Ranking The Greatest Power Forwards in the NBA History
Welcome back to the "Greatest Ever" series as we continue with rankings of the NBA top power forwards of all time.
The first great player through the 50's who dominated his position, Bob Pettit, was a power forward. Then the likes of Elvin Hayes, Kevin McHale, Karl
Malone, and Tim Duncan continued their domination in their eras.
There are many different playing styles.
The traditional power forwards are great scorers from the post. Guys who rip down dozens of boards and block shots.
But with the European players coming so often in the league, they have changed the game, capable of playing outside with their sharp shooting skills and stretch defenses. However, many have defensive lapses.
Here are the greatest power forwards in the league's history!
10. Dennis Rodman
One of the best defenders and rebounders, Dennis Rodman is regarded as one of the game's top power forwards of all time.
He wasn't the strongest or tallest at his position, but was outstanding on the defensive end ripping boards and defending everything. Perhaps the most versatile defender ever, he could defend anyone from Shaq to Payton without a complaint.
He led the league seven times in rebounding despite playing with taller stronger teammates, but his sense, Basketball IQ, and nose for the ball made him one of the finest in that category.
His average for boards and stats in total rank among the best ever.
He tailed 6,683 points (7.3 ppg), grabbed 11,954 rebounds (13.1 rpg), dished out 1,600 assists (1.8 apg) in his 13 years that he spent in the NBA
Career highlights and awards
* 5x NBA Champion (1989, 1990, 1996, 1997, 1998)
* 2x All-Star (1990, 1992)
* 2x NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1990, 1991)
* 2x All-NBA Third Team Selection (1992, 1995)
* 7x NBA All-Defensive First Team Selection
* 7x NBA Rebounding Champion (1992–1998)
It's a shame that, after he did great work with his defense, he would be known for some bad shooting nights and his attitude. Needless to say, "The Worm" was an interesting character.
9. Dirk Nowitzki
The best shooting big man and one the greatest European player to play in the NBA, Dirk Nowitzki is one of the top power forwards of all time.
Nowitzki's versatility makes him a fine player because he's quick for other players to contest his shot, but he's too tall for smaller perimeter defenders to slow him down which makes him an elite match up and threat of his own.
He's great at rebounding as well. While his defense is questionable, he has put effort to improve himself. His fade away jumper in the post is almost impossible to block.
He's the only seven-footer ever to win a 3-point Shootout in the All Star contests. In some ways, he changed the game with his ability to play on the perimeter and is the prototype of the most European big men.
He's brilliant in the clutch where he consistently leads his team and nails buzzer beaters putting up big numbers. He led the Mavs to a Finals appearance in 2006 but fell short.
Although his offensive brilliance give him a spot on this list and was awarded with league MVP in 2007, defense has been the biggest problem for Big Dirk.
He has tailed 21,111 points (22.9 rpg),grabbed 7,802 rebounds (8.5 rpg) and blocked 936 shots (1.0 bpg) during the regular season.
In the post season he recorded 2,632 points (25.6 ppg), grabbed 1,118 rebounds (10.9 rpg),dished out 269 assists (2.6 apg).
Career highlights and awards
* NBA Most Valuable Player (2007)
* 9× NBA All-Star (2002–2010)
* 4× All-NBA First Team (2005–2007, 2009)
* 4× All-NBA Second Team (2002–2003, 2008, 2010)
* 2× All-NBA Third Team (2001, 2004)
* NBA 3-Point Shootout Champion (2006)
* 2002 FIBA World Championship MVP
* 2005 EuroBasket MVP
* FIBA Europe Player of the Year (2005)
* Mister Europa Player of the Year (2005)
* 5× Euroscar Award Winner (2002–2006)
8. Dave Debusschere
One of the top defensive master minds that the game has seen and regarded as the most versatile defender before "The Worm," DeBusschere ranks among the best forwards of all time.
He wasn't called "Big D" for nothing. That "D" stood for defense. He earned six straight All-NBA First Defensive Selections, which added to his fine scoring abilities and prolific rebounding ability too.
He helped the New York Knicks win their only titles with his lock down defense, superb rebounding and scoring abilities which made him a threat and clutch.
He has tailed 14,053 points (16.1 ppg),grabbed 9,618 rebounds (11.0 rpg) and dished out 2,497 assists (2.9 apg) in his 11 year career.
In the post season he recorded 1,536 points (16.0 ppg),grabbed 1,155 rebounds (12.0 rpg) and dished out 256 assists (2.0 apg)
Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1983); NBA champion (1970, '73); Six-time All-Defensive First Team (1969-74); All-Rookie team (1963); Eight-time NBA All-Star (1966-68, '70-73); All-NBA Second Team (1969); One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).
7. Kevin McHale
Arguable the best low post player ever seen, Kevin McHale is regarded as one of the game's greatest power forwards.
He had ideal physical body for basketball which combined with excellent skills enabled him to pull dozens of creative post moves, grab rebounds, and block shots.
A terrific player who was a force from the bench or in the starting lineup, he accomplished a lot in his career and helped to create one of the finest front courts in NBA history.
He has tailed 17,335 points (17.9 ppg),grabbed 7,122 rebounds (7.3 rpg) and blocked 1,690 blocks (1.7 bpg) during the regular season
In the playoffs, he recorded 3,182 points (18.8 ppg),grabbed 1,253 rebounds (7.4 rpg) and dished out 274 assists (1.6 apg)
* 3× NBA Champion (1981, 1984, 1986)
* 7× NBA All-Star (1984, 1986–1991)
* 1× All-NBA First Team Selection (1987)
* 3× NBA All-Defensive First Team Selection (1986–1988)
* 3× NBA All-Defensive Second Team Selection (1983, 1989–1990)
* 2× NBA Sixth Man of the Year (1984–1985)
* 1981 NBA All-Rookie Team
* NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team
6. Kevin Garnett
One of the best players from the 00's, Kevin Garnett is regarded as one of the greatest power forwards of all time.
Garnett, a strong inside presence during his career, is the prototype for traditional power forward and maybe the most intense and aggressive players in the history of the NBA.
He really doesn't have a weakness. A great scorer because, not only can he finish strong inside, but also has a nice touch from mid-range and a terrific shot from the post. An excellent rebounder and overall defense player and leader.
A point forward in a body of a power forward, he has four rebound titles and has led the league in total points.
He has tailed 22,267 points (19.8 ppg),grabbed 12,188 rebounds (10.8 rpg),dished out 4,719 assists (4.2 apg), blocked 1,790 shots (1.6 bpg) during the regular season.
While in the post-season, he has recorded 1,924 points (20.2 ppg), grabbed 1,072 rebounds (11.2 rpg) and dished out 381 assists (4.0 apg)
Career highlights and awards
* NBA Champion (2008)
* NBA Most Valuable Player (2004)
* NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2008)
* 13× NBA All-Star (1997–1998, 2000–2010)
* 4× All-NBA First Team (2000, 2003–2004, 2008)
* 3× All-NBA Second Team (2001–2002, 2005)
* 2× All-NBA Third Team (1999, 2007)
* 8× All-Defensive First Team (2000–2005, 2008–2009)
* 2× All-Defensive Second Team (2006, 2007)
* NBA All-Rookie Second Team (1996)
* NBA All-Star Game MVP (2003)
* J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award (2006)
5. Bob Pettit
Regarded as one of the best players ever, Bob Pettit was easily one of the greatest power forwards ever.
The consistent, hustling Pettit was the first great power forward and overall player that the NBA had. He was a prolific scorer and rebounder with a nice skill set to back that up.
He recorded the most points in Hawks franchise history (Saint Louis now Atlanta) and delivered in the clutch in path to their only title performing brilliantly in that series with 50 points and 22 rebounds in the deciding Game Six.
In his prime he totally stunned everyone with a fantastic 27.9 ppg and 20.3 rpg, which makes him one of the four players in the NBA ever to do so.
He has tailed 20,880 points (26.4 ppg),grabbed 12,849 rebounds (16.2 rpg) and dished out 2,369 assists (3.0 apg) in the regular season.
In the playoffs he has recorded 2,240 points (25.4 ppg),grabbed 1,304 rebounds (14.8 rpg) and dished out 246 assists (2.9 apg).
Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1970); NBA champion (1958); NBA MVP (1956, '59); 10-time All-NBA First Team (1955-64); All-NBA second team (1965); Rookie of the Year (1955); One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).
4. Charles Barkley
Regarded as one of the best power forwards, Charles Barkley, was one of the greatest ever.
He was a dominate scorer, rebounder, and blocker, a play maker which made him arguable the best all-around power forward in NBA history.
He was undersized compared to the players at his position and from the center spot such as the likes of Malone, Robinson, Hakeem, and Shaq, but he still fought hard with them.
He led the league in rebounding once with a fantastic 14.6 rpg and at least three times in total offensive rebounds which made him one of the game's top rebounders. He also got to the line scoring most of the points there.
He tailed 23,757 points (22.1 ppg),grabbed 12,546 rebounds (11.7 rpg) and dished out 4,215 assists (3.9 apg) which makes him one of the couple of players ever to have these stats.
In the playoffs, Barkley recorded 2,833 points (23.0 ppg),grabbed 1,582 rebounds (12.9 rpg) and dished out 482 assists (3.9 apg).
Honors: Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2006); NBA MVP (1993); All-NBA First Team (1988, '89, '90, '91, '93); All-NBA Second Team (1986, '97, '92, '94, '95); All-NBA Third Team (1996); 11-time All-Star; All-Star MVP ('91); One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History ('96); Olympic gold medalist (1992, '96).
3. Elvin Hayes
One of the greatest players in the NBA history, Elvin Hayes is one of the best power forwards of all time.
Hayes didn't wait long to make a spark in the league, doing so from the start when he became the only rookie ever to lead the league in scoring.
He had a fantastic post game, a nice shot, was a prolific rebounder, and incredible defender. He was one of the most dominating big men and top defensive power forwards.
He was active among the leaders in dozens of categories and has won a scoring title (28.4 ppg), two rebound titles (16.9 rpg and 18.1 rpg in those seasons), twice in total rebounds and once in both offensive and defensive boards.
He has tailed 27,313 points, grabbed 16,279 rebounds, and blocked 1,771 shots (2.0 bpg) in the regular season. Keep in mind his number of blocks, which for most of his career, were not tallied.
In the playoffs, he has recorded 2,194 points (22.9 ppg), grabbed 1,244 rebounds (13.0 rpg) and dished out 185 assists (1.9 apg)
Honors: Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1990); NBA champion (1978); All-NBA First Team (1975, '77, '79); All-NBA Second Team (1973, '74, '76); All-Defensive Second Team (1974, '75); All-Rookie Team (1969); 12-time All-Star (1969-80); One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History ('96).
2. Karl Malone
One of the greatest NBA players to ever play, Karl Malone is regarded as one of the top power forwards in the history of the league.
He had fantastic strength and was excellent finisher inside. Malone's deadly mid-range jump was terrific for rebounding and being a physical defender. He was also productive in the low post.
He played along side John Stockton and formed one of the most dominate duos ever. This guy also had the most amazing work ethic and was among the league leaders in points, boards, and free throws.
He has tailed 36,928 points (25.1 ppg),grabbed 14,968 rebounds (10.1 rpg) and dished out 5,248 assists (3.6 apg) in his 18 year career in the regular season.
In the playoffs, he has recorded 4,761 points (24.7 ppg), grabbed 2,062 rebounds (10.7 rpg), and dished out 610 assists (3.2 apg)
His total of career points is second best on the all time list, but his number of total free throws attempted and defensive rebounds grabbed tops anyone else and is a top five in playoff points scored as well.
He had some of the best stats for a power forward which would be the primary thing used to make a case for him as the greatest power forward in league history.
NBA MVP (1997, '99); 11-time All-NBA First Team (1988-1999); All-NBA Second Team (1988, 2000); All-Defensive First Team (1997-99); All-Defensive Second Team (1988); 14-time All-Star (1988-98, 2000-02); NBA All-Rookie Team (1985); One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996); Two-time Olympic gold medalist (1992, '96).
1. Tim Duncan
Although many others make strong cases, Tim Duncan stands above the rest and is regarded as one of the best players in NBA History.
He's the most consistent player and one of the top defenders in the league's history who is always a double-double threat, possesses high basketball IQ, and is one of the biggest winners ever during the regular season rivaling Magic Johnson as the winningest player in the game.
He's the only player ever to record eight straight All NBA First Defensive Team Selections, has an excellent post game, is a prolific rebounder, and shot blocker who's good at passing and is a undeniable leader of his team. He has also led the league once in total rebounds and offensive boards too.
So far, he has tailed 20,641 points (21.1 ppg),grabbed 11,335 rebounds and blocked 2,235 shots (2.3 bpg) during the regular season
In the post season 3,914 points (23.0 ppg),grabbed 2,114 rebounds (12.4 rpg) and dished out 587 assists (3.5 apg) and blocked 438 shots.
* 4× NBA Champion (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007)
* 3× NBA Finals MVP (1999, 2003, 2005)
* 2× NBA Most Valuable Player (2002–2003)
* NBA Rookie of the Year (1998)
* 12× NBA All-Star (1998, 2000–2010)
* 9× All-NBA First Team (1998–2005, 2007)
* 3× All-NBA Second Team (2006, 2008–2009)
* All-NBA Third Team (2010)
* 8× All-Defensive First Team (1999–2003, 2005, 2007–2008)
* 5× All-Defensive Second Team (1998, 2004, 2006, 2009–2010)
* NBA All-Rookie First Team (1998)
* NBA All-Star Game MVP (2000)
* USBWA College Player of the Year (1997)
* Naismith College Player of the Year (1997)
* John Wooden Award (1997)
* 2× ACC Player of the Year (1996–1997)