Power forwards back in the day had to rebound, play defense, and do the dirty work that often did not appear on the stat sheet. While there were elite anomalies at that position in terms of being offensively skilled superstars, power forwards were generally regarded as big men who were tasked with playing hard. Of course, the modern power forward might be the most important position in the game because of floor-spacing.
With centers in the middle, it is often the smart thing to do to have 4 shooters on the court at the minimum. Power forwards must space the floor effectively, because having one that can’t shoot stagnates an offense. These days, we are also seeing power forwards with special skillsets including elite playmaking, something that is incredible to witness. Here are all the best power forwards in the NBA, ranked into tiers, until the king of the position is crowned. Of course, Zion Williamson has yet to play a single game this season and will be excluded while Anthony Davis will be regarded in his favored power forward position.
Tier 5: Average Starters
Darius Bazley, Chuma Okeke, Jonathan Kuminga, Rui Hachimura, Robert Covington, Kyle Anderson
Tier 5 power forwards are considered at the bottom of their class as starters, although they do their job at the basic level. They are all worthy NBA professionals who contribute on the court without making too much impact and are often looked over on the stat sheet.
Darius Bazley has the chance to be a solid starter in his career, as he is only 21 years old with the ability to be effective on both ends of the floor. He is a 6’8” active big man who is averaging 10.0 PPG and 6.6 RPG in 27.3 MPG. As he gets more playing time, Bazley will be more effective.
Chuma Okeke is slowly getting his feet wet in the league, as he continues to learn how to be effective on both ends of the floor. The forward is a decent shot-blocker because he can get to his spots quickly, and is also a decent shooter from three. The Magic’s forward is putting up 8.2 PPG and 4.7 RPG in his second season.
Jonathan Kuminga is an average power forward for now, but his potential is through the roof. The Golden State Warriors have a ton of All-Star talent on the squad between Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins; and Kuminga has a chance to learn from all of them. He is averaging 7.9 PPG in his rookie season while showing his versatility on occasion.
The Washington Wizards are not a playoff team or a great team for that matter, but Rui Hachimura is somewhat of a bright spot. The forward averaged at least 13 PPG over the last two seasons but is only putting up 8.2 PPG through 17 games. In terms of overall talent, Hachimura should continue to climb the tiers when he gets healthy.
Robert Covington is not a player that will shock you with his numbers, but there is no doubt he is a player that playoff teams love to have. The forward is an above-average defender that can nail the outside shot, as he is putting up 7.7 PPG and 5.5 RPG on 34.3% shooting this season. We should see the impact Covington can have once he starts playing significant minutes alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George with the Clippers.
Kyle Anderson moves in slow motion, but he is certainly effective as an all-around power forward. The 6’9” big man can do everything at a decent level, including defending and setting up his teammates. Anderson is far off the season he had last year, and the return of Jaren Jackson Jr in the lineup could be the reason why.
Tier 4: Quality Starters
Harrison Barnes, Kyle Kuzma, Scottie Barnes, Jae'Sean Tate, John Collins, Aaron Gordon, Kevin Love, Carmelo Anthony, P.J. Tucker, Kristaps Porzingis, Marcus Morris Sr, Jae Crowder, Lauri Markkanen
Power forwards in tier 4 compete at a high level every night and are considered above-average talents at their spots. While the separation between Tier 5 and Tier 4 is not as large as with Tier 3 players, it is still quite clear which players are more valuable starters than ordinary players.
Former Golden State Warrior Harrison Barnes is an excellent power forward because he spaces the floor while also bringing defensive versatility. Putting up 17.0 PPG and 6.1 RPG, Barnes is clearly an above-average forward that would probably be more useful on any title-contender rather than the Sacramento Kings.
Kyle Kuzma is back to playing his best basketball, averaging 16.3 PPG, 8.7 RPG, and 3.0 APG on 33.1% shooting from three. Kuzma is clearly happy with his role in Washington, and he has certainly been given the opportunity to shoot the ball this season after getting ignored by the Lakers last year.
Scottie Barnes might be the most consistent rookie this year, putting up 14.5 PPG and 7.5 RPG for the Toronto Raptors. Nobody expected Barnes to play so comfortably in the NBA in his first season, and we might be looking at a future All-Star when all is said and done.
Jae’Sean Tate is a player, similar to PJ Tucker, who plays 110% every night. An improving scorer, defender, and passer; Tate is slowly becoming a player that could be untouchable for the Rockets moving forward. At 26 years old in his second season, Tate plays above-average defense while hustling his way to 12.4 PPG.
Collins is a great power forward for the Atlanta Hawks, and he proved it last year as arguably the second-best player on the team that made the Eastern Conference Finals. This year, however, Collins has not quite reached the same level. He is putting up decent numbers at 16.8 PPG and 7.9 RPG, which is why he is in Tier 4 for now.
Denver is looking to make a push for the playoffs without Jamal Muray, and the play of Aaron Gordon is making this possible. The forward is putting up 14.6 PPG and 5.7 RPG this season, above-average numbers for a player who is also stout defensively. The Nuggets needed a replacement for Jerami Grant when they lost him, and Gordon has answered the call.
Kevin Love is back to being an important piece for the Cleveland Cavaliers, averaging 14.3 PPG and 7.3 RPG on 39.3% shooting from three. The big man is making a living coming off the bench, and Cleveland has benefitted greatly from the veteran’s play. Love will be critical for the Cavaliers’ playoff run this year.
It is so great to see Carmelo Anthony playing at a high level again because the 37-year-old is averaging 13.4 PPG off the Lakers bench this season. In a season where the Lakers have had little to celebrate, Anthony has been a bright spot. Carmelo is currently out with a hamstring injury, but his play will be important for his team to close the season right over the last few months.
It is amazing how impactful PJ Tucker can be, despite barely making a presence on the stat sheet. The forward can defend all five positions when required and puts his heart on the line every game. As an experienced veteran who loves playing defense, Tucker is a big part of what the Miami Heat want to do on both ends of the floor.
Kristaps Porzingis was being shopped all season long by the Dallas Mavericks, and he finally found a new home with the Washington Wizards. The Latvian former All-Star has a chance to prove he can play as a Tier 3 player again, but until that happens, he belongs in Tier 4.
Marcus Morris Sr is a polarizing figure for sports fans because of his attitude and the way he gets under opponents’ skins’ on the court, but he is a solid player for the Clippers and an effective veteran. Averaging 15.9 PPG and 4.8 RPG is solid for a 32-year-old veteran, so he is easily a Tier 4 player.
Jae Crowder is the epitome of a veteran who does the dirty work for a contending team and knows where his limitations are. Crowder is only averaging 8.9 PPG and 5.3 RPG this season, but his impact comes on the defensive end. Standing 6’6” with a strong physique, Crowder will be needed by the Suns in a deep playoff run this year.
To end off Tier 4, Lauri Markkanen has been an amazing signing by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The big man can shoot the ball, block shots, and rebound the ball when needed. Markkanen is putting up 13.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 0.6 BPG on 34.2% shooting from three. An above-average power forward, Markkanen will be an important piece for Cleveland all season long.
Tier 3: All-Star Caliber
Domantas Sabonis, Jaren Jackson Jr, Pascal Siakam, Julius Randle, Tobias Harris, Miles Bridges, Jerami Grant
Tier 3 power forwards are players who are All-Star talents that will receive some consideration for All-Star teams this season. Thanks to their very effective play on a consistent basis, these guys can be the best player on their teams at moments but are usually the second or third option on championship teams.
Sabonis was recently traded to the Sacramento Kings this season, in an effort by the Indiana Pacers to rebuild their squad while gladly taking Tyrese Haliburton in return. The big man had an All-Star-caliber season, putting up 18.7 PPG, 12.0 RPG, and 5.0 APG on 57.7% field goal shooting. The big man has already made 2 All-Star Teams in his career and will be a contender for more All-Star Teams going forward.
Jaren Jackson Jr is reaching the potential he showed in his rookie season, dominating the interior as the second-best player on his team. The Grizzlies are benefitting from the presence of Ja Morant, but Jackson Jr has also been a revelation for them. The big man is putting up 16.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 2.2 BPG for a surging Grizzlies team that could finish with a top-3 seed in the West.
The Raptors franchise player at the moment, Pascal Siakam has played pretty well this season. He is putting up 22.0 PPG, 8.7 RPG, and 5.1 APG on 35.0% shooting from three while guiding the Raptors to a potential playoff seeding. Fred VanVleet made the All-Star Team for Toronto, but Siakam has also been solid.
Julius Randle has not had the fantastic season he put forth last year, but he is still an All-Star talent. The 2021 Most Improved Player is putting up 19.6 PPG, 10.2 RPG, and 5.3 APG on 42.0% shooting this year for the Knicks. Even though the Knicks are not playing very well and Randle is receiving the bulk of the criticism, there is no doubt that the former Laker deserves his spot in Tier 3.
Tobias Harris has not made an All-Star Team in his career, but he is just a shade better than simply an above-average starter because he is truly a skilled scorer. A player with a perfect skillset as the third option behind Joel Embiid and James Harden, Harris is putting up 18.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 3.6 APG on 48.5% shooting. Time will tell if Tobias can get over the hump to make an All-Star Team at some point.
Miles Bridges received some consideration for the All-Star Team this season and will be a contender for Most Improved Player. Bridges is putting up 19.9 PPG, 7.1 RPG, and 3.6 APG on 48.1% shooting from the field. As the perfect running partner for All-Star LaMelo Ball, Bridges has been a major part of the Hornets’ season so far. While he is not an All-Star just yet, Bridges has shown enough to make Tier 3.
Finally, Jerami Grant rounds out Tier 3. One of the most useful forwards in the league, Grant brings excellent play on both ends of the floor for the Detroit Pistons. The 6’8” power forward is constantly in trade talks because title-contending teams would love the chance to have Grant acting as a versatile power forward for them. Averaging 18.8 PPG and 4.3 RPG, Grant is a fringe All-Star player.
Tier 2: Elite Stars
Anthony Davis, Draymond Green
This next tier contains two of the very best power forwards in the league. They are easily All-Star players and have been featured on All-NBA teams as well. Both players in this tier are superstars, when healthy and motivated, and should be respected for their success in the league until this point.
Placing Anthony Davis in Tier 2 might seem wrong taking into account this season only, but he is without a doubt one of the most skilled big men in NBA history. Remember, this is the same Anthony Davis that helped the Lakers win the NBA title in the 2020 season. Even when Davis is playing nowhere near his actual level, he is still putting up 23.3 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 2.9 APG, and 2.1 BPG on 53.4% shooting from the field. These are superstar numbers, but Davis is receiving criticism because his play has not generated enough wins for the Lakers. Despite his team’s poor performance and Davis’ poor perimeter shooting (16.9% from three), he is without a doubt an elite star.
Draymond Green is one of the most polarizing players in the game because his triple-single stat lines cause confusion to casual fans as to why he makes All-Star Teams. But when looking at Draymond’s winning intangibles and leadership, he becomes a superstar for the Golden State Warriors. Of course, on almost any other team, Green will hardly make an impact. But as a point-forward/center with elite defensive skills, he forms a perfect Big Three alongside Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. One of the best defenders in the NBA, Green is a major reason the Warriors are a title contender and he deserves his 4th All-Star selection this year.
Tier 1: Best of the Best
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant
Normally, Tier 1 has one superstar who is head and shoulders above the rest of the league. But in this position, it will be nearly impossible to separate Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant. With Durant out injured, Giannis is playing out of his mind and convincing people he is the best in the world. After all, his numbers are ridiculous. He just finished a game scoring 50 points on 17-21 shooting, the 4th lowest attempts in NBA history for 50 points. For the season, The Greek Freak is averaging 29.4 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 6.0 APG, and 1.4 BPG on 54.7% field goal percentage. As the best player on the Bucks and reigning NBA champion, Giannis is easily on Tier 1.
But Kevin Durant is also a special talent as the most dominant offensive player in the game today. Durant is putting up 29.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 5.8 APG on 52.0% from the field and 37.2% from three. A much better shooter than Giannis, Durant is also the most feared player in the clutch. Of course, before his injury, Durant was leading the Brooklyn Nets to a top-2 seed in the East. Considering Durant played 36 games so far, he has to be included with Giannis in Tier 1.