Top 6 NBA Power Forwards in 2013-14
The power forward position continues to evolve in the NBA with teams going small using players like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Josh Smith. Because of this, it’s easy to overlook how many quality true fours are still dominating the league.
While some of the league’s younger players may be climbing the rankings, it’s an older veteran that tops the list.
The Top 6 Power Forwards:
2012-13 Stats: 18.3 ppg, 2.3 apg, 14.0 rpg, 18.0 PER
Kevin Love is sixth on the list (with upside). His injury-plagued 2012-13 season, playing just 18 games, set him back but if he can return to his 2011-12 numbers of 26 points and 13.3 rebounds a game, the Wolves could be a playoff team in the West. The 6’10 forward broke his hand doing knuckle pushups before the season — then re-broke it in January. One key to Love’s success during the lockout-shortened season was his 82.4 percent accuracy at the line on a steady 8.4 free throw attempts a game. Minnesota is a very different team with Love playing at an All-Star level.
2012-13 Stats: 15.4 ppg, 1.4 apg, 11.2 rpg, 15.4 PER
The Grizzlies were one of the toughest teams in the league last season with their power bigs of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Randolph is a bully in the post, but also has a decent touch on his face-up jumper. While his 46 percent shooting from the field isn’t necessarily dominant, he bangs the offensive glass especially well at 4.1 a game. Randolph isn’t necessarily a tremendous defender, but he works well within the stingy Memphis team concept. The Grizzlies gave up just 89.3 points a game last season. Randolph’s old-school game made him an All-Star last year and the burly power forward helped take his team to the Western Conference Finals.
2012-13 Stats: 17.3 ppg, 2.5 apg, 6.8 rpg, 19.9 PER
It may be easy to forget about Dirk Nowitzki after the Mavericks’ forgettable 2012-13 season but the former NBA MVP played just 53 games after October knee surgery. Nowitzki helped push the Mavs to a 41-41 record, which would have been just a bit better were he healthy for all 82. Dallas missed out the playoffs by just four games. The additions of Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis, Devin Harris, DeJuan Blair and Samuel Dalembert should help make the Mavericks more competitive but really it’s about Nowitzki. He’s an NBA champion and the reason why Dallas will be a threat this season.
2012-13 Stats: 18.0 ppg, 3.7 apg, 8.3 rpg, 22.4 PER
Blake Griffin could easily be higher on this list as the primary inside player on a powerful Clippers team. While he’s most famous for his thunderous dunks, Griffin’s game is relatively well rounded — he passes well, has improved at the free throw line to 66 percent and shown strides as a team defender. The 6’10 forward needs to further develop his jump shot, but his agility and athleticism makes Griffin an extremely difficult cover. The Clippers have added shooters this offseason, which should make it even harder for teams to send help when trying to guard Griffin.
2012-13 Stats: 21.1 ppg, 2.6 apg, 9.1 rpg, 20.5 PER
The Trail Blazers just didn’t have much to work with last year. LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard carried a team that was surprisingly competitive (at least until the final stretch of season). Aldridge can play in the post or hit the jump shot. The Blazers have added on players like Robin Lopez, Thomas Robinson, Dorell Wright, C.J. McCollum and Earl Watson. While they’re not quite a playoff lock, a strong year from Aldridge could push Portland into the top eight in the Western Conference.
2012-13 Stats: 17.8 ppg, 2.7 apg, 9.9 rpg, 24.5 PER
The Spurs weren’t supposed to advance to the NBA Finals. Tim Duncan shouldn’t still be this good after 16 seasons but he is. While he may not dominate the San Antonio offense like he used too, Duncan has adapted his game to the times. He’s carrying less weight and relying on his teammates while still putting up tremendous numbers. Of the six power forwards on the list, Duncan is still the best defender among the bunch. The 37-year-old forward blocked 2.6 blocks a game this past season — the last time he hit that mark was during the 2004-05 season. So much for getting old.
David West, Indiana Pacers
2012-13 Stats: 17.1 ppg, 2.9 apg, 7.7 rpg, 20.2 PER
West has never been a flashy player; he’s just good. The Pacers would not have gotten to the Eastern Conference Finals, giving the Miami HEAT a serious scare, without West. He was the missing piece that pushed Indiana from an also ran to contender.
Kevin Garnett, Brooklyn Nets
2012-13 Stats: 14.8 ppg, 2.3 apg, 7.8 rpg, 19.3 PER
Garnett is still one of the best defensive power forwards of all-time. Moving from the Boston Celtics to the Nets, Garnett will return to his natural position after moonlighting at center. The Nets have tremendous depth, which may not lead to great individual numbers for Garnett, but he’ll be the glue for what should be an Eastern Conference power.
Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder
2012-13 Stats: 13.2 ppg, 0.5 apg, 7.7 rpg, 19.4 PER
While Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook carry the Thunder’s offense, Ibaka is the primary defensive presence on one of the best teams in the league. Last year, Ibaka blocked 3.0 shots a game while improving his points per game by 4.1 over his 2011-12 numbers. If this list was based on defensive impact at the power forward position, Ibaka would be at or near the top.
David Lee, Golden State Warriors
2012-13 Stats: 18.5 ppg, 3.5 apg, 11.2 rpg, 19.2 PER
The Warriors were successful in the playoffs despite Lee going down with a hip injury. However, don’t overlook how consistent Lee was last year for Golden State. Lee shot 51.9 percent from the field, 79.7 percent from the line and dished out more assists than any other power forward on this list (save Blake Griffin).
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
2012-13 Stats: 13.5 ppg, 1.0 apg, 8.2 rpg, 21.8 PER
Perhaps it’s premature to put Davis on this list, but he’s an emerging force at the position at just 20 years old. The former Kentucky forward played in just 64 games last year but on a team that simply wasn’t very good. With a year’s experience, along with the additions of Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans (and a healthy Eric Gordon), Davis should make a leap in his second season.
Note: Pau Gasol, Al Horford and Chris Bosh are considered centers at this time by HOOPSWORLD. Smaller “power forwards” like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony were included on the small forward list. Finally, Amar’e Stoudemire was injured for much of last year, but he may resurge for the New York Knicks this coming season.