Free agency is quickly approaching, with Aug. 2 being the first day teams can begin negotiating with free agents.
Ahead of free agency, we're going to take a closer look at what could happen. And today, we're looking at who the best players are at the power forward position.
It's a group headlined by two players from the 2017 NBA Draft class in No. 7 overall pick Lauri Markkanen and No. 19 overall pick John Collins, as well as one that features three established veterans.
With that in mind, let's get to it.
5. Markieff Morris, Los Angeles Lakers
2020-21 averages: 6.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists in 19.7 minutes per game
Morris is coming off of a down year with the Lakers in which he shot 31.1 percent from 3-point range, the second-lowest rate of his career. However, he is only a year removed from playing an important role in the 2020 NBA Playoffs, helping the Lakers win the championship with his defensive versatility and 3-point shooting. Only 31 years old, it's possible we haven't seen the last his production.
4. Paul Millsap, Denver Nuggets
2020-21 averages: 9.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists in 20.8 minutes per game
A four-time All-Star and one-time member of the All-Defensive Second Team, Millsap isn't the player he once was and his limitations at this stage of his career can be problematic in the playoffs. Even so, he proved this season that he can still be an incredibly valuable option off the bench, bringing experience, good decision making, outside shooting, solid vision and a defensive mindset.
3. Kelly Olynyk, Houston Rockets
2020-21 averages: 13.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists in 28.5 minutes per game
Olynyk could be higher on this list based on the way he played with the Rockets this season. In 27 games, he averaged career-highs across the board of 19.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists on 54.5 percent shooting from the field. However, it's worth keeping in mind that he was surrounded by players with little-to-no NBA experience in Houston, forcing him into a leading role.
Whether or not Olynyk can reach that level again in a different setting remains to be seen, but he's proven himself to be a good role player since entering the league in 2013. He will likely be on the radar of teams in need of offensive firepower in the frontcourt.
2. Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls
2020-21 averages: 13.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 0.9 assists in 25.8 minutes per game
Markkanen's first four years in Chicago didn't exactly go as planned due to a combination of injuries and inconsistent play, but that doesn't stop him from landing in second place in these rankings. Still young, Markkanen has a great combination of height (7-feet), 3-point shooting (40.2 percent in 2020-21) and mobility. While he might not be a star, Markkanen has the potential to flourish as a complementary option, whether it's in Chicago or somewhere else.
1. John Collins, Atlanta Hawks
2020-21 averages: 17.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists in 29.3 minutes per game
There is no doubt that Collins is the best power forward in this year's free agent class, to the point where he's made it clear that he's seeking a max deal.
Collins may have helped his chances of getting a max contract with his play in the 2021 NBA Playoffs, although he did so in an interesting way. On one hand, he played a fundamental role in Atlanta's surprising run to the Eastern Conference Finals. On the other, he thrived in a more complementary and defined role, shining as a roller, cutter, shooter and rebounder next to Trae Young.
A restricted free agent, will Collins find a team that believes in him as a primary option? What will the Hawks do if Collins receives the max-level offer he's looking for? We'll soon find out the answer to those questions.
Originally published in NBA Argentina and translated by NBA Canada's Scott Rafferty.
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