Ranking the Top 10 Power Forwards in 2022 NBA Free Agency

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2022

Ranking the Top 10 Power Forwards in 2022 NBA Free Agency

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    Rusty Jones/Associated Press

    Even in the midst of the 2022 NBA playoffs, teams all over the league are surely laying plans for this summer, when the draft, trades and free agency can dramatically alter the landscape.

    It's that last avenue for team building that will be the subject here. Despite the fact that there is very little cap space available this summer, you can be sure plenty of players will switch teams, thanks to exceptions and sign-and-trades.

    Over the next several days, Bleacher Report will break down the top 10 available free agents at each position.

    In today's positionless era, those distinctions can be difficult. And while it helps to consult sources like Cleaning the Glass or Basketball Reference, some judgment calls had to be made.

    As for who qualified for the top 10 in terms of ability, that was even more subjective. Past performance and projection models can help, but there's no way to perfectly predict the future.

    So, with all of that in mind, let's move on to the power forwards.


    Top 10 point guards can be found here.

    Top 10 shooting guards can be found here.

    Top 10 small forwards can be found here.


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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    10. P.J. Tucker (Player Option)

    P.J. Tucker will turn 37 in May, and he just quietly had one of the best seasons of his career. He shot a career-high 41.5 percent from three and posted his highest box plus/minus since 2013-14 (and the second-highest of his career).

    Even as he nears 40, Tucker remains a reliable three-and-D forward who can bother multiple positions and has tons of experience defending stars. But it's fair to wonder how much is left in the tank, which would certainly impact his value if he declines a $7.4 million player option.


    9. Thaddeus Young

    Thaddeus Young's total minutes were pretty much cut in half this season, but he was still a solid utility player in his limited playing time.

    Since the start of 2020-21, Young has a top-40 box plus/minus and averages of 16.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.9 steals and 0.8 blocks per 75 possessions.


    8. Jae'Sean Tate (Team Option)

    Because he spent some time overseas, 26-year-old Jae'Sean Tate may be a bit older than you realize, but his "jack of all trades, master of none" game would still make him an interesting option for teams in need of a reserve forward.

    Juan Toscano-Anderson, Kelly Olynyk, Nikola Jokic, DeMarcus Cousins and Kyle Anderson are the only players who match or exceed Tate's marks for rebounds, assists, threes, steals and blocks per 75 possessions over the last two seasons.


    7. Marvin Bagley III (Restricted)

    After three-plus years toiling away for the Sacramento Kings, 2018's second overall pick, Marvin Bagley III, showed some signs of life after a trade to the Detroit Pistons.

    Bagley only made 18 appearances for Detroit, but he averaged 19.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per 75 possessions while shooting 62.4 percent on twos.

    There were also hints of chemistry between him and Cade Cunningham. Detroit was minus-3.6 points per 100 possessions when both were on the floor, which doesn't sound great until you remember the team was minus-8.0 overall.


    6. Kyle Anderson

    His scoring efficiency plummeted in 2021-22, but Kyle Anderson remains a unique, Swiss Army knife-like playmaker who's willing to take on tough defensive assignments against opposing forwards.

    For his career, he's averaged 7.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.0 blocks per 75 possessions. Draymond Green is the only player in NBA history who matches or exceeds all four marks.

5. Chris Boucher

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    After shooting 38.3 percent from three in 2020-21, Chris Boucher's efficiency from deep tumbled to 29.7 this season. That and his age (29) may temper his value a bit, but there's enough evidence of his versatility to warrant attention in free agency.

    Boucher is 6'10", but his agility on the perimeter allows him to effectively defend all the way down to the 3. Obi Toppin, Kelly Oubre Jr., Deni Avdija, Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris are the five players he spent the most time on this season.

    And many of the same traits that make him a solid rim protector (length, instincts and athleticism) travel out to the three-point line. Since the start of last season, Boucher has blocked 38 threes, a mark that trails only Matisse Thybulle's and almost doubles third-place Tyrese Haliburton's.

    If Boucher can rediscover his own accuracy from deep, he's one of the league's more intriguing three-and-D bigs.

4. Robert Covington

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    Advanced numbers have come under plenty of fire over the years, but they can be very helpful in analyzing good players who don't put up monster traditional figures.

    For his career, Robert Covington has averaged 11.6 points with a barely above-average three-point percentage. But that doesn't even begin to capture his impact as a three-and-D forward who stalks passing lanes better than most.

    Over the course of his career, Covington's teams are plus-0.6 points per 100 possessions when he's on the floor, compared to minus-7.3 when he's off. He's positively impacted his squad's plus-minus in each and every season of his career.

    And he's really not slowing down too much as he ages into his 30s.

    Covington just wrapped up his sixth season with averages of at least two threes, one steal and one block per 75 possessions. Danny Green (eight) is the only player in NBA history with more.

3. Nicolas Batum (Player Option)

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Like countryman Boris Diaw before him, French forward Nicolas Batum's career seemed on the ropes during his last season in Charlotte. But a move to the Los Angeles Clippers and the 4 have revitalized the 33-year-old.

    Over the last two seasons, Batum is tied for 56th in the league in box plus/minus, with averages of 11.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.4 threes, 1.4 steals and 0.9 blocks.

    While that "little bit of everything" game that has served him well for a decade and change would probably be enough to get him some looks this summer, it's a recent increase in three-point efficiency that really makes him interesting.

    Over the first 12 seasons of his career, Batum averaged 5.5 three-point attempts and shot 35.7 percent from three. Those are decent numbers, but he somehow bumped them to 40.2 percent on 6.1 attempts per 75 in his age-32 and -33 years.

    Combining that reliability as a floor-spacer with solid defense and hints of the playmaking that made Batum unique with the Portland Trail Blazers makes him one of this summer's better available forwards.

2. Otto Porter Jr.

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Otto Porter Jr.'s injuries nearly derailed a heck of a start to his NBA career.

    As a starter for the Washington Wizards for three straight seasons from 2015-16 to 2017-18, Porter averaged 13.3 points, 1.7 threes and 1.5 steals while shooting 41.7 percent from three.

    He was a seemingly ideal floor-spacing forward for a team that featured two ball-dominant guards in John Wall and Bradley Beal.

    Then, from 2018-19 to 2020-21, various injuries limited him to 32.7 appearances per season. And his box plus/minus tumbled from 2.7 to 0.7.

    This season, though, he moved more permanently to the 4 and bounced back as a reserve for the title-contending Golden State Warriors. He posted his best true shooting percentage since 2017-18 and moved the needle for a team loaded with All-Star talent.

    With his ability to space the floor, willingness to play an ancillary role and versatility on defense, Porter pushed Stephen Curry's net rating (net points per 100 possessions) to 13.8 (it was 8.8 when Curry played without Porter).

1. Miles Bridges (Restricted)

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Versatility and defense would make most of the players on this list solid additions for just about any team in the league, but the No. 1 spot couldn't have been much more obvious.

    Coming off his rookie contract, 24-year-old Miles Bridges played like a borderline All-Star this season. Gone are the days of him being known mostly for highlight-reel dunks. Now, a bully-ball drive game and a significant boost in creation for teammates have made Bridges a dynamic, all-around offensive weapon.

    Bridges was top 40 in the league in wins over replacement player this season, with averages of 20.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.9 threes, 0.9 steals and 0.8 blocks per game (all career highs).

    While he may not be able to lock down opposing forwards with the same consistency as some of the others listed here, his size (6'6", 225 lbs) and athleticism give him the potential to do so.

    Plus, those previously mentioned highlight dunks are still a staple. And those have an unquantifiable effect on both his team and its opponents. The kind of attacks Bridges is capable of can energize his teammates and demoralize everyone else.