NBA: Ranking Dirk Nowitzki and the Top 15 Power Forwards in the NBA Today
While compiling my list of the top 15 power forwards currently in the NBA, it hit me pretty quickly that there are surely a lot of quality players at this position.
When I ranked the top 15 players regardless of position in a previous article, I had 6 power forwards on the list.
This is a position where we truly have the entire spectrum; seasoned veterans, players in the prime of their career and upcoming youngsters who will be taking the league by storm for years to come. And trust me, it made making this list pretty difficult. I hated having to leave some players out of it.
We'll start at no. 15.
15. David Lee, Warriors
As the third option behind Monta Ellis and Steph Curry, he still averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds on an offensive minded team. Everyone saw that he was a double-double machine in New York and then stopped watching him after he left.
Unfortunately, Lee doesn't play any defense. But it's not like anyone else on the Warriors does. Maybe Mark Jackson will change that.
Is he worth his contract? Probably not. But he's still a good player, and he earns a spot on the list.
14. Luis Scola, Rockets
Scola has unfairly gotten the label of just being a flop and a hustle player. Anderson Varejao deserves that criticism—Scola does not.
He has quietly put together a nice NBA career so far and has missed just eight games over the past four seasons. With Yao basically out of the picture over the past couple of seasons, Scola has been the best big man on the Rockets.
He's not flashy, but he gets the job done. Expect at least 17 points and 8 rebounds.
13. David West, Hornets
Chris Paul's main wingman has been a very productive player for the Hornets over the past six seasons. When he and CP3 are both healthy, they're a potentially dangerous team. Too bad that's been a major problem recently.
West has hovered around 19 points and 8 boards on 50% shooting since he has become a full time player. He has nice skill for a big man and has been an excellent compliment to his point guard superstar.
Unfortunately for the Hornets, West is now a free agent. If he leaves, we'll get to see if he really is as good as the numbers say, or if he has just benefited from being with a great player.
12. Kevin Garnett, Celtics
KG has been a defensive force his entire career as well as being an excellent offensive weapon. He revolutionized the culture of the Boston Celtics when he came to town and immediately was able to win an NBA championship along with fellow All-Stars Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
Like I said, however, Garnett's play has deteriorated, and his health has been an issue over the past few years.
11. Tim Duncan, Spurs
Tim Duncan will go down as one of the greatest to ever play the game of basketball.
Like KG, though, his age has caught up with him, and he is not at all the player that he used to be.
In his prime, The Big Fundamental was winning championships and completely dominating his position on both ends of the floor. I mean, have you ever looked at his numbers? If you haven't, take a look. I think you'll be impressed.
Duncan's role on the Spurs has diminished with his playing time. At his age, he can't carry a team the way he used to.
10. Carlos Boozer, Bulls
Carlos Boozer is injured way too often to earn a higher spot on this list.
He's not a great defender by any measure, but he rebounds very well and can score in the low post.
2008-09 was the only season where he didn't shoot at least 50 percent. He still shot 49 percent, but he only played in 37 games.
His playoff performances were worrying for an up and coming Bulls team that needs someone to take some pressure off of Rose.
9. Al Jefferson, Jazz
Turns out the Wolves actually got a pretty darn good player in return when they dealt KG to Boston. And no, I'm not talking about Gerald Green.
Al Jefferson turned out to be one of the better low post scorers around. In his first season with Minnesota, Jefferson averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds. Nothing shabby about that.
He has since been dealt to the Utah Jazz, where he has not slowed down.
He averaged 19 points, 10 boards and 2 blocks this past season. Point in case: Jefferson is a force in the low post.
8. Kevin Love, Timberwolves
When the Wolves decided to trade Al Jefferson, did they really believe Kevin Love would perform this well?
Love put up good numbers in his first two seasons but in a smaller role with less minutes. This season, it's safe to say he took the next step.
He averaged 20 points and 15 rebounds per game. Oh yeah, and he shot 47 percent from the field, 42 percent from three and 85 percent from the free throw line. Not shabby.
Love is an outstanding rebounder who uses his body extremely well and fights for every board.
Do I think he's a 20 point per game scorer on a title contender? Probably not. Some of his stats may be a bit inflated due to the fact that his team is flat out terrible.
Nonetheless, Love is an excellent player.
7. Blake Griffin, Clippers
Looks like the Clippers might have actually done something right when they drafted this guy.
In his "rookie" season, Blake Griffin averaged 23 points and 12 rebounds to go along with all of his highlight dunks. To say that he is a freak athlete might actually be an understatement.
Griffin still has areas to improve on, including his defensive effort and mid-range offensive game.
But when it comes to getting to the rim and finishing, he is spectacular. And he's probably only to get better. Imagine if he can develop a reliable jump shot? The Clippers might actually be good some time soon!
6. Chris Bosh, Heat
For all the criticism that Chris Bosh may receive in Miami, the fact that he is an elite player is lost.
As the third option, he still averaged 19 points and 8 rebounds in his first season in South Beach. There was certainly an adjustment period for Bosh, but he became a very important part of the Heat's success.
He has been accused of being "soft" due to his lack of tough defense, rebounding lapses from time to time and his reluctance to play injured. This is understandable. His defense can use improvement and he's not one to mix it up with the big boys under the hoop.
But Bosh is an outstanding offensive weapon. We all saw in Toronto that he can be the focal point of an offense. And although he is the third best player on his team, he is still a very good player.
5. Zach Randolph, Grizzlies
We crack the top five with Zach Randolph, the veteran leader of the young Grizzlies team that surprised us during this year's playoffs.
Z-Bo has been putting up big numbers for a long time now in various places. Problem is, his off-court issues and lack of team success overshadowed his individual performances.
He is not athletic at all and can hardly jump, but he always finds a way to score. He makes up for a lack of athleticism with brute strength and toughness. He knows how to get under the hoop and score.
Also, it seems that he has finally changed his ways a bit. Well, until this...
4. Lamarcus Aldridge, Blazers
Lamarcus Aldridge is a heck of a player, and it's time for people to start taking notice.
Coach Nate McMillan has said that Aldridge is the anchor on both ends of the floor for his Portland Trail Blazers.
He is a quiet guy who takes care of his business and plays as hard as he can, which may be why he doesn't get recognized like he should. He's a stud power forward and you could definitely build a team around him.
With Brandon Roy's injury problems, Aldridge has stepped up and become the go-to-guy on his team. He averaged 22 points and 9 rebounds this past season as he took his team to the playoffs, where they lost to the eventual champions.
3. Pau Gasol, Lakers
Despite his struggles in this year's postseason, Pau Gasol is still a great player with an established record of success.
Gasol averaged 19 points, 10 rebounds and 1.6 blocks this past regular season, and has been a great compliment to Kobe Bryant since he arrived from the Memphis trade.
He is one of the most skilled players in the league, particularly close to the rim. More importantly, he has pretty much shed the label of being soft after winning championships by toughing out rebounds and scoring key points.
Although his brother got a lot of attention in the playoffs, make no doubt about it—Pau is the best basketball player in his family. He's also one of the best basketball players in the world.
2. Amar'e Stoudemire
Coming in at number two is Amar'e Stoudemire, one of the most dynamic offensive players around.
People wondered how he would do without Steve Nash after STAT opted to join the New York Knicks, but he certainly produced. He averaged 25 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks per game this season, although his efficiency did take a bit of a dip.
Stoudemire can score off the dribble, get to the rim, finish in traffic, shoot mid-range and now even make the occasional three pointer. Guarding him is certainly a handful.
His defense could improve, as he often looks to only go for the blocked shot as opposed to bodying up and playing solid one-on-one defense.
1. Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks
At number one is everyone's new favorite player, because he beat the Miami Heat! Jump on the bandwagon, everyone!
In all seriousness, the league hasn't ever seen a player like Dirk. At seven feet tall, he has the ability to shoot from distance, take you off the dribble or take advantage of you in the post. When he gets his game working, he is as close to unguardable as there is.
And if there were questions about his ability to be a winner in the clutch and his toughness, I think it's fair to say that those have been answered.
He has always put up great numbers, but many just thought he was a soft player who could shoot jump shots over smaller players.
Well, now we know. He is one of the best players in the world, and the best power forward in the league today.
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