Top Ten Power Forwards in the NBA

By: Jon

The Power Forward position is one of the thinnest positions, in terms of depth and skill. Many of the great all time power forwards are about to retire or out of their prime. However, there are some incredibly talented and athletic players in the bunch.

 

1. Kevin Love – Minnesota Timberwolves

Kevin Love
Kevin Love

The 6’10” power forward out of UCLA has made a name for himself as one of the best players in the game, during his 5 year career. Although Love missed most of last season with a myriad of injuries, he is still the most talented and best power forward in the game. Love is a scoring and rebounding machine that excites every owner and fantasy owner. Over the past three seasons, Love has averaged about 22 points and 14 rebounds per game. Kevin “loves” to garner double doubles, which he does frequently. Besides for averaging a double double for the last four seasons, Kevin has obtained a double double in over 86% of the games he has played over the last three seasons. Since the merger in 1976, Kevin had the most consecutive double doubles, 53.  Kevin is part of a new wave of stretch power forwards. Kevin Love is a tall player who can effectively play inside and outside. Although he is not a great three point shooter, 35%, he can shoot well enough to draw the defense and cause open shots for his teammates. Kevin is one of the best offensive players in the league and his offensive win shares, top five twice in his career, depict his success.  Love has already made one All-NBA team and should make many more in the future. Love’s situation will become incredibly interesting because he has already requested a trade or more help so that the Timberwolves will win in the playoffs.

 

2. Tim Duncan – San Antonio Spurs

Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan

At the age of 37, Tim experience a rebirth during his 16th season in the NBA. The greatest power forward of all time is still one of the best big men in the league. The future Hall of Famer has been recognized by many as the best player of the generation. The four time champion and three time Finals MVP is held in such high esteem because he turned around an abysmal organization almost by himself. During his career, Duncan played in 14 All-Star games and has been voted to 10 first team All-NBA. Duncan has won 2 MVP and has finished top five in MVP voting eight times. Although he has lost a step, he has improve his passing ability and uses his intelligence to stay a step in front of the opposition. After two straight average seasons, Tim Duncan had a great season for the Spurs averaging 17.8 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.7 blocks. Although his stats do not resemble his stats during his prime, his PER 36 minutes stats are comparable to the stats during his prime. The Big Fundamental showed during the playoffs that he can still be a dominant force for stretches of a game and a series. Although Duncan’s stats are impressive, he will always be remembered for his postseason success and his ability to maintain his focus under pressure.

 

3. Dirk Nowitzki – Dallas Mavericks

Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki

The future Hall of Famer is probably the greatest shooting seven footer in NBA history. Known for his clutch play and fate away jumper, Dirk has been one of the best scorers over the past decade. Although he does not have the pedigree like Duncan, Nowitzki has won a championship, earned Finals MVP honors, has been voted the 2006 MVP, selected to 14 All-Star games, and been voted to 12 All-NBA teams. Before last season, Dirk averaged more than 21.5 points per game over the previous twelve games. Unlike other high volume shooters, Dirk shoots a good percentage, 47.5%, for a player who averages about 17 shoots per game during his career. Along with shooting a good percentage from inside the arc, Dirk has shot an amazing 38% for a seven footer from behind the arc. Although Dirk had a disappointing season last year because of injury, he still scored 17.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Dirk has the rare ability to carry a team into the playoffs. As seen in the 2011 NBA Finals, Dirk has the skill to carry a team to a title. Although Dirk has been a great scorer during the regular season, 22.6 points per game, he has been insane during the playoffs. Dirk has a career playoff scoring average of 25.9 points while averaging over 26.5 points per game eight times during his career. Next year, Dirk should be able to return to his usual stats since he will hopefully not be dealing with any injuries.

 

4. Blake Griffin – Los Angeles Clippers

Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin

The human highlight reel is the most exciting player in the game because he is an incredible dunker. Although Griffin is frequently criticized for being “soft”, he is one of the most productive players in the league. Although Griffin’s stats have steadily decreased during his first three seasons in the NBA, he has improved in other aspects of his game. Griffin was also forced to relinquished his role as the primary scorer when Paul was acquired by the Clippers. Blake’s numbers have been decreasing because his minutes and usage ratings have been steadily decreased. Blake’s PER 36 minutes stats have remained at a high level during each season of his career. Griffin’s defensive metrics have improved during every season of his career. Last season, Griffin posted his best Defensive Rating, 102, and Defensive Win Share, 3.9. Although Griffin has only played for three seasons, he has already been voted to three All-Star games, won the Rookie of the Year Award, and has been selected to two All-NBA teams. Griffin will be a star for years to come because he is determined to improve and has the ability to succeed.

 

5. David Lee – Golden State Warriors

David Lee
David Lee

The eight year professional and borderline first round pick has defied the odds and has become one of the most consistent offensive players in the league. After sitting on the bench for the first three seasons of his career, Lee has been one of the best double double man in the league. Similar to Zach Randolph, Lee is one of the few active players who has recorded multiple 20-10 seasons. Unlike Randolph, Lee is still in his prime and has a a great chance to record more double double seasons. Lee has already averaged a double double four times and should have more during his career. Last year, he had the most double doubles and experienced a double double more than 70% of the games he played. Although Lee may have trouble averaging 20 points per game because he is the number 3 or 4 option with the Warriors, he will definitely tally more than 15 points and 10 rebounds.  Although Lee is a dynamic and solid offensive player, he is not a very good defensive player because he is short and not as athletic as other players. However, his defensive game did make progress last season. Lee recorded his best defensive rating,104, and defensive wins shares, 3.7, of his career. Lee is benefiting from playing with a defensive stalwart, like Andrew Bogut.

 

6. David West – Indiana Pacers

David West
David West

The Pacers power forward is one of the most underrated, but one of the most important players on the Pacers. Since his third year in the league, West has bee one of the most consistent and efficient player on the Pacers. In 7 of the last 8 years, West has averaged at least 17.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. After a disappointing 2011-2012 season, West had a solid 2012-2013 season, averaging 17.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game. West has been an efficient shooter during his career, shooting over 49% from the field and 83% from the free throw line. Although West is not a rim protecter for the Pacers, he is a tough player and is willing to act tough with any opponent.  Even though many power forwards are starting to spread the floor, West is an old fashion power forward who has a consistent 15 foot jump shoot and has an array of shots from inside the paint. West’s defensive intensity and toughness allows him to be one of the top defensive big men in the league. David’s defensive rating and defensive wins shares were ranked inside the top ten in the league. Although West will never be a star, he is a reliable player that every good championship team must have to win big.

 

7. Kevin Garnett – Brooklyn Nets

Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett

The 18 year veteran and future hall of famer has been one of the best power forwards of all time. Although Garnett does not have the rings like Tim or Kobe, he has the stats and reputation to be considered one of the best players of his generation. Garnett has made 12 All-NBA Defensive teams, 9 first teams, 15 All-Star games, and 9 All-NBA teams. He has won a MVP, DPOY, and a title. Similar to Kobe’s tenacity, Kevin is the most fierce player in the league, although he is not the youngest or most talented player on the court. Although Garnett’s stats are amazing, his ability to configure the defense, help his teammates improve, and motivate his teammates makes his stats less important. Last season, KG had a decent year for the Celts, averaging 14.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1 block per game. Although Garnett does not rebound at his career average, 10.4, or like when he led the NBA in rebounding for four straight years, he can still rebound at a high level for short periods of games or a series. Although the Celtics lost to the Knicks in six games last postseason, KG showed that he can rebound and defend at a extremely high level, 13.7 rebounds and 90 defensive rating, both first in the NBA playoffs. The Nets, who acquired him and Pierce this offseason, hope that he will help improve their defense and post similar stats during their postseason run.

 

8. Zach Randolph – Memphis Grizzlies

Zach Randolph
Zach Randolph

The 12 year veteran has had an extremely productive career, although he does not have the prototypical NBA body. The undersized power forward has been able to be successful in the league because he uses his wide and strong body as an advantage. Z-Bo’s ability to bang inside allows him to amass a lot of rebounds and score a lot of points. Even though Zach has played for many different teams, he has produced the same stats during every stop in his career. Although Zach does not have the ability to average 20-10 for a season, he can still be a productive double double man as seen last season. During his prime, Z-Bo had five seasons were he averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. Last season, Zach finished second among power forwards in double doubles. Although Randolph did not experience a great offensive season, he posted his best defensive season by far in terms of defensive rating and defensive win shares. Zach will continue to bully his opponents inside while posting solid stats.

 

9. Carlos Boozer – Chicago Bulls

Carlos Boozer
Carlos Boozer

The veteran from Alaska has had a tremendous career for the Cavaliers, Jazz, and currently the Bulls. Once known as a walking double double, Boozer has experienced a decreased in his stats since signing a huge deal with the Chicago Bulls in the famous summer of 2010. However last season, Boozer had a mini renaissance because of the injury to Derrick Rose and an increase in minutes. He almost recorded a double double for the first time since he accomplished the feat four straight years with the Utah Jazz. During his 11 year career, Boozer has nearly averaged a double double for his career, 16.2 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. Boozer has also shot an incredible 53% from the field, which is solid for a guy who primarily shoots from 10-15 feet. Boozer has been able to be successful in the NBA because he is ridiculously strong and has a nice jump shot. Carlos’s crazy jump shot is impossible to block because he shots from over his head. Although Carlos is a strong man and can bully many of his opponents when he plays defense, he is not a good defensive player. Although he experienced two solid defensive years when he first signed with the Bulls, he was below average last season, although he plays for one of the best defensive coaches in the league. Next year, I expect a dip in Boozer’s stats because Rose is returning from injury and will take a lot of shots from his teammates.

 

10. Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans

Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis

The first round pick in the 2012 NBA Draft had a solid rookie season, although he experienced a few injuries. During his first season, Davis played in 64 while averaging 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 1.8 blocks. Although he is a good rim protector and has quick hands, the defensive metrics do not love his ability, 104 defensive rating. Davis may one day become a solid offensive contributor because he is incredibly athletic and has a solid mid range game. Last season, he shot 52% from the field on 11 shots. Coming out of college, scouts compared Davis to players such as Kevin Garnett. Scouts believe that he will one day be the best power forward in the game because he is a great defensive player and rim protector as well as an incredibly raw offensive force. However, I do not feel the same way as those scouts. I believe that he will one day be a top five power forward, but never a superstar in the league. Davis will probably be a similar player to Serge Ibaka. Although Ibaka is a great rim protector and a good shooter from the outside, he is not a superstar. Davis may have a higher potential than Ibaka, but I do not think that he will be significantly better than the young, athletic Oklahoma City power forward. Unless Davis makes significant gains on his strength and learns better inside moves, he will never reach the heights that some scouts predict for him.

 

pics and stats from espn.com and basketballreference