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Free Agency Preview Part II: Power Forwards

Taking a detailed look at some of the best free agent big men available this summer

While there's no way to divine what the next few months may bring in terms of player acquisition -- it's always a good idea to remember that Morey's moves have, by and large, come out of the blue and caught most everyone unaware -- there's no better time than the present to get acquainted (or in some cases, reacquainted) with the names that figure to loom large this summer.

We'll tackle the draft in greater detail once the selection order is finalized following the lottery drawing May 30. For now, we're taking a look at some of the free agents who will be on the radar screen of the Rockets and the other 29 teams in the league once the clock strikes midnight July 1.

What follows is a statistical and subjective breakdown of some of the top power forwards who are hitting the open market this summer (click here for Part 1 in which we examined the market for centers). Return to Rockets.com in the days that follow for analysis of the talent available at the other positions. (shot location statistics courtesy of hoopdata.com; Synergy stats courtesy of Synergy Sports Technology)

Tim Duncan (UFA):

The basics: 15.4 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.5 bpg, .493 FG%, .695 FT%, 22.6 PER

Advanced stats: 18.3 rebound rate (6th among qualifying centers), 28.2 defensive rebound rate (5th), 7.9 offensive rebound rate (41st), 12.3 assist rate (16th), 9.1 turnover rate (5th)

Shooting percentages by location: At rim: 63% (centers averaged 65.2% from that distance in 11-12), 3-9 feet: 35.3%, (center average: 40.8%), 10-15 feet: 48.5% (center average: 38%), 16-23 feet: 47% (center average: 39.3%)

Noteworthy Synergy stats: Offense: Post-ups: .812 points per possession (53rd percentile), Pick-and-roll roll man: 1.077 ppp (72nd percentile), Spot-ups: .953 ppp (58th percentile)

Defense: versus post-ups: .747 ppp (71st percentile), as big defender dealing with the PNR ball-handler: .883 ppp (29th percentile), as big defender dealing with PNR roll man: .815 ppp (56th percentile)

There's little reason to spend much time discussing a player like Duncan in a format like this. Everyone knows who and what Timmy is: a surefire Hall of Famer, one of the best players of all time and a man presumably destined to play his entire career in Spurs' silver and black. He is also, as San Antonio Head Coach Gregg Popovich finally copped to recently, a center rather than a power forward, but given the fact he's operated under the latter designation for more than a decade now, we'll put him on this list for old time's sake. Besides, the standard one-through-five NBA positional labels frequently get tossed aside anyway; at the end of the day, it's often far easier (and accurate) to simply categorize the players in this league as bigs, wings and point guards.

That simple soliloquy aside, Duncan remains a remarkably effective player, combining his impeccable fundamentals with a dizzying basketball IQ to impact games in ways great and small in spite of the many miles he's logged over the course of his decorated 15-year career.

Kevin Garnett (UFA)

The basics: 15.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.0 bpg, .503 FG%, .857 FT%, 20.47 PER

Advanced stats: 15.6 rebound rate (18th among qualifying PFs), 25.8 defensive rebound rate (5th), 4.4 offensive rebound rate (82nd), 15.3 assist rate (11th), 9.4 turnover rate (22th)

Shooting percentages by location: At rim: 67.1% (PFs averaged 64.7% from that distance in 11-12), 3-9 feet: 46.8% (PF average: 39.9%), 10-15 feet: 40.4% (PF average: 38.5%), 16-23 feet: 48% (PF average: 40.4%)

Noteworthy Synergy stats: Offense: Post-ups: .937 ppp (84th percentile), Spot-ups: .984 ppp (63rd percentile), Pick-and-roll roll man: 1.033 ppp (64)

Defense: Post-ups: .712 ppp (79th percentile), as big defender dealing with the PNR ball-handler: .605 ppp (86th percentile), as big defender dealing with PNR roll man: .609 ppp (85th percentile), Spot-ups: .634 ppp (95th percentile)

Another player who transcends the game, age and positional designations, Garnett is reminding everyone of his ability to impact the game at an extraordinarily high level -- even at 36 years of age. KG slid over to center during the second half of this season due to Boston's desperate need for help at the position after a rash of injuries and the transition wasn't just seamless; it was tremendous. With Garnett as the pillar around which everything else was built, Boston boasted the league's best defense over the season's final two months, suffocating the life out of opponents in no small part thanks to his length, smarts and unmatched tenacity. And while defense remains Garnett's calling card, his offensive impact should not be disregarded either; as the Synergy stats show, KG is a triple threat capable of killing opponents in the post, as a pick-and-pop sniper, or as a surgeon methodically dissecting defenses with his clever, timely and pinpoint passing.

Ryan Anderson (RFA)

The basics: 16.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg, .4 bpg, .439 FG%, .877 FT%, .393 3-PT%, 21.23 PER

Advanced stats: 13.8 rebound rate (35th among qualifying PFs), 14.7 defensive rebound rate (73rd), 13.0 offensive rebound rate (9th), 5.7 assist rate (75th), 6.0 turnover rate (2nd)

Shooting percentages by location: At rim: 57.8%, 3-9 feet: 31.4%, 10-15 feet: 36.4%16-23 feet: 30%

Noteworthy Synergy stats: Offense: Spot-ups: 1.093 ppp (86th percentile), Pick-and-roll roll man: .957 ppp (51st percentile), Cuts: 1.449 ppp (90th percentile), Post-ups: .682 ppp (28th percentile)

Defense: Post-ups: .96 ppp (24th percentile), as big defender dealing with the PNR ball-handler: .743 ppp (64th percentile), as big defender dealing with PNR roll man: .924 ppp (32th percentile), Spot-ups: .847 ppp (74th percentile)

The epitome of a "stretch" four, Anderson took home the league's Most Improved Player award this season by virtue of basically duplicating the success he enjoyed last year, only this time around he received more minutes to showcase his unique skills, thereby giving his per-game numbers an aesthetically pleasing boost. The 24-year-old is deadly from beyond the arc and is no doubt at his best when paired with an attention-demanding interior presence on offense and a defensively dominating big man in the middle -- as he was in Orlando, of course, with Dwight Howard. Make no mistake, however: Anderson is not simply some sort of basketball symbiote who can only achieve success when leeching off of others' talents (Anderson's April averages with Howard sidelined due to injury: 16.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg, .432 FG%); he is a smart, efficient player with a subtle knack for scoring offensive rebounds, and though he's limited defensively his productivity and perimeter marksmanship promise to make him a prized commodity on the free agent market.

Ersan Ilyasova (UFA)

The basics: 13 ppg, 8.8 rpg, .7 bpg, .492 FG%, .781 FT%, .455 3-PT%, 20.55 PER

Advanced stats: 17.6 rebound rate (11th among qualifying PFs), 22.8 defensive rebound rate (14th), 12.7 offensive rebound rate (11th), 8.6 assist rate (48th), 9.2 turnover rate (18th)

Shooting percentages by location: At rim: 60.3%, 3-9 feet: 39%, 10-15 feet: 39.5%, 16-23 feet: 40%

Noteworthy Synergy stats: Offense: Pick-and-roll roll man: .883 ppp (34th percentile), Spot-ups: 1.131 ppp (91st percentile), Cuts: 1.318 ppp (78th), Transition: 1.277 ppp (73rd)

Defense: as big defender dealing with the PNR ball-handler: .915 ppp (24th percentile), Spot-ups: .974 ppp (38th percentile), Post-ups: .709 ppp (80th percentile), as big defender dealing with PNR roll man: .711 ppp (74th percentile), Isolations: .714 ppp (68th percentile)

The general public might not be familiar with Ilyasova's name or game, but rest assured NBA execs around the league know that the 25-year-old Turk is a player that demands their full attention. A monster on the glass and a marksman from beyond the arc, Ilyasova came on strong during the second half of the season, producing some eye-popping stat lines such as the one he posted February 19 against New Jersey when he exploded for 29 points and 25 rebounds. He is at his best as a pick-and-pop player on the offensive end and a post-defender at the other, perfectly happy to bang down low and embrace physical play, while being less effective on the perimeter where his average mobility leaves him more vulnerable and exposed. Still, Ilyasova took a massive step forward in his fourth NBA season and if he can maintain that level of excellence or, for that matter, surpass it going forward he promises to be one of the best pick-ups of the 2012 offseason.

Kris Humphries (UFA)

The basics: 13.8 ppg, 11 rpg, 1.2 bpg, .481 FG%, .752 FT%, 17.98 PER

Advanced stats: 18.3 rebound rate (6th among qualifying PFs), 24.8 defensive rebound rate (9th), 12.2 offensive rebound rate (13th), 9.0 assist rate (45th), 11.9 turnover rate (51st)

Shooting percentages by location: At rim: 58.4%, 3-9 feet: 34.5%, 10-15 feet: 38.3%, 16-23 feet: 41%

Noteworthy Synergy stats: Offense: Cuts: 1.141 ppp (43rd percentile), Pick-and-roll roll man: .879 ppp (32nd percentile), Post-ups: .941 ppp (84th percentile), Spot-ups: .807 ppp (35th percentile)

Defense: As big defender dealing with the PNR ball-handler: .818 ppp (42nd percentile), Spot-ups: .894 ppp (61st percentile), Post-ups: .831 ppp (50th percentile), Isolations: .743 ppp (61st percentile), as big defender dealing with PNR roll man: .808 ppp (60th percentile)

Humphries followed up his breakout 2010-11 campaign with a strikingly similar season that saw him maintain his mastery on the boards while taking on a somewhat heavier offensive load; a responsibility he was presumably able to take on after ditching the Kardashian-sized burden he carried around a season ago. And while the latter part of that sentence is obviously a joke, Humphries board work was most definitely no laughing matter as he has now established himself as one of the best rebounding bigs in the game. As for the other aspects of his game, the 27-year-old is a decent, though improved, defender and best served posting up on offense as opposed to jacking up midrange jumpers which he has a tendency to do too often. Going forward, he would also do well to cut down on the number of turnovers he commits and to become a better, more willing passer.

Carl Landry (UFA)

The basics: 12.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, .3 bpg, .503 FG%, .799 FT%, 18.31 PER

Advanced stats: 12.8 rebound rate (51st among qualifying PFs), 15.9 defensive rebound rate (66th), 9.5 offensive rebound rate (34th), 7.0 assist rate (66th), 11.7 turnover rate (47th)

Shooting percentages by location: At rim: 69.4%, 3-9 feet: 42.7%, 10-15 feet: 41%, 16-23 feet: 36%

Noteworthy Synergy stats: Offense: Post-ups: 1.034 ppp (96th percentile), Cuts: 1.233 ppp (61st percentile), Offensive rebounds (put backs): 1.491 ppp (100th percentile), Isolations: .76 ppp (53rd percentile), Pick-and-roll roll man: .818 ppp (23rd percentile),

Defense: Post-ups: .716 ppp (78th percentile), Spot-ups: .889 ppp (64th percentile), as big defender dealing with the PNR ball-handler: .705 ppp (71st percentile), as big defender dealing with PNR roll man: .75 ppp (70th percentile)

Landry bounced back from his worst season as a pro to record one of his better campaigns in 2011-12. As a scorer at the power forward position he remains very strong, utilizing excellent footwork in the post and explosion around the rim to cause fits for opponents attempting to prevent him from racking up points in bunches. He's also got a real knack for drawing fouls and his defense, never a strong suit, was perhaps the best it's ever been this season. But while Landry rebounded quite nicely from a down year, what he does not do -- and what holds him back from becoming one of the better players at his position -- is, well ... rebound. The Purdue product ranks as one of the poorer rebounding power forwards in the league and that's afterproducing his best board work since his second season in the NBA. But if you have personnel who can negate his negligence on the glass and offense at the four is what you're after, there's no question Landry can fill that void and fill it well.

Jason Thompson (RFA)

The basics: 9.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg, .7 bpg, .535 FG%, .602 FT%, 16.41 PER

Advanced stats: 14.7 rebound rate (34th among qualifying centers), 19.3 defensive rebound rate (38th), 10.5 offensive rebound rate (26th), 11.8 assist rate (18th), 10.2 turnover rate (9th)

Shooting percentages by location: At rim: 65.8%, 3-9 feet: 44%, 10-15 feet: 37.5%, 16-23 feet: 39%

Noteworthy Synergy stats: Offense: Cuts: .984 ppp (17th percentile), Post-ups: .793 ppp (49th percentile), Pick-and-roll roll man: .848 ppp (29th percentile), Transition: 1.455 ppp (93rd percentile)

Defense: Post-ups: .767 ppp (63rd percentile), as big defender dealing with the PNR ball-handler: .744 ppp (63rd percentile), Spot-ups: .897 ppp (61st percentile), Isolations: .62 ppp (86th percentile), as big defender dealing with PNR roll man: .872 ppp (42nd percentile)

A bit of a tweener, Thompson spent portions of his first two years in the league shuttling back and forth between the power forward and center positions. This past year, however, he was used predominantly as a five and, coincidence or no, produced his most statistically efficient season as a pro to date. Offensively, he remains raw and a work in progress, finishing well around the rim and in transition, but struggling when asked to operate outside of those basic parameters. At just 25 years of age, however, there's still time and reason to believe he can improve at that end. More pressing for now is his need for development as a rebounder and rim protector; Thompson has the size, length and quickness necessary to be significantly better at both but has, up to this point anyway, left much to be desired in those categories.

Antawn Jamison (UFA)

The basics: 17.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, .7 bpg, .403 FG%, .683 FT%, .341 3-PT%, 16.17 PER

Advanced stats: 10.8 rebound rate (78th among qualifying PFs), 15.7 defensive rebound rate (68th), 6.3 offensive rebound rate (68th), 9.5 assist rate (42nd), 6.5 turnover rate (4th)

Shooting percentages by location: At rim: 62.8%, 3-9 feet: 40.2%, 10-15 feet: 28.2%, 16-23 feet: 29 percent

Noteworthy Synergy stats: Offense: Spot-ups: .93 ppp (54th percentile), Pick-and-roll roll man: .673 ppp (8th percentile), Post-ups: .818 ppp (56th), Cuts: 1.101 ppp (35th percentile)

Defense: Spot-ups: .842 ppp (75th percentile), Post-ups: .869 ppp (39th percentile), As big defender dealing with the PNR ball-handler: .839 ppp (37th percentile), Isolations: .967 ppp (14th percentile)

At first blush, Jamison's basic stats don't look too shabby, but a closer inspection into his all-around game reveals a player who should now be relegated to an "unwrap for offense only" role off the bench. Yes, the 35-year-old can still bring some scoring punch, but he's not particularly efficient in doing so and his defense is downright dreadful these days. Add in an equally cringe-worthy rebound rate and it becomes quite clear that unless Jamison lands in a locale that has the personnel to make up for his defensive shortcomings, whatever offense he's able to bring to the table will be more than offset by the number of points his team concedes while he's on the floor. 
Jordan Hill (RFA)

The basics: 5.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg, .7 bpg, .497 FG%, .638 FT%, 15.8 PER

Advanced stats: 19.5 rebound rate (5th among qualifying PFs), 26.2 defensive rebound rate (6th), 12.7 offensive rebound rate (11th), 6.9 assist rate (38th), 13.3 turnover rate (27th)

Shooting percentages by location (with Houston): At rim: 74%, 3-9 feet: 36.7%, 10-15 feet: 42.1%, 16-23 feet: 36 percent

Noteworthy Synergy stats: Offense: Post-ups: .744 ppp (39th percentile), Pick-and-roll roll man: 1.065 ppp (58th percentile), Cuts: 1.129 ppp (40th percentile)

Defense: Post-ups: .738 ppp (73rd percentile), As big defender dealing with the PNR ball-handler: .828 ppp (40th percentile)

Rockets fans should require little additional insight into what Jordan Hill brings to the table after watching him play in Houston for two seasons prior to the trade deadline deal that sent him to the Lakers this past March. The 24-year-old is an elite level rebounder with above average length and athleticism which he also uses to his advantage when defending opponents in the post. The key, of course, with Hill is consistency; too often he wows you one game before all but disappearing for the next three or four contests. To be fair, plenty of young big men experience similar issues so Hill is certainly not unique in that regard. The ability is there. No one doubts that. So if the focus and concentration ever catch up with the talent, Hill will be quite the bargain.

Darrell Arthur (RFA)

The basics (2010-11 stats): 9.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, .8 bpg, .497 FG%, .813 FT%, 15.77 PER

Advanced stats: 12.7 rebound rate (48th among qualifying PFs), 17.0 defensive rebound rate (49th), 8.5 offensive rebound rate (39th), 6.4 assist rate (64th), 10.7 turnover rate (37th)

Shooting percentages by location: At rim: 68.4%, 3-9 feet: 46.9%, 10-15 feet: 48.2%, 16-23 feet: 39%

Noteworthy Synergy stats: Offense: Pick-and-roll roll man: .828 ppp (18th percentile), Spot-ups: .848 ppp (34th percentile), Cuts: 1.188 ppp (40th percentile), Post-ups: 1.0 ppp (87th percentile),

Defense: Spot-ups: .907 ppp (71st percentile), as big defender dealing with the PNR ball-handler: .827 ppp (55th percentile), Post-ups: .819 ppp (64th percentile), Isolations: .807 ppp (56th percentile)

An oft forgotten but much missed big man in Memphis this year, Arthur lost the entire 2011-12 season to a torn Achilles he suffered in mid-December. A shame, too, because the 24-year-old Texas native was coming off a career campaign the year before that saw him make significant strides offensively while emerging as a true force on the defensive end. He fouled too much and rebounded too little, but there's a lot to like here in terms of Arthur filling the role of a backup big off the bench. Obviously it remains to be seen whether or not he can replicate or build upon his pre-injury form, but given Arthur's age and on-court tenacity it seems reasonable to assume a bullish outlook on his future.

J.J. Hickson (RFA)

The basics: 8.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg, .6 bpg, .467 FG%, .642 FG%, 14.91 PER

Advanced stats: 15.2 rebound rate (24th among qualifying PFs), 19.0 defensive rebound rate (34th), 11.7 offensive rebound rate (16th), 8.0 assist rate (57th), 12.4 turnover rate (58th)

Shooting percentages by location (with Portland): At rim: 62.9%, 3-9 feet: 66.7%, 10-15 feet: 22.2%, 16-23 feet: 38%

Noteworthy Synergy stats (with Portland): Offense: Pick-and-roll roll man: 1.15 ppp (82nd percentile), Post-ups: .842 ppp (64th percentile), Offensive rebounds (put backs): 1.31 ppp (92nd percentile), Cuts: 1.333 ppp (80th percentile),

Defense: As big defender dealing with the PNR ball-handler: 1.178 ppp (4th percentile), Post-ups: .956 ppp (24th percentile)

As an offensive player, there's a fair bit to like about J.J. Hickson. He can score in a variety of different ways, he's athletic and he's young enough (23-years-old) to believe there's plenty more room to grow. No, he doesn't pass and he turns the ball over far too much but, again, those things can be said about most young bigs who fall into Hickson's age group. It's on the other side of the ball, however, where projecting the North Carolina State product's NBA future starts to look a little dicey. Simply put, Hickson has a well-deserved reputation for being a sieve on the defensive end and that's an issue that must be addressed if he is truly intent on having an impact on winning, rather than simply the points column gracing his nightly box score.

Mareeese Speights (RFA)

The basics: 8.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, .5 bpg, .453 FG%, .771 FT%, 14.12 PER

Advanced stats: 16.2 rebound rate (25th among qualifying centers), 21.4 defensive rebound rate (28th), 11.3 offensive rebound rate (20th), 7.3 assist rate (35th), 11.2 turnover rate (15th)

Shooting percentages by location: At rim: 54.7%, 3-9 feet: 36.3%, 10-15 feet: 30.8%, 16-23 feet: 47 percent

Noteworthy Synergy stats: Offense: Cuts: 1.025 ppp (23rd percentile), Post-ups: .647 ppp (20th), Spot-ups: 1.042 ppp (76th percentile), Pick-and-roll roll man: .792 ppp (21st percentile),

Defense: As big defender dealing with the PNR ball-handler: .751 ppp (62nd percentile), Post-ups: .716 ppp (78th percentile), Spot-ups: .917 ppp (54th percentile)

As a floor spacing big, Speights has his charms; the 24-year-old University of Florida product excels in the pick-and-pop game, consistently knocking down midrange jumpers with a quick release. But the question must be asked: precisely how valuable is a big who makes his living shooting long 2s, especially when, at this time anyway, he doesn't appear to excel in any other area? Speights is merely average on the boards and has even further to go as a defender; his Synergy stats look good at first blush, but one must also keep in mind that he was surrounded by some excellent defensive personnel during his time in both Memphis and Philadelphia (context, as always, is key when evaluating a player through any prism, be it objective or subjective).