Ranking the Greatest NBA Power Forwards Since 2000

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2019

Ranking the Greatest NBA Power Forwards Since 2000

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    When considering the evolution of player roles in the NBA, no position has undergone a more drastic change since the turn of the millennium than power forward.

    As the league began to embrace three-pointers, paint-clogging 4s shifted to space-providing shooters. That change put the spotlight on Tim Duncan's patented bank shotKevin Garnett's deep jumper and Dirk Nowitzki's high-arcing three.

    And it helped shape the modern NBA.

    The following rankings of the top power forwards from the past two decades are subjective, but we've considered individual production and accolades, contributions to team success and advanced metrics such win shares (WS), value over replacement player (VORP) and player efficiency rating (PER).

    Only a player's production since the beginning of the 2000-01 season was taken into account here. Contributions before then are mentioned in career highlights but weren't measured.

Honorable Mentions

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Paul Millsap

    A second-round steal for the Utah Jazz in 2006, Millsap provided seven respectable years for the organization. His career began to flourish after he signed with the Atlanta Hawks in 2013, though. Millsap landed on four straight All-Star teams and earned a second-team All-Defensive honor during the 2015-16 campaign.


    Rasheed Wallace

    Beloved for "Ball Don't Lie" and remembered for his unbridled emotion, Wallace was a four-time All-Star during a fascinating 16-year career. He played for six teams, including a single game with the Atlanta Hawks in 2004. Wallace, who celebrated an NBA title on the Detroit Pistons in 2004, was among the earliest standout stretch 4s.


    David West

    West spent his first eight seasons with the New Orleans Hornets, earned two All-Star nods and set franchise records for points, rebounds and blocks. He then played four years on the Indiana Pacers before going on a deserved ring chase. After falling short with the San Antonio Spurs in 2015-16, West joined the Golden State Warriors and twice defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.

10. Elton Brand

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    DAVID ZALUBOWSKI/Associated Press

    Career Marks (1999-2016): Two-time All-Star, 2005-06 All-NBA, 1999-2000 Rookie of the Year, 15.9 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.7 BPG, 50.0 FG%, 20.5 PER, .151 WS/48

    Elton Brand was a double-double machine early in his career, recording exactly 300 of them from 2000-01 to 2006-07. During that stretch, only Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Shawn Marion had more.

    Unfortunately for Brand, a ruptured left Achilles in August 2007 ended his prime at 28 and altered the trajectory of his career.

    "I got a cadaver in mine," he told Ethan Strauss of The Athletic, explaining why his surgery didn't lead to a full recovery. "And the cadaver didn't have any hops."

    Nevertheless, he returned to play 452 games with the Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Mavericks, Hawks and Sixers again. Brand ranks 97th in all-time career points and 51st in rebounds.

9. Amar'e Stoudemire

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    Career Marks (2002-2016): Six-time All-Star, five-time All-NBA, 2002-03 Rookie of the Year, 18.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.2 BPG, 53.7 FG%, 21.8 PER, .169 WS/48

    The Phoenix Suns used the ninth overall pick in the 2002 draft on Amar'e Stoudemire, a high-flying high school forward who quickly adjusted to the NBA game. He averaged 13.5 points and 8.8 rebounds en route to Rookie of the Year honors.

    Superstardom followed close behind.

    Over his next six healthy seasons―not including his injury-shortened 2005-06 campaignStoudemire averaged 20-plus points and eight-plus rebounds each year. Though they lost each one, the Suns reached a trio of Western Conference Finals during that span.

    In the summer of 2010, Stoudemire signed with the New York Knicks as a free agent and rejoined former head coach Mike D'Antoni. But following a superb 25-point season in 2010-11, Stoudemire couldn't shake the injury bug throughout the remainder of his career.

    He retired six points shy of 16,000, putting him 112th on the all-time leaderboard.

8. LaMarcus Aldridge

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Career Marks (2006-Present): Seven-time All-Star, five-time All-NBA, 2014-15 FG leader, 19.6 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, 49.1 FG%, 20.9 PER, .157 WS/48

    LaMarcus Aldridge heard his name called second overall in the 2006 draft, but the Chicago Bulls immediately sent him to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Tyrus Thomas and Viktor Khyrapa.

    It's safe to say the Blazers crushed that trade.

    Across nine years in Portland, Aldridge became a perennial All-Star while blending huge volume and superb efficiency. He led the league in two-point field-goal attempts each season from 2012-13 through 2014-15, and he connected on 46.9 percent of those attempts.

    San Antonio signed Aldridge as a free agent in 2015, and he has continued showing off that trademark fadeaway from the left wing.

7. Draymond Green

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Career Marks (2012-Present): Three-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA, five-time All-Defensive Team, 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year, 2016-17 steals leader, 9.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 4.9 APG, 1.4 SPG, 1.1 BPG, 15.3 PER, .139 WS/48

    Other than his breakout 2015-16 season, Draymond Green hasn't exactly fit the description of a three-and-D player. Someone with a 32.3 career long-range clip doesn't quite merit that label.

    Green will have to settle for masterful defender instead.

    Since the stat's inception, Green has ranked no lower than 14th in ESPN's Defensive Real Plus-Minus, and he's had four top-four finishes. During Green's seven NBA seasons, only Andre Drummond, DeAndre Jordan and Paul George have accrued more defensive win shares.

    Although his emotional swings led to a few too many technical fouls on occasion, Green's energy proved immensely valuable as the Warriors won three titles and built a dynasty.

6. Kevin Love

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    Alex Goodlett/Associated Press

    Career Marks (2008-Present): Five-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA, 2010-11 Most Improved Player, 2010-11 rebounds leader, 18.3 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 2.3 APG, 37.0 3FG%, 21.9 PER, .179 WS/48

    During the first six seasons of his career, Kevin Love served as the leader of the Minnesota Timberwolves. In his final year with the organization, he filled the box score with averages of 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists.

    It's no wonder LeBron James wanted him as a teammate.

    With the All-Stars playing alongside each otherand Kyrie Irving for three seasonsCleveland won its first-ever NBA championship. Though a head injury limited Love's production in that NBA Finals, he was an invaluable piece of the Game 7 triumph.

    Lovewho has never recorded fewer than nine boards per game in a seasonhas secured the 21st-most rebounds since 2000-01. Through the 2018-19 campaign, he ranks 88th all time.

5. Anthony Davis

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Career Marks (2012-Present): Six-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA, three-time All-Defensive Team, three-time blocks leader, 23.7 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 2.1 APG, 2.4 BPG, 1.4 SPG, 51.7 FG%, 27.4 PER, .214 WS/48

    Following an encouraging but relatively tame rookie season, Anthony Davis emerged as a high-scoring, shot-blocking nightmare.

    Beginning in 2013-14, Davis has consistently averaged at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks each season. "The Brow" has showcased a level of all-around production most comparable to Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

    And Davis has barely even reached his prime.

    While he has made only two playoff appearances to date, Davis is certain to rise in the rankings as an increase in postseason success complements his Hall of Fame-type production.

4. Blake Griffin

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    Career Marks (2010-Present): Six-time All-Star, five-time All-NBA, 2010-11 Rookie of the Year, 21.9 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 4.5 APG, 34.2 3FG%, 22.2 PER, .171 WS/48

    Despite being selected No. 1 overall in the 2009 draft, Blake Griffin didn't start his career until 2010 because of a left knee injury.

    He was worth the wait.

    Early in his career, Griffin threw down highlight-reel dunks on a regular basis for the Los Angeles Clippers and made a sizable impact as a rebounder. In the years since, Griffin expanded his shooting range and efficiency while showing off tremendous passing skills even before his trade to the Detroit Pistons in January 2018.

    Heading into his 10th season, Griffin has morphed from a spring-loaded athlete to a reliable high-volume three-point shooter who averages more than five assists per game.

3. Dirk Nowitzki

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    Career Marks (1998-2019): 2006-07 MVP, 2010-11 Finals MVP, 14-time All-Star, 12-time All-NBA, 20.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.4 APG, 38.0 3FG%, 22.4 PER, .193 WS/48

    What's the result when you combine a 7-footer with a near-unblockable fadeaway jumper? One legendary German.

    Dirk Nowitzki has cemented his place as one of the greatest shooters in NBA history. He arrived as the No. 9 pick of the 1998 draft and became a perennial All-Star by his fourth season. That trademark shot frustrated defenders for two decades, yet Dirk described it simply.

    "I came up with a shot where I just have to basically lean back, don't be athletic at all and just hoist it up," he said in 2014.

    Nowitzki helped the Mavericks defeat the Miami Heat in the first year of the "Big Three" era that featured LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, averaging 26 points in the 2011 Finals to win Finals MVP.

2. Kevin Garnett

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    Gus Ruelas/Associated Press

    Career Marks (1995-2016): 2003-04 MVP, 2007-08 Defensive Player of the Year, 15-time All-Star, nine-time All-NBA, 12-time All-Defensive Team, four-time rebounds leader, 17.8 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.4 BPG, 1.3 SPG, 49.7 FG%, 22.7 PER, .182 WS/48

    Although he wasn't the first player to skip college, Kevin Garnett kicked off the mid-90s prep-to-pro pipeline. The Timberwolves took a risk on him at No. 5 overall, but he backed up the hype as a well-rounded offensive player and superb defender.

    Garnett averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds and four assists nine times in his career, including seven straight times after 2000. In that span, nobody else has accomplished it more than three times.

    That streak ended for good reason, though.

    After a decade of playoff misses and early exits, Garnett joined the Boston Celtics via trade and immediately won an NBA title. He won Defensive Player of the Year in that same 2007-08 season.

    Garnett later returned to Minnesota and retired with the T-Wolves.

1. Tim Duncan

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    Career Marks (1997-2016): Two-time MVP, three-time Finals MVP, 15-time All-Star, 15-time All-NBA, 15-time All-Defensive Team, 1997-98 Rookie of the Year, 19.0 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, 2.2 BPG, 50.6 FG%, 24.2 PER, .209 WS/48

    The only legitimate discussion about if Tim Duncan deserves this No. 1 spot is whether he was actually a power forward or center. In reality, that's a sidebar to a stellar career.

    From the moment he stepped on a professional floor, the "Big Fundamental" was a first-team All-NBA player.

    Duncan was the centerpiece of the Spurs' dynasty, winning a total of five championships, including four after 2000. He thrived offensively and ranks 14th in career scoring but also dominated on the other end, collecting the fifth-most blocks and more than 1,000 steals.

    Regardless of whether he's a center or power forward, Duncan is a definite first-ballot Hall of Famer and top-15 player of all time.


    Stats from Basketball Reference. Follow Bleacher Report NBA Writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.