NBA Power Rankings: Breaking Down the NBA's Elite Power Forwards

Chris HoustonContributor IIIOctober 20, 2010

NBA Power Rankings: Breaking Down the NBA's Elite Power Forwards

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    The NBA is filled with talent. 

    Of the five traditional basketball positions, there may be none deeper in today's NBA than the power forward position. 

    There are several different types of power forward.  Some players are more traditional power forwards that use a combination of strength, speed, and finesse to have their way on the offensive and defensive sides of the basketball in the paint.

    Others, who are not so traditional, have styled their games to extend outside the normal scope of post play.  They are those who have mastered the mid-range game and some who have even pushed their range out well beyond the three point line, a place on the court usually reserved for point guards, shooting guards, and small forwards. 

    These rankings on the top 10 power forwards in the NBA today are strictly for this year and beyond.  They DO NOT take into account historical standing of a player, accolades or awards, or any other accomplishments.

    This ranking is very simply put: Who would I want suiting up for my team for the next 3 years based on current and projected ability?

On The Outside Looking In . . .

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    Honorable Mention

    Rashard Lewis -  Excellent shooter from the perimeter whose defensive ineptitude is fortunately (for him) cloaked by Dwight Howard's ability as a help defender.

    Josh Smith -  High flyer who is the anchor of the Atlanta Hawks interior defense.  Known for vicious blocks and dunks.  Not known for much else.

    LaMarcus Aldridge - Young up and coming player who is smart, strong, and athletic but hasn't put it all together well enough to help carry his team to victory through injuries.

    Kevin Love - Hard working young talent who has great court vision and the right attitude.  Unfortunately stuck in basketball hell.

    Lamar Odom - Versatile player who can play down low like a conventional PF but can handle the basketball and shoot like a guard.  Doesn't play enough minutes to make the list but undoubtedly would if he started consistently.


10. Zach Randolph

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    Zach Randolph is not normally thought of or brought up when the elite power forwards discussed. 

    Last season changed all that.

    In a complete turn around from his troubled past, Randolph stayed out of trouble, played in 81 games, and averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds.

    Not bad.

    If he can continue on the path he's on and help the Memphis Grizzlies earn a playoff berth, he will undoubtedly move up this list.


    2009-2010 20.8 11.7 1.8 .99 .42 .488 .288 .778
    2010-2011 Predicted Stats 19.0 10.5 1.5 1.00 .50   



9. Kevin Garnett

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    Undoubtedly one of the greatest power forwards of all time.  Undeniably one of the best defenders at any position of all time.  Kevin Garnett is the definition of in-game intensity. 

    When he's on the court he has no friends.  Even his teammates aren't spared of his fury

    All of these things add up to a player who will go down in history as one of the best the NBA has ever seen.  But this list isn't about the past. This list is about the present and the future.

    Today's Kevin Garnett is not the player he once was.  Although still one of the ten best power forwards in the game, he is a shadow of his former self. 

    Still the Boston Celtics defensive anchor and a dependable option on offense, he has been slowed considerably by injuries and age. 

    There have been recent reports than Garnett has fully healed from his ailments and is back to being his old dominant self and if that proves to be the case, he would move up this list some.  But no one can be sure until the season starts. 

    Assuming this is true, I see his rebounding increasing from last seasons totals due to his added mobility and flexibility in the knees but everything else declining.slightly.

    Only time will tell how much gas he still has in the tank. 


    2009-2010 14.3 7.4 2.7 .99 .83 .521 .200 .837
    2010-2011 Predicted Stats 14.0 8.5 2.5 1.00 .70 .510 .000 .840

8. David Lee

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    David Lee is about as consistent as they come.

    Although a bit undersized for the position, he plays with an underdog mentality, and has a passion for the game that few can match.  He will be a perfect fit for the Golden State Warriors.  He averaged a double-double last year and I expect that to continue.

    His scoring will improve in Golden States high powered run and gun offense. 

    More possessions equals more shot attempts though and while his scoring average will rise, his field goal percentage will fall.  More shot attempts will also mean more missed shots and opportunities for rebounds. 

    He will definitely challenge Dwight Howard for this years rebounding title. 


    2009-2010 20.2 11.7 3.6 1.05 .49 .545 .000 .812
    2010-2011 Predicted Stats 23.0 13.0 3.0 .85 .45 .525 .000 .805



7. Carlos Boozer

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    Carlos Boozer has been one of the more dependable traditional power forwards in the league for years -- when he's on the court.

    This year he'll be coming off his hand injury into a unfamiliar system, with a new rookie head coach, and new teammates.  And because of all that I see him taking a step back in his per-game statistics.

    Leaving the comfort of Jerry Sloan's Flex offense, that catered to Boozer's ability to score down low, he will find it much more difficult to be as effective as he was in Utah. 

    Also, one must see that the person feeding him the ball, Derrick Rose, is a fantastic young player, but no Deron Williams.  It must definitely be taken into account that Boozer downgraded as far as the point guard position in coming to Chicago.

    Derrick is more of a scoring and slashing point guard that lacks the court vision and overall ability to make the right basketball play that Deron Williams had.  Rose is without a doubt an up and coming star, but Deron Williams is an almost universal consensus Top 2 point guard (Chris Paul being the other).

    He will also be sharing the paint with Joakim Noah. 

    Noah is not the most offensively talented big man, but he definitely has hustle and heart.  Where as Boozer's old post-mate, Mehmet Okur, could normally be found floating along the three-point line, Noah will be inside hustling.  Look for Noah to rob Boozer of a couple rebounds and blocks throughout the season as, simply put, he wants it more. 


    2009-2010 19.5 11.2 3.2 1.08 .46 .562 .000 .742
    2010-2011 Predicted Stats 18.0 9.0 3.7 1.0 .38 .580 .000 .750





6. Tim Duncan

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    Some may see Tim Duncan's ranking on this list and see it as a slight but I beg to differ.

    The fact that he is still one of the most effective power forwards in the game despite being, to put it kindly, an elder statesman, is a testament to his never wavering consistency.

    Younger players should pay attention and take heed.  When your speed, quickness, and freak athleticism fade with age, what are you left with?

    If you're Tim Duncan -- skills, legendary fundamentals, and basketball IQ.

    It is these attributes that have allowed Tim Duncan to age so gracefully in a league where the young and dynamic get all the attention. 

    The San Antonio Spurs, led by Duncan himself, will be a force in the west for years to come, but their championship window is closing fast.  The Spurs, along with the Celtics, are the teams of their respective conferences that may be older, but nevertheless very dangerous to count out. 

    Tim Duncan a.k.a. "The Big Fundamental" will continue to be one of the best big men the game has to offer for as long as he decides to stay in the NBA.


    2009-2010 17.9 10.1 3.2 .58 1.5 .518 .182 .725
    2010-2011 Predicted Stats 17.0 10.5 3.5 .50 1.3 .530 .000 .750



5. Blake Griffin

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    Blake Griffin is the only newcomer to the NBA on this list, so some of you may be suprised to see him here.

    Get used to it.

    Blake has come back from his rookie year preseason injury with a vengeance and he's ready to compete.  Preseason being what it is, all stats have to be taken into context.  But there are times when the numbers simply don't lie. 

    Griffin will add a much needed dependable offensive option to the usually lottery bound Clippers and may even be able to elevate them to the playoffs.  Quite simply, he is healthy and a force to be reckoned with.

    All the explosiveness of an Amare Stoudemire, but he actually plays defense.  Scary, right?

    Blake Griffin is my very confident pick for Rookie of The Year, and that's saying alot due to the depth of this years draft class. 

    Usually one would say "The Sky Is The Limit" for a player with great potential, but even the sky may not be a high enough limit for this Griffin. 

    His youth gives him the edge over some older or more injury prone power forwards on this list.  He may not compare to some of these players in our minds today, but this is a list for the next 3 years and by virtue of that, he has to be included and very highly ranked.

    Don't think Blake Griffin is up to averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds in his first NBA season?

    I do. 

    And when he proves me right, don't say I didn't tell you so.


    2010-2011 Preseason Averages17.312.31.7 1.8 1.2 .597 1.000 .560
    2010-2011 Predicted Stats 20.5 12.0 3.0 1.0 1.2 .550 .350 .650


4. Amare Stoudemire

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    Amare Stoudemire is the most explosive offensive power forward in the game today.  And he's ready to prove it this upcoming season with his new team in "The Big Apple".

    He doesn't have Nowitzki's shooting stroke or Gasol's post moves but he makes up for it with "Shawn Kemp-esque" physical punishment down low. 

    Trying to draw a charge when Amare is flying towards the basket?  You might be successful, but it's gonna hurt.  And you'll undoubtedly be in next month's issue of SLAM Magazine.

    With Steve Nash at the point, Amare was part of a very formidable duo that made the Phoenix Suns an annual contender in the west.  But now that Amare is in New York City, he's got something to prove.

    Many will say that Amare is a product of the run and gun offense that Phoenix ran, or that he is only the player he is because of the expertise of Steve Nash.

    I beg to differ.

    Although Nash had alot to do with the succes of the Suns, Amare was no slouch, and he's going to prove that this season.

    He's bounced back from past injuries and questions about his attitude to lay claim to being "The Man" in New York. 

    But being the number one option has it's price. 

    His points per game is bound to rise dramatically, as the Knicks are not as well rounded as the Suns.  But due to the increased usageand being the focal point of the offense, his efficiency will go down.

    He will also truly miss the easy shots that he was able to get from Steve Nash's passes.

    It may take years (or one or two monster trades) before the Knicks are championship contenders, but you have to believe that with Amare, they are off to a very, very good start. 


    2009-2010 23.0 8.9 1.0 .63 1.01 .557 .167 .771
    2010-2011 Predicted Stats 26.0 9.5 2.0 .50 1.50 .510 .000 .750


3. Chris Bosh

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    Many things can be said about Chris Bosh. 

    It could be said that he is an exceptional basketball player who is extremely versatile, and very effective taking larger, more lumbering power forwards off the dribble.

    It could be said that he is a dangerously underrated shooter who will pull up over smaller defenders from out to 20 feet with the greatest of ease.

    I choose to say that, without question, he is the luckiest man in the NBA this upcoming season.

    Teaming up with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade down in South Beach could have serious implications for Chris Bosh and his future.  Not only will he very likely become an NBA champion within the next 5 years, he will benefit tremendously from having defenses concentrate mostly on his two more dynamic teammates. 

    Going from a nightly first option on a middling team to a third option on a projected powerhouse will relieve him of being the focal point in the opposing teams scouting report.

    This will give him more room to create than he's probably ever seen at any level of basketball he's ever played. 

    The number of open looks that Bosh will get will help his numbers skyrocket.  Don't expect the actual basic stats to go up, but so called advanced statistics like "points per field goal attempt" and PER?  Those will definitely change for the better. 

    Expect Bosh to put up similar numbers as last year, but in a much more efficient manner. 

    Bosh proved to be a very reliable number one option in Toronto, but lacked the surrounding pieces to make his team a true contender.

    With his new team in Miami?  I don't forsee that being a problem.


    2009-2010 24.0 10.8 2.4 .61 .97 .518 .364 .797
    2010-2011 Predicted Stats 23.0 11.0 3.5 .80 1.0 .650 .350 .800



2. Dirk Nowitzki

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    Dirk Nowitzki is maybe the most unconventional big man in the NBA. 

    The best offensive big man in the NBA, he is a seven foot power forward who has range that some guards can only dream of.  To be so skilled in mid-range and three point shooting is almost unheard of for someone who plays the power forward position.

    Plainly put, Dirk Nowitzki's shot is a thing of beauty.  

    Dirk can shoot with the best in the league, just missing a 50FG% - 403PT% - 90FT% last year that has been accomplished by a very select few (He's already in the club, but only Steve Nash and Larry Bird have multiple seasons). 

    When he isn't creating from the perimeter, he can be found spotting up for pinpoint passes from Jason Kidd, or utilizing his exceptional size to post players up for his sweet turn around fade-away jumper.

    Because he is a shooter and not a banger, look for Dirk Nowitzki to age exceptionally well.  Players lose athleticism and speed over time.  They don't lose height and fundamentals.  That shooting stroke isn't going anywhere. 

    The Lakers are looking to run away with the West this year, but don't look for Dirk and his Dallas Mavericks to bow out quietly.

    2009-2010 25.0 7.7 2.7 .86 .98 .481 .421 .915
    2010-2011 Predicted Stats 26.0 7.0 2.5 1.0 1.0 .520 .410 .905



1. Pau Gasol

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    The cream of the crop. 

    There is no better all around big man in the NBA than Pau Gasol.  With post moves that would make Kevin McHale proud and a sweet jumpshot out to18 feet, Gasol is comfortable playing inside and outside the paint. 

    He's also not a defensive liability.  He has done an admiral job defending the paint, joining  with Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom to create an intimidating inside defensive presence. 

    He is the best passing power forward on this list with underrated court vision and a knack for making the right play.  All that makes him the perfect fit for Phil Jackson's/Tex Winter's triangle offense. 

    He overcame questions about his toughness in recent years to help the Lakers win their most recent NBA championships playing admirable defense against Dwight Howard in '09 and the Celtics' many big men in 2010.

    Gasol will be called on early in the season to step up his game.  With Kobe Bryant coming off of his arthroscopic knee surgery and Andrew Bynum out till as late as December, it will fall on Gasol to elevate his game to an even higher level to keep the Lakers from failing to dominate the Western Conference. 

    The perfect compliment to Kobe Bryant, his performance in the upcoming seasons could very well have a major effect on not only his own standing among the all-time great power forwards, but on how Kobe Bryant is measured amongst the best the game has ever seen. 

    Will he continues to stand out as he has and help the Lakers raise a Boston Celtic tying banner 17? 

    Only time will tell for sure but I wouldn't bet against it. 


    2009-2010 18.3 11.3 3.4 .57 1.74 .536 .000 .790
    2010-2011 Predicted Stats 20.0 11.5 3.5 .50 1.8 .550 .000 .800