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Powell, Kanter Featured in ESPN’s Top 20 NBA Free Agents

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A quartet of players that suited up with the Trail Blazers last season were featured in ESPN contributor Kevin Pelton’s top free-agent list.

Portland Trail Blazers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Trail Blazers and upcoming free-agent guard Norman Powell possesses a two-way skill set that teams covet. Unsurprisingly, that billing earned the former Raptors guard a spot on several lists that are populated with this year’s top free agents. On Monday, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton ranked Powell as the No. 15 free agent.

A system that gauges value based on box-score projections from Pelton’s SCHOENE system and NBA Shot Chart’s luck-adjusted RAPM placed Powell at No. 15. In the analysis portion, Pelton explained that Powell’s presence significantly boosted the Blazers’ lineup last season.

The Blazers presumably preferred Powell because he’s the better player now — projected for nearly one more WAR in 2021-22 — and a better fit defending bigger opponents alongside Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Portland’s starting lineup with Powell ranked third among all lineups leaguewide that played more than 300 minutes with a plus-13.4 net rating, meaning re-signing him will surely be a priority for the Blazers.

Gary Trent Jr., who was traded to the Raptors in exchange for Powell, landed further up the list at No. 14. Enes Kanter and Derrick Jones Jr. landed at the tail-end of Pelton’s top 20 rankings. Kanter, who provided rebounding and steady low-post scoring, earned the No. 18 spot. Jones, who fell out of the Blazers rotation in the second half of the season, slotted in at No. 20.

You can read the complete list from Pelton at ESPN+ (subscription required).