Breaking down the NBA free-agent power forward market

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.

Top free agents: Point guards | Shooting guards | Small forwards

Anthony Davis will be a free agent, but he will be returning to the Lakers. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

1. Anthony Davis (player option)

Age: 27

Barring something really unexpected with the salary cap dropping dramatically, Davis will opt out of the final year of his contract. Then, it’s just a question of how long Davis’ new deal with the Lakers will be. 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 a long-term deal this summer. He’s not going anywhere after spending half a year angling to get to Hollywood.

Fits with: Lakers

2. Danilo Gallinari

Age: 31

Gallinari has had another solid season in his first year with Oklahoma City. Did you know he’s averaging a career-high 13.6 field-goal attempts per game? Gallinari has also aged well, scoring close to 20 points per game in back-to-back seasons. 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.

Fits with: Thunder, Heat, Suns, Trail Blazers, Hawks

3. Davis Bertans

Age: 27

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 percent shooter from behind the arc, and this season he ramped up his volume. He nearly doubled his previous career high in 3-point attempts per game at 8.7 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, Suns, Nets, Hawks, Knicks

4. Montrezl Harrell

Age: 26

Is Harrell a four or a five? Does it matter? He’s just awesome. 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. For a second straight season, Harrell is the mix for Sixth Man of the Year. This despite his shooting range being measured in inches and not 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, Trail Blazers, Knicks, Hawks, Pistons

5. Jerami Grant (player option)

Age: 26

Grant is a lot like Harrell, minus the bulk to really play the five. With Denver, Grant has found his ideal role. He largely comes off the bench and brings great energy. Grant is able to use his cutting and better-than-you-think spot-up shooting to play off the Nuggets’ talented passing centers. The question for Grant, in a somewhat depressed market: Will he make more than the $9.3 million he’ll give up if he opts out?

Fits with: Nuggets, Trail Blazers, Hawks, Knicks, Suns

Derrick Favors was having a really good season with the Pelicans. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

6. Derrick Favors

Age: 28

Is Favors a four or a five? He’s 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 is 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 Pelicans 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.

Fits with: Pelicans, Suns, Trail Blazers, Knicks, Pistons

7. Marcus Morris Sr.

Age: 30

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 long-term security. The bigger payday might come with a one-year deal 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

Age: 35

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 has also never shot the ball better. He hit a career-high 44 percent from behind the arc in 41 games this season. His ability to defend both the four and five, and improved shooting to space the floor, will keep him as a rotation player for at least a few more seasons.

Fits with: Nuggets, Nets, Suns, Lakers, Hawks

9. Serge Ibaka

Age: 30

Ibaka put together quite the late-career season. He’s averaging a career-high 16 points per game and the second-most rebounds per game of his career at 8.3. He also shot a career-best 39.8 percent from behind the arc. Ibaka is no longer the athletic force he once was (less than a block per game for the first time), but he’s still a solid backup big-man option. If the Raptors make one more run 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

Carmelo Anthony proved he had some game left this season. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

10. Carmelo Anthony

Age: 35

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 him any longer, but he’s still solid enough to be a third or fourth scoring option. After a couple of years focusing on 3-pointers, Anthony went back to his diverse scoring game and delivered 15.3 points per night. He also pulled down 6.3 rebounds per game. His 50 games with Portland this year were enough to show he can still help a playoff team at the four.

Fits with: Trail Blazers, Nets, Clippers, Suns

11. Dario Saric (restricted)

Age: 26

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 35.6 percent 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 the right to match, but with other holes on its roster, a big enough offer sheet could pry away Saric.

Fits with: Suns, Knicks, Trail Blazers, Nets

12. Bobby Portis (team option)

Age: 25

Portis’ career has had a strange arc thus far. He showed plenty of promise in his first two years with the Bulls, then blossomed in Years 3 and 4. He hit free agency at a weird time, and the Knicks were an odd fit as he became the team’s eighth power forward. His team option likely 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)

Age: 29

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)

Age: 24

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 a better idea of what Hernangomez could do. In 29 minutes per game over 14 starts, Hernangomez scored 12.9 points and grabbed 7.3 rebounds per game. He also shot 42 percent from deep on 4.9 attempts per game. Like his trade partner, guard Malik Beasley, Hernangomez may have found a home with the Timberwolves.

Fits with: Timberwolves, Suns, Hawks, Trail Blazers, Knicks

15. Chris Boucher (restricted)

Age: 27

Boucher didn’t exactly come from out of nowhere. He was an NBA prospect before tearing his ACL in his final year at Oregon, but he stepped up his game big-time in his third NBA season. 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 age, Boucher may look for security over a bigger payday.

Fits with: Raptors, Suns, Trail Blazers, Knicks

The Next Five

16. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Age: 25

Fits with: Raptors, Nets, Knicks, Suns, Trail Blazers

17. Markieff Morris

Age: 30

Fits with: Lakers, Nets

18. Jabari Parker (player option)

Age: 25

Fits with: Kings, Suns, Trail Blazers

19. Thon Maker (restricted)

Age: 23

Fits with: Pistons, Suns, Celtics, Lakers, Nets

20. Jontay Porter (team option, restricted)

Age: 20

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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