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Why Power Forward Is the Position of the NBA's Next Generation Stars

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 31:  Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers is fouled trying to shoot by Derrick Favors #15 of the Utah Jazz in front of DeMarre Carroll #3 at Staples Center on March 31, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Ethan Sherwood StraussNBA Lead WriterJanuary 11, 2017

A short time ago, the NBA was declared a point guard's league. The removal of hand-checking had helped fuel the ascendancy of quicker players, along with some other rule changes. Vicissitudes of the talent pool likely helped the PG revolution as well, I'm guessing. Even semi-famous wing LeBron James has noted the "point guard's league" shift, declaring via Pro Basketball Talk:  

“When you look at Russell Westbrook, you look at the MVP from last year, Derrick Rose, you look at Chris PaulJohn Wall, Kyrie Irving, Steve Nash still, Tony Parker‘s playing at a high level."

Yes LeBron, we do look at these players. We're still in that NBA PG moment, but it should be noted that point guards need pick-and-roll partners—they don't ball in a vacuum. Also, such quick, slick PGs must be counteracted by rangy big men on defense. Perhaps this is why another positional rise has occurred over the past couple of years. Though point guards get all the attention—they do have the ball all the time—big men are on the march, ready to define the future of this league.  

The following frontcourt players have flashed star potential in fewer than three seasons of play: Blake Griffin, Greg Monroe, DeMarcus Cousins, Derrick Favors and Kenneth Faried. On the basis of rebounding well as a rookie, and losing 51 pounds in the offseason, I'm adding Enes Kanter to this list. We can quibble as to whether some of these guys are power forwards or centers, but I'm not sure that 4/5 distinction matters much. There is a blur between the positions that you will not find between point guards and shooting guards. This is because PGs tend to be so short that they'll rarely be asked to guard 2's. 

The 2012 frontcourt rookie crop is also appealing, though more mysterious. I have immense faith in Anthony Davis, but Jonas Valanciunas and Andre Drummond are harder to gauge. Both have certainly had their preseason moments, though.

The crop of guards coming off rookie and sophomore years is less inspiring. Kyrie Irving is fantastic, but where are his cohorts? John Wall? He's still promising, but has underwhelmed so far. Ricky Rubio is thrilling, but he can't make a shot and he injured his knee. Um...(scratches head) Klay Thompson? MarShon Brooks? Unless Bradley Beal, Dion Waiters and Damian Lillard show out in 2012, it's looking sparse in Smalls-ville. 

There are many lamentations over how the NBA lost its big men, but perhaps we should instead focus on this exciting new crop. We may lack lumbering centers, but the NBA is replete with athletic, productive bigs.

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