The power forward position has basically become combined with the small forward position to form one major position that is critical to a team’s success in today’s NBA. Teams often deploy players who can play either spot to allow for defensive switching and fast-breaks. The best teams in the league all have a power forward who can handle guards on the wing, and also score in a variety of ways.
Still, there are some power forwards who enjoy playing the old school game and take their time inside. Either way, the power forward position is still very critical and these players often carry a large burden for their teams. Whether it’s scoring, rebounding, defending, or just hustling- this position is very important.
Here are all the NBA’s starting power forwards, divided into tiers.
Average Starters: Rodions Kurucs, Miles Bridges, JaMychal Green, Kelly Olynyk, Jonathan Isaac, Jeff Green, Rui Hachimura
Tier 5 guys are at the average power forwards who are expected to play within their roles on their teams. They put up minimal numbers, although they do things that help their teams win.
Both Jeff and JaMychal Green can defend, make rim runs, and play defense. Similarly, Isaac is still a developing player who can play both the 3 and the 4 and still has a lot of potential. He is a natural defender who still has a ways to go offensively.
Kurucs, Bridges, and Olynyk are inside-outside forwards who can score in a variety of ways. They are actually very capable starters but still have some polishing to do in their games.
Out of all the tier 5 power forwards, Rui Hachimura has the tools to be an effective starting forward in this league. When he is thrust into the starting role for the Heat, he must make an impact immediately to keep his place.
Quality Starters: John Collins, P.J. Tucker, Domantas Sabonis, Jaren Jackson Jr, Robert Covington, Paul Millsap, Dario Saric, Zach Collins, Marvin Bagley III
Tier 4 players are quality starters who can be relied upon to play big minutes every night. These guys play their role at an above-average level and contribute to their teams greatly.
The players with potential include John Collins, Zach Collins, Sabonis, Jackson Jr, and Marvin Bagley III. These guys are good enough to start and have the potential to increase their numbers tremendously as they mature. Both Zach and John Collins have shown great ability around the rim, along with hustle and rebounding. Both players, especially John, have a ways to go defensively if they wish to make a greater impact.
Sabonis is a nice finesse player who can also take it down low, while Jaren Jackson Jr is a powerhouse player who can also stroke it from deep. These crop of guys are very exciting and will be very effective in the very near future. Bagley especially has the tools to become a bonafide All-Star once he polishes his game.
P.J. Tucker is a perfect Rockets’ player who is the best corner three-point shooter in the league. Not to mention, he is the Rockets’ best defender who can guard the perimeter and also inside. Millsap is a former All-Star who has aged but can still score and rebound enough to start on most NBA teams.
All-Star Caliber: Jason Tatum, Lauri Markkanen, Kevin Love, Zion Williamson, Julius Randle, Danilo Gallinari, Al Horford, Pascal Siakam
The Tier 3 power forwards are unique players who can potentially make All-Star teams thanks to their very effective play on a consistent basis. These guys are one of the main options on their teams offensively and are simply one of the best in their positions.
Markkanen is a big man who can stroke it from deep, a very valuable type of player for any team. He is also an excellent shot-blocker who is improving on defense. Randle is also a young big man who seems to be a 20-10 guy for the next decade. He is improving every year and will be the main man for the Knicks this season.
Horford is an excellent glue guy who is a winner. He will be tasked with playing defense, hitting perimeter shots, and providing leadership to a Sixers team with very high hopes. Love is another sharpshooting big who can still average 10 rebounds when healthy. He should look to join a contending team that will maximize his abilities. Similarly, Gallinari is an experienced international player who is an effective scorer. He averaged over 20 points per game this past season, and he will be looking to join a contender as well.
Pascal Siakam took a massive step last year, capturing the Most Improved Player Award and being a part of a championship team. He is in line for a max contract, and let’s hope he continues his play into stardom after getting paid.
Tatum and Williamson are two very exciting players who will be part of the future of the NBA. Tatum is a very effective scorer who can score with the best young players in the league. As a power forward, he does create some mismatches that allow him to score easily. Zion Williamson will be one of the most anticipated players in the past decade, mainly thanks to his athleticism and flashy style of play. These two young stars will soon be among the elite.
Elite Stars: Kristaps Porzingis, Blake Griffin, Draymond Green, Anthony Davis, LaMarcus Aldridge
Tier 2 power forwards are easily All-Star players and might be featured in All-NBA teams at the end of the season.
Anthony Davis specifically is one of the best players in the world. He is a natural center with guard-like skills, who happens to play the forward position. Davis is an MVP candidate and might be the guy to deliver a championship to the Lakers.
While not as good, yet, Porzingis is a unique talent and a potential superstar. Porzingis can do almost all and has a tremendous knack for defense. He can block shots, defend the rim, and move his feet well for a 7-footer. Porzingis will be forming an exciting partnership with Luka Doncic in Dallas.
Griffin and Aldridge are two former All-Stars who are the best scorers on their teams at the moment. Griffin is more of a long-range threat, while Aldridge finds it easier to shoot over defenders from the mid-range thanks to his height. Both players will be hungry to compete for a championship and make another All-Star team.
Draymond Green is a DPOY candidate every season thanks to his hustle and dedication to that end of the floor. He is also a tremendous playmaker who is thriving in the new uptempo, floor-spacing version of the NBA. He is a perfect power forward thanks to his versatility.
But one man is clearly the best player at this position.
Best of the Best: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Even though Anthony Davis is a top player in the league, Giannis is still the best power forward in the game.
Giannis is simply unstoppable when he attacks the rim, and not even the best defenders in the world can slow him down when he catches steam. On the break, he is particularly deadly with the ball in his hands and will often finish with a dunk or find open shooters. He can also defend all forwards and guards thanks to his size and is a nightmare on both ends of the floor.
In today’s position-less game, Giannis is the freakiest player. His length makes him just impossible to stop. The only thing standing in his way is his ability to hit perimeter shots, along with free throws.
For Giannis to rule the NBA, he must improve in this area — and he might be closer than many think to being the undisputed best player in the league.