With free agency approaching, it’s time to rank the best available power forwards:
Smith, Paul Millsap and David West highlight an impressive group of free-agent power forwards. Though most mercurial and least efficient offensively, Smith earns the highest spot for his defense. He can match up effectively on any small or power forward, defend both the ball handlers and roll men in pick and rolls, protect the rim and rebound. Offensively, the same concept repeated through every year of his career still applies. If Smith can improve his shot selection, he is a very valuable offensive player.
Millsap is a very good offensive player but a mediocre defensive one. He brings spacing to an offense without sacrificing rebounding ability and is a good passer.
West was the hub of the Indiana Pacers’ offense this season. He had a 54.5 percent true shooting percentage and an assist percentage of 16.8 percent. However, he is 32 years old and has already suffered a major knee injury.
Golden State Warriors fans should be familiar with Carl Landry. He was an efficient bench scorer, pouring in 16.8 points per 36 minutes on 60.5 percent true shooting, and was a reliable rebounder. His defense is flawed but not crippling. Landry can score out of the post, in the pick and roll and hit mid-range jump shots.
J.J. Hickson is infuriatingly bad defensively. However, he was a very efficient offensive player last season. Most of his offense is set up by teammates, but the ability to finish consistently around the rim, especially off pick and rolls, is valuable.
The Brooklyn Nets took a gamble on Blatche this offseason, and it paid off. He had a PER of 21.9 and recorded .153 win shares per 48 minutes, .068 higher than his previous best, according to basketball-reference. Blatche is not a very good defensive player, but he fulfilled much of his offensive potential this season and could be an effective offensive big man for many teams.
Due to the Minnesota Timberwolves’ injury issues, Cunningham was forced to play an offensive role far beyond his capabilities. Cunningham’s total minutes and usage were the highest of his career, impacting his efficiency. He is not reliable as a major offensive weapon but has a decent mid-range jumper and is mobile enough to be effective through off-ball cuts. His mobility also makes him a reasonable defender, complementing his above average rebounding.
Wright, a former Warrior, was a very efficient bench scorer for the Dallas Mavericks this season, scoring 17 points per 36 minutes on 60.6 percent true shooting. Wright is only 25 years old, and should be able to replicate this production in a similar role.
Clark, a toss in of the Dwight Howard trade, had something resembling a breakout season this season for the Los Angeles Lakers. He appeared in 59 games as a cumulatively below-average offensive and defensive player, but he had several impressive games. At only 25 years old, Clark still has time to become a decent power forward.
Two seasons ago, Brand was the best defensive big man on the Philadelphia 76ers’ strong defense. Brand, now 34, has declined in both role and production since them, but is still a functional backup power-forward.
Johnson is decent defender, terrible offensive player and a generally scary guy. If you ever need an opponent “taken care of” he is the man for the job.