2022 NBA Free Agency Rankings:
- Point Guard Rankings
- Shooting Guard Rankings
- Small Forward Rankings
- Power Forward Rankings
- Center Rankings
With the NBA Finals coming to an end a couple of weeks ago and the NBA Draft coming and going, all of the league’s attention now turns to “Christmas in July,” which is also known as NBA Free Agency.
Every single summer, the NBA winds up stealing the show in the sports world because of the craziness that is free agency and because of how every team scrambles to make moves in order to get a leg up on one another.
While we have seen plenty of championship teams built through the draft over the last couple of decades, free agency still plays a pivotal role in many team’s chances to contend for a title, especially if they are able to pair All-Star talents with one another!
The NBA truly has become a league dominated by two-way talents on the wing in the last few seasons and some of the league’s best play out on the wing. Plenty of teams are always in need of more wing depth and this offseason, there are quite a few small forward free agents that could wind up switching teams and have a great impact.
Getting offensive productivity from this position is key and here are the best small forward free agents available.
Notable Names: Kent Bazemore (Los Angeles Lakers), Troy Brown Jr. (Chicago Bulls), Josh Okogie (Minnesota Timberwolves), Danuel House Jr. (Utah Jazz), Josh Jackson (Sacramento Kings)
#10 Caleb Martin - Restricted Free Agent
2021-22 Salary: $527,615 | Last Team: Miami Heat | Expected: $3M to $7M per year
Signing a two-way contract with the Miami Heat at the start of the 2021-22 season, Caleb Martin quickly carved out a spot for himself in the Heat’s second-unit and had his contract converted to a standard NBA deal as a result. In 60 games, 12 of which he started due to injuries in Miami, Martin averaged 9.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and shot 41.3% from three-point range.
A tough-minded wing that has excellent instincts for where to be on the floor at all times, Caleb Martin is a fantastic role player that the Heat have shown interest in retaining. Being a restricted free agent, the two sides should be able to reach an agreement on a multi-year deal.
#9 Derrick Jones Jr. - Unrestricted Free Agent
2021-22 Salary: $9,720,900 | Last Team: Chicago Bulls | Expected: $5M to $10M per year
Athleticism is the key thing that sticks out about Derrick Jones Jr.’s game and he showed this with the Chicago Bulls. A strong defender as well, Jones was moved around from the wing to even being a “small-ball” center at times for the Bulls because of his acrobatic abilities.
Becoming a more well-rounded slasher and scorer from the wing will go a long way in Derrick Jones Jr. being an impact player in this league. At just 25-years-old, he still has room to grow and for any team looking for athleticism at either forward spot, they should look no further than Jones Jr.
#8 Jordan Nwora - Restricted Free Agent
2021-22 Salary: $1,517,981 | Last Team: Milwaukee Bucks | Expected: $2M to $6M per year
Showing glimpses of his scoring potential on the wing during Las Vegas Summer League the last two years, Jordan Nwora continued to grow as a young talent in this league with the Milwaukee Bucks this past season. Nwora played in 62 games during the 2021-22 season, averaging 7.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and shooting 34.8% from three-point range.
A true perimeter scoring threat, Jordan Nwora is only 23-years-old and could turn into a very nice scoring option off-the-bench for any team in this league if they are willing to put in the time to work more on his outside game. He is definitely a really solid free agency option for any team looking to spend a little bit of money to bolster their bench depth.
#7 Stanley Johnson - Team Option - OPTED IN
2022-23 Option: $2,351,521 | Current Team: Los Angeles Lakers | Expected: Team Opt In
Updated 6/29/22: Lakers exercised team option on Stanley Johnson's contract, keeping him in Los Angeles for 2022-23 season.
While Stanley Johnson returning to the Los Angeles Lakers is not official yet, HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto reported recently that the Lakers are expected to exercise Johnson’s team option for the 2021-22 season.
Proving to be a high-energy guy on both ends of the floor this past season in Los Angeles, the Lakers should be thrilled to keep Johnson for one more year on a low-paying contract. In 48 games, Stanley Johnson averaged 6.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and shot 46.6% from the floor. Having the ability to move around on the floor, Johnson will continue to be a key second-unit player for the Lakers.
#6 Joe Ingles - Unrestricted Free Agent
2021-22 Salary: $12,436,364 | Last Team: Portland Trail Blazers | Expected: Mid-Level Exception to $12M per year
In January, Joe Ingles suffered a torn ACL, abruptly ending his season and casting doubt on his availability for the 2022-23 season. Traded to the Portland Trail Blazers at the trade deadline as a cap relief move made by the Utah Jazz, Ingles future remains a question mark due to his injury and the fact that he is going to be turning 35-years-old in October.
Now through eight seasons in the NBA, Ingles has shot 40.8% from three-point range for his career and will be viewed as a potential low-cost, high-upside shooter out on the wing by playoff contending teams. There is a strong possibility that he will return to the Jazz on a smaller contract, but with Ingles likely out until after the All-Star break during the 2022-23 season, he could also wind up being unsigned until midseason.
#5 Cody Martin - Restricted Free Agent
2021-22 Salary: $1,782,621 | Last Team: Charlotte Hornets | Expected: Mid-Level Exception to $9M per year
Much like his brother, Cody Martin is a high-energy wing that can do a little bit of everything on the floor. We saw this with the Charlotte Hornets this past season, as Martin really stepped up into an important bench role for the team late in the year.
Averaging 7.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and shooting 38.4% from the three-point line, Martin solidified his role in the Hornets’ rotation. Being able to keep his opponents in front of him defensively as well, Martin is definitely a player the Hornets should use part of their mid-level exception on.
#4 Gary Payton II - Unrestricted Free Agent
2021-22 Salary: $1,939,350 | Last Team: Golden State Warriors | Expected: Mid-Level Exception to $10M per year
Truly a “positionless” type of player, Gary Payton II has been a shooting guard, small forward, power forward and even a very “small-ball” center at times for the Golden State Warriors because of how skilled of a defender he is. Not to mention, Payton is an above-average rebounder for his size because of the fact that he is extremely athletic!
Payton was instrumental in the Warriors’ success late in the season and he played a pivotal role defensively in the 2022 NBA Finals, helping the Warriors capture yet another championship. They may be paying an extremely high tax bill already, but Golden State does own Payton’s bird rights and will likely spend a little bit of money to keep him around.
Gary Payton II fits in so well with the Warriors’ system and he is beloved by his locker room and fan base, which is why Golden State should not be willing to let him walk in free agency. I would expect a deal to get done here to keep Payton in San Francisco for at least the next two seasons.
#3 T.J. Warren - Unrestricted Free Agent
2021-22 Salary: $12,690,000 | Last Team: Indiana Pacers | Expected: Veteran’s Minimum to Mid-Level Exception
One of the breakout stars of the 2020 NBA Bubble, T.J. Warren has not played in an NBA game since December of 2020. After suffering a foot injury that required surgery four games into the 2020-21 season, Warren sat out the entire 2021-22 season as he continued to work his way back to the court, suffering a couple of setbacks along the way.
While he should be ready to play during the 2022-23 season, Warren’s status is a big question mark right now and there is no telling as to if he will be the same impactful wing he looked like during his remarkable run in the 2020 NBA Bubble. At 28-years-old, T.J. Warren could look to take a similar path to that of Victor Oladipo this past year, as the former All-Star took a minimum-like deal with the Miami Heat in order to prove he can still play at a high-level.
Should Warren be willing to take a minimum-like deal, there will likely be a handful of playoff-caliber teams showing interest in signing him.
#2 Luguentz Dort - Team Option (DECLINED)
2022-23 Option: $1,930,681 | Current Team: Oklahoma City Thunder | Expected: Team Opt-In
Updated 6/29/22: Thunder declined Luguentz Dort's team option for the 2022-23 season, making him a restricted free agent.
Similar to Stanley Johnson’s situation with the Los Angeles Lakers, all indications point towards the Oklahoma City Thunder picking up Luguentz Dort’s team option for the 2022-23 season. The 23-year-old wing has quickly turned himself into one of the better perimeter defenders in the entire league and Dort has really put in the time to improve his craft on the offensive-end of the floor as well.
In 51 games this past season, Luguentz Dort averaged a career-high 17.2 points per game while shooting 40.4% from the floor and 33.2% from three-point range. With Oklahoma City continuing to build a sustainable, youthful core, Dort is expected to be a key long-term building block.
#1 Bruce Brown - Unrestricted Free Agent
2021-22 Salary: $4,736,102 | Last Team: Brooklyn Nets | Expected: $12M to $18M per year
With the Brooklyn Nets, Bruce Brown has really turned himself into a multipurpose, “swiss army knife” type of player. He can defend at a high-level, facilitate for the stars around him and he has really started to put things together on the offensive-end of the floor as a high-riser and slasher at the rim.
Brown has been utilized at every position on the floor for the Nets and he is the perfect type of role player to put next to Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving because of how well he moves off-the-ball on the offensive-end of the floor.
Being only 25-years-old and coming off a year in which he shot 50.6% from the floor, 40.4% from three-point range, Bruce Brown is on the verge of being paid eight-figures. He may have signed his qualifying offer with Brooklyn last year, but this summer, Brown is going to be cashing in on a bigger, long-term contract, which will likely be with the Nets.
He may not be an elite-level scorer and he can be inconsistent from the perimeter on offense, but Bruce Brown does all the little things to help his team win games. Every team needs a player like this, which is why Brown finds himself as the best available “wing” in free agency.