No position has changed more in recent years than power forward has. If you’re a four in today’s NBA, you better be able to play up and give your team some minutes as a small-ball center. If you can’t, then you have to be able to stretch the floor as a shooter. The pure power forward is largely a thing of the past. Those players have been relegated to bench roles and reserve minutes for the most part.
The good news for this free-agent class is that the vast majority of available players fit the new-school approach. The power forward position also rivals the depth of the shooting guard class. The difference is that shooting guard features some younger, upside players, while power forward is stocked with solid veteran options.
1. Anthony Davis (player option)
After winning a title, Davis will opt out of the final year of his contract. Then, it’s just a question of how long Davis re-signs with Los Angeles for. If the cap is a concern, Davis could opt for a shorter contract and hit the market again when his max starting salary will push close to $40 million. If the max salary isn’t a concern, Davis will sign long-term this summer. He’s not going anywhere after spending half a year angling to get to Hollywood and winning the 2020 championship.
Fits with: Lakers
Gallinari had another solid season in his first year in Oklahoma City. Did you know he averaged a career-high 13.2 field goal attempts per game? Gallinari has also aged well, as he had his fourth year out of his last five in the high-teens in points per game. Most importantly, Gallinari stayed healthy for the Thunder. Because of his ability to score and stretch the floor, he’ll be in demand as a free agent this offseason. If he goes to a contender, Gallinari probably heads there via sign and trade.
3. Jerami Grant (player option)
Grant’s excellent play in the bubble changed his free-agent fortunes quite a bit. Due to some Denver injuries, he started at small forward and more than held his own. Normally, Grant has come off the bench and brings great energy to the game. Grant is able to use his cutting, and better-than-you-think spot-up shooting, to play off the Nuggets’ talented passing centers. Because of his great play during the restart, Grant has a healthy market as a free agent and will opt out.
Fits with: Nuggets, Pistons, Hornets, Trail Blazers, Hawks, Knicks, Suns
Bertans slotting in this high is a bit of a surprise, until you look at how he shoots from deep. Bertans is a career 41% shooter from behind the arc, and this season ramped up his volume big time. He nearly doubled his previous career-high in three-point attempts at 8.7 per game this season for Washington. He’s also become a decent rebounder as well. With floor-spacing more important than ever, Bertans will get paid handsomely.
Fits with: Wizards, Celtics, Nets, Suns, Hawks, Knicks
Is Harrell a four or a five? Does it matter? He’s just awesome off the bench. Harrell is the exact type of player teams are looking for as a backup big man. He can hold his own at either position and brings a ton of energy when he hits the floor. Harrell won Sixth Man of the Year, after coming close in 2019. This is despite his range being measured in terms of inches vs feet. Even without being able to shoot, Harrell fits in almost anywhere and he’s going to get paid for the first time in his career.
Fits with: Clippers, Hornets, Trail Blazers, Knicks, Hawks, Pistons
6. Serge Ibaka
Ibaka put together quite the late-career season. He averaged a career-high 15.4 points per game, and grabbed the second-most rebounds per game of his career at 8.2. He also shot 38.5% from behind the arc. Ibaka is no longer the athletic force he once was (he had fewer than a block per game for the first time), but he’s still a solid backup big man option. If the Toronto Raptors make one more run at it with their current group, look for him to get a big one-year deal. If not, he’ll have plenty of options as a free agent.
Fits with: Raptors, Trail Blazers, Lakers, Celtics, Mavericks, Clippers
Morris can play either forward spot and is equally good as a starter or coming off the bench. He’ll be 31 at the start of next season, but has the kind of game that should age well. After taking a one-year, $15 million deal from the Knicks, Morris might be looking for more long-term security. The bigger paydays might come with one-year deals, however. The Clippers gave up a first-round pick for Morris, which signals they’ll look to re-sign him this summer.
Fits with: Clippers, Nets, Lakers
8. Paul Millsap
Millsap is fully into the “wily veteran” phase of his career. Injuries hit Millsap again this year and he’s probably best sliding into a backup role in the next year or so. But Millsap also never shot the ball better. He hit a career-high 43.5% from behind the arc this season. His ability to defend both the four and five, and increased ability to space the floor will keep him a rotation player for at least a few more seasons.
Fits with: Nuggets, Nets, Mavericks, Suns, Lakers, Hawks
Favors is another “Is he a four or a five?” guy. He played center with New Orleans for most of this season, but with Utah, he was primarily a power forward. A big part of Favors’ value was that he can start at the four, then slide over and play as the backup five. That allows teams to run a three-big rotation. The challenge is Favors looked slow and out of sorts in the bubble. New Orleans would like Favors back alongside Zion Williamson. That would give them time to continue to develop Jaxson Hayes as the center of the future. Hayes has potential, but is very raw. If Favors is open to a short-term deal, look for him to stay with the Pelicans. If not, he’s probably headed to a contender for a year.
Fits with: Pelicans, Suns, Trail Blazers, Lakers, Nets, Clippers
10. Carmelo Anthony
Just when it looked like his career was over, Anthony signed with Portland and showed he has a lot left in the tank. You can’t build an offense around Anthony any longer, but he’s still solid enough to be a third or fourth scoring option. After a couple of years focusing on the three-ball, Anthony went back to his diverse scoring game and delivered 15.4 points per night. He also pulled down 6.3 rebounds per game. His time with Portland this year was enough to show he can still help a playoff team at the four.
Fits with: Trail Blazers, Nets, Clippers, Suns
11. Dario Saric (restricted)
Saric has bounced around for a couple of years now, but he’s continued to put up solid numbers. He’s become a decent shooter from behind the arc at 35.8% for his career. Saric is also a good rebounder. His numbers never look amazing, but he’s played his entire career alongside Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns and DeAndre Ayton. At just 26 years old, Saric is intriguing for a number of teams. Phoenix will have match rights, but with other holes on their roster, a big enough offer sheet could pry Saric away. The Suns may also go the cap space route, and let Saric become unrestricted.
Fits with: Suns, Knicks, Trail Blazers, Nets
12. Bobby Portis (team option)
Portis’ career has had a strange arc thus far. He showed plenty of promise in his first two years with the Chicago Bulls, then blossomed in years three and four. He simply hit free agency at a weird time and the Knicks fit became weird when Portis became the team’s eighth power forward. His team option will be declined and Portis will be better off going to a stable environment where he can play and continue to develop.
Fits with: Suns, Nets, Trail Blazers, Celtics
13. JaMychal Green (player option)
Green’s second year with the Clippers was up and down. He had some injuries and was the fourth big in the rotation for the majority of the season. When deciding on his player option, Green will have to weigh a limited role on a title contender against a bigger role elsewhere. His per-36 minutes numbers are still good. Green can be a solid rebounder and defender, and he’s become a decent shooter. One thing working against him? He doesn’t really play up as a small-ball center or down on the perimeter. That limits his opportunities.
Fits with: Clippers, Nets, Suns, Trail Blazers, Knicks, Hawks, Lakers
14. Juancho Hernangomez (restricted)
For a few years, we’ve wondered what Hernangomez could do with more minutes. His opportunities in Denver were very hit or miss. After being traded to Minnesota, we got an idea of what Hernangomez could do with consistent minutes. In 29 minutes per game over 14 starts, Hernangomez scored 12.9 points and grabbed 7.3 rebounds per game. He also shot 42% from deep on 4.9 attempts per game. Like his trade partner Malik Beasley, Hernangomez may have found a home with the Timberwolves.
Fits with: Timberwolves, Suns, Hawks, Trail Blazers, Knicks
15. Chris Boucher (restricted)
Boucher didn’t exactly come from out of nowhere, as he was an NBA prospect before tearing his ACL in his final year at Oregon, but he stepped up his game big-time. As Toronto’s frontcourt was ravaged by injuries, Boucher took advantage. He became a rotation player simply by playing with more energy off the bench than his opponents. Boucher can score inside, has a developing jumper, is a decent rebounder and a good shot-blocker. Without much cap space available, especially for restricted free agents, Toronto may be able to retain Boucher on a team-friendly deal. And, with his injury history and already being 27 years old, Boucher may look for security over a bigger payday.
Fits with: Raptors, Suns, Trail Blazers, Knicks
The Next Five
Fits with: Raptors, Nets, Knicks, Suns, Trail Blazers
17. Markieff Morris
Fits with: Lakers, Nets
18. Jabari Parker (player option)
Fits with: Kings, Suns, Trail Blazers
19. Thon Maker (restricted)
Fits with: Pistons, Suns, Celtics, Lakers, Nets
20. Jontay Porter (team option, restricted)
Fits with: Grizzlies
Other free-agent power forwards: Bruno Caboclo, DeMarre Carroll, Cheick Diallo (team option), Jared Dudley, Wenyen Gabriel (restricted), Jeff Green, Udonis Haslem, Alize Johnson (team option), James Johnson (player option), Patrick Patterson, JaKarr Sampson, Caleb Swanigan, Noah Vonleh, Marvin Williams
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