I’ve mentioned before that each position seems to have its time as the most dominant in the NBA. Centers had the Wilt and Russell era and the 90s, points guards had the start of this decade and power forwards had the decade prior.
The trio of Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan personified the position during that time and the battles they had were a real clash of the titans. Power forwards are usually just as big as centers, but they have more skills to boast of. They are better shooters, can dribble more and are more mobile.
Nowadays it seems like the 4 spot has taken a bit of a back seat to the other positions, but there are still some decent guys out there. Here are my top ten power forwards for the start of the 2017/18 NBA season.
10. Serge Ibaka – Toronto Raptors
The Oklahoma City Thunder front office must be really hating life right now. In 2012 they had an amazing young core that looked set to take the world by storm and win themselves a bunch of Larry O’Brien trophies in the meanwhile.
Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka were all under the age of 24 when he managed to reach the 2012 NBA Finals. Things looked incredibly bright, but extremely poor management meant that James Harden was traded away for pennies on the dollar, Kevin Durant went to Golden State and Serge Ibaka to Toronto via Orlando.
Ibaka is still a very effective power forward in the NBA thanks to his potent combination of offense and defense. Although he’s not the same guy that was averaging 3.7 blocks a game in 2012 he’s swatting 1.4 shots a night and his offensive game has matured well over the years.
He is a very good stretch 4 given that he hit 39.1% of his 3s last year making 1.6 a game. With today’s NBA being all about shooting and floor space he is a very valuable guy to have on the floor; he stretches the offense and provides solid defense.
9. Ryan Anderson – Houston Rockets
Speaking of floor spacing…
When it comes to stretch 4s this guy has got it down to a tee. Anderson is a big reason why the Houston Rockets broke the NBA team made 3 pointers last season. They made over 14 a game and Anderson contributed well, knocking down 2.8 a night on a very efficient 40.3%.
He was a fantastic acquisition by Mike D’Antoni as he gives James Harden another 3 point shooter to spread the defense for him. The pick and pops by these guys are deadly given how quick and from how deep Anderson can shoot.
Now that Houston has acquired Chris Paul, the best pure point guard in the NBA, to play alongside Harden there will be even more opportunities for Anderson to really show just how lethal a shooter he is.
8. Dirk Nowitzki – Dallas Mavericks
Despite being 39 years old Dirk Nowitzki stills finds a way to be effective. He’s easily the best shooting big man of all time and a great example to any young player. If any NBA athlete deserves a statue in his honor, it’s the 7-foot German.
The man has spent his entire career with the Dallas Mavericks and racked up over 30,000 points in his 19-year career. He’s the 6th highest scorer in NBA history and if he’s healthy for the whole season could move up to number 5 on that list.
His signature fadeaway on the block is one of the toughest shots to defend in NBA history and the fact that for his entire career he shot 47.5% from 16 feet to the 3 point line shows that he’s worked incredibly hard for this level of efficiency.
Hopefully, the Mavs somehow make it into the Playoffs just so we get one more chance to watch Dirk do his thing against whichever defender is unlucky enough to guard him.
A legend through and through.
7. Kristaps Porzingis – New York Knicks
Although this is Dirk’s last season which is indeed sad, we basically have his clone playing in New York to compensate. It’s uncanny how similar these two players are; both over 7 feet tall, both very good shooters and both from Europe instead of the USA.
Porzingis has incredible potential both on offense and on defense. On offense, nobody can guard him because the release on his jump shot is so high and so quick that big, lumbersome power forwards that usually guard him have no chance in hell at stopping it. He’s also very athletic and boosts an incredible 37.5” vertical leap which is 2 inches more than Blake Griffin’s.
On defense, he is so long that anyone driving to the rim against him has a lot of trouble. Porzingis averaged 2 blocks a game last year and was the 4th best rim protector for players who played more than 60 games and defended at least 4 shot attempts a game inside 6 feet.
Who knows if Porzingis sticks around New York long enough for the franchise to get itself in order. Either way, we have many years of quality basketball to enjoy from this 7 foot 3 monster, the spirit of Dirk is strong in this one.
6. LaMarcus Aldridge – San Antonio Spurs
Even though he had a terrible series against the Warriors in last year’s Playoffs I still rate Aldridge very highly. Gregg Popovich isn’t going to sign someone to a max level contract if they can’t play.
As a 2nd option last year Aldridge averaged 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds and helped the Spurs reach another Western Conference Finals. After Kawhi went down in-game 1 the series was over and it was unfair to expect Aldridge to really compete with the might of the Golden State onslaught.
With a healthy Kawhi and with Gregg Popovich out for revenge expect another quality season for the Spurs which will put them right back in Championship contention.
5. Kevin Love – Cleveland Cavaliers
Much like Chris Bosh in the Big Three era in Miami, Kevin Love often finds himself the scapegoat for Cleveland’s failures. Everyone loves LeBron too much, he’s the chosen one and Kyrie is the guy who hit the big 3 to seal the title in 2016.
Love came from Minnesota where he was the man averaging 26 points and 12.5 rebounds to the Cavaliers where he’s just a stretch 4 who plays the occasional outlet pass. But even with this vast reduction is a responsibility he still manages to average a double-double behind LBJ and Uncle Drew.
I have no idea what will happen with Love in the coming months; he could well be traded next week or so as the Cavs look to make moves to keep LeBron happy and persuade him to stay in Cleveland.
4. Paul Millsap – Denver Nuggets
Although he stands at only 6 foot 8 Millsap has shed the ‘tweener’ label and become one of the better players in the NBA for the last 4 seasons. Every season he was in Atlanta he was an All-Star where he averaged 17.4 points and 7.5 rebounds.
He can score in a huge variety of ways such as from the 3 point line, mid-range and the post. This huge variation of scoring options at his disposal means that defenders have a very hard time dealing with him as they can’t pressure him into a weakness because he has none.
Millsap is now in Denver and should form an interesting partnership with Nikola Jokic, one that will have an avid NBA fan such as myself very intrigued as to what they can accomplish.
3. Draymond Green – Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green is the type of player you really really hate if you’re playing against him but love if you’re playing with him. He’s unbelievable valuable for the Warriors and they would not have won either of their two recent titles without him.
On offense, he’s the cog in the middle of the machine that makes all the others run smoothly. He averaged 7 assists a game last year which shows just how good of a team player he is. The Warriors have so much firepower, and Green is often the one fueling the flames.
He has great court vision and the ability to grab the defensive rebound, dribble the ball up the court and initiate the offense. On defense, you could easily argue that he’s the best in the league. He was last season’s Defensive Player of the Year and it’s very easy to see why.
He was 2nd in the league in Defensive rating (99.1), 1st in steals at 2 per game and was the best rim protector in the league in terms of opponent field goal percentage less than 6 feet from the rim.
He’s a major stud and anyone who says they wouldn’t have him on their team in a heartbeat is just lying to themselves.
2. Blake Griffin – Los Angeles Clippers
Poor, poor Kendrick Perkins. Need reminding? Here you go, a gift from me to you.
Blake Griffin is one of the most exciting players in the NBA and a monster of a dunker. The list of player’s he’s posterized keeps getting longer and longer and I expect many more to be added this season.
Over the past few years, Blake has also managed to add some substance to his flare. He has developed his outside shot a lot and the work he has put into his free throws has paid huge dividends.
He’s gone from a 52.1% shooter in 2012 to a 76% shooter last season, truly a testament to his work ethic. If he could just stay healthy now for a whole season then he could easily improve on his 21.6 points per game average last year, especially now that he will have more responsibility thanks to the departure of CP3.
1. Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans
As I’ve said the power forward spot is definitely the weakest out of the five. There just aren’t that many quality players at this position. However, there is one guy who is a cut above the rest and who makes up for this lack of quality with a bucketload of his own.
Davis much like Draymond Green is a fantastic two-way player. On offense, he averaged 28 points a game on 50.5% from the field. He has an incredible touch for a big man with both hands, his midrange game is on point and he can shoot the occasional 3 as well.
On defense, he’s a demon, someone who has already lead the league in blocks per game twice and looks set to do that multiple times before he retires. He has an amazing 7 foot 6 wingspan along with very fluid athleticism and predatory defensive instincts.
Drivers be warned, don’t try and do a layup against this guy, odds are the ball will end up in the 10th row.
The pairing of Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, arguably the best center in the NBA, is the duo to watch next year. If they can get the chemistry right then New Orleans could easily win 50 games or more.