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NBA Free Agency: Top Five Small Forwards Still Available

Mar 20, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) shoots a 3-pointer against the Indiana Pacers during the second half at Spectrum Center. The Charlotte Hornets won 115-109. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

As NBA teams continue to fill out their rosters before training camp, there are many players who remain unsigned. The free agent market is still simmering with centers and guards. However, there are plenty of small forwards that are waiting for the call to either come back to their current team or begin a new chapter in their careers.

With that in mind, here are the five standout small forwards still available in free agency.

NBA Free Agency: Top Five Small Forwards Still Available

1. Kelly Oubre Jr.

After having a career year on one of the worst teams in the league, Charlotte Hornets wing Kelly Oubre Jr. is one of the top names remaining on the free agent market. The 27-year-old played 48 games in Buzz City, averaging 20.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals on 43/32/76 splits. It’s also worth noting that he has some postseason experience, playing for the Washington Wizards during their brief runs in 2017 (second-round) and 2018 (first-round). Since then, Oubre has been on a revolving door of young, developing squads in both the Hornets and Phoenix Suns. He also had a memorable stint with the Golden State Warriors while they were hit with the injury bug during the 2020-21 season.

All in all, Oubre has the resume and an opportunity to wind up on a legit contender or a team hoping to be one. Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus posited that Oubre would be a good fit on the Memphis Grizzlies, who could facilitate a sign-and-trade while completing the search for a Dillon Brooks replacement.

2. Terrence Ross

A skilled veteran sharpshooter, 6-foot-6 guard/forward Terrence Ross is ready to help any team elevate their offense—in some ways, literally. The 2013 Slam Dunk Contest champion has had a memorable career playing for numerous contenders. Most recently, Ross played 21 games for the Suns, averaging a modest nine points per game on 43/34/85 splits. Though Ross had a forgettable postseason (3.7 PPG in 11.5 minutes per game), he has still shown an ability to contribute to high-level basketball. It’s thanks in large part to his shooting and athleticism.

Three years ago, Ross had the best postseason of his career with the Orlando Magic. In five games—all off the bench—Ross averaged 16.4 points per game while shooting 47% from the field, 33% from deep and 86% from the stripe.

Perimeter shooting is often at a premium in the NBA, and Ross is no exception. His offensive versatility makes him a prime candidate for decent bench minutes on a contending roster. However, if those teams don’t work out, he could receive increased opportunities to mentor younger players on developing squads.

3. T.J. Warren

Two years removed from a stress fracture in his left foot, T.J. Warren has been working to prove he is still the same player he was pre-injury. Warren was productive when he began last season with the Brooklyn Nets, averaging 9.5 points per game on 51/33/82 splits. His production following a trade to the Suns. In 16 games (and 12 minutes per contest), Warren put up 4.2 points per game on 43/31/50 shooting splits. He barely got minutes during the Suns postseason run, only worsening his value when free agency arrived.

Despite the underwhelming play post-injury, Warren proved he still has plenty left in the tank, notably becoming the Suns’ playoff closer while shooting and rebounding at efficient rates throughout his time in the Valley. Warren is a valuable asset as a bench player who can score in spurts and close out games. He could also serve as a solid locker room presence and mentor to younger players.

4. Stanley Johnson

Stanley Johnson is a defensive-minded forward who has developed a decent offensive game. The 27-year-old went undrafted in 2015 and had a fluctuating first four years with the Detroit Pistons. After subsequent stops with the New Orleans Pelicans and Toronto Raptors, he wound up on his hometown Los Angeles Lakers in 2021, where he quickly gained a following and won over the Laker faithful with his hustle and energy, breathing new life into the team as they struggled with injuries. After being traded to (and waived by) the Utah Jazz, Johnson spent the last season with the San Antonio Spurs. In 30 games off the bench, Johnson averaged 5.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 0.5 steals per game. Additionally, he shot 53% from the field and a career-best 45% from deep (18 of 40).

With Johnson’s defensive prowess and emergence on offense, it’s still relatively surprising how he hasn’t been signed yet. Teams with remaining minimum contracts should at least consider bringing him in on a non-guaranteed deal. Johnson is a workhorse who can thrive in any situation.

5. Anthony Lamb

Finally, 25-year-old Anthony Lamb got on the radar of Warriors fans with his contributions to the team this past season. Originally undrafted in 2020, the 6-foot-6, 227-pound wing had brief appearances with the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs before landing with Golden State. He averaged 6.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game on 47/36/76 splits last year. The Warriors converted his two-way deal to a standard contract in March. Prior to that, he played 50 games and averaged seven points on 47% shooting from the field and 38% from distance.

Lamb is a laudable success story for the Golden State Warriors. Now, he has a decent opportunity to remain in the league with the amount of roster spots still available. As of Saturday, Aug. 12, there are nine teams that have less than 15 players officially on their roster, so the door is not closed on Lamb’s next opportunity. At this stage of the offseason, it’s harder for Lamb to gain respectable minutes on a team, given that they are likely logjammed at both forward spots. However, his impressive play throughout last season should be enough to pique the interest of other league executives. 

There are still Small Forwards that can make an impact on an NBA team.


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