Ranking Each NBA Team's Frontcourt from Worst to First

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2011

Ranking Each NBA Team's Frontcourt from Worst to First

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    The frontcourt combination of Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler was a critical component of the Dallas Mavericks' NBA championship run in 2011.

    Flashy point guards are all the rage right now, but there still seems to be dominant big men in the middle of almost every championship team since Jordan's Bulls (Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, Pau Gasol and Nowitzki).

    Some would define the frontcourt as the center and both forwards. For the purposes of this slideshow, the frontcourt will be the center, power forward and the players who back up those positions from the bench.

    Here's how all 30 teams stand in terms of frontcourt talent as the rosters are presently constituted (obviously, there will be some player movement if the lockout ends).

     

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30. Cleveland Cavaliers

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    The only effective frontcourt player Cleveland had last year was 35-year-old Antawn Jamison; he averaged 18 points and 6.7 rebounds a game.  

    And don't tell me about J.J. Hickson. His collecting numbers for the Cavaliers are reminiscent of a looter in a riot, and 13 points a game isn't that exciting in any situation.

29. Detroit Pistons

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    The Pistons are a complete mess right now, and the frontcourt is a big part of that. Greg Monroe has some potential, but the roster's pretty weak for big men after that (Chris Wilcox, Ben Wallace, Jason Maxiell and Charlie Villanueva?).

28. Kwame Brown

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    Kwame Brown and Boris Diaw.

    Yes, that was Charlotte's starting frontcourt for 50 games.

    Tyrus Thomas was OK off the bench, but the Bobcats desperately need 2011 lottery pick Bismack Biyombo to pan out.

27. Philadelphia 76ers

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    At 15 points and 8.3 rebounds a game, Elton Brand had a decent year, but Philadelphia didn't get a lot of production out of the center position.

    Spencer Hawes started 81 games, but didn't get much of a chance to perform; Doug Collins only played him 21 minutes a game.

26. Toronto Raptors

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    If Reggie Evans had stayed healthy, this frontcourt actually would have been quite productive. Andrea Bargnani is a very versatile offensive player, and Evans would have covered his deficiencies as a rebounder. (He averaged 11.5 rebounds over 30 games.)

    Amir Johnson and Ed Davis were both decent, but not great in Evans' absence.

    Bargnani could actually be one of the league's best centers if he could simply improve his rebounding—a skill that is largely based on desire.

25. Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Kevin Love is one of the best power forwards in the NBA, but Darko Milicic is one of the worst centers (sorry, David Kahn).

    Anthony Randolph is very talented, but didn't get many opportunities to show it last year; he averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds in three starts.

24. Sacramento Kings

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    If DeMarcus Cousins can get his head on straight, he could be a very good big man for years to come. He averaged nearly 14 points and nine rebounds a game as a rookie.

    It will be interesting to see how the team integrates the overrated, but still decent, J.J. Hickson next season.

23. Phoenix Suns

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    After having one of the NBA's best power forwards in Amar'e Stoudemire for years, the Suns saw a significant drop-off in interior play this year.

    Channing Frye was decent, but any promise for the future in this frontcourt lies with Marcin Gortat—even that's not much, considering Gortat is already 27.

22. Indiana Pacers

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    The Pacers have a very promising young frontcourt, which is why I think it would be a bad idea for them to throw money at Carl Landry or David West.

    Tyler Hansbrough is extremely underrated (18 points and nine rebounds per 36 minutes), and 7'2" Roy Hibbert showed flashes of great potential last year.

21. JaVale McGee

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    JaVale McGee is an extremely promising young defender, and Andray Blatche was a fairly effective forward, despite the fact that he's often a bit of a headache.

20. New Jersey Nets

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    With one of the most underrated forwards in the league (Kris Humphries) and a young center on the precipice of stardom (Brook Lopez), the Nets' frontcourt was very solid after the team acquired Deron Williams to get them the ball.

19. Golden State Warriors

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    A lot of people say David Lee didn't pan out for the Warriors, but I'd say averaging 16.5 points while playing with Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis is pretty impressive. He also led the team in rebounding at 9.8 a game.

    Golden State has a huge hole at center though. I think Dwight Howard would be a great fit for this team.

18. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Remember how excited the media were for the Thunder when the Kendrick Perkins trade went down?  

    What you see in this picture is all he's ever been good for. He's really good at fouling people.

    Serge Ibaka has a lot of talent, and Nick Collison is one of the smartest role-players in the NBA, but playing Perkins really decreases the value of this frontcourt.

17. Milwaukee Bucks

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    Andrew Bogut is one of the best centers in the NBA, but could use a little more help from the power forward slot. Drew Gooden isn't as bad as people make him out to be, but he only played 35 games.

16. Miami Heat

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    Chris Bosh is a very good power forward, but Miami may legitimately have the worst starting center in the NBA. I honestly think I could beat him in a game of one-on-one.

    That was one of the team's biggest problems against the Mavericks in the 2011 Finals. Miami would be a much more balanced (and potentially better) team if they traded LeBron James for Dwight Howard. Neither team will even entertain that notion though.

15. Houston Rockets

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    If only Yao Ming could have stayed healthy, the Rockets would have had arguably the best frontcourt in the league.

    Scola averaged a career-best 18.3 points and was once again comfortably over eight rebounds a game. He's a very skilled, gritty player and would have been a perfect complement to Yao's finesse game.

    Unfortunately, Yao had a tragic string of injuries, and the Rockets really struggled at center (though Chuck Hayes performed well in the position for a 6'6" player).

14. New York Knicks

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    If D'Antoni didn't even pretend to care about defense and returned Amar'e Stoudemire to center where he played a lot of minutes in Phoenix, a frontcourt of Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony would be much higher on this list.

    Instead, the Knicks sent out a few different subpar centers (Turiaf, Mozgov, Jeffries) over the course of the year.

13. Boston Celtics

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    Even as he approaches his late 30's, Kevin Garnett has managed to keep the Boston Celtics' frontcourt fairly—and during his first season in Boston, extremely—effective.

    He's never had a decent center to play with (and do not talk to me about the game's most overrated player, Kendrick Perkins), and yet he's still put up solid numbers with no one to take the pressure off him down low.

    Over the last couple years though, Garnett has visibly slowed down. He needs a good low-post running mate, and if the Celtics can land Dwight Howard in 2012, they could be title favorites once again.

12. New Orleans Hornets

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    Emeka Okafor and David West made for a very solid frontcourt combination prior to West's torn ACL. After he went down, the Hornets found a decent replacement when they traded for Carl Landry.

11. Los Angeles Clippers

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    This frontcourt has the potential to be one of the NBA's very best as early as next year, and not just because of Blake Griffin (though he's obviously the main reason).

    DeAndre Jordan looked promising as the starter during Chris Kaman's absence (seven points and seven rebounds a game, and 10 points and 10 rebounds per 36 minutes).

    And Blake Griffin could be the league's best power forward in a few years; I'm anticipating a pretty solid rivalry between he and Kevin Love.

10. San Antonio Spurs

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    Age is officially catching up with the San Antonio Spurs. For the first time in his career, Tim Duncan failed to average a double-double, and Antonio McDyess passed his prime 10 years ago.

    DeJuan Blair is a bright spot, but Gregg Popovich only played him 21 minutes a game.

9. Utah Jazz

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    Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap were quite effective together. Unfortunately, they were tragically undersized.

    Derrick Favors added a little more size and athleticism, and could be a big part of Utah's future.

8. Atlanta Hawks

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    The combination of Josh Smith and Al Horford was exciting, athletic and efficient, but ultimately undersized. Smith is a small forward playing power forward, and Horford is a power forward playing center.

    Now, there's talk of Josh Smith potentially being traded. If Atlanta can pair Horford with a legitimate center, this frontcourt could be a bit tougher.

7. Portland Trail Blazers

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    Tons of people say LaMarcus Aldridge is the game's most underrated big man (so does that make it untrue?), and Marcus Camby is still rebounding with the best of 'em, even at 37.

6. Denver Nuggets

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    The Nuggets had solid depth and production from last year's frontcourt. Nene, Kenyon Martin, Al Harrington and Chris Andersen were all strong in their roles.

    This frontcourt could look much different next year.

5. Chicago Bulls

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    This frontcourt is high on the list because of solid starters and great depth behind them.  

    Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer can be very good when they're healthy, and Taj Gibson and Omer Asik are two of the game's best backup big men. You could even make a case for either of them as starters.

4. Memphis Grizzlies

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    Last year may have been the final one they were together for, but Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol were one of the best interior combos in the league.

    Randolph averaged a mind-bogglingly quiet 20 points and 12 rebounds a game, while Gasol went for 12 points and seven boards a game (15 and 11 during the postseason).

    The Grizzlies already have a ton of money invested in Mike Conley, Rudy Gay and Randolph. They may not be able to afford to bring Gasol back next year.

3. Orlando Magic

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    Dwight Howard is the best center in the NBA, and Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson are both very good, young power forwards.

    At 22.9 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks a game, Howard had the best season of his career.  

    If the team had started and played Ryan Anderson solid minutes, this could have been the league's best frontcourt. He averaged 17 points, nine rebounds and a block per 36 minutes, and the only bench player with a better Player Efficiency Rating was Lamar Odom (who actually started 30 games).

2. Los Angeles Lakers

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    Before the regular season (and later, the playoffs) began, many thought the Lakers' frontcourt would be a huge factor in their third straight title.

    Now it appears the team may not have integrated their talented frontcourt trio of Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom the way they should have (tough to argue with Phil Jackson, though).

    As Kobe's body continues to slow (and break) down, they'll need to rely more heavily on their seven-footers, particularly Bynum.

1. Dallas Mavericks

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    As two players over seven feet tall who perform their roles to perfection, Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler represent what is easily the best starting frontcourt in the NBA.

    They have decent depth as well, with another seven-footer at backup center in Brendan Haywood and a slew of versatile guys who can play power forward (Shawn Marion, Brian Cardinal, Peja Stojakovic and Ian Mahinmi).