The 2013-14 NBA preseason positional rankings end here with the big men. It may not appear so, but the NBA is full of talent on the front line. The power forward position is in a period of transition with future Hall of Famers Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki in the twilight of their careers, while the center position looks to be improving yearly.
In what should be a great season for the guys in the middle, let’s take a look at the top power forwards and centers of the 2013-14 season.
*All statistics courtesy of ESPN.com
2012-13 Reg. Season Stats: 11.9 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.1 BPG, 18.16 PER
This spot—or even a higher position—would’ve been DeMarcus Cousins’ for the taking, but his lack of maturity knocked him off the list. Joakim Noah, on the other hand, just oozes passion and competitiveness for the game.
It is this passion that allows him to impact the game in the way that he does. Noah isn’t athletic and doesn’t possess an array of moves, but his desire allows him to fill the stat sheet. And that he did. A slash line of 12/11/4/2 is nothing to sniff at.
2012-13 Reg. Season Stats: 11.9 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2.6 BPG, 17.32 PER
By the end of the 2011-12 season, it seemed as though Roy Hibbert was primed to make the leap as a star. Then 2012-13 rolled around and Hibbert struggled early.
His fire was truly lit in the playoffs, however, and he now appears to be embracing the imposing figure he could become. Hibbert punished the Miami Heat inside the paint in a hard-fought seven-game series. He’ll build on that and come back better and stronger in 2013-14.
2012-13 Reg. Season Stats: 19.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 2.1 BPG, 24.81 PER
Lopez is one of the few centers in the league with a knack for scoring the ball. His 24.81 PER ranks the highest of the centers on the list. For the season, Lopez ranked seventh in the NBA in blocks.
Lopez will have to improve on those rebounding numbers as he progresses in order to take over the No. 2-spot. Kevin Garnett’s presence should prove to be beneficial for the young center.
2012-13 Reg. Season Stats: 14.1 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.7 BPG, 19.57 PER
The 2012-13 Defensive Player of the Year’s numbers may not jump out at you, but Marc Gasol’s impact is undeniable. Gasol has a high basketball IQ and is one of the best passing big men in the NBA. He’ll continue to do a little bit of everything—most of which won’t show up on the stat sheet.
2012-13 Reg. Season Stats: 17.1 PPG, 12.4 RPG, 2.4 BLK, 19.48 PER
2012-13 was a tumultuous season for Howard and the Lakers. It was considered to be one of the worst seasons of his career. That’s how good D12 is—a 17/12/2 season is considered a letdown.
A healthy Dwight is good for 20 points a night and the best defense the league has to offer. Without the circus that is the Los Angeles Lakers and a healthy back, Howard will be back to being Howard.
Expect big things from Dwight Howard next season with James Harden and the Houston Rockets.
2012-13 Reg. Season Stats: 16.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 20.08 PER
Chris Bosh is the forgotten star, hidden behind the shadows of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Both Bosh’s numbers and reputation have taken a hit since he joined the Miami Heat. His reward for the sacrifices he’s made, though, is the two NBA championships he’s won.
Bosh has put up quality numbers as the third option and has improved his defense dramatically. With injuries surrounding Dwyane Wade, I’d like to see his role increase a bit in 2013-14.
2012-13 Reg. Season Stats: 18.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 0.6 BPG, 22.4 PER
Griffin has a ways to go in developing his offensive game, but he has youth on his side. He’s actually a solid passer, having averaged 3.7 assists during the season. His 22.4 PER ranks second behind Duncan on the list.
3. Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves)
2012-13 Reg. Season Stats: 18.3 PPG, 14.0 RPG, 0.5 BPG, 17.97 PER
Love is a fantasy player’s dream with his scoring and rebounding numbers. The one problem—injuries have halted his momentum. It’s not clear whether he’ll be able to replicate his 2011-12 season—where he averaged 26 points and 13 rebounds—but he should hover right around 20 and 12 for the 2013-14 NBA season.
2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazers)
2012-13 Reg. Season Stats: 21.1 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 1.2 BPG, 20.45 PER
Besides Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge is the most polished offensive player on the list. He can hit the mid-range jumper, face up and play with his back to the basket.
Aldridge’s overall numbers are impressive, as he ranks second in blocks amongst his fellow PF peers on the list. His continued maturation, as well as that of point guard Damian Lillard, should make for another stellar campaign.
1. Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs)
2012-13 Reg. Season Stats: 17.8 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 2.7 BPG, 24.45 PER
Remember a few seasons ago when Tim Duncan looked like he was ready for retirement? Fast forward to the 2012-13 season, and Duncan put up a monster campaign to help lead the Spurs back to the NBA Finals.
The 37-year-old NBA legend made the All-NBA first team and recorded the best PER of any power forward on the list. What’s more, he did all this in just 30 minutes of playing time. Duncan’s defensive presence further separates him from his counterparts.