, as evidenced by his league-leading 4.2 deflections per game as well as his 1.9 steals per game, which were good for third in the league. And don't let VanVleet's 6-foot-1 frame trick you into thinking he can't hold his own against bigger players, as he uses his wits and activity to make things difficult in situations where it would appear he's at a disadvantage.
MORE: Think VanVleet switching on you is a mismatch? Think again
As a shooter, VanVleet connected on 39% of his 6.9 3-point attempts per game during the regular season and hit an even more impressive 44% of his 209 catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts in 2019-20.
And he's only getting better.
The fact that VanVleet can continue to add to his offensive game as a driver and finisher will only open up more opportunities for him as a shooter, as defences will have to play him more honestly than they already do.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, G, Los Angeles Lakers
The contributions of KCP were crucial to the Los Angeles Lakers winning the 2020 NBA title.
In the postseason, Caldwell-Pope was entrusted with the defensive assignments of chasing Duncan Robinson's around screens, limiting Tyler Herro and slowing down the likes of Jamal Murray, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and James Harden.
At 6-foot-5, the 27-year-old has the length and agility to make things difficult for prolific guards, often compensating for the fact that the Lakers didn't start a traditional point guard.
MORE: KCP no longer a Laker punchline
KCP had his inconsistencies and streaky moments on the opposite end of the floor but still, finished the playoffs shooting 37.8% from beyond the arc, including 41.2% on his catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts.
In three years with the Lakers, Caldwell-Pope has earned just under $38 million. The Athletic's Shams Charania has reported that Caldwell-Pope will decline his player option for the 2020-21 season to become an unrestricted free agent.
Marcus Morris Sr., F, LA Clippers
Big, strong, physical.
If you looked at the defensive profile of Marcus Morris Sr., those are the three most adjectives that would probably come up before anything else. With his solid 6-foot-8 frame, Morris is capable of making things difficult for wings and some big men alike.
A part of Morris' allure to the LA Clippers was that he was another body that could be used to guard LeBron James and, at times, Anthony Davis, as his reputation as a bruiser speaks for itself.
Morris increased his 3-point shooting from 40.8% in the regular season to an even higher clip at 47.5% in the Clippers 13 postseason games, including six games in which he hit at least three triples. With the cap situation for the upcoming season remaining largely unknown, it's unclear what type of money Morris will command. He's coming off of a one-year deal worth $15 million, originally signed with the New York Knicks.
It's hard to imagine he'd take too significant of a pay cut, though the 31-year-old might prioritize receiving a longer-term contract.
Jerami Grant, F, Denver Nuggets
Grant's picture should be next to a definition of "versatile defender."
During the Denver Nuggets' historic postseason run, these are the five players that Grant spent the most time guarding, per NBA.com's matchup data: Kawhi Leonard, Donovan Mitchell, LeBron James, Joe Ingles and Anthony Davis. In most cases, he more than held his own, too.
A player with that type of range defensively is invaluable, to say the least.
Offensively, Grant showed his range by connecting on 38.9% of the 3.5 3-pointers he attempted per game. It's a bit of a lower volume but you can count on Grant to at least command respect on the perimeter and at his best, provide some spacing.
Per Yahoo's Chris Haynes, Grant is declining his $9.3 million player option for the upcoming season and stands to become one of the most highly-sought free agents in this class. His versatility on both ends of the floor will ensure that he receives a worthy contract this offseason.
Aron Baynes, C, Phoenix Suns
Baynes has put the work in and as the NBA game has evolved, so has his.
It might look a bit unorthodox, but Baynes has emerged as a more-than-respectable shooter, hitting a total of 59 3s at a 35.1% clip in 2019-20 after hitting a combined total of 25 triples in his first seven seasons in the league.
He even hit nine 3s in a win over the Portland Trail Blazers back in March.
🔥 Baynes 37 PTS, 9 3PM 🔥@aronbaynes records career-highs in points and threes, lifting the @Suns over Portland! pic.twitter.com/q3AN8ARhEu- NBA (@NBA) March 7, 2020
Defensively, Baynes provides size and high IQ, employing much of what he learned during his three seasons with the San Antonio Spurs organization. The modern-day big should be able to serve as a defensive anchor and step out to hit jumpers and Baynes does both very well.
It'll make him a good get for whichever team is able to sign him.
Chris Boucher, C, Toronto Raptors (Restricted) - Boucher, a restricted free agent, has shown that he has the length, athleticism and instincts to be a defensive game-changer with his ability to block shots and protect the rim. His 32.2% 3-point shooting doesn't exactly jump off the page but he has shown to be a confident shooter that could increase his efficiency with a more set role.
Avery Bradley, G, Los Angeles Lakers (Player Option) - Because they won a title despite his opting out of the restart, it's easy to forget how crucial of a role Bradley played for the Lakers during the first part of the 2019-20 season. Not only did he connect on 36.4% of his 3-point attempts, but Bradley also started in 44 of the 49 games in which he appeared, taking on the tough defensive assignments that Caldwell-Pope assumed later on.
Jae Crowder, F, Miami Heat (Unrestricted) - In addition to making things difficult for Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Victor Oladipo and Jayson Tatum during the Heat's run to the Finals, Crowder hit 2.6 3s per game at a 34.2% clip during the postseason.
Justin Holiday, F, Indiana Pacers (Unrestricted) - From James Harden to Ben Simmons, the Pacers often trusted Holiday with guarding opponents' key guards. The 6-foot-6 wing shot 40.5% from deep over 73 regular-season games and hit eight of his 16 3-point attempts in the postseason.
JaMychal Green, F, LA Clippers (Player Option) - Similar to his teammate Morris, Green's solid 6-foot-8 frame gives him the ability to make things difficult on opposing wings and big men alike. Over a smaller sample size, Green shot 10-for-23 (43.5%) from 3 in LA's 13 playoff games. He has a player option worth roughly $5 million for 2020-21.
Wesley Matthews, G, Milwaukee Bucks (Player Option) - It's far from a perfect metric, but Matthews' Defensive Real Plus-Minus of 2.88 was second among all shooting guards last season while he shot 36.6% from deep. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the 34-year-old will decline his player option for the upcoming season.
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