Power Rankings of the starting power forwards in the NBA is a difficult task to accomplish. There are several difficulties involved at this stage of the NBA season.
First, many teams have not set their starting lineups. For example, it is difficult to tell if Derrick Favors or Troy Murphy will start for the New Jersey Nets this season.
Another obstacle is figuring out how rookies will respond to NBA competition. Sure, we have a few preseason games to observe rookies, but preseason games do not exactly measure how a rookie will play against top competitions on an every night basis.
Lastly, in today's NBA the small forward and power forward positions have coalesced. Therefore, it is sometimes difficult to tell which forward is playing the four and which is playing the three.
In any case, here are the Power Rankings for the projected starting power forwards for each NBA team.
On what projects to be one of the worst teams in the league, Amir Johnson or Reggie Evans will be the worst starting power forward in the league. Neither player is particularly impressive on the offensive or defensive side of the ball, and will be likely counted on as a big body to pick up fouls against opposing frontcourts.
Hansbrough had a decent rookie campaign through 29 games last year before he was forced to sit out the rest of the season due to an inner ear infection. In limited minutes, the former Tar Heel averaged almost nine points and five rebounds. Even with expected improvement and increased playing time, Hansbrough remains near the bottom of the league's starting power forwards.
If this was a contest for the ugliest player in the league, Villanueva might be considered near the top. Unfortunately, for the journeyman power forward this list is based on talent and Villanueva ranks near the bottom. While Charlie V might light up the stat sheet on a given night, his play is highly erratic. In addition, Villanueva is a defensive liability who really struggles to guard talented opposing forwards.
Speaking of NBA journeymen, Drew Gooden starts the 2010 season on the Milwaukee Bucks, his eighth team since 2007. Fortunately for Gooden, it appears not much is expected of starting power forwards in the Eastern Conference Central Division. Gooden has actually been a serviceable starter throughout his career. While he is never going to light up a stat sheet, Gooden is good for the occasional double-double and decent rebounding.
Despite playing over 35 minutes a night for the Bobcats last season, Boris Diaw averaged only 11.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Diaw is essentially a backup who sees big minutes because there is a lack of talent and depth at the power forward position for the Bobcats.
With Tyrus Thomas on board for the entire year this season, it is likely that Diaw will see his minutes reduced to the role he should be playing in. Whether Diaw plays 25 or 35 minutes a night, he remains in the bottom five starting power forwards in the league.
Favors is an interesting case on this list for several reasons. The first reason is that Favors is not guaranteed the starting job. Troy Murphy is a proven starter in the NBA; however, Murphy is questionable to start the season with a back injury.
Secondly, Favors is a rookie, so it is difficult to place him on this list. Favors has not impressed much in his first three preseason games, failing to score in double figures in all three. He gets the benefit of the doubt for being the third overall pick in the draft and for his monster numbers at Georgia Tech, but so far Favors will remain low on the power rankings of power forwards in the league.
Despite being classified as a small forward for the majority of his career, the "Turkish Terror" is listed at power forward for the Phoenix Suns. After a down season with the Toronto Raptors, Turkoglu will try to regain his form from his days with the Orlando Magic.
Yet, Turkoglu even in his Orlando Magic form is not a particularly impressive overall player. While there is no doubt that he can score, Turkoglu generally does it with a low shooting percentage from the field and virtually plays no defense. With Hedo being on the wrong side of 30, it comes as no surprise that he ranks in the lower third of starting power forwards in the NBA.
This ranking may seem low for the former star, but if you check out his recent numbers the ranking is actually appropriate. Lewis has declined rapidly in the last year, and it showed in the playoff series against the Celtics with an abysmal performance.
Lewis averaged only 14.1 points and 4.4 rebounds last year, while his field goal percentage declined for the fourth straight year. The Orlando Magic power forward is not a particularly strong defender although he remains a strong threat from behind the arc and can put up big scoring numbers on any given night.
With Kenyon Martin out for at least two months (what a surprise), Al Harrington enters the starting lineup for the Denver Nuggets. Harrington can be an offensive dynamo at times, but then again when you're playing for the Knicks there is nothing from stopping a player from taking 17 shots per night, which Harrington did for New York.
With Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups on Denver, Harrington won't take nearly as many shots; however, he may become more efficient in a much better lineup. Harrington won't be the focal point of the Nuggets or even the second option, but he will put up decent numbers.
Over the past few years, the Wizards have been playing the waiting game with Andray Blatche. Last year, Blatche showed glimpses of possibly being a strong post player and second option. In limited minutes, Blatche was efficient both offensively and defensively scoring over 14 points per game on 48 percent shooting from the field.
Blatche will never become a superstar in the NBA, but after a minor breakout in the 2009-2010 season it is possible that he emerges as a viable, multi-year starter at power forward for the Wizards.
Last year, 76ers fans could claim that Brand was just injured and would eventually return to form. Unfortunately for them, Brand played 76 games last year, yet his statistics continued to fall in nearly every category including points, rebounds, and blocks.
Brand is not the player he used to be, but he is still a viable starter for Philadelphia. He will continue to contribute and will remain the number two scoring option on a weak Philadelphia team.
I went out on a limb for Millsap because I believe in Jerry Sloan. Sloan and the Utah Jazz front office felt confident enough in Millsap's abilities to let one of the top power forwards in the league Carlos Boozer leave through free agency.
Millsap is an efficient shooter at well over 53 percent from the field, a terrific rebounder, and a good defender. Playing with Deron Williams should help Millsap grow and improve as a starter in the NBA.
Green has displayed consistent improvement throughout his first three years in the league. While the power forward out of Georgetown does not do one thing particularly well, he has a balanced skill set and a terrific all-around game.
Green can shoot strong percentages from the field and from beyond the arc, can rebound well, and can play strong defense on both opposing power forwards and small forwards freeing up Kevin Durant to take better matchups. Green is one of the rising players in the NBA today who may appear higher on this list next year.
The big man out of Argentina will scare no opponents with his defense; however, he has developed into the model of efficiency at the power forward position shooting over 51 percent from the field while scoring over 16 points per game.
Scola rebounds his position well at over eight rebounds per game. He generally limits turnovers and fits well into the Houston system. Scola may not be the typical sexy power forward and will not be selected to any all-star games, but he gets the job done.
So apparently Antawn Jamison was not the missing piece that Cleveland needed to win a championship. Now LeBron James is gone and Jamison becomes the focal point of a Cleveland offense that will struggle without many offensive weapons.
This actually may be too low for Jamison, but it will be difficult to tell how Jamison reacts to the loss of LeBron James. The former Tar Heel is a fantastic offensive weapon, but he turned 34 this summer and may struggle with carrying the burden of being the number one offensive option once again.
This may seem high for a rookie, but Cousins has looked fantastic in the preseason. Cousins is big for a power forward and may see some time at center when Jason Thompson is out of the game.
No matter where he plays, Cousins projects as a big time rebounder and efficient low post scorer. It may be a lot to ask of a rookie to step in immediately and contribute, but it is possible that Cousins competes with John Wall and Blake Griffin for rookie of the year honors.
Despite only starting 22 games last season, Love put up big numbers in limited minutes. Averaging a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds per game, the former UCLA Bruin will become a focal point on a young Minnesota Timberwolves roster that no longer features Al Jefferson.
Love can grab rebounds like few other power forwards in the league and appeared to improve this summer by playing in the World Championships for the USA. A rising star in the NBA, Love is another candidate to shoot up this list next season.
Even I think this is quite high for a player who has never played a single regular season NBA game, but I believe in Griffin. He was a monster for Oklahoma and his game appears to be transitioning well to the NBA pace.
In three preseason exhibitions, Griffin has averaged 16.7 points and 9.7 rebounds. While his free throw shooting and defense have not been impressive, both are issues that face all rookies and can easily be improved on. Griffin is my pick for rookie of the year in 2010-2011, and the Los Angeles Clippers could surprise many with a talented roster.
Aldridge continues to flourish at the power forward position for the Trailblazers averaging just under 18 points and eight rebounds a night. While Aldridge may not be a superstar, he remains one of the most talented power forwards in the league and will remain high on this list for years to come.
Garnett's numbers have steadily declined since arriving in Boston three years ago, but the former MVP gets the benefit of the doubt for one more season. Garnett's minutes have been reduced in order to keep him fresh for the playoffs, and for the first time since his rookie season his minutes per game fell below 30.
Still, Garnett is a plus defender, even if he sometimes has to play dirty to compensate for his loss of athleticism. The veteran can still shoot and rebound, and while there is no doubt that he is in a steep decline as a player, Garnett remains one of the most feared power forwards in the NBA.
Randolph may not be a very likable guy, but one can't argue with his stats. Last season, Randolph averaged a double-double with nearly 21 points and 12 rebounds per game.
His defense, motivation, and attitude leaves much to be desired, but Randolph cannot be denied as one of the top offensive weapons and rebounders in the NBA today.
Since the 2006-2007 season, David West has quietly emerged as one of the better power forwards in the league. While it can't hurt that West has been fortunate enough to play with Chris Paul, his talent cannot be denied.
West is a good shooter both from the field and the charity stripe. He rebounds well and defends adequately enough to not become a liability for New Orleans. He has even become a decent passer out of the post. In order to climb up this list West would have to improve his defense and become more of a double-double threat by increasing his rebounding numbers.
Smith may not have the same scoring capabilities as some of those behind him on this list, but he makes up for it with his defensive capabilities and ridiculous athleticism. Last year, Smith shot over 50 percent from the field and pulled down almost nine rebounds a night.
Smith will never be a three point or scoring threat that some of the other power forwards on this list are, but he remains a talented defender who can rise up a block shots and is quick enough to stay in front of small forwards as well.
While 2010-2011 was the former Demon Deacon's worst season as a pro, Duncan remains Mr. Fundamental in every aspect of his game. Duncan shoots a high percentage from the field, scores at a high level, plays fantastic defense, and remains one of the top rebounders in the game.
It is likely that Duncan's minutes will continue to decline as he ages and DeJuan Blair takes on a larger role; however, at age 34, Duncan still has plenty of years left in him.
Boozer is out for eight weeks and will miss the start of the season. He is included in this list, however, due to the sheer nature of his basketball talent. Boozer has averaged a double-double in points and rebounds for four consecutive seasons and shot over 56 percent from the field last season.
Boozer is a master of the pick and roll, and once he returns from his broken hand, he should be able to establish an immediate connection with Derrick Rose similar to the one he had with Deron Williams.
The fact that the Knicks failed to retain Lee further proves their inadequacies as an NBA franchise. Lee developed last year into a superstar power forward, a player who can be a legitimate scorer and tough rebounder for years to come.
The Warriors get a double-double machine who is just entering his prime. With Andris Biedrins at center for Golden State, Lee can play his natural position at power forward and will thrive in the high octane Warrior offense. Getting Lee for Anthony Randolph this summer will be a franchise changer for the Warriors and a trade that New York will regret for years.
After getting "Boom Boom Pau" Gasol from the Grizzlies for virtually nothing, the Lakers have gone on to win two consecutive NBA Championships. Much credit has to be given to the offensive and defensive contributions of the Spanish national.
Gasol does everything expected of a power forward and more by scoring efficiently, blocking shots in the middle, and even shooting a high percentage from the charity stripe. Gasol is the perfect complement to Kobe Bryant, and at seven feet he is a tough matchup for undersized opposing power forwards.
Stoudemire reunited with former coach Mike D'Antoni this summer by joining the New York Knicks. While Stoudemire will miss the great passes of former teammate Steve Nash, he should thrive once again in the highly offensively focused Knicks strategy.
Amar'e is a prolific scorer who also happens to be a fantastic rebounder and finisher at the rim. His defense has been questioned recently, but when he is focused Stoudemire can be a big presence in the middle of the floor. Who plays defense in New York anyways?
Bosh comes to Miami joining one of the most talented rosters ever assembled. While some believe that Bosh's individual stats will suffer from fewer touches, it is very possible that Bosh could lead Miami in scoring. Since Bosh will no longer face double teams as he did in Toronto, he will be free to attack the basket and may even see wide open looks when defenders double off to LeBron James or Dwyane Wade.
No matter what happens in Miami this year, Bosh is an undeniable talent at the power forward position. In Toronto last season, Bosh averaged 24 points and just under 11 rebounds per game while shooting at high field goal and free throw percentages.
Dirk essentially remains impossible to guard at times. At seven feet tall, Nowitzki is a lights out shooter who can shoot over nearly any opponent with his trademark rainbow, fade-away shots. The German superstar can rebound as well averaging over eight rebounds per game over his long career.
Dirk continues to be among the top power forwards in scoring year after year as he did last year with 25 points per game. Nowitzki can defend as well generally averaging a steal and a blocked shot per game over his career.