The role of the power forward has evolved in the 21st century. Where once they were mid-range or down-low specialists, now they are long range shooters and ball handlers. This change in the way basketball is played has brought about a class of NBA ‘’fours’’ that’s as skilled as we’ve ever seen. Let’s dig into the ten power forwards who outshone all others this season.
10. Aaron Gordon
Only 23 years old with 5 NBA seasons under his belt already, the high-flying Aaron Gordon had the best shooting season of his career so far in 2018-19. As the second option to All-Star Nikola Vucevic, Gordon averaged 16.0 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 3.7 RPG, helping the Orlando Magic steal a playoff spot and the Southeast Division title. He showed signs of taking a step forward in terms of being a more skilled and efficient player whose game is evolving to be more reliable on offense.
9. Kyle Kuzma
The Lakers may have had a drama-riddled, disappointing season, but Kyle Kuzma continued to build on the potential he showed a year earlier. Embracing his new role as LeBron James’s teammate, there were times where Kuzma showed flashes of being the Dwyane Wade or Kyrie Irving to the four-time MVP. Of course, he has a long road to travel before being put in the same category as those players, but his 18.7 PPG at the pace of 45% shooting was the second-best on a young Lakers squad that can only go up from here.
8. John Collins
Whenever the Atlanta Hawks are mentioned, most people immediately think of Trae Young, overlooking the fact that John Collins actually led the team in scoring with 19.5 PPG in only his second season in the league. With 9.5 RPG and 56% from the field to boot, the Wake Forest product shows promise for the rebuilding Hawks. His athleticism and strong fastbreak play supplement Young’s playmaking ability beautifully, as the young tandem look to return Atlanta to glory in the coming years.
7. Paul Millsap
Though his numbers have taken a hit, Millsap is just as important to the Denver Nuggets as he was to the Hawks. His ability to coexist with playmaking big Nikola Jokic, help facilitate the offense, and provide veteran leadership to the young, inexperienced squad proved vital in helping them get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2013. A defensive bright spot on a team that lacked prowess on that aspect of the game, Millsap could hold his own in the post, rotate around picks, and step out to contest threes. All in all, he’s the unsung hero for the second seed in the Western Conference.
6. Montrezl Harrell
The Los Angeles Clippers boasted the NBA’s best bench this season, which is hardly surprising considering they have two of the top candidates for the Sixth Man of the Year award, one of them being Montrezl Harrell. The 25-year-old combo big averaged 16.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 1.3 BPG on 61% shooting and only 26.3 MPG. A reliable asset for the Clippers on both ends of the floor night in and night out, Harrell is among the chief reasons why they managed to sneak into the playoffs and become the more successful LA team in 2018-19.
5. Draymond Green
Being the fourth or fifth best player on the most dominant team of this generation and having a personality that’s only likable if you’re a Warriors fan often results in Draymond Green’s contributions being underappreciated. The ultimate role player in basketball, Green is at the heart of Golden State’s dynasty. His scoring this season fell off, but that’s not why he’s there, at any rate. It’s the fact that he’s one of the best defenders in the league, an elite facilitator, especially at his position, and a locker room presence that makes him so valuable to the Warriors. He has his job cut out for him and he does it to perfection. That’s why he deserves his share of recognition on Golden State’s stacked roster.
4. Pascal Siakam
The frontrunner for the Most Improved Player Award, Pascal Siakam’s breakout season was quite the show. Going from a role player to the second scoring option on a contender, the young Cameroonian made the leap seem effortless. His production of 16.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 3.1 APG on 54% from the field and 37% from long range, all career highs, helped the Toronto Raptors to a 58-24 record. Paired with Kawhi Leonard and even taking the reins when the latter was unavailable, Siakam’s prowess on both ends of the court proved invaluable to his team. The 25-year-old is growing into a star before our very eyes.
3. Blake Griffin
Injuries and playoff letdowns with the Clippers had left Blake Griffin’s career in need of a revival, which he found with the Detroit Pistons. The six-time All-Star had arguably the best season of his career, averaging a career-high 24.5 PPG along with 7.5 RPG and 5.4 APG. Additionally, he effectively implemented the three-point shot into his arsenal, knocking down 2 per game at a 36% rate. His total of 189 this season nearly top the 191 he made in his first eight seasons. Willing the Pistons into the playoffs and reminding the league that he is one of its brightest stars when healthy while adapting to the modern game is nothing short of impressive for the former Rookie of the Year.
2. Anthony Davis
Amidst a soap opera of a season where Davis and his New Orleans Pelicans were the center of attention in the league for weeks, the former no. 1 overall pick managed to remain one of the most dominant two-way players in the NBA. Building upon a monstrous 2017-18, Davis came into this season looking even better. Before his trade request, which ushered in a series of minutes restrictions and inactive games, the big man was putting up 29.0 PPG, 13.4 RPG, and 2.6 BPG on 51% FG; nothing short of the superstar numbers that have become a yearly trend for him. Davis’s imposing presence on either side of the ball makes him a rare talent who, at the age of 26, has yet to peak. The bidding war for his services this summer and beyond will be a ferocious one, as there isn’t one team in the league who doesn’t covet him.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo
The clear-cut choice for the top spot on this list, Antetokounmpo’s historic season gives him a strong, even likely chance of going home with both the MVP and DPOY awards. The ‘Greek Freak’ was outright unstoppable this season; with averages of 27.7 PPG, 12.5 RPG, and 5.9 APG on 58% shooting, all career-highs, he led the Milwaukee Bucks to a league-best 60-22 record. His ability to get to the rim unchallenged and get his teammates involved was poetry in motion. His sheer dominance inside has not been seen in the NBA since Shaquille O’Neal terrorized the paint in the early 2000s. As a matter of fact, Antetokounmpo scored the most points in the paint in a season since the former in 2004-05. A unique specimen with the size and strength of a big man, unmatched length, and agility that surpasses that of any guard, the 24-year old was equally prominent on the defensive end, learning to make use of his physical gifts as best he could to prove a matchup nightmare. At only 24-years old, the young phenom is a transcendent talent that looks set to be the face of the NBA for years to come.