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The 10 Greatest NBA Power Forwards Of The 2000s

The 10 Greatest NBA Power Forwards Of The 2000s

During the 1990s, the power forward was seen as the enforcer. He was a rebounding defensive bully who pounded smaller players in the lane and occasionally picked up easy baskets close to the rim. Players like Dennis Rodman and Larry Johnson made a name for themselves by laying players out, making them taste the floor every time they tried to hit a layup.

As the 21st century approached, Kevin Garnett entered the league, a 6-11 teenager with a smooth mid-range jumper and shooting guard handles. He dragged opposing big men out to the perimeter on offense, and he was too thin to play bully ball on the less fun end. Garnett’s unique skill set began to transform the power forward position into something more. Tim Duncan came next. He was a skilled big man who was death from 18-feet with his patented bank shot. The Big Fundamental also had no desire to become the Spurs enforcer, choosing to use his excellent length and timing to protect the rim. Dirk Nowitzki completed the NBA’s power forward transition. He was a legitimate floor-spacing 7-footer who was hitting at an above-average clip from deep by his second season in the association and tortured lumbering big men from outside the key throughout his career.

The first decade of the 21st century saw an influx of multi-skilled power forwards take over the league. The 4 position was incredibly deep. Talented big men such as Elton Brand, Carlos Boozer, Antawn Jamison, Al Harrington, and David West didn’t make the cut.

Below we rank the top-10 power forwards from 2000 through 2010.

10. Chris Bosh

Chris Bosh

2000-01 to 2009-10 Accolades:

1x All-NBA Second Team

5x All-Star

All-Rookie First Team

Chris Bosh entered the league in 2003 and spent the rest of the decade in Toronto before winning two titles in 2012 and 2013 alongside LeBron James and Dwyane Wade with the Heat. While Bosh suited up with the Raptors, he was a true inside-out big man, capable of working the lane with quick spin moves and a baby hook or dragging his defender out toward mid-range, where he featured a smooth jumper.

By the time Chris Bosh was 23-years-old, he was one of the premier all-around shooters in the NBA. Check out his age 23 shooting numbers:

2007-08 (23-years-old):

0-3 feet: 62.5%

3-10 feet: 44.4%

10-16 feet: 40.7%

16 feet-3P: 41.5%

3P: 40%

An in-his-prime Chris Bosh was a nightmare for opposing defenders. He could connect from across all levels of the court, a true modern power forward.

Chris Bosh’s offense was special, but his defense drags him down to the bottom of our list. Chris Bosh struggled to contain opposing big men in the lane, and he was never a top-tier rim protector. Overall, Bosh only managed to produce a positive Defensive Box Plus/Minus during two of his 13 seasons in the league.

Chris Bosh was forced to retire during his prime in 2016 due to recurring blood clots. Bosh’s career was cut short, but he still finished as a Hall-of-Fame power forward with a solid 13-season slash line of 19.2 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 2,0 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.0 BPG, and 106.0 WS.

9. Zach Randolph

Zach Randolph

2000-01 to 2009-10 Accolades:

1x Most Improved Player

2x All-Star

Zach Randolph entered the league in 2001 with the Portland Trail Blazers. It took Randolph two seasons to develop into a starter, but when he got his chance to play actual minutes during his third year in Portland, he exploded for 20.1 PPG and 10.5 RPG, providing the Trail Blazers with steady play out to 20-feet all season long as he won the Most Improved Player Award, jumping his average nearly 12 points per game.

Randolph possessed an excellent mid-range jumper that extended out toward the three-point line, and he was also a load in the lane, bullying weaker players by the rack for easy attempts. Z-Bo was also an excellent rebounder, a player who, at 6-9, understood how to use his hips to get inside position against taller centers or power forwards.

Zach Randolph put together an excellent seven-year stretch from the 2003-04 season through 2009-10, averaging a double-double with 20.0 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.8 SPG, and 0.3 BPG. He was most famous for his work in Memphis as a member of the “Grit and Grind” Grizzlies, and he had his jersey retired in the BBQ capital of America earlier this season.

8. Jermaine O’Neal

Jermaine O’Neal

2000-01 to 2009-10 Accolades:

1x All-NBA Second Team

2x All-NBA Third Team

1x Most Improved Player

6x All-Star

Jermaine O’Neal was drafted by the Trail Blazers out of high school. He never found his footing in Portland, averaging 3.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 11.5 MPG across four miserable seasons. During O’Neal’s fifth year in the league, he left the west coast and headed to Indiana, joining forces with Reggie Miller, Al Harrington, and Jalen Rose. O’Neal got his first extended run in 2000 and made the most of it, putting up a near double-double, 12.9 PPG and 9.8 RPG.

During O’Neal’s second season in Indiana (sixth in the league), he was named to his first All-Star squad. Jermaine proceeded to put together one of the most impressive two-way stretches of the century. From 2002 through 2007, he averaged 20.4 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.7 SPG, and 2.4 BPG as he made the All-Star team six seasons in a row and helped the Pacers reach the postseason five years in a row.

Jermaine O’Neal was an excellent offensive weapon. He had a solid post game and range out to 18-feet. Still, his impact was greatest on the less glamorous end. O’Neal was a legitimate rim protector who averaged 1.8 blocks per game throughout his career and altered countless more attempts in the lane. O’Neal ranks 64th all-time in Defensive Win Shares at 46.12, and he retired with a 100 Defensive Rating.

O’Neal is best known for the Malice at the Palace, which undersells his value as a two-way power forward.

7. Rasheed Wallace

Rasheed Wallace

2000-01 to 2009-10 Accolades: 

1x NBA Champion

4x All-Star

Rasheed Wallace doesn’t own the type of hardware that some of the other players on our list have stockpiled. Still, Wallace was one of the best power forwards in the league throughout the first decade of the new century. He was a true team player who put winning above his own stats.

Rasheed Wallace spent the bulk of his early years in the association playing power forward for the Portland Trail Blazers. During 2003-04 he was traded mid-season to the Detroit Pistons, the missing piece to their championship puzzle. Wallace immediately gave the Pistons the type of inside-out isolation weapon they had been missing, and he helped them storm the league, winning the title in five games against the Lakers.

Rasheed Wallace had every tool on offense. He possessed an excellent post game, a turnaround jumper with an unstoppable high release, and he had range beyond the arc. Wallace was probably the most underrated defender of his generation. He had the strength to guard anyone on the block and the foot speed to switch onto smaller players outside the key.

Wallace finished his career with solid averages, 14.4 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 1.3 BPG. He’s also ranked 34th all-time in Defensive Win Shares at 57.12. Wallace will probably never make the Hall-of-Fame because he cared more about sharing the ball and spreading the love than accumulating his own accolades, but he was talented enough to be one of the best to lace them up.

6. Amar’e Stoudemire

Amar'e Stoudemire

2000-01 to 2009-10 Accolades:

1x All-NBA First Team

3x All-NBA Second Team

Rookie of the Year

All-Rookie First Team

4x All-Star

Amar’e Stoudemire came into the league with the Phoenix Suns and made an immediate impact, averaging 13.5 PPG and 8.8 RPG as he won the Rookie of the Year Award. In Stoudemire’s second season in the NBA, he flashed the type of inside mobility and over-the-rim finishing ability that would define his style of play over the next decade.

Steve Nash joined the Suns in 2004, helping Stoudemire reach his full potential in just his third campaign in the NBA. Amar’e averaged 26.0 points per contest during Nash’s first year in Phoenix, finishing 70.8% of his shots at the rim. Stoudemire finished the regular season with a league-high 11.3 Offensive Win Shares, and although he was never known as a plus-defender, he had a solid 105 Defensive Rating. The Phoenix Suns made it to the Western Conference finals before falling to the San Antonio Spurs.

Unfortunately, Stoudemire underwent microfracture surgery before the 2005-06 season and missed nearly the entire year. Amar’e came back for the 2006-07 season and played well, making the All-Star team. He’d make five consecutive mid-season classics, but he lost some of the explosion he’d had before his surgery and was never quite the same force of nature.

Amar’e Stoudemire averaged 18.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.8 SPG, and 1.2 BPG throughout his career, but the former Suns standout isn’t in the Hall-of-Fame, and he never managed to win a title.

5. Chris Webber

Chris Webber On Finally Becoming A Hall Of Famer After Waiting For 8 Years: 'Every Year I Didn't Get It, It Would Hurt'

(via Medium)

2000-01 to 2009-10 Accolades: 

1x All-NBA First Team

2x All-NBA Second Team

4x All-Star

Chris Webber’s four-year peak was about as good as any player in the last 20 years. Have a look:

From 2000 through 2003, Webber averaged 24.8 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.5 SPG, and 1.5 BPG for the Sacramento Kings.

Compare Webber’s numbers versus Tim Duncan’s best four-year span, which includes his two MVP seasons:

From 2001 through 2004, Tim Duncan averaged 23.3 PPG, 12.6 RPG, 3.4 APG, 0.8 SPG, and 2.6 BPG for the Spurs.

Tim Duncan was a top-2 defender during his peak, which gives him the edge over Chris Webber. Still, C-Webb’s numbers compare favorably, and he was the top passing big man of the decade, a player who the Kings utilized in the center of the court specifically for his ability to draw in double teams and then pass out of them. He created countless open looks for his teammates with his vision under duress.

Chris Webber was impossible to stop on the block in single coverage. He featured one of the most sophisticated post games in the league, including up-and-under moves, spins to the left or right, and a baby hook. C-Webb was also capable of extending the defenses out to the arc.

Webber wasn’t known as a top-tier defensive anchor, but he was a solid post defender and rim protector. He’s one of the few players in league history to average 1.4 blocks and 1.4 steals across the length of his career.

Chris Webber led his squad to the playoffs six consecutive seasons from 2000 through 2007. He ended his career averaging 20.7 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.4 SPG, and 1.4 BPG across 17 seasons.

4. Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol

2000-01 to 2009-10 Accolades: 

2x NBA Champion

2x All-NBA Third Team

Rookie of the Year

All-Rookie First Team

3x All-Star

Pau Gasol only made the All-Star team three times during the first decade of the 21st century, and he isn’t in the Hall-of-Fame. That’s unfortunate and criminally undersells his skill set and impact on the game.

Pau Gasol was pure out to the arc, and his leveled shooting chart from the 2006-07 season to 2009-10 is some of the best we’ve ever seen from the power forward position:

0 to 3 Feet: 66.4%

3 to 10 Feet: 48.4%

10 to 16 Feet: 45.7%

16 to 3P feet: 43.2%

Pau Gasol was traded to the Lakers during the 2007-08 season and single-handedly transformed them from an ugly mess into a championship-caliber organization. Pau helped lead the Lakers to the finals during his first half-season in LA before losing to the Celtics and then won back-to-back chips in 2009 and 2010.

Pau Gasol was a terror inside the lane, with every post up tool available. He was also a solid pick and pop player and floor spacer with Kobe. Pau was often criticized for his “soft” defense, but that was primarily based on a European bias that permeated the league at the time. Gasol had a positive Defensive Box Plus/Minus during 17 out of his 20 seasons, and he’s 40th all-time in Defensive Win Shares at 54.14.

Pau Gasol finished his career with a solid 17.0 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 3.2 APG, 0.5 SPG, and 1.6 BPG as one of the most multi-talented frontcourt players in NBA history.

3. Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki

2000-01 to 2009-10 Accolades: 


4x All-NBA First Team

4x All-NBA Second Team

2x All-NBA Third Team

9x All-Star

Dirk Nowitzki changed the game of basketball.

Per Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report,

“[He] made his NBA debut in [1999]. Before that, a total of 40 7-footers had hit a 3P. The combined total for 3P from those 40 players was 507. Dirk Nowitzki made 1,982 3P in his career. Since Dirk started, 81 other 7-footers have hit 7,253 3P.”

Dirk was one of the best scoring weapons of all time. He helped lead the Dallas Mavericks to one of the most explosive attacks in NBA history and easily the most successful overall team offense during the first decade of the 21st century.

Here’s a breakdown:

2000-01 Dallas Mavericks: 4th in Offensive Rating (107.1)

2001-02 Dallas Mavericks: 1st in OFF RTG (112.2)

2002-03 Dallas Mavericks: 1st in OFF RTG (110.7)

2003-04 Dallas Mavericks: 1st in OFF RTG (112.1)

2004-05 Dallas Mavericks: 4th in OFF RTG (110.3)

2005-06 Dallas Mavericks: 1st in OFF RTG (111.8)

2006-07 Dallas Mavericks: 2nd in OFF RTG (111.3)

2007-08 Dallas Mavericks: 8th in OFF RTG (111.1)

2008-09 Dallas Mavericks: 5th in OFF RTG (110.5)

2009-10 Dallas Mavericks: 10th in OFF RTG (109.2)

Dirk and the Dallas Mavericks led the league in offensive rating during four seasons throughout the first decade of the new century, and he never allowed his squad to drop out of the top-10.

Nowitzki was an expert at dragging opposing big men outside the lane, clearing space for his teammates to drive to the rack and shoot unmolested layups. He also featured an unstoppable one-legged mid-range jumper and a better-than-you-think post up game.

Dirk Nowitzki ranks 13th in three-pointers made with 1,982 for his career, the only power forward inside the top-20. He led his Dallas Mavericks to the title in 2011, and he finished his career as one of the best postseason performers in the league’s history, averaging 25.2 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 0.9 BPG through 145 playoff contests.

2. Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett

2000-01 to 2009-10 Accolades:

1x NBA Champion


1x Defensive Player of the Year

4x Rebounds Leader

3x All-NBA First Team

3x All-NBA Second Team

1x All-NBA Third Team

7x All-Defensive First Team

2x All-Defensive Second Team

10x All-Star

Kevin Garnett is one of the most talented two-way players of all time. His statistical achievements are legendary:

10th All-Time in Win Shares (191.42)

7th All-Time in Defensive Win Shares (91.48)

1st All-Time in Defensive Rebounds (11,453)

20th All-Time in Blocks (2,037)

19th All-Time in Steals (1,859)

18th All-Time in Career Points (26,071)

Kevin Garnett dominated the league during the early 2000s in Minnesota, tormenting opposing big men with his perimeter handles, mid-range jumper, and craftiness in the lane. He also played his typical brand of 125% defense, snagging nearly every defensive rebound available while hounding his assignments into one awful shooting night after another.

In 2007 Kevin Garnett was traded to the Boston Celtics, teaming up with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in Beantown to win the title in a beat-down fashion. KG and the Celtics made it back to the finals the following season, losing in seven games to the Lakers.

Kevin Garnett averaged 17.8 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.3 SPG, and 1.4 BPG throughout his 21-season Hall-of-Fame career.

1. Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan 2003 MVP

2000-01 to 2009-10 Accolades: 

3x NBA Champion


2x Finals MVP

6x All-NBA First Team

3x All-NBA Second Team

1x All-NBA Third Team

6x All-Defensive First Team

4x All-Defensive Second Team

10x All-Star

Tim Duncan was the league's top defender from 2000 through 2010, and you could argue he was one of the five best defensive players to ever play the game. Duncan finished his 19-season career with a 96 Defensive Rating, and his poorest defensive season was a 101 mark in 2010, numbers that are nearly unheard of throughout the NBA’s long history. He’s second all-time in Defensive Win Shares with 106.34, and he led the Spurs to the number one defense in the league five different times throughout his career (1999, 2001, 2004, 20005, 2006).

Tim Duncan was also an impossible puzzle to solve on offense. He was nicknamed The Big Fundamental because he perfected seemingly easy shots (like his mid-range bank shot) until he could hit them over double-teams or during crunch time, and opposing defenders couldn’t stop him.

Tim Duncan won three titles during the first decade of the 21st century and five overall with the Spurs. He dominated the league with a working-class attitude, never bragging or getting flashy, and The Big Fundamental finished his career inside the top-10 as a Hall-of-Famer and a legend.

The First Decade Of The 21st Century Featured 10 Of The Best Power Forwards To Suit Up

Chris Bosh was a sweet-shooting forward who won two titles with the Heat. Zach Randolph and Jermaine O’Neal were both excellent two-way athletes who were underappreciated. Rasheed Wallace was a two-way force who helped propel the Detroit Pistons to a title in 2004.

Amar’e Stoudemire was an explosive force of nature who could have been better if he hadn’t undergone microfracture surgery after his third campaign. Chris Webber and Pau Gasol were two of the most skilled big men to ever play.

Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, and Tim Duncan finish off our rankings as three game-altering power forwards who changed the game and helped usher in our new modern version of the NBA.


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