Kevin Durant will officially become the most-sought-after free agent since LeBron James in 2010 when the 2016 NBA Free Agency starts on July 1. As part of a five-part series, here is Sportsrageous’ list of the top five small forwards in this year’s free agency market.
1. Kevin Durant, 27 – Oklahoma City Thunder (UFA)
Durant had a great bounce-back season after injuries to his foot limited him last year. He averaged 28.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.2 blocks in 72 games. He is back to his best form and he’s proven that he can stay healthy.
The 2014 MVP is the best player in this year’s free agency as he possesses great scoring ability but it’s not the only he’s good at. Kevin Durant is an underrated playmaker and defender while his size and length are very imposing. He can also handle the ball like a guard and attack the rim at the same time.
It has been rumored that Durant will likely re-sign with the Thunder on a two-year deal with a player option for the second year. Nonetheless, there are many teams that will meet with him this summer and they will try to convince him to leave Oklahoma City.
2. LeBron James, 31 – Cleveland Cavaliers (PO)
If he’s about two years younger, LeBron James will be the best player in this year’s class. However, he is still one of the best players in the league. You can hate on LeBron but he’s a one of a kind talent.
He holds a player option and he’ll likely keep re-signing every year with the Cavaliers. It would be a blow to his reputation if he ever leaves Cleveland again, but there is still a teeny-tiny possibility that he takes his talents somewhere.
3. Nicolas Batum, 27 – Charlotte Hornets (UFA)
Just like Durant, Batum had a bounce-back season in his first year in Charlotte. The French international helped the Hornets make the postseason by averaging 14.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.8 assists.
He can play multiple positions and handle the playmaking on offense. His injury history is still a big risk but the Hornets will probably give him a max deal as soon as free agency starts on July 1.
4. Harrison Barnes, 24 – Golden State Warriors (RFA)
The Warriors got a big boost from Barnes this season as they won a historic 73 games. He has the best potential in this class but he’s not going to be a top superstar in this league. Golden State will probably match any offers for him but that could all change if they continue their pursuit of Kevin Durant.
5. Chandler Parsons, 27 – Dallas Mavericks (PO)
Parsons has had a good two seasons in Dallas that has been plagued by a couple of knee injuries. He missed the playoffs last year with a right knee injury and then underwent another surgery on the same knee to repair a torn meniscus.
It is a very risky move to give him a max contract but as far as talent, Parsons can shoot the threes, defend and attack the rim. However, how much of his athleticism was taken by those two knee surgeries?
Honorable Mentions: Evan Turner, 27 – Boston Celtics (UFA), Luol Deng, 31 – Miami Heat (UFA), Joe Johnson, 34 – Miami Heat (UFA), Jeff Green, 29 – Los Angeles Clippers (UFA), Michael Beasley, 27 – Houston Rockets (TO)
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