NBA Power Rankings: Dwight Howard and the 10 Best Low-Post Players
When it comes to being victorious at the end of the season, there always happens to be one necessity needed on every winning team. Check any championship team in the past decade and you're sure to see at least one player in the starting lineup that was dangerous in the low post. The Lakers Pau Gasol, the Celtics Kevin Garnett, and Tim Duncan with the Spurs all were prominent components in each of their teams championship victories. Even before then with Shaquille O'Neal in Miami and Los Angeles and Rasheed Wallace with Detroit, they all played huge parts in their victories.
On just about any NBA team today, there is usually one low post presence in the starting lineup to give a team some strength and versatility on the team. They give you the highest percentage points and they can usually be relied on for creating second chance points as well. Even if with the emergence of the 7' jump shooter, there are still plenty that can relied on the paint for a change. The size and dominance that a low-post player can command will sometimes far exceed any other player in the league.
Each player in this top ten represents themselves as a key member of their team with most of them being recognized as a number one scorer on their roster. One of the most important aspects a center or power forward holds is that when a team's jump shot isn't consistently falling, they can always rely on their teammates in the middle for assured points. In fact, most of the players on this list are from a team that is set to enter the postseason.
If you don't think having a low post threat in the middle isn't that necessary, just remember that Minnesota is giving Darko Milicic $30 million.
You can follow John Friel on twitter @JohnFtheheatgod. He gives out all the latest news on the Miami Heat and does a damn good job doing it.
10. Andrew Bogut
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The 2005 number one pick wasn't expected to become one of the premier centers of the league after a sub-par rookie year and a few more years of mediocrity. However, after a career 2009-'10 season where he averaged a career high 16 points and 10 rebounds, the Milwaukee Bucks Andrew Bogut has evolved into one of the top centers of the league.
With the art of offensive-minded centers dying away, players like Bogut give hope to the position that the low-post can still be utilized. Andrew utilizes his size more than anything as a part of his game to muscle against the weaker centers of the league, his 7', 245 pound frame can only be matched by maybe only two other players in the league. His scoring has regressed to only 13 points per game, but he is compensating with a career high 12 rebounds and league-leading three blocks per contest.
9. Kevin Garnett
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After 15 and 3/4 seasons, Kevin Garnett still finds himself as one of the most volatile players in the league. From his clutch play to his hard-nosed defense, Garnett has earned the MVP and the NBA championship that he has to his name. Even at 34 and his best years behind him, he still averages 15 points and nine rebounds for his Eastern Conference leading Boston Celtics and still manages to control the paint through his offense and defense.
He remains as one of the best post-up players in the league with his mid-range fade away still being one of the deadliest shots in the game after all these years. Attacking the rim hasn't been as prominent with his health and age causing the obvious deterioration in his game, but he can still defend and score over any other power forward in the league in the low-post.
8. Tim Duncan
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Much like Kevin Garnett, it has also felt like Tim Duncan has been in the league since its creation. Since he was drafted first overall by the Spurs in the 1997 draft, Timmy has made his impression felt by exhibiting a pure display of working around the basket. Since averaging 21 points and 12 rebounds in his rookie year, Duncan has averaged a double-double in every year since then aside from last year when he posted a career low 13 points and nine rebounds.
Even with his scoring and rebounding not needed as much, Duncan can still use his experience to school any player young or old on any team on any given night. His nickname 'The Big Fundamental' was given to him because of how conservative and resourceful he can be on the court. He's a player who has always been about winning and knows better than just about anyone else of how to follow through with it. It is certain that his dominance low-post has given him a first ballot hall of fame nod when he ever does retire.
After David Robinson and Tim Duncan, it's going to be tough for the Spurs to find a replacement.
7. Kobe Bryant
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It's not everyday you see a guard making a top ten list of the best low-post players in the league, but when it comes to Kobe Bryant we can make an exception. It's a known fact that Bryant is one of the best shooters and slashers in the game, yet he's also became very well-known for his ability to post up opposing guards. As another crafty veteran on this list, Kobe has developed his post game over time and still ranks as one of the best low-post guards in the history of the game.
Especially with his age catching up on him, Kobe can sometimes look towards creating in the post rather than working harder trying to find a jump shot or driving. His ability to post up makes it easier for him to score as well considering that most opposing guards do not have a high enough low post IQ to defend a player like Bryant when posting up. For over 15 years, Bryant has relied on posting up as a part of his game and he continues to rely on it as a prominent part of his dominance and hall of fame worthy career.
6. LaMarcus Aldridge
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A year ago, the Portland Trail Blazers LaMarcus Aldridge might not have even made the cut for a top in low-post players. However, with Brandon Roy and Greg Oden going down with injuries, Aldridge has taken to the role of primary scorer like a fish taking to water. In only his fourth year in the league, LaMarcus is averaging a career high 22 points and nine rebounds per game, while leading his Portland Trail Blazers to another post season berth that seems more and more likely by the day.
His mid-range game has greatly improved and his game in the low-post has also taken great strides as he becomes one of the the premiere young threat that Portland has been waiting years for. With Brandon Roy out, Aldridge has become the face of the Trail Blazers franchise and taken to the position well as he makes the opposition play up on his shot and beware his post game. If Brandon cannot fully recover from his devastating injury, then Aldridge can continue to look on to his volatile offensive game to take Portland to the promise land.
5. Zach Randolph
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With all the talk about Kevin Love and his rebounding, most people have forgotten that Zach Randolph is still one of the top rebounders in the league. In fact, Randolph and Love tied for the most offensive rebounds per game at a little under five. The only difference being that Love averages a few more defensive rebounds per game, yet Randolph does hold the biggest advantage in their comparisons: his team is a whole lot better.
One of Randolph's main expertise is his ability to use his wide frame to grab rebounds amongst taller players. He has averaged three offensive rebounds per game over his career and he has used it to make himself into one of the top low-post players in the league. He can find himself under the rim for the highest percentage shots and has continually agitated and aggravated the opposition by just how easy it is for him to grab offensive boards and score in the low post.
4. Kevin Love
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Only his third year in the league and Kevin Love already deserves MVP consideration. If he wasn't stuck in Minnesota, then he might be a serious front-runner, but for now he has to deal with the situation he has in front of him until further matters are taken up. The 16 rebounds per game he is currently averaging is set to be highest in the NBA since Dennis Rodman did the same in the 1997-'98 season. It also contributes greatly to him becoming one of the league's top low post presence.
Like Randolph, Love finds himself scoring the majority of his points off of his ability to grab offensive boards at will. His knack for finding himself under the rim at any given moment and rebounding thanks to a high rebounding intelligence can only make you wonder what else Kevin can do when his supporting cast becomes better and he gets some more years of experience.
For now though, we can watch Kevin work his magic in the low post as he continues on with his record breaking double-double streak.
3. Amare Stoudemire
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Turns out that Amare Stoudemire didn't need Steve Nash after all. As the focal point of the New York Knicks and Mike D'Antoni's system, Stoudemire is averaging a career high 26 points, eight rebounds, and three assists per game while also making the Knicks a relevant team for the first time in over a decade. With Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups by his side now, winning and scoring should come a lot easier for Stoudemire.
His mid-range game has taken serious strides and his low post game is just as powerful as ever. He isn't recognized as anything near a quality rebounder or defender, but his scoring has always come with ease and he has proven that he doesn't need one of the top point guards in NBA history to guide him in the lane. His post-up's have improved and his power and strength have helped him to become one of the premiere low-post players of the league.
2. Pau Gasol
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Perhaps Chris Bosh could enroll in Phil Jackson's school of toughness?
Before he joined the Los Angeles Lakers, Pau Gasol wasn't always recognized as one of the premiere post players. However, since leaving Memphis him and Kobe Bryant have formed one of the top inside-outside duos in the league. Kobe's outside scoring and Gasol's inside presence are key reasons why the Lakers are the back-to-back champions and most importantly why Gasol is near the top on this list.
Like most power forwards, Gasol has a mid-range shot and a low-post game to his credit. He has found many new found abilities since coming to Los Angeles, including rebounding which has been in double-digits over the past seasons for the first time in his career. His lengthy arms gives him the advantage to shoot over defenders close to the basket. The Lakers are currently contesting for a third consecutive title and it'll come a lot easier if Gasol can continue to make his presence felt inside.
1. Dwight Howard
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Even with a developing jump shot and developing post game, courtesy of Hakeem Olajuwon, Dwight Howard has become just as scary from an offensive stand point. Averaging a career high 23 points per game, he has begun to show a more polished offensive game that has corresponded with his points increase and role with the team. The team has become more dangerous with Dwight spacing out the floor even more when he begins hitting bank shots from 10 to 15 feet.
The one aspect of his game that separates from any other low post player is his ability to use his athleticism, size, and strength to go against any other center or power forward. The points increase comes also as a result of him being able to use his body to his advantage thanks to experience and the work he has done with Olajuwon over the summer. As long as Howard is able to develop post moves and stay athletic, he will dominate the lead at the center position and the low-post.