NBA’s top free-agent power forwards in 2022: Miles Bridges, Otto Porter and more

Hollinger’s Free-Agent rankings and projections:
Top 25 free agents by BORD$ projections
Top point guards by BORD$ projections
Top shooting guards by BORD$ projections
Top small forwards by BORD$ projections

The power forward market is unexceptional this year, with the one top-tier player on the market seeming highly likely to stay. But teams in need here shouldn’t despair: Several good role players further down the list could help teams, and many of them appear gettable.

We’ve already broken down the top 25 overall free agents in this summer’s market. Now it’s time to dig deeper. We’ve been going through the positions this week and continue with the power forwards.

To evaluate these players, I’m once again doing what I’ve done the past two offseasons: Using my BORD$ valuations to help develop an idea of what these players are worth. While this method has some limitations — it’s a value for the coming season only, for instance, and obviously, factors like health, attitude and fit aren’t taken into account — it provides a 10,000-feet view of the marketplace and what valuations might make sense on player contracts for the coming season.

Keep in mind that I’ve only listed possible free agents here. For instance, Kenrich Williams is almost certain to have his non-guaranteed contract for 2022-23 picked up and thus was omitted. I’ve also declined to list guys with player or team options who are unlikely to be set free (JaMychal Green). Other players who fall under this category and aren’t listed below include Dean Wade, Keita Bates-Diop, Isaiah Roby and Jalen McDaniels.

Tier 1: The max guys

1. Miles Bridges, PF, Charlotte (restricted) $30,940,550 

Bridges is a fascinating study this offseason because BORD$ says he’s worth close to the max, but it seems unlikely his price will get quite that high due to his restricted status and the apparent lack of other suitors.

Even potential offers-sheet spoilers like San Antonio or Detroit seem to have their eyes more focused on other targets; they could return to Bridges later, but having their money on ice while Charlotte waits to match (and then likely, inevitably does) is a significant deterrent … especially in a market where free agency has played out with a speed that is remarkable (some would even say “unfathomable” given the rules).

Where that leads is likely a four- or five-year deal to return to Charlotte in the $25 million a year range. If so, the Hornets will have some interesting decisions to make further down the roster as they try to skirt the luxury tax.

Tier II: More than midlevel, less than max 

2. Kyle Anderson, Memphis: $18,990,342

This number will likely surprise people who have seen Anderson’s role fluctuate throughout his career, including just 21 minutes a game this season in Memphis. However, he’s been extremely effective whenever he plays, especially on defense, where his size and fast hands make him a plus across multiple positions. (Full disclosure: I was in the Grizzlies’ front office when Anderson signed his four-year, $37 million offer sheet that is now expiring.)

Slo-Mo isn’t everybody’s cup of tea because he doesn’t fit in with preconceived ideas about role players who stand in the corner. He’s a 33.0 percent career shooter from 3-point distance and needs nearly the entire shot clock to load up all 17 stages of his delivery. He’s much more effective playing on the ball, playing in transition or slashing to the cup in random offense, and it feels like each of his coaches has needed an adjustment period to figure out what the heck to do with him.

But Anderson is a near-point-guard-caliber ballhandler who instantly improves any defense he joins and a solid rebounder at either end. I think he’ll end up a bargain on the midlevel deal he’s likely getting. And just to max out the funkiness, I’d love to see him end up in Toronto in a lineup of 6-foot-9 players.

3. Otto Porter, Golden State: $16,603,510

Porter won’t command this high a salary because of concerns about his frequent injuries. In the last four seasons, he’s missed nearly as many games (140) as he’s played (162), and even in his “healthy” year for Golden State in 2021-22, he only played 63 regular-season games.

But a credible defender at the two forward spots who knows how to play and shoots 39.8 percent career from 3 should have considerable value, especially since he’s still only 29.

While I don’t expect anybody to roll the dice on a longer deal given the continued questions about his physical well-being, a “one-plus-one” type contract for the non-taxpayer midlevel exception — signing him for 2022-23 with a player option for 2023-24 — would be a smart move for a contender below the tax line.

Tier III: Midlevel exception guys

4. Danilo Gallinari, Hawks (non-guaranteed): $10,285,175 

Gallinari is signed for $21.45 million with Atlanta this coming season but only $4.5 million of that is guaranteed, and the Hawks are projected to be a tax team if they don’t release him. While it’s possible his deal could be used in a trade, the more likely scenario is that he is waived and becomes a free agent, where his ability to bomb from deep and post up against switches will make him a coveted bench piece for the midlevel exception.

5. T.J. Warren, PF, Indiana: $10,214,494

Warren has only played four games in the last two years due to a stress fracture in his left foot and a recovery that moved at a snail’s pace, so this is basically a number pulled out of the sky. He was worth far more than this pre-injury and has legit value if he’s back at full strength, but it’s difficult to value the healthy question marks. Teams likely will be doing their due diligence on his recovery and discounting accordingly.

6. Thaddeus Young, Raptors: $8,016,263

I struggled with whether to list Young at center or power forward, but at 6 foot 8 and 235 pounds, his optimal usage case is next to a center who can shoot. Young’s ability to defend the perimeter in switches against smaller players remains a plus even at 34, but his inability to stretch the floor makes him a liability if he can’t play from the elbows on offense. He’s a crafty passer and still spins in enough short-range lefty bank shots to keep defenses honest, whether as a small-ball five or a more traditional four. If the Raptors don’t bring him back, he should have a strong market on a short-term deal for at least the taxpayer midlevel exception.

Tier IV: More than minimum, less than midlevel

7. Derrick Jones Jr., Bulls: $7,224,440

Jones isn’t going to make this much money, not with his struggles to space the floor, but he’s a high-wire athlete who can play solid defense and can score in transition or on lobs. He’s shot over 60 percent inside the arc for three straight seasons because of all the highlight-reel dunks. He’s also only 25, which makes you wonder if the market might be sleeping on him a bit as an energy role player who can fill both forward spots. The Bulls will have full Bird rights if they want to bring him back.

8. P.J. Tucker, Miami (player option): $5,840,694

This is probably at the low end of Tucker valuations, even entering his age 37 season, because of his ability to guard multiple positions and hit corner 3s for contenders. Tucker can opt out of his $7.3 million with the Heat, something I’m guessing he would do if for no other reason than to generate a 20 percent raise and return to Miami for $8.4 million (the max he can make as a non-Bird free agent without burning the Heat’s midlevel exception) on another “one-plus-one” deal with a player option.

9. Trey Lyles, Sacramento (player option): $4,722,534

The Kings can release Lyles from his $2.5 million deal for the coming season and have enough of a frontcourt crowd that they might want to do it. Lyles also likely would prefer to choose his next destination rather than be one of the Kings’ seven centers behind Domantas Sabonis. He’s probably more likely to get a minimum deal than something in the range BORD$ pegged for him, but he’s a useful player who can shoot 3s (sort of), handle the ball a bit and masquerade as a small-ball center on second units. 

10. Taurean Prince, Minnesota: $4,636,579

I’d consider this a low estimate for Prince, who is likely to get quite a bit of attention as a combo forward who can space the floor (37.1 percent career from 3), handle the ball a bit and serviceably defend two positions. Prince can get a bit wild and turn the ball over and doesn’t rebound as you’d hope, but he’d be one of the better options for a third forward in this market.

Taurean Prince could get quite a bit of attention when free agency begins. (Bruce Kluckhohn / USA Today)

11. Jeff Green, Denver (player option): $4,308,143

Green has a player option for $4.5 million for the coming season. With his BORD$ value at almost the same price, he faces one of the more interesting option decisions of this offseason. He’ll be 36 in August and is unlikely to get more than a one-year deal at this point, so he may be better off taking the bird in hand and entering next summer with early Bird rights with Denver if he has a good year.

12. Marvin Bagley (restricted), Detroit: $3,205,016

One reason I wasn’t a huge fan of trading two second-round picks for Bagley is that the Pistons could have just signed him with cap space this summer, where it seems highly unlikely a bidding war will break out. Bagley’s qualifying offer is $7.3 million, but I’m not sure it makes sense for Detroit to even offer it. The second pick in the 2018 draft played better in Detroit than he did in Sacramento, but he still neither spaces the floor nor guards in space, making him a difficult player to shoehorn into a modern NBA concept at either end. At 23 with his pedigree, the upside argument remains tangible, but he’s barely been above replacement level the last two years.

13. Stanley Johnson, Lakers, (team option) $2,588,428

File this one under “unlikely.” The Lakers would seem more likely to pick up Johnson’s team option for $2.35 million for the coming season rather than let him hit free agency, simply because L.A. has to add at least six players in free agency already and that number will increase to seven if Johnson walks. He signed during the COVID-19 wave last winter but quickly established himself as a useful combo forward, even with his limitations as a shooter and playmaker. 

Tier V: Minimums

14. Juancho Hernangomez (non-guaranteed), Jazz

Hernangomez has a non-guaranteed year left on his deal for $7.5 million. Surely, Utah will waive him rather than pay that amount (plus the luxury-tax penalty on top of it) for a deep reserve. Hernangomez was able to revive his career in his short stint with the Jazz and should latch on someplace this offseason. He’s no Bo Cruz, but he presents a sellable alternative as a plus rebounder who makes just enough perimeter shots to keep defenses honest.

15. Jalen Smith, Pacers

This seems likely headed to something more than a minimum deal. Smith averaged 13.4 points per game and shot 63.1 percent on 2s in 22 games with the Pacers after his midseason trade from Phoenix. While the Pacers are capped at paying him $4.67 million for the coming season because the Suns declined his third-year option, I don’t see his market going beyond that price because of Smith’s defensive shortcomings. But he’s 22 and can score.

16. Andre Iguodala, Warriors

Iguodala is 38 and averaged a mere 10 points per 100 possessions each of the past two seasons. But he can still guard multiple positions, and on his good nights, his sky-high basketball IQ allows him to impact games without scoring. He’s not for everyone, but he fits well as a veteran sage on a contender and is already in the perfect spot.

17. Anthony Gill (restricted), Wizards

Gill is an unremarkable athlete, turns 30 in October and has hardly played in the last two seasons. And yet … you wonder if the Wizards might look to give him a bit more prominent role this time around. He’s shot 42.0 percent from 3 in his 70 NBA games, has a career PER of 14.4 and is a smart, low-mistake defender. Washington can match any offer for Gill if it makes him a $2.01 million qualifying offer.

18. Eric Paschall (restricted), Jazz

Paschall seems like a decent bet to return to Utah on the Friends of Donovan plan. He has defensive shortcomings, shoots 32.6 percent on 3s and isn’t all that interested in passing. But he’s also a strong, aggressive scorer with a good midrange game, so it’s not crazy to think he could be a good bench player. Utah can match any offer for him with a $2.22 million qualifying offer.

19. Bol Bol (restricted), Magic

So far the idea of Bol Bol has worked out a lot better than the reality, but the length-loving Magic are intrigued enough to give him another look. And they should because Bol is only 22, he’s 7-2, and he can shoot. Whether he’ll ever translate that into something more than a tall two guard is uncertain at best, but he’s worth a shot. The Magic can retain his rights with a $2.7 million qualifying offer, but given what is likely to be a tepid market for his services, they might bring him back on a multi-year minimum.

20. Carmelo Anthony, Lakers

Melo gets dinged by my age adjustment since he’s 38, but his age 37 season wasn’t bad. He still hit 37.5 percent of his 3s on high volume and remains fairly effective scoring against switches in his office on the left block. The big issue for him now is at the defensive end, where a league that increasingly switches everything one through four too often leaves him on an island against speedy guards.

Carmelo Anthony can still operate on the left block, but his defense is a concern. (Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today)

21. Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Bucks (player option)

Antetokounmpo has a minimum deal that he can opt out of, presumably to sign another minimum deal. I’m not sure he’s going to have much of a market beyond the state of Wisconsin, but one imagines he will be welcomed back in Milwaukee even if he opts out. This isn’t just a sop to his brother either. Thanasis can’t shoot and fouls like crazy, but in small doses, he plays with enough energy to be playable.

22. Markieff Morris, Heat

The Heat tried Morris as a small-ball five late in the season but quickly scotched the idea. Morris doesn’t shoot well enough to truly stretch the floor and isn’t athletic enough to compete in the paint with other fives. That combination, along with an extended absence with a whiplash injury last season, limited his usefulness. And at age 33, he’ll be scrounging for another minimum deal as a veteran frontcourt reserve. 

23. Semi Ojeleye, Clippers

Ojeleye is a good corner shooter with time and space, slides his feet and can bench press entire planets, but his limited ability to make a play in any non-structured setting has torpedoed his value. One can hope there’s a 3-and-D forward lying in there somewhere, but he’s 27 and has a career PER of 7.0 so don’t get your hopes up.

24. Jaylen Hoard (restricted), Thunder

Hoard put up some monster numbers for Oklahoma City in seven late-season games during its tank to the finish line last season, crashing the offensive boards to the tune of a 12.7 percent offensive rebound rate. He’s now played 39 NBA games in his career with a PER of 15.3, and he’s only 23 years old. He’s not much of a defender or shooter and can seem kind of plodding athletically, but I’m wondering if an NBA team should take a deeper look under the hood and make sure they’re not missing anything.

25. Ish Wainwright (restricted), Suns

Wainwright is all muscles and plays with tremendous energy and effort, but his offensive game is extremely limited. If he can knock down corner 3s more consistently, there’s perhaps some hope that he can be a poor man’s P.J. Tucker, but he’s 27. The Suns can match any offer to him with a guaranteed $1.86 million qualifying offer but probably won’t bother. They can retain him on a partial guarantee.

26. Jake Layman, Timberwolves

Layman flashes perimeter skill and NBA athleticism but somehow has never put it together into a rotation-caliber package. He fell badly out of favor in Minnesota last season, playing just 231 minutes, and his NBA existence may be on life support.

(Top photo of Miles Bridges: Brad Penner / USA Today)


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