Top Free Agent Small Forwards and predicted landing spots
With the 2016 NBA off-season soon approaching, MSFT will take a look at this years crop of free agent small forwards and their predicted landing spots, as well as how each player fits their team.
You can check out the top centers in this years class here.
Nicolas Batum- 14.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 5.8 APG
Batum had a breakout year, averaging career highs in points (14.9) and assist (5.8), in his 8th season in the NBA with the Charlotte Hornets. Batum, who is just 27 years old, is in the beginning of his prime and found his niche in Charlotte becoming the number two option alongside Kemba Walker. The French swing man was able to help push the Hornets over the hump, and although they lost in their first round matchup against the Miami Heat, Batum seems like there is unfinished business in Charlotte. Look for Batum and the Hornets to agree on a long-term deal.
Predicted Landing Spot: Charlotte Hornets
Kevin Durant- 28.2 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 5 APG
Durant is the biggest prize of free agency, and every team is getting ready to give their best pitch to the 7-time All-Star. Durant had another stellar year for the Thunder, and was a quarter away from reaching the NBA Finals, eventually losing to the Golden State Warriors after being up 3-1 in the series. But rather than seeing the defeat as an ultimate loss, Durant should seize the opportunity to gain experience and grow from the series as the Thunder played their best ball in the postseason. Durant is looking for a championship ring, and no team looks as appealing as his current squad in Oklahoma and alongside his superstar point guard Russell Westbrook.
Predicted Landing Spot: Oklahoma City Thunder
Luol Deng 12.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.9 APG
Deng play surprised many last off-season when he opted into his contract with the Miami Heat, settling for an under the market value, just over $10 million. Deng could potentially do the same this off-season in attempting to chase a ring, and a possible landing spot for the forward could be with the Clippers. Deng and Doc Rivers have been linked before, and this off-season could be the year that the two come together. The Clippers have had holes at the 3, trying to fill the void in the past with Paul Pierce, Jeff Green, Lance Stephenson, as well as others and have failed. Enter Deng, who would end their forward unproductive drought as he can contribute on the defensive end, as well as offensively putting up 12.3 PPG and 6.0 RPG for the Heat. All this would be an ideal fit for the Clippers, and should try to convince the former 2-time All-Star to join in Los Angeles.
Predicted Landing Spot: Los Angeles Clippers
Harrison Barnes (Restricted)- 11.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.8 APG
Barnes, who turned down a 4-year, $64 million extension by the Warriors is seeking a max deal in the off-season. A number of teams looking for a young forward who can guard multiple positions, will be lining up to sign him. Barnes saw a slight increase in production from the 2014-15 season, increasing his points and assist output, from 10.1 PPG a year ago, to 11.7 PPG and 1.4 APG to 1.8 APG. But the questions lie on whether he will able to live up to the bill, take the next step and be the go-to guy elsewhere. My bet? I don’t think so, and as Barnes has stated, he wants to stay and return to the Warriors. And although the Warriors will make a run at Kevin Durant, I believe he’ll re-up with his current team, resulting in the Warriors moving on and retaining one of their own in Barnes.
Predicted Landing Spot: Golden State Warriors
Kent Bazemore- 11.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.3 APG
Bazemore is coming off his best season yet, scoring a career high in points (11.7), rebounds (5.1), assists (2.3), and field-goal percentage (44.1%) to go along with his 35.7% shooting from beyond the arc. Bazemore will turn 27 before the season starts, entering his prime years, and is an athletic forward who can guard multiple positions and be an ideal 3-and-D weapon. Although Bazemore who would like to remain with the Hawks, has probably played himself out of their price range, as rumors reported he could land a deal in the $10-12 million range. With the Hawks determined to bring back Al Horford, other teams will try to swoop-in and steal Bazemore away with an offer that the Hawks will not be comfortable making. Enter the Sacramento Kings, who are unsatisfied with the sub par season Marco Belinelli put forth, and are in need of some outside shooting, that Bazemore could provide. The Kings could slide Bazemore over at the 2-guard, playing him alongside Rudy Gay, or have him come off the bench as their sixth man and provided the extra punch needed. And with new head coach Dave Joerger, look for the Kings to make a deal for guy who plays hard with 3-and-D intangibles, something that Bazemore happens to supply.
Predicted Landing Spot: Sacramento Kings
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