Top Ten Power Forwards in the NBA

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Throughout NBA history, the Power Forward position has been the weakest position out of the five. The position has never been particularly strong because the four were basically a second center so the most talented big men would usually play center. But as the NBA has transitioned to small lineups, many true small forwards have moved down to the power forward and brought tons of talent with them. Because of this, the power forward has become one of the most talent-rich positions in the NBA, which only makes the ranking more exciting. For this list, only active players in the 2019-2020 NBA season count, so a player like Blake Griffin. won’t count. Without further ado, the top ten power forwards in the NBA.

10. Julius Randle

19.5 PPG|3.1 APG|7.4 RPG|.492 eFG%|.069 DEF WS|21-45 Record

After being drafted 7th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2014, Lakers fans placed huge expectations on him to be the next Laker star after Kobe retired. But after suffering a horrible leg injury in his first game with the purple and gold, followed by three mediocre seasons, Magic Johnson didn’t pick up his option and he signed with the Pelicans. In New Orleans, Julius had a breakout season in which he averaged 21 PPG and earned a big contract with the Knicks last summer. In New York, he hasn’t been as good as he was in New Orleans, but he is still basically the same, using the same skillset. Julius plays basically like a Zion Williamson Lite. He is undersized for his position but is very athletic and strong so he can get inside and finish. Randle is also a good ball-handler for the position, so he can easily get to the rim. Like Zion, Julius is a very bad shooter but Julius is even worse than Zion. He also isn’t very efficient which is odd for someone of his playstyle. Also like Zion, Julius has lots of potential on the defensive end, but he isn’t using it and there isn’t that much promise considering he has already played six seasons in the league. Overall, Julius Randle is a good player but has lots of weaknesses and is the definition of a player with empty stats. However, his raw talent does at least land him at 10 in the list of top ten power forwards in the NBA.

9. Kevin Love

17.6 PPG|3.2 APG|9.8 RPG|.550 eFG%|.031 DEF WS|19-46 Record

2016 NBA champion Kevin Love has seen a massive decline in relevance since his arrival in Cleveland. On his prior team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kevin Love was an MVP level player. Love could score at will from all three levels, in particular in the post, and he was the best rebounder in the league. But just because K Love isn’t as good as he used to be doesn’t mean he sucks. In fact, Kevin Love is still a great player. Kevin still retains the skills that made him elite in Minnesota, but they are now better adapted to the modern game. He still shoots lots of midrange shots but doesn’t post up as much as used to. Kevin has also improved his three-point shooting since arriving Cleveland, which is super valuable considering he can also be a player who can pop out to the three-point line instead of rolling in a pick and roll situation. Kevin also isn’t the monster rebounder he used to be, but he is still great at rebounding. Kevin’s biggest problem as a player is his defense. He isn’t a very good rim protector, and he definitely cannot stay with guards on the perimeter. I think that Kevin would benefit from playing with a great perimeter player who set him up in the pick and roll and can hit him for open threes in the corner, but if he stays in Cleveland, I think it’s unlikely that he every plays with another player on the level of Kyrie Irving and LeBron James again. Overall, I think Kevin Love is still a great player in 2020, but a player like Love just can’t be that impactful in the modern game. Even if Love’s old skills returned to him, I don’t think he would be a superstar again, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be a great player as a third or fourth option on a championship-contending team. With all of this being said, he lands at 9 in the list of the top power forwards in the NBA.

8. John Collins

21.6 PPG|1.5 APG|10.1 RPG|.632 eFNG%|.066 DEF WS|20-47 Record

Former 19th overall pick John Collins is truly the most important player to the Hawks rebuild. Over the past couple of years, John Collins has become an elite player in some ways but still has lots of room to improve. John Collins is an extremely athletic player, so his best asset as a player is his lob finishing. He’s become the second-best lob finisher in the NBA, which is super important for when he is the roller in the pick and roll next to Trae Young. John Collins overall is a great pick and roll player for another reason because he has the sneaky ability to pop. He has been shooting 40% from behind the arc on 3.6 attempts per game, which is incredible but I would like it if he shot threes more. Because most of John Collins points come out of the pick and roll, John is one of the most efficient players in the NBA, which is great but again I want him to increase his volume. I think one of two areas where John would benefit from improving in is his post-up game. If he could add a post-up game and become a player who can create his own shot next Trae Young I think that that would be a huge step in the Hawks rebuild. But the more important area I want John to improve in is his defense. Right now he isn’t much better than a liability which is a shame because he has so much potential on that end. Standing six foot nine with a massive vertical leap, he has an insane amount of potential to be an incredible rim protector and he has the athleticism to be the kind of guy who can switch onto guards in the pick and roll. If John Collins can improve on all of his weaknesses then he can definitely move up on this list but for now he fits perfectly at number eight.

7. Danilo Gallinari

19.2 PPG|2.0 APG|5.4 RPG|.549 eFG%|.069 DEF WS|42-26 Record

Former Los Angeles Clipper Danilo Gallinari has become one of my favorite players in the NBA over the past couple of years. Gallo isn’t a super impactful player but he fills the role of what his team the Thunder needs most. A designated player who can score at all three levels. Playing next to playmakers like Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander he can very easily get open off-ball and create open shots. He can also score off the dribble at the rim or in the midrange which can be very useful when the main two scorers and playmakers on the team are off. Danilo isn’t any kind of playmaker and definitely not any kind of defender which honestly isn’t ideal because the Thunder lack wing defense but that problem isn’t as bad now that Andre Roberson is back. Overall, Danilo Gallinari is a great player but isn’t any higher on this list because he isn’t a really high impact player.

6. Kristaps Porzingis

20.0 PPG|1.8 APG|9.5 RPG|.498 eFG%|.098 DEF WS|41-30 Record

The best Latvian basketball player in world history Kristaps Porzingis has one of the most diverse skillsets that has ever been seen out of someone of his height. The Unicorn stands seven foot three but somehow, his main skill is shooting. Porzingis is an elite three-point shooter who is capable of launching from almost any distance moving or standing still. What’s so important about that is that because of his massive height teams often have to but their tallest player on Porzingis so a rim protector gets moved out of the paint which can leave driving lanes open for Luka Doncic to make magic happen. But Porzingis isn’t just a floor spacer. Porzingis can move off-ball and make a slow center follow him around screens. Porzingis can also handle the ball a little bit and get to the rim where he can finish. I wish that coach Carlisle would allow Kristaps to post up more where he scores in the top 25th percentile, but its not a deal-breaker that he usually doesn’t post up. Kristaps also provides lots of value on the defensive end where he is an elite rim protector and is capable of switching onto guards but definitely not a good perimeter defender. Putting all of this together Kristaps Porzingis isn’t higher on this list because he isn’t he just isn’t a high enough impact player but he is the perfect co-star for Luka Doncic and still an elite power forward in 2020.

5. Zion Williamson

22.4 PPG|2.1 APG|6.2 RPG|.597 eFG%|.109 DEF WS|29-39 Record

Most recent first overall pick Zion Williamson is truly one of the most unique talents the NBA has ever seen. After having an incredibly hyped season at Duke where he won the national player of the year, he was drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans first overall. Coming into the league, Zion was expected to do great things but he sadly got injured missing a majority of the season. However, when Zion made his debut, the whole league instantly took notice, because Zion proved to be even better than he was expected to be. Zion is basically an automatic scorer, being able to bully his way inside and finish with a soft touch, and if he misses there is still a high chance he gets fouled. Zion definitely needs to improve as a foul shooter but that hopefully will come with age. Zion would benefit from straight-up just shooting from longer ranges more, which I also hope will come with age. Something I’m more confident he will improve at his defense, which right now is less than ideal but because of Zion’s massive vertical one day I believe he could become an elite rim protector. What I think Zion would benefit most from is more playtime, where he can develop some of his weaker skills and show off his already incredible assets, and one day with a little work I believe Zion should become a top-three player on this list, but for now, he lands at 5 on the list of the top power forwards in the NBA.

4. Jayson Tatum

23.3 PPG|3.0 APG|7.0 RPG|.523 eFG%|.149 DEF WS|45-23 Record

First-time all-star Jayson Tatum has been having the best season of his career so far. In his rookie year, he had a good season in which he finished third in rookie of the year voting and had an incredible playoff run in which he leads a Kyrie and Gordon Haywardless Celtics team to game 7 of the eastern conference finals, but he just didn’t have the experience to dethrone the king of the east. Following such promising rookie season, the expectations for Tatum were off the charts, but he took lots of inefficient midrange shots and his defense wasn’t as elite as it was supposed to be. But coming into this year, Jayson improved quite a bit. He started to turn those midrange shots into threes and started attacking the basket out of the pick and roll which upped his scoring a lot. Jayson also started to use his natural length and athleticism to become one of the best defenders in the NBA. Throughout most of the year, Tatum kept up his production, playing well enough to make the all-star team, but in March something clicked. He started average 29 PPG and his defense truly reached elite levels, and this doesn’t seem to be a fluke, because with the exception of one game his production has stayed consistent in the bubble. I do think that Jayson would benefit from becoming a better passer out of the pick and roll but he doesn’t really need to rush considering he’s only 22. Overall, Jayson Tatum is one of the best power forwards in the NBA with the potential to become the best.

3. Pascal Siakam

23.3 PPG|3.5 APG|7.5 RPG|.515 eFG%|.167 DEF WS|49-18 Record

Reigning the most improved player Pascal Siakam might be the first player in NBA history to win the award twice. Following the departure of Kawhi Leonard, someone was asked to step up and fill the role of being “The Guy” and Pascal was the one who stepped up, and he has done so well that somehow the Raptors have been better than they were before Kawhi left. This is mostly because of the many role players that have made jumps in their games, but also because of Pascal’s jump as a ball-handler and shooter. Spicy P has become an incredible ball-handler for someone of his size who can get to the rim using his devastating spin move and also can set up his teammates out of the pick and roll. This year Siakam hasn’t actually become a more efficient shooter but he has started to shoot threes a lot more which is extremely important for a player of Siakam’s liking who is mostly an interior scorer. Because of all of the jumps that Siakam made and an increased volume Siakam has jumped up from 16 points per game last year to 23 points per game this year. Like last year, Siakam is still an elite defender who can realistically guard all five positions and lock pretty much anyone up. Overall, Siakam is a player with a huge skillset and brings all-star level value to any team, and because of that, Pascal Siakam is one of the top power forwards in the NBA.

2. Anthony Davis

26.4 PPG|3.2 APG|9.4 RPG|.539 eFG%|.133 DEF WS|51-17 Record

Former Kentucky Wildcat Anthony has truly come into his role as one of the top players in the NBA. Coming into the league, AD was considered one of the top prospects in NBA history because of his incredible athletic ability and unique skills for someone of his stature, and his abilities have translated to the league better than anyone expected. Davis stands six foot ten with a giant seven foot six wingspan which allows him to be an elite shot blocker and post scorer, but what sets AD apart is a unique guard skillset. When Davis was younger he wasn’t as tall proportionally to his peers as he is now, so he learned many guard skills, so when he hit his growth spurt in his junior year, he basically became a giant cheesy point guard that you’d see in 2k, and those skills have translated to the NBA. In the league AD is definitely not a point guard but he does still use some of those skills which make him a matchup nightmare for slow-footed bigs. AD can blow by an opponent and finish at the rim, or take a dribble then step back and launch a three from 30 feet out, and of course, he can post up. AD is one of the best post-up players in the league, mostly using a deadly fade-away. Davis is also the best lob finisher in NBA history, which makes him a great pick and roll partner for a deadly passer like LeBron James. But AD’s offense wouldn’t make him an elite player alone. Anthony Davis is also a defensive player of the year level defender. He is athletic enough to stay with guards when switched in the pick and roll, but he is definitely not an elite perimeter defender like Giannis. AD’s real value on defense comes as an elite rim protector and shot blocker. AD is already a three-time shot-blocking champion because of his extremely long arms and great timing. Overall, Anthony Davis is an elite player and the best true big man in the NBA in 2020, leaving him at the number two spot among power forwards in the NBA.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

29.7 PPG|5.8 APG|13.7 RPG|.591 eFG%|.198 DEF WS|55-14 Record

The reigning and defending most valuable player Giannis Antetokounmpo has developed into a true all-time great level talent since his most improved player campaign in 2017. Giannis was always considered a player with high potential, but it wasn’t until his teammates improved and he added strength that he became a truly incredible player. Giannis used these new tools to become the greatest interior force the NBA has seen since Shaquille O’Neal. However, unlike Shaq who used his massive size to score, Giannis dominates using athleticism, spacing, and length to get to the basket and score more or less automatically. Giannis has also developed an incredible handle for someone of his size which helps Giannis score in the half-court. The Greek Freak also employs a strong post-game which also helps him score in the half-court. The area that Giannis has to improve in most is his jump shot, which is far from perfect and very inconsistent. This is a huge problem because defenses can just sit back and wall of the paint against Giannis, which has been proven to be an effective way of dealing with Giannis by the Raptors in last years eastern conference finals. However, Giannis has a lot of hope to develop a strong jump shot, because he’s only 25 and he shot a more respectable 34.7 percent in his rookie year. If Giannis could improve his jump shot to an average level and make a jump as a playmaker then I think Giannis would become the greatest basketball player of all time, combined with his defensive player of the year level defense, and Giannis really is DPOY level. Giannis is already an elite rim protector, but because of his athleticism, Giannis is also an excellent perimeter defender. Not to mention Giannis is also an elite rebounder. Putting all of this together, Giannis is the clear best power forward in the NBA and in my opinion, and the league’s best player.

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Top 10 Power Forwards in the NBA

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