2009-10 NBA Fantasy Preview: Top 15 Power Forwards
The power forward position runs deep this year. From bruisers to double-double machines, and even guys who will fill your shooting cats nicely, this year's class is the cream of the crop when it comes to fantasy.
Top to bottom, this list is loaded with fantasy gems and guys who will play a crucial role in your championship run.
15. Anthony Randolph (GSW)—2008/09 Stats: 7.9 PPG/ 5.8 RPG/ 1.2 BPG
At the end of the 2008-09 season, Anthony Randolph caught fire in the starting SF role on a fast-paced Warriors offense, averaging 14 points per game along with 11 rebounds for fantasy owners in the final 10 games of the NBA year.
Randolph has great length and athleticism at the SF spot and has won the starting role for next year in the Warriors lineup. Randolph has added 20 pounds of muscle over the offseason and could potentially by a five-cat player next year with consistent minutes in a high-octane Warriors offense.
Randolph is a versatile athlete who should be a great source of rebounding and blocks at the SF position. He also shoots a great percentage due to his ability to get to the basket. Randolph really turned it on for the Warriors in the last month of the season and ripped up the Vegas Summer League to the tune of 27 PPG / 10.5 REB / 3.0 Blocks.
Don Nelson has already promised that Randolph will be in the thick of the Warriors offensive plans this year and owners have to realize that they are looking at possibly the biggest fantasy sleeper of the entire year in Randolph.
14. LaMarcus Aldridge (POR)—2008/09 Stats: 18.1 PPG/ 7.5 RPG/ 0.9 SPG/ 0.9 BPG
LaMarcus Aldridge is a terrific young talent who has emerged as one of the most underrated young big men in today's NBA. Aldridge has improved every single year and, along with teammate Brandon Roy, is part of a dynamic nucleus in Portland that should be set for the next decade.
Aldridge has a feathery touch and uses a smooth jump-shot along with finesse moves to score near the basket. Aldridge is also an improving rebounder and should benefit heavily from the playmaking skills of newly acquired point guard Andre Miller.
It could be the case that Aldridge has peaked as a player. But more than likely, expect to see slight increases all over the board, especially if Greg Oden continues his disappointing career.
13. Carlos Boozer (UTA)—2008/09 Stats: 16.2 PPG/ 10.4 RPG/ 1.0 SPG
It might be a mystery why Boozer is so low on this list, but he only played 37 games last year and, at 28, he’s not getting any younger, which could deem him an injury risk on draft day.
When Boozer is healthy, his ability to hit the mid-range jumper along with smart post moves can make him very valuable on any fantasy roster. But knee problems at a latter stage of any player’s career could always come back to haunt them.
Still, Boozer is a great talent and though he might be on the trading block the entire year, he should look forward to this season as one of redemption. Boozer meshes well with Deron Williams and is a top notch rebounder for the Jazz.
12. David West (NOR)—2008/09 Stats: 21.0 PPG/ 8.5 RPG/ 2.3 APG/ 88.4FT%
One of the quietest fantasy stars in the game, David West has a knack for filling up the box score without many noticing. He is the primary beneficiary of Chris Paul and, even with Emeka Okafor in the fold, owners should expect around the same career numbers that West posted last year.
West has a bevy of post moves in the paint, ranging from a soft baby hook to a deadly mid-range fadeaway. West also posted an incredible 88 percent from the charity stripe, giving owners an added fantasy dimension at the four slot.
West is a smart offensive player who hauls in his share of rebounding, and though the boards may drop this year, look for West to find easier opportunities to score with Okafor cleaning the offensive glass.
11. Josh Smith (ATL)—2008/09 Stats: 15.6 PPG/ 7.2 RPG/ 2.4 APG/ 1.4 SPG/ 1.6 BPG
Though Josh Smith started last year as a fringe third- or even second-round pick, he went through all types of regression last season and was one of the most disappointing fantasy players all season.
Smith has incredible athletic ability and can use his immense wingspan along with an explosive vertical to become a fearsome shot-blocker and defensive stud when he wants.
The problem with Smith is that last year he struggled with inconsistency, juggling every good game with a couple of mediocre ones. Smith has the type of tools scouts drool over and since he is still young, should be able to bounce back nicely next year.
With Jamal Crawford in the mix, Smith should see his field goal percentage rise and be able to focus on the defensive end of the court, where his true fantasy value lies. If you can handle the potential of inconsistency, Smith could regain his form into one of the top defensive fantasy performers in the league.
10. Zach Randolph (MEM)—2008/09 Stats: 20.8 PPG/ 10.1 RPG/ 2.1 APG/ 0.9 SPG
Often seen as an underachiever, Zach Randolph had one of his best years last year, averaging a double-double for the injury-riddled Clippers.
Owners might have gotten a bit lucky with Randolph as much of his inflated playing time and touches came from the fact that the Clippers had about as many healthy guys as a hospital ward.
After an offseason trade to the Grizzlies, don’t expect Randolph to provide owners with the same type of production he did last year as he becomes the third option behind Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo.
Although his points should dip considerably, Randolph should be able to repeat his double-double production and is a solid choice in later rounds of any draft.
9. Brook Lopez (NJN)—2008/09 Stats: 13.0 PPG/ 8.1 RPG/ 1.8 BPG/ 53.1 FG%
Lopez was one of the unsung fantasy players last year for the lowly New Jersey Nets. With the departure of Vince Carter, he looks to have a career year all over the board in 2009-10.
Lopez, much like David Lee, is a hard worker underneath the basket and is a tremendous rebounder due to smart positioning and fundamentals. His long frame also allows him to block quite a few shots and he could average more than two blocks a game for next season.
Lopez could be a steal for owners next year and should be the recipient of various Devin Harris double teams, so don’t sleep on this guy.
8. David Lee (NYK)—2008/09 Stats: 16.0 PPG/ 11.7 RPG/ 1.0 SPG/ 54.9 FG%
David Lee became a double-double machine for the Knicks in 2008-09, ranking No. 1 in the NBA to beat out Dwight Howard and Chris Paul in that category.
As a result, Lee became a highly underrated fantasy find for owners, often providing them with top notch rebounding numbers on a nightly basis. He is also a great source to solidify your field goal percentage and rebounding categories for next year.
Lee is a hard worker and gets most of his points around the paint doing the dirty work, which is why his shooting percentage is so high. Though Lee might not benefit as much as people think playing in a Mike D’antoni system, Lee is a top two-cat player and should see small increases all over the board next year.
Owners should take note that though last year Lee might have been a sleeper, the double-double king will not slip under the radar this year.
7. Kevin Garnett (BOS)—2008/09 Stats: 15.8 PPG/ 8.5 RPG/ 2.5 APG/ 1.2 BPG/ 53.1 FG%
There used to be a time when Kevin Garnett was the top fantasy player in almost all formats, giving owners insane all-around production in various categories.
Since his introduction to the Celtics, Garnett’s fantasy production has taken a major hit while his championship focus has narrowed. Nevertheless, Garnett is still a top option at the PF slot and though his numbers were career lows all over the board last year, he should have a great comeback season.
He may have lost a step, but Garnett still has well above average athletic ability and uses it to score in various ways under the basket.
Garnett may never again become the fearsome shot-blocker he once was, but look for all his numbers to improve slightly as he is finally healthy again with his eyes on the big prize.
6. Troy Murphy (IND)—2008/09 Stats: 14.3 PPG/ 11.8 RPG/ 2.4 APG/ 82.6 FT%/ 161 3PTM
Along with David Lee, Troy Murphy was one of the true hidden fantasy gems last year, ranking fourth in the NBA for double-doubles and giving owners excellent production from the PF spot.
Murphy was a model of consistency and went from a pleasant surprise to a genuine fantasy threat on any roster. The true value of Troy Murphy lies in the fact that much of his scoring comes via the three-pointer, ranking as the top long-range shooter in this list.
Add to the fact the Murphy grabbed close to 12 boards a game and still managed to keep owners satisfied with a silky smooth free throw percentage, and Murphy is a dangerous weapon for any fantasy team that could potentially fall into later rounds.
5. Antawn Jamison (WAS)—2008/09 Stats: 22.2 PPG/ 8.9 RPG/ 1.2 SPG/ 112 3PTM
Though Antawn Jamison had a great year in 2008-09, much of his offensive production could seem inflated due to the fact that Gilbert Arenas was injured for most of the season.
With Arenas back in the fold, it would seem likely that Jamison’s PPG would dip perhaps to the 18 point range. Still, Jamison is a versatile scorer whose value from long range is an added bonus for any fantasy owner.
Jamison has always been one of the most underrated cutters in the NBA and makes good use of screens to get open shots.
Though Jamison is not a prototypical power forward, he uses his athleticism to grab a solid amount of boards and should see an increase in field goal percentage with Arenas back.
4. Tim Duncan (SAS)—2008/09 Stats: 19.3 PPG/ 10.7 RPG/ 3.5 APG/ 1.7 BPG/ 50.4 FG%
Though Tim Duncan is known as “The Big Fundamental” for his smart offensive moves, efficient playing style, and a clinical mastery of bank shots, his nickname might as well be known as “Old Reliable”.
Since leading the Spurs to a championship in his rookie year, Duncan has been a top flight fantasy option for owners for the past 12 years. Though he is getting on in years, Duncan has become a model of consistency.
Duncan is a smart playmaker and his 3.5 assists per game are second to none among any forward on this list, while his supreme post moves have made him one of the best scorers in the paint.
Duncan also provides excellent defensive production for fantasy owners, continuously placing himself in the league leaders for both blocks and rebounds.
3. Pau Gasol (LAL)—2008/09 Stats: 18.9 PPG/ 9.6 RPG/ 3.5 APG/ 1.0 BPG/ 56.7 FG%
Much like the aforementioned Duncan, Pau Gasol is as consistent as they come and a great option if you miss out on the dynamic duo on this list.
Gasol is a solid, yet unspectacular, scorer who uses finesse rather than power to get the job done. Gasol has meshed beautifully in Los Angeles and has become a great source for assists on any forward slot.
Though much of Gasol’s offensive production stems from Kobe Bryant double teams or penetration kick outs, Gasol uses a potent mid-range jump shot along with a sweet baby hook to put the ball in the basket.
Gasol also shoots a great percentage and though his rebounding numbers could dip slightly with the addition of Ron Artest, look for Gasol to again be a smart pick for any fantasy owner next season.
2. Chris Bosh (TOR)—2008/09 Stats: 22.7 PPG/ 10.0 RPG/ 2.5 APG/ 1.0 BPG/ 81.7 FT%
There could be an argument for Bosh to be No. 1 on this list going into next year. First, it’s his contract year, so you know he’ll be playing for a max contract.
Second, he’s gotten better and better every season and, given his still relatively young age, there’s every reason to think he can improve next year.
Finally, Bosh has never had as much talent around him as he does for the coming year. Still, Bosh is yet to achieve first-round draft status because owners are still waiting for him to push it to the next level he is so capable of.
Bosh is a dynamic offensive player who uses his excellent athletic ability with a deadly mid-range jump shot to keep defenses guessing.
Keep in mind Bosh is also going to be the feature player in Jay Triano’s new offensive-minded game plan, so expect to see career numbers all over the board. The future is now for Bosh.
1. Dirk Nowitzki (DAL)—2008/09 Stats: 25.9 PPG/ 8.6 RPG/ 89.0 FT%/ 61 3PTM
Dirk Nowitzki can flat out score. As the unquestioned No. 1 option for the Mavs, Nowitzki uses post moves, long distance shooting, slashes, and an ability to get to the charity stripe to give fantasy owners production in scoring categories.
Though last year Nowitzki made the fewest amount of three pointers of his career, it’s really a testament to the type of balanced offensive player he has become.
Owners also will love the dual combination of rebounding Dirk provides. Although a slight dip is to be expected with Shawn Marion in the fold.
Nowitzki is an elite selection at the PF slot and the fact he has only missed 15 games in the past five years just makes him all the more attractive on draft night.