The power forward position is one of the most unique positions in the league. Power forwards are asked to pick and pop, slash, spot up and shoot, or all of the above. There are many names that come to mind when it comes to the position. In the end, sometimes a player’s impact on the team’s wins is more important than their skills.
Separating the top power forwards in the league can be tricky, especially with the diversity of their roles. With that said, there are some clear role players that help change a team’s fortunes for the season. Let’s take a look at the top power forwards in the league by tiers.
Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo
How special are these players? Kevin Durant is a two-time Finals MVP and former scoring champion. His ability to do more outside the basic needs of a power forward is what makes him one of the best players in the league. Durant is not a true pick-and-roll player as he relies on creating his own shot, but he also owns one of the best fadeaway jumpers in the game. As for Anthony Davis, the former Defensive Player of the Year runner-up changes games on the defensive front each night, while his offense is near the best in the league inside the paint. Davis has averaged a double-double of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in six of his nine seasons in the league.
As for Giannis, he is the reigning back-to-back MVP of the league. Last season, Giannis won both the MVP and DPOY. The 2021 All-Star MVP is coming off a 16-of-16 shooting performance with many highlight-reel dunks in the paint. Along with his ability to score inside, rebound, and play defense, he can also distribute the ball. Over the last three seasons, Giannis has assist averages of 5.9, 5.6, and 5.9. There are not too many players that can pass like this, which makes him one of a kind.
In his first full season, Williamson is showing promise of becoming one of the next best power forwards in the league. At 20 years old, he is coming off being named one of the youngest All-Star selections in NBA history. For the season, his second in the league, he is averaging 25.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, and shooting over 61% from the field. The 2019 No. 1 overall pick is one of the quickest players we have ever seen standing at 6-foot-7 and 284 pounds. He is one of the best finishers in the paint and nearly glides while in transition. Williamson has a low assist count but has shown promise as potentially developing a three-point shot. As he continues to develop his game, Williamson could make the jump to Tier 1 by as soon as next season.
Tobias Harris, Julius Randle, Pascal Siakam, Draymond Green, Domantas Sabonis
Julius Randle has a case for making Tier 2 soon after qualifying for his first All-Star team. Randle has been a huge part of the reason why the New York Knicks are competitive this year and the league’s No. 1 team defensively. Randle leads the team in points (23.2), rebounds (11.1), and assists (5.5). His ability to find the open man makes him look like a point guard in a power forward body. Tobias Harris is also very unique with the way he plays the game. Harris can score (20.2 PPG), rebound (7.6), and shoot from outside (40.2%). Paired alongside Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, Harris quietly puts up solid numbers in the box score each night.
Pascal Siakam and Draymond Green are critical to a team’s success. Siakam, the 2018-2019 Most Improved Player, is a swingman type of power forward. He is not going to shoot a lot from deep but can finish inside. He plays much better on the defensive end than offensive. As for Draymond Green, he will contribute to all parts of the forms. His points will never be excessive as he wills up the rebounds, assists, and steals part of the stat sheet. Green is a five-time All-Defensive Team player. Both players will not carry a team individually but will collaboratively keep a team winning.
Domantas Sabonis is the heart and soul of the Indiana Pacers. At 24 years old, he has plenty of prime years left but he has already proven that he is a talented power forward in the league. He is already a two-time All-Star selection and the core foundational piece of the organization moving forward. Sabonis is averaging another double-double this season. It is so far his first season averaging at least 20 or more points per game. What makes him stick out is his career-high 6.3 assists per game. The offense moves through him and will continue to move through him moving forward.
John Collins, LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony, Aaron Gordon, Lauri Markkanen
John Collins has been somewhat of a disappointment this season. Collins has lower points, rebounds, and block totals. His shooting percentages are down by about 3%. We expected to see Collins grow as a potential All-Star after averaging 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds last year. While his points are near 18 per night, it’s clear that he has regressed this season. The same goes for Lauri Markkanen, who could go down as one of the biggest disappointments in Chicago. The last two seasons have seen Lauri go from a double-double threat to someone who is injury-plagued and hit or miss from three-point range. Both have star potential but haven’t been able to find it.
Aaron Gordon is another player that fits this mold. When Gordon averaged 17.6 points and 7.9 points at the age of 23 years old, some thought he had Blake Griffin potential. We saw him wow everyone at the Slam Dunk Contest, something Griffin has won. The Magic rewarded him with an expensive contract extension. Instead, Gordon’s rebounding has been around the same, while his offense never developed. He is a pure paint shooter or it’s a bust. Gordon would be a complementary piece in eh starting lineup on a contending team but he shouldn’t be considered one of your best players.
LaMarcus Aldridge is purely here because of Father Time. Aldridge should be remembered as one of the best power forwards in Trail Blazers history. Carmelo Anthony is riding out the end of his career with Portland and has resurrected his career. Both players are Hall of Famer worthy but are on the north end of 35 years old while searching to contribute in a role for their respective teams.
Kevin Love, Rudy Gay, Keldon Johnson, Rui Hachimura, PJ Washington, Marvin Bagley III, Larry Nance Jr., Davis Bertans, Paul Millsap, Danilo Gallinari, Thaddeus Young
Among role players, Thaddeus Young might be the best. Young could very well win MVP for the Chicago Bulls team this season. Young can pick-and-roll and finish. Young is shooting a career-best 60.8% this season, as well as producing 4.4 assists off the bench. Young could be a starter for a contending team but he is keeping this young Bulls team in the thicket of the playoff race. Another great role player on this list is Larry Nance Jr who was once leading the NBA in steals, and has a solid season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Kevin Love has been injured this season, playing in only two games, so his stock has taken a deep hit, which makes dealing his $30 million salaries difficult. Danilo Gallinari is averaging exactly seven points less than last season, while his rebounding numbers have also taken a hit. Paul Millsap has battled injuries and the 36-year old should be regulated to somebody coming off the bench. Rudy Gay, 34 years old, is in a similar situation as he is averaging the second-fewest points in his career.
Rui Hachimura, PJ Washington, Marvin Bagley III, and Davis Bertans are all starting players on bad teams. Both Hachimura and Bertans are apart of a terrible Washington Wizards team. Washington is somewhat contending with the Charlotte Hornets, while Bagley is trying to contend with the Sacramento Kings. All four players should be bench players on contending teams. Bagley has been the biggest disappointment after the Kings used the No. 2 overall picks on him in 2018. The one player with the most upside is the Spurs’, Keldon Johnson. At 21 years old, Johnson is averaging 14.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. He could be a future contributor for a contending team.