The teams have figured out their needs and gaps and are looking for the right pieces for the next NBA season. Several guards are available in this year's free agency class, but most importantly, the small forwards are one of the most sought-after players right now.
In this era of high-volume three-point shooting, the small forwards are the ones that defend the perimeter on most occasions and also turn around and get buckets in a variety of ways.
Top five small forwards who will be available in the 2021 NBA free agency this summer
Naturally, in this era of positionless basketball, the lines are blurry between a small forward and shooting guard. The two positions are often found interchanging on rotations, and several players who were shooting guards in years past have been playing the small forward role this season.
For example, San Antonio Spurs' DeMar DeRozan, Philadelphia 76ers' Danny Green and Dallas Mavericks' Tim Hardaway Jr. are a few names that come to mind. They are traditionally guards but have played every game this season as the small forward.
On that note, let's take a look at the top five small forwards available in the 2021 NBA free agency.
#5 Kelly Oubre Jr.
Oubre Jr. was signed for $14,375,00 for one year and has no player or team option for next season. He will have the liberty to walk away in the off-season unless the Warriors offer a new deal or extend his contract.
Kelly Oubre Jr. has had a few impressive moments this season and several underwhelming ones as well. He has received mixed responses from the 'Dub Nation' fan base, with a few suggesting that he could be a valuable bench piece when Thompson gets back.
Oubre Jr. is a slasher and fierce defender. He can knock down threes on a good day, but on days when his shots aren't falling, he is a terrific lob threat and off-ball cutter as well.
Kelly Oubre Jr. is being seen under a new light due to the Warriors' ball movement and off-ball rotations. He is averaging 15.4 points, six rebounds, 1.3 assists and one steal per game on 43/31/69 shooting splits.
He believes he deserves a starter role, but he has flourished off the bench for the Warriors and will also not have a starting role once Thompson gets back. It remains to be seen what his situation will be before the off-season.
#4 Evan Fournier
Evan Fournier was acquired by the Boston Celtics at the NBA trade deadline from the Orlando Magic.
He has been average, to say the least, in the limited games he has played for the Celtics and will be available in the 2021 NBA free agency market. He had a dismal debut for the Celtics, scoring zero points on 0-10 shooting, including 0-5 from the three-point range.
However, Fournier redeemed himself soon after against the Rockets, dropping 23 points on 8-13 shooting, including 7-11 from downtown.
Unfortunately, Evan Fournier has been bit by the injury bug ever since he entered Boston. He has missed more games than he has played, and his game averages are from a small sample size.
Nevertheless, in the seven games he's played so far, he is averaging 2.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, two assists and 1.6 steals in 27.4 minutes of action each night. He is shooting quite poorly, though, doing so with 32/35/75 splits, and his FG% is actually weaker than his 3P%.
Evan Fournier enters 2021 NBA free agency this summer, and if the Boston Celtics don't retain him, he could be a viable bench player for teams.
#3 Otto Porter
Otto Porter was traded to the Orlando Magic in a deal involving Nikola Vucevic on the NBA trade deadline.
He is owed $28,489,239 for this season and will be available in the 2021 NBA free agency market next season, as there is no team or player option on his contract.
Porter's chances at 2021 NBA free agency will be evaluated with his prior experience, as he has barely played for the Orlando Magic since his trade. He is either seriously injured, or the Magic are not making him play on purpose to accomplish their lottery pick goals.
In the three games he has played for the Magic, he averaged eight points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game in 22.2 minutes of playing time.
During his time with the Bulls prior to the Magic trade, he was averaging 9.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and two assists on 44/40/83 shooting splits.
It is quite tough to assess the value of Porter on any team, given his injury status and the fact that he has missed more games than he has played. Nevertheless, the 27-year-old forward could be a valuable pick in the 2021 NBA free agency market this summer.
#2 DeMar DeRozan
Reports of four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan being unhappy in San Antonio have surfaced time and again.
He was been linked with several teams before, and it looks like he might be finally walking out the door this off-season. DeRozan is 31, and his window for championship contention might be closing soon.
He needs to go to a title-contending team in the 2021 NBA free agency to play at a high level in his prime years, as he could be a valuable piece for any team.
DeMar DeRozan is averaging 21.5 points, 7.2 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game on 49/25/88 shooting splits.
Many suggested he was snubbed for All-Star selection this season. Nevertheless, he is quite easily one of the most sought-after players in recent years, and many teams are interested in his services this time around as well.
He has been linked with the New York Knicks, Miami Heat and LA Lakers. When he enters the 2021 NBA free agency this summer, a bevy of teams come knocking at his door.
#1 Kawhi Leonard
Superstar Kawhi Leonard is the biggest name in the 2021 NBA free agency class. The two-time Finals MVP is easily regarded as one of the finest two-way players ever and whichever team he decides to take his services to gets instantly in title contention.
Naturally, every team in the league wants Kawhi Leonard in their lineup, so it isn't surprising that he is linked with every possible team looking to make additions to their roster.
He has been heavily linked with the Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat in the 2021 NBA free agency. He is also rumored to resign with the LA Clippers if their postseason goes smoothly.
Leonard is not only a two-time Finals MVP, but he's also a two-time 'Defensive Player of the Year'. 'The Klaw' is averaging 25.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.7 steals per game on 51/39/87 shooting splits.
It remains to be seen what Kawhi Leonard decides in the upcoming 2021 NBA free agency, as almost every team could benefit immensely if they take up his services.