The power forward position is one that has undergone a dramatic change in the NBA. Instead of traditional inside presences with an array of post moves–a lá Karl Malone or Charles Barkley–many players listed as a power forward step outside the confines of the paint to really stretch the floor. There are so many different variations of players that play at the four; it becomes hard to try and rank one player over another. With that being said, here’s my attempt at ranking the best power forwards in the league, on form.
#1 – LaMarcus Aldridge: Portland Trail Blazers
I, like most, was left dumbfounded when Aldridge was snubbed from last years all-star game. A perennially under-appreciated player, Aldridge has once again quietly gone about putting up some stunning numbers on an ever improving Portland team. He is only one of four players in the NBA to average 20 points and 8 rebounds this season; with the other being LeBron James, Kevin Durant and David Lee. That alone speaks volumes to the talent of the 6ft11 power-forward. One area in which he has certainly improved in the last 12 months is passing. This key addition to his game makes him even harder to guard, as opposing teams will now have to consider his ability to find the open man when going to double-team Aldridge. It’s only a matter of time before he records his first NBA triple-double. A lock-in for the all-star team, and in my opinion, the best power-forward in the NBA today.
#2 – David Lee: Golden State Warriors
David Lee has been sensational in the Golden State Warriors surprising start to the season. For power-forwards, he is in the top three in all of the following stats: points, rebounds, assists, FG% and FT% – a simply remarkable feat for the 29 year old. He finally looks at home at the Warriors, as they look to make their first playoff berth for a number of years. There were even ‘MVP’ chants as the Warriors demolished the LA Clippers a few weeks ago, when David Lee dominated Blake Griffin on both ends of the floor. Perhaps his playing style isn’t as flashy or exciting as the Oklahoman, but he deserves an all-star call-up just as much. Let’s see how much damage he could make in the play-offs.
#3 – Blake Griffin: Los Angeles Clippers
Blake Griffin’s scoring numbers are down from a year ago, but that isn’t to the detriment of his game. The Los Angeles Clippers now have an abundance of scorers, and the spread of scoring has seen both Griffin and Chris Paul’s numbers dropping for the season; despite the Clippers being a dominant force so far in the Western Conference. Like LaMarcus Aldridge, Griffin’s passing game for a big is very good. He is well-known for his high-flying dunking abilities, but slowly he is developing a post-game. Him and DeAndre Jordan have formed the most exciting front-court in the NBA this season, as both possess terrifying athleticism, and the ‘other’ team in Los Angeles seem to be a lock in for one of the top four seeds in the tough Western Conference.
#4 – Dirk Nowitzki: Dallas Mavericks
Dirk is slowly returning to his former self. The lanky German is undoubtedly the greatest player of his kind; the perfect stretch-four. If this list was on talent alone: Dirk would be number one. Alas, he retains his top five status due to his legacy and the fact he is slowly starting to piece together his game this season. His injury-ridden season has predictably hindered the Mavs challenge for a playoff spot, but OJ Mayo’s hot-hand has kept them hanging on. It’s now over to you, to lead your franchise back into the play-offs, Dirk.
#5 – Josh Smith: Atlanta Hawks
Josh Smith has always been one to divide opinion. Sure, he takes some questionable shots, but when focused – there’s few better options at the four. A terrifically athletic big man, in his contract year – it’s almost as if he was bound to have a decent enough season, which he is. If these rankings were done a few weeks ago, perhaps he’d even be a little higher. Trade rumours once again loom.
#6 – Serge Ibaka: Oklahoma City Thunder
With the absence of James Harden, many were looking to Kevin Durant to pick up some of the slack left by the bearded guard who departed for Houston. Whilst Durant has to an extent been a catalyst for the Thunder’s brilliant start to the season, Serge Ibaka has definitely stepped it up on the offensive end of the floor. Not only has his finishing in-and-around the rim improved, but his ability to hit the mid-range jumper has revolutionised his offensive game. This is without mentioning his impeccable anchoring role, patrolling the paint, where he once again leads the league in blocked shots.
#7 – Carlos Boozer: Chicago Bulls
If I’d have put Carlos Boozer in my top ten power forwards last year (and even the start of this season), it would have been laughed at. This year, ‘Booz’ has returned to the player we saw in Utah. In a Derrick Rose-less Bulls side, Boozer has flourished, upping his production on offense whilst making steady improvements on the defensive end. His best performance came against Miami Heat in a nationally televised game, where Boozer grabbed down 12 boards whilst putting up 27 points in a brilliant road win for the Bulls. Carlos Boozer didn’t exactly start the season great, but he has turned it around in a big way. It’s now a question of whether he can sustain it. With him, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and a returning D Rose – the Chicago Bulls look like challenging the New York Knicks as the second best team in the East.
#8 – Kevin Love: Minnesota Timberwolves
Kevin Love has had horrible luck with injuries this season – much like many of the Wolves roster, but his good numbers when he has been able to take the floor means he manages to retain his top ten status. The all-star power-forward is simply one of the leagues emerging stars, and it seems destined that he could return to his college location, Los Angeles, to don the famous yellow and gold jerseys one day. The Wolves will do well to keep him after his contract expires, and should appreciate his talent for as long as they can. Last season’s best power-forward.
#9 – Zach Randolph: Memphis Grizzlies
Averaging almost a double-double over his last ten games, it is more of the same for Z-Bo. Once lamented for being an out-of-shape waste of space, Randolph has gone on to form one of the most feared frontcourts in the NBA along with one time all-star Marc Gasol. Despite a slip in Memphis’ form, Randolph manages to scrape onto to the top ten.
#10 – Ryan Anderson: New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans
An ever-improving player, Ryan Anderson is part of one of the more exciting stories in the NBA: the soon-to-be New Orleans Pelicans. Anthony Davis provides a post presence and rim protecting abilities whilst Anderson makes up the frontcourt by stretching the floor, with his great ability to hit the 3 – allowing for Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers to cause havoc in the paint. Well, that’s the plan, but Rivers hasn’t kept up his end of the bargain yet, but that’s for a different time. He’s also being used in a lot more pick-and-roll than he’s been used to – yet adding another element to his ever-improving game. There has even been some talk of him being traded to the LA Lakers, which just shows how good this guy can be. A future all-star.
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