NBA Power Rankings: Dwight Howard and Each Team's Most Intimidating Paint Threat
You'll hear it time and time again, but one thing every championship team needs is a big man who they can count on. Teams that have tried to win playing small have run into serious mismatch problems late in the playoffs.
Without size, you aren't opening up anything for your guards and on the defensive end you are not making opposing teams guards fear the paint.
Here are power rankings for each team's best lost post presence...
#30: Boris Diaw (Charlotte Bobcats)
Boris Diaw is a player that I have a lot of trouble figuring out. He seems to be playing out of position at all times on the floor. He's overweight for a player who spends most of his time behind the three point line. Diaw is, however, a big man and the best one the Bobcats have unfortunately.
Diaw is a good passer and three point shooter...not really a big man, but he is listed as a power forward and for that reason he is the worst at this label of a big man.
#29: Marcin Gortat (Phoenix Suns)
I have nothing against Marcin Gortat as a player. In fact, if given the opportunity...I'd love to have him starting for my New York Knicks at Center. The thing is that the 28 other guys who are going to be on this list will be better than him.
At least he's not the worst though...
Gortat is a solid defender with a good knowledge of the game on offense. He has nice touch on his mid range jump shot and he is tough when attempting to finish at the rim, often drawing a lot of fouls. Gortat is the best big man on the Suns roster (Frye has been playing well lately, but I'd much rather have Gortat) and being at the end of this list is not at all a shot fired at him.
#28: Andray Blatche (Washington Wizards)
Blatche is one of the most talented big men in the league. He reminds me a lot of Zach Randolph earlier in his career. He has the tools to be a good big man, but hasn't quite put it together yet.
Blatche is a black hole on offense. He is strong inside and is a talented scorer, but if you give him the ball he eats up the shot clock and ignores his teammates. Often he'll stand at the three point line and try to get by his defenders with his horrible ball handling.
Blatche has a lot to earn before he moves up on this list, but it would not surprise me at all if he does.
#27: J.J. Hickson (Cleveland Cavaliers)
The Cavaliers don't have much to be excited about this season, but J.J. Hickson has at least been promising. The raw, but talented big man has grown as a player throughout the course of the year and Cavs fans are very excited about what he brings to the team.
Last season Dan Gilbert passed up on Amar'e via trade because he did not want to give up Hickson. Although that is something he probably regrets now because LeBron likely would've stayed had he been playing with STAT, you can see why he didn't want to give up a player like Hickson.
Hickson, like Stoudemire, is an athletic freak and his offensive game is developing. The area I've seen him progress in this season is as a shot blocker. Hickson has been anchoring Cleveland's defense since Varejao went down for the season and although they have been losing, he's been holding his own.
Hickson is going to be a good player in this league someday and maybe even great if he can develop a jump shot like Amar'e did.
#26: Greg Monroe (Detroit Pistons)
The Pistons have had another mediocre season, but rookie Greg Monroe has come on strong lately. Monroe is going to be the Pistons' big man of the future and he's already contributing. Monroe has good size, mobility and basketball IQ.
The Pistons have a player who's 6'10'' with the ability to shoot, pass and score inside. This is something they have not had in the last couple of years.
For a coach to have a smart player like Greg manning the paint for the next couple of years is a luxury. I liked Monroe coming out of Georgetown and it's great to see his success starting to translate to the pros.
#25: Luis Scola (Houston Rockets)
With Yao Ming being on the floor for so little in the last couple of years I thought it would be pointless to put him on this list. With that decision, Luis Scola comes in as the Rockets' best low post player.
Scola is a hard working player who fights hard for every rebound. He is a skilled finisher around the rim with both hands and he has a very good jump shot. Scola is different from a lot of other foreign players in that he is tough and willing to bang. Most of the others are soft, finesse players.
Scola is a guy whom you'd love to have on your team and absolutely hate to play against.
#24: David Lee (Golden State Warriors)
As a Knicks fan, David Lee was very tough to lose this offseason. Lee is one of the best rebounders in the league and he always plays his heart out when he's on the floor.
Lee is not a main option, but he is a good player to have and could certainly be a key piece to a championship team some day. Lee has a great mid range jump shot and is a very good passer for a big man.
He's a bit of a defensive liability and that is the one aspect of his game that is keeping him from reaching the next level.
#23: Andrea Bargnani (Toronto Raptors)
It was tough to put such a good player this low on the list, but it was time to factor in lack of defense and winning.
Bargnani is as good of an offensive player as there is on this list, but he seems to lack motivation playing defense and rebounding.
Bargnani is a smooth offensive player who, despite his size, plays his offensive game mostly from the perimeter. He has been working on his post game and has recently been more explosive with his first step.
If a coach can help him with his defense and rebounding he can be a top post player in the league some day, but until then he's got a lot to learn.
#22: Brook Lopez (New Jersey Nets)
Although their offensive games are completely different, Brook Lopez and Bargnani are the same exact player.
Lopez has a smooth offensive game that is painfully boring to watch, but at the same time beautiful. It's somewhat like Duncan's in that it's slow, fundamental and nearly unstoppable. He has great touch around the basket and all the way out to 18 feet away on his jumper.
The problem with Lopez is that as good as his offensive game is, his defense and rebounding is two times worse. He's a complete liability doing both of these tasks on the basketball court and that is why he is here on this list.
#21: Roy Hibbert (Indiana Pacers)
For some reason Roy Hibbert didn't get respect going into the NBA draft and still doesn't get respect today. People thought that he was only a big body and couldn't stay on an NBA court due to bad conditioning and skill level. This confused me as I saw a talented big man who could make an impact on both ends of the floor.
Hibbert has had a good season this year for the Pacers and he's doing what he can to get them the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Hibbert has transformed his body and he's now a force in the NBA. He's struggled at times this season offensively, but he's a good rebounder and defender and the offensive skill is there. He's had consistency issues on the offensive end, but that type of thing should heal with more experience.
#20: DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)
Coming into the league, everybody knew that Cousins was going to be a good player. The one concern with DeMarcus has also been a major problem with him his first year in the league. His attitude is just as bad as scouts and coaches made it out to be.
On the court you'll see Cousins pouting and stomping his feet when his teammates don't pass to him or refs make bad calls on him. You also might see him completely dominating and filling up the stat sheet. When Cousins wants to be, he is a force on the glass and defensive end. Offensively, he's as gifted of a big man as I've seen come out of the draft in ten years.
Cousins can pass, shoot and finish around the rim. He's very turnover prone as of now, but as he continues to play more minutes he'll work that out on his own.
He's going to be a force for the Kings for years to come.
#19: Nene Hilario (Denver Nuggets)
Nene is the one that got away for my New York Knicks. Well...one of the ones that got away. Nene is a very versatile big man. He's very powerful inside and plays both sides of the ball very well.
Nene is a bigger part of Denvers offense now that Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups are out of town. He's one of the very few "true" centers left in the league; he plays the game using his pure strength around the rim.
He can block shots on defense and rarely will get overpowered by the man he is guarding.
#18: Elton Brand (Philadelphia 76ers)
It's about time Elton Brand stopped playing as if he was trying to earn only half of his contract. Elton's now playing like he's trying to get 3/4 of that contract. Although that may seem like a diss, it's actually closer to a compliment.
Brand seemed like one of the most overpaid players in the league the last few years, but he's finally gotten things going in Philly and is leading a team of young players to a seven seed in the Eastern Conference.
Brand got into good shape over the offseason and came back looking more like the Elton Brand of Los Angeles than the Eddy Curry of New York. His footwork looks just as good as ever and that's allowing him to score and rebound in the paint.
Brand is a huge reason the 76ers have come out and shocked the NBA world.
#17: Al Jefferson (Utah Jazz)
Al Jefferson is a player that will wow you consistently with incredible numbers, but at the same time disappoint you. Jefferson has failed to be a part of a winning team in his short but young NBA career. Throughout most of his career so far he has played for a losing Timberwolves team and now a Jazz team that was struggling most of the season even with Deron Williams.
Jefferson is a great scorer and a good rebounder. He also puts up solid shot blocking numbers. It's surprising to me that he hasn't been able to contribute to a winning team.
Strictly because his teams haven't done as well as many would hope, Jefferson finds himself at number 17 on this list.
#16: Kendrick Perkins (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Kendrick Perkins is everything you want out of your center. He is a great rebounder and an incredible defender. His offensive arsenal is extremely limited, but if you have the right team assembled around him like the Celtics had and Thunder now have, it does not matter.
Perkins was a key part of the Celtics' championship three years ago; the championships they lost, they did not have him for the whole series. I was in complete shock when they traded him and that is strictly because of how much he meant to their team. He was traded for a very good, young player in Jeff Green and I still could not believe it.
Perkins finds himself this high on the list not because of his skill level, but because of the way he contributes to winning.
#15: David West (New Orleans Hornets)
David West is the definition of consistency. West is good for around 16 points and nine rebounds almost every single night.
West is as wide as any big man in the league and is almost 100 percent muscle. His mid range jumper combined with his strength makes him a tough guy to match up with.
His play this season has been extremely important to the Hornets. He and Chris Paul make for one dynamic duo.
#14: Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs)
Duncan is one of the greatest big men to ever play the game of basketball. His game has won the Spurs many championships. He could still get a ring or maybe more by the time he retires.
Duncan is still contributing and playing at a high level for San Antonio, but he's no longer the player he once was. His 20 and 10 days are over. Although he's still playing good basketball, putting him any higher on the list would be me showing bias towards him based on his past resume.
#13: Andrew Bogut (Milwaukee Bucks)
After what happened to Bogut last year, I'm very happy to put him this high on this list. Bogut is a former number one pick. Although some were questioning that pick at the time, it's clear now why he was thought of so highly.
Bogut is one of the league leaders in blocks per game and he has a nice offensive game to match. The Bucks look best on the offensive end when they are operating through Bogut. He has great court vision for a center and he is a good finisher around the rim.
Bogut is a great offensive player and a scary low post presence.
#12: Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks)
The Hawks were one team that I had a lot of trouble with. It was difficult to choose between Josh Smith and Al Horford, but I ultimately had to go with the all star. Horford is good for a double double almost every night and is a strong presence down low.
He's a little short for a center, but he makes up for that lack of height with pure strength. Horford is very consistent and is in my opinion, the most important player the Hawks have. He rarely gets bested by opposing centers and he's gotten a lot better offensively than when he first came into the league. He now has a very nice jump shot to go along with his defensive and rebounding capabilities.
Horford is a fantastic young big man who plays the game the way coaches love.
#11: Kevin Garnett (Boston Celtics)
Like Duncan, Garnett is also far from his prime. The crazy thing is that he was still undoubtedly an all star this year, even in the coaches' eyes.
Garnett is one of the best defensive players in the league and has remained healthy pretty much all season. Now that Perkins is gone, Garnett needs to step up his game and there is no doubt in my mind that he will. Garnett is an excellent shot blocker and his defense gets under opponents' skin more than anybody else in the league not named Ron Artest, but not everybody can play the game drunk.
Garnett is my least favorite player in the league, so seeing how high I put him on this list should really show you how highly I think of him strictly basketball speaking.His outside jumper for a big man is incredible and Garnett may not have my respect as a person, but he certainly does as a basketball player.
#10: Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers)
The highlight machine, Blake Griffin, has cracked the top ten on my list even as a rookie. Griffin being on this list is insane especially considering he is not even close to where he will be in five years skill wise.
Blake is putting up insane numbers this year basically on strictly athletic ability and no basketball skill whatsoever. Griffin has Clippers fans excited for the first time since they were in the playoffs in the early 2000's. He makes opposing teams fear playing against "the other Los Angeles" and for that reason he has earned this spot on the list.
#9: Zach Randolph (Memphis Grizzlies)
This may come as a surprise to some, but honestly...it shouldn't. If you haven't seen Randolph play you are really missing out and those of you who bash me putting him in this spot are not giving him a chance since his younger days.
Randolph is not the black hole he once was. He is focused on getting the Grizzlies back into the playoffs and he does what it takes to help his teams win games. He's a much better passer than he has been in the past and he scores the ball efficiently. Zach is one of the best rebounders in the league and can score as well as any big man out there.
Randolph is almost a guaranteed double double and watching him get rebounds is a beautiful thing being that his lack of athleticism makes his rebounding ability that much more impressive.
#8: Chris Bosh (Miami Heat)
Bosh used to be a top five big man in the league in my eyes and was the franchise player for the Toronto Raptors. Now that he's a member of the Miami Heat, his role has decreased tremendously. He no longer is the player he once was for the Raptors.
Bosh has went from superstar to all star, but he's still good enough to be this high on the list. Bosh has a smooth offensive game and of the three of the players in Miami, he has accepted his role the most out of all of them.
Bosh is still capable of exploding any night because he still has the franchise player talent, but because it is not needed as much it's hard to justify putting him any higher.
#7: Carlos Boozer (Chicago Bulls)
Boozer was without a doubt the most underrated signing of the offseason. Pairing up Derrick Rose with a legitimate low post player like Boozer made the Bulls championship contenders and not just a playoff team.
Boozer is one of the most skilled low post scorers in the league and his strength makes him a tough player to score on. Boozer draws a lot of fouls around the basket by attacking the rim without holding back and his turn around jump shot is impossible to guard.
Had Boozer played the beginning of the season, he surely would've been a lock to make the Eastern Conference all star team.
#6: Andrew Bynum (Los Angeles Lakers)
This was the toughest decision I had to make on the whole list. Pau Gasol could easily be the better of the two players, but when Bynum is healthy he is hands down the second best center in the league and that was just impossible to leave off.
Bynum is different than a Dwight Howard in that he is a huge body that plays the game fundamentally and uses his skill to score and play defense and not just his pure athleticism. Bynum has a nice hook shot and his strength allows him to get right under the rim for easy dunks. He is also very good at drawing fouls.
Lately, Bynum has become a defensive force. He's been rebounding the ball at an incredible rate and has even been blocking shots very well lately.
#5: Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Remember before when I said that Randolph was good for a double double almost every night? Well, Kevin Love is good for a double double 99 percent of the time.
Kevin Love goes after every single rebound. He is also the main scoring option on a depleted Timberwolves roster. Love is the most skilled big man in the league fundamentally. He has a nice hook shot, he's a great passer and the range on his jump shot extends all the way out to the three point line.
Love is going to be a great player for years to come and he's poised to get a fat contract when this one is up.
#4: Amar'e Stoudemire (New York Knicks)
STAT is another version of Andrea Bargnani and Brook Lopez...he is just on a whole other level offensively. On that side of the basketball, Amar'e is probably as good as they come.
Stoudemire is an explosive player with incredible athletic ability and he has spent the last couple of years developing a deadly jump shot. He scores most of his points utilizing his deadly mid range game and he has even hit a couple of three's this year at a high percentage.
Like Lopez and Bargnani, Stoudemire is a huge defensive and rebounding liability. This isn't because he can't do these things, it's because he lacks the desire to do them. Luckily for Stoudemire, the Knicks are winning ball games so he doesn't get the criticism he should for not playing hard on both sides of the court.
#3: LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trailblazers)
The most surprising player of the year in the NBA this season and in my opinion the most improved player has been LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge was a good player last season for Portland, but this season he has emerged as a serious MVP candidate.
Aldridge has straight up carried the Blazers this season with his dominant play and has them poised to fill a playoff slot in the tough Western Conference. Aldridge is a good rebounder, shot blocker and his offensive game is incredible to watch. He can bang in the post, but he also has a fade away, turn around jumper that he can hit almost anywhere out to right in front of the three point line.
Aldridge's height allows him to shoot over almost anybody and he has been taking advantage of that this season.
#2: Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks)
Not the conventional big man, but Dirk Nowitzki gets the job done for the Dallas Mavericks night in and night out. Possibly the best evidence for why Dirk is this high on the list is how poorly his team played when he went down with an injury earlier in the season.
Without Dirk on the court, the Mavericks could not win a game. They lacked a post player who could score and missed Dirk's ability to stretch the floor. Dirk is one of the best international players to ever touch an NBA court. He's an incredible shooter and he scores the ball efficiently.
Dirk has been an MVP candidate every year the last five years and nothing has changed this year. Dirk is easily deserving a spot this high on the list.
#1: Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic)
It shouldn't come as a surprise to any of you...I mean his name was in the title. Dwight Howard earns the top spot in the big man power rankings.
Howard is the most dominant player in the NBA and his presence on the court is more felt than any other player, including Kobe and LeBron. Dwight even being in the league caused other teams to trade to acquire size that can just hope to contain him.
Dwight is an athletic specimen unlike anybody else who has ever played in the league. He has incredible leaping ability to go along with great timing that allows him to block shots better than anybody else in the NBA. His offensive game is limited, but he still manages to put up 25+ points a night just dunking the ball. Dwight's size and athletic ability allow him to draw a lot of fouls and his free throw shooting has been improving throughout the season.
Dwight was the easiest player to find a spot for on this list and there is no doubt that he is the most intimidating paint threat in the league.