3 free agent small forwards who can help the Blazers fill a major need

Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies (left), LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies (left), LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /
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With NBA free agency right around the corner, the talking heads are abuzz wondering what the Portland Trail Blazers will do. The team faces critical decisions on their quest to surround Damian Lillard with the necessary talent for a title run or run the risk he could opt to request a trade.

The only small forward under contract, Nassir Little, has shown potential, but still has room to grow. Unless the 23-year-old Little takes a major step forward this season, he’s better off providing solid depth as an athletic, high-energy forward capable of making a big impact off the bench during a title run.

To address their need at the three and bolster their title chances, the Blazers should explore free agency options for small forwards. In this post, we will discuss three potential candidates who can help the Blazers fill a major need.

Note: The Blazers don’t have enough cap space to sign a star player but can explore various avenues such as utilizing exceptions, such as the full mid-level exception (MLE) ($12.2 million), minimum contracts, or the bi-annual exception ($4.5 million).

Free agent small forward option 1: Dillon Brooks

Dillon Brooks is a fierce competitor who has earned recognition for his defensive ability. Although sometimes pinned as a villain, his relentless energy and physicality on the court make him a formidable opponent for any player.

As an All-Defensive second-team selection last season, Brooks has shown a commitment to shutting down opponents and disrupting their offensive flow. His defensive skills could provide a much-needed boost to the Blazers’ perimeter defense, helping to contain opposing small forwards and limit their scoring opportunities.

Offensively, Brooks has steadily improved throughout his NBA career. During the 2022-23 season with the Memphis Grizzlies, he averaged 14.3 points per game, showcasing his ability to contribute on the offensive end. While his shooting percentages of 39.6 percent from the field and 32.6 percent from beyond the arc may not be exceptional, Brooks’ true value isn’t in his shooting ability.

With the Blazers, he would provide a gritty presence on both ends of the court and add toughness to their lineup, similar to what Draymond Green has brought to the Golden State Warriors.