When building the perfect power forward from today’s NBA, he must be able to do some things very well to be successful. The player must be able to operate with his back to the basket, either to create a basket for himself or his teammates. Even though operating with his back to the basket is important, he must also be able to face up and possibly knock down a 10-15 foot jumper. On the defensive side of the ball, he must be able to defend the paint at all costs, whether he is playing off or on the ball. In the 2021-22 season, many power forwards either did some or all of these things well.
Yes, it is true that some players in the upper echelon of power forwards struggled. Domantas Sabonis found a new home and had to get used to the system he was in. Julius Randle took a step back from his amazing 2020-21 season. Anthony Davis struggled to remain healthy. However, there were plenty of power forwards who stepped up and emerged as potential stars in the league. Pascal Siakam was an All-NBA talent this year while Jaren Jackson Jr. made a run at Defensive Player of the Year. Al Horford even turned back the clock in Boston and helped them reach the NBA Finals. The power forward position is not down and out by any means.
Today, we build the best power forward possible from players who participated in the 2021-22 season.
Scoring - Kevin Durant
While Giannis did average the same PPG as Kevin Durant in 2021-22, there is no more dangerous scorer at the power forward position than KD. He is the consummate offensive threat, able to get you a bucket wherever and whenever you need it. If you need him to control the ball from the perimeter and hit a big three, he can. If you need him to put the ball on the floor and stop short to rise up over the defender from the mid-range, he can. If those 2 scenarios aren’t there for him, he can just blow by the defender and throw it down if need be.
With 29.9 PPG in the 2021-22 season, Kevin Durant had his best PPG average since 2014. For the 9th consecutive season, he shot better than 50.0% overall from the field. Not many of his shots were gimme’s either. He attempted a whopping 13.3 attempts per game with a defender within a few feet of him. His wingspan, shooting ability, finishing at the rim, and elite ball handles make Kevin Durant the easy choice for our power forward to have his scoring.
Basketball IQ - Draymond Green
There should be no argument for any other power forward’s basketball IQ than Draymond Green. The man fits the term “quarterback on the basketball court” perfectly. What sets him apart from others is his patience on the court. He doesn’t force the issue but waits for the Warriors' motion offense to open the play up. When defenders press him, he makes the right play, which is usually a setup for an open opportunity. When the defender backs off, he can simply run things the way he wants by opening up the other shooters like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
His IQ is evident on the defensive side of the ball as well. Green is a defensive savant who can guard all 5 positions and was leading the Defensive Player of the Year award race before his untimely injury in 2022. He knows his assignment better than anyone on the floor and chances are he knows their assignment, too. He contains the knowledge to direct the defense like a composer conducting a symphony. It is incredible to watch and witness. There is no other power forward in today’s NBA smarter on the basketball court than Draymond Green.
Shooting - Kevin Durant
There is no power forward that can shoot the basketball like Kevin Durant. The man can nearly pull up and drain a shot from anywhere on the court. During the 2021-22 season, Durant knocked down 115 shots from three-point land at a clip of 38.3%. The majority of his attempts from the field in 2021-22 were from the 10-16 foot range where Durant feasted. He knocked down 52.8% of his shots from that range.
As a shooter, Durant has a big advantage over some of the other shooters out there today. Being 7-foot tall makes it about as easy as possible to rise over defenders no matter where he is taking the shot from. There aren’t many players overall that I would take their shooting over Kevin Durant’s, let alone power forwards.
Handles - Kevin Durant
Big men that can handle the rock are a rare breed. When it comes to power forwards, there is none better at handling the ball than Kevin Durant. The man simply has a bag about as deep as any guard in the league. Combine that with his speed, agility, and ability to shoot the ball, this makes for one of the toughest matchups in the NBA. Kevin Durant is just that. You can’t iso the man because he can just as easily blow right by you or make you look silly with his handles. Just as much as he can blow by a defender in set offenses, he is equally as dangerous in transition. He has perfect control over his body and the ball simultaneously. Kevin Durant is just too smooth and concise with his movements to not be considered to have the best handles as a power forward.
Passing - Draymond Green
No surprises here, we are taking Draymond Green’s passing to build our perfect power forward. In 2021-22, Green averaged 7.0 APG, which was the most by any power forward by far. His 7.0 APG was 1.1 APG higher than the next power forward, which was Giannis Antetokounmpo with 5.9 APG. This is nothing new for Draymond. He has averaged at least 6.2 APG or more for the last 7 seasons.
Draymond’s assists come in a variety of ways. He runs a transition offense well, able to make long passes with pinpoint accuracy. In set offenses, anything can happen. Green will sit on the perimeter with the ball and have the wherewithal to not force baskets. He can make a move to the hoop and find his cutters or open shooters. In the pick and roll, Green will make a half roll and fall back, allowing the player with the ball an extra outlet should he be smothered by the defense. Green will then receive the pass and again find a cutter or shooter on the perimeter. His work setting screens himself leads to open baskets through what they call “hockey assists”. Basketball IQ and passing usually go hand-in-hand and, in this case, Green takes both categories.
Defense - Draymond Green
The pick for our power forward’s defense could have easily been Giannis, but no power forward had as hot a start on that side of the ball as Draymond Green. Standing at 6’5" with a 7’1" wingspan, Green’s defensive versatility saw him effectively guard the 1-5 positions. Green can easily take his game to the perimeter if need be and cover a team’s guards if switched onto them. His best work comes in the paint where he is one of the league’s best defenders.
Before Green’s injury, the Warriors were 28-6 with the best team defensive rating in the NBA. Not only that, but Green was winning the Defensive Player Of The Year race by a long shot. Green and Matisse Thybulle were the only two players in the NBA to rank in the 86th percentile or better in both steal percentage and block percentage. As disruptive of a defender as Green is at every spot on the floor, he is an easy choice for our power forward’s defense.
Hustle - Giannis Antetokounmpo
I think we can all agree that no power forward in today’s game plays harder than Giannis Antetokounmpo. He seems to have a motor within him that just never slows down. It doesn't matter if his team is up by 20 or down by 20, Giannis is going to be out there giving maximum effort. Many times, especially during the postseason, we have seen Giannis slouched over from pure exhaustion. Just seconds later, he is back out there with little to no effect, doing what he does best as one of the best two-way players in the league.
Athleticism - Giannis Antetokounmpo
There is no other way to put it, Giannis is the most athletically gifted basketball player right now and maybe ever. The way he can run the floor and glide through the air is something so special and rare for a player of his size. When he gets a head of steam behind him, look out because he’s about to run over you with the speed and size of a freight train. At the same time, there is a certain grace to his game that mixes with his strength and power perfectly. The way he controls his body when mid-air or running the floor, there is a certain poetry to it that speaks to the level of athlete Giannis is.
Finishing - Giannis Antetokounmpo
In the 2021-22 season, Giannis ranked 7th overall and 1st among power forwards finishing at the basket. He shot 80.8% from the 0-3 foot range. He didn’t just get his basket at the rim from lobs or cuts, but he created his own finishes with 11.7 drives per game. The scary part is that defenses plan for this. They would pack the paint, double in the post, or double him at the foul line. They still couldn’t stop “The Greek Freak” from getting his. Giannis punishes opponents at the basket either with pure brute strength or style and finesse. Either way, he is the best in the game at it.
Mentality - Giannis Antetokounmpo
Off the court, Giannis Antetokounmpo is all smiles and laughs. He lives his life to the fullest and in the most humble way possible. When the game begins and the clock starts ticking, throw all of that out of the window. It doesn’t matter if he has to go around, over, or through you, Giannis is going to get it done and nothing can stop him. The scary part is that he would rather go through you. Giannis’ mentality is one of the reasons the Bucks were 2020-21 champions. His loyalty to the franchise and work ethic is something that had the entire Bucks roster buying in and it has worked. Giannis may seem like a gentle giant, but between those lines, he is an unstoppable and monstrous force to be reckoned with.
Clutch - Giannis Antetokounmpo
Power forwards and clutch do not go hand in hand in the 2021-22 season. For example, in 113 clutch minutes, Kevin Durant shot just 28.6% from three and 41.6% overall. The other top power forwards in the league were even worse than that. Giannis, on the other hand, did pretty well in crunch time. In 96 clutch minutes, he poured in 80 points and shot 51.0% from the field. The best asset he has working for him in clutch minutes is the ability to slow the game down. He does not settle for low-percentage shots from the outside and instead will get himself into position for a higher percentage shout by driving the lane. This usually results in a bucket or free throws. Either way, there’s no one more clutch at the power forward position than Giannis.
Does This Power Forward Dethrone Tim Duncan For The Best At Their Position?
The power forward that we built here today is not only the greatest power forward of all time, but maybe the greatest player ever. On offense, he is virtually unstoppable. He can shoot from anywhere with a propensity to drive down the lane and punish you if need be. If his scoring isn’t working, he can run the offense with Draymond Green’s IQ and passing. A final offensive stat line would be 48.0 PPG, 23.0 RPG, and 7.8 APG.
Defensively, this player is just as unstoppable. Could you honestly imagine what Giannis would be with Draymond’s IQ and defense? It is a pretty scary thought. Our power forward would run the paint like a racketeering outfit, taking control all for himself. Today, we built one of the greatest power forwards and players in NBA history. Who Knows? Maybe one day we will see a player like this make his presence known on an NBA court. Until then, we can only imagine what domination a player like this would bring.