NBA Free Agency: Top 5 Free Agent Power Forwards

Mar 10, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford (15) goes to the basket against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Hawks 104-96. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 10, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford (15) goes to the basket against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Hawks 104-96. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports /

With NBA Free Agency 2016 underway one roster position has GM’s scouring their options. Sure there are lots of free agent power forwards this year, but in the new era of small ball a stretch-four is arguably the most coveted of all positional players.

Given 21 teams can offer max contracts this year there will be obvious players who’ll attract major attention from copious teams.  In an effort to help fans track who to keep an eye on SCS outlines the top 5 coveted players at each position for your perusal.

Next up the power forwards:

Perhaps it’s the desire for teams to utilize small ball line-ups and tendency toward position-less basketball  that makes this position so intriguing. Additionally, teams covet stretch fours that can spread out the court and make offenses more difficult to handle. That said, of all the positions, it’s slim pickings for power forwards in this crop of free agents. Further, finding a power forward this year who can stretch the floor via three point shooting and can defend is even rarer.

Al Horford

Al Horford tops the list for this very reason and because of that fact is sure to get a maximum contract regardless of under-going 2 shoulder surgeries in recent seasons.

Horford has been stuck playing the center position, but not just in small ball line-up situations, so he’s anxious to play power forward primarily. While the Hawks jumped on signing the Rockets big man Dwight Howard it still doesn’t ensure Horford will return. Rather it seems his decision will follow Kevin Durant as Oklahoma City is keen to ink both of them to the Thunder’s starting rotation.

Other viable options for Horford include the Celtics who are aggressively recruiting him and the Rockets who hope to finally utilize some of their available cap space on a quality free agent.

It’s likely Horford’s decision won’t surface until after Durant announces his choice.

2015-16:  per game stats

Points: 15.2

Rebounds: 7.3

Assists: 3.2

Steals: 0.8

Blocks: 1.5

3 Point Shooting: 34.4%

Field Goal Percent: 50.5%

NBA sources confirm the #Rockets will meet with Al Horford tomorrow.

— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) June 30, 2016

Among tidbits in preview: In wake of Jodie Meeks deal, Pistons working to secure a weekend meeting with Al Horford:

— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) June 30, 2016

OKC, meanwhile, continues to probe the league for potential trade partners to take on Enes Kanter to free up money for a run at Al Horford

— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 1, 2016

Ryan Anderson

With many of the top players already off the board and as noted the absence of many stretch fours available this season in free agency Ryan Anderson’s stock has risen. The question is after watching how Channing Frye was rendered ineffective (due to his defensive deficiencies) are teams antsy to sign Anderson to a max contract.

The Pelicans have been active in free agency and brought in sharp shooter Buddy Hield via the draft. In spite of his 3-point ability New Orleans may decide to spend the max money Anderson is seeking, or they may venture out to find a player with more defensive capabilities.

Regardless, as the free agent pool dries up it seems inevitable some team will take the risk to add a player of Anderson’s talents.

2015-16:  per game stats

Points: 17.0

Rebounds: 6.0

Assists: 1.1

Steals: 0.6

Blocks: 0.4

3 Point Shooting: 36.6%

Field Goal Percent: 42.7%

Pao Gasol

Though he may be on the back end of his professional career (he turns 36 in 3 days) the Spaniards stock is rising in free agency as several teams are pursuing a power forward with his assets. Reportedly he met with Minnesota as well as the Spurs and Blazers.

It’s hard to fathom a 36 year old adding value especially with suspect defense, but on a team with a strong defensive core Pau Gasol could make a huge difference. Before he decides on his eventual landing place expect more teams to call as they seek a power forward with his extensive skill set.

2015-16:  per game stats

Points: 16.5

Rebounds: 11.0

Assists: 4.1

Steals: 0.6

Blocks: 2.0

3 Point Shooting: 34.8%

Field Goal Percent: 46.9%

Pau Gasol reportedly met with the Timberwolves, still considering Blazers, Spurs.

— theScore (@theScore) July 2, 2016

Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki makes the list but like LeBron James he’ll re-sign with the Mavericks so I’ve added one more name to the list in his stead.

2015-16:  per game stats

Points: 18.3

Rebounds: 6.5

Assists: 1.8

Steals: 0.7

Blocks: 0.7

3 Point Shooting: 36.8%

Field Goal Percent: 44.8%

Donatas Motiejunas

While the Rockets may be scanning the list seeking a stretch four who can function in the new D’Antoni system. The thing is he may already be on their roster. Donatas Motiejunas

has proven himself to be a hard worker and has the potential to improve. The problem was his back which became a dilemma when the Pistons declined the trade at the deadline citing his back as the reason.  When D-Mo returned to the Rockets he promptly suited up and had some of his best games of the year. Scuttlebutt was Motiejunas was investigating suing the Pistons as that one decision put a damper on his free agency negotiations.

You can understand why he’d be upset, especially considering there were many who felt the Pistons and Stan Van Gundy backed out more so because they had added Tobias Harris in a trade which rendered the need for Motiejunas null and void.

Regardless of what happens the Rockets have the last right of refusal and given the dearth of additions so far in Houston it’s logical to assume they will keep their multi-talented Lithuanian. And while his numbers regressed substantially this season, he did seem to be rounding into form late in the season which is understandable after he underwent back surgery last season.  Consistency was his biggest issue, and again looking at players who’ve undergone back surgery including former Rocket Dwight Howard, it generally takes a full year for the player to recover.

2015-16:  per game stats

Points: 6.2

Rebounds: 2.9

Assists: 1.1

Steals: 0.5

Blocks: 0.1

3 Point Shooting: 28.1%

Field Goal Percent: 43.9%

Jared Dudley

The well traveled Jared Dudley saw his career resurrected this past season in Washington.

He’s played on 4 different teams in each of the past 4 seasons, and with the agreement between Dudley and the Suns returns to the team where he had his greatest success and longest tenure.

Playing in Washington Dudley is used to a quick pace, so his return to the Suns should be an easy transition for him.

More from Space City Scoop

2015-16:  per game stats

Points: 7.9

Rebounds: 3.5

Assists: 2.1

Steals: 0.9

Blocks: 0.2

3 Point Shooting: 42.0%

Field Goal Percent: 47.8%

Suns & UFA Jared Dudley reunite as they agree to 3-year, $30M deal. #NBAFreeAgency

— Tamberlyn's Tip-Off (@TTOTambz) July 2, 2016

SCS will update as free agency news develops. For now if you’re a fan who wants to follow free agency closely consider checking out my Free Agency Profiles for all 30 teams:

Next: Free Agency Profiles for all 30 Teams

And early free agent signings:

Next: First 12 hours of Free Agency

Along with articles covering the draft:

Next: Reviewing the top 30 Draft Picks

Next: SCS Editor Mock Draft

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