December 29, 2014

Ranking The NBA's Best Power Forwards Heading Into 2015

#21, Tim Duncan, PF, San Antonio Spurs

While the point guard position seems to get the most attention in the NBA, the power forward position has so many interchangeable players in the top 10. If you ask 10 people who the best power forward in the league is, you could get 5-6 different answers. This year, one player is starting to look like a top 5 player, but is he even the best player at his position? The criteria for these rankings isn't complex. Which power forwards in the NBA are playing the best, putting up the best numbers, are the most efficient, and are the most important to their team's success right now. If a player is listed lower than you think he should be, it's probably because his defensive play isn't up to par right now, which is also very, very important.

(Josh Smith is now listed as a power forward, but there is no one on this list I see needed to be removed to make room for him, so he won't be included. Also, David Lee has only played in 5 games as of the making of this list, so he will also not be included).

*Stats as of 12/29/14

(PER = Player Efficiency Rating / ORTG = Offensive Rating / DRTG = Defensive Rating)

Tier 4: The "Starting Caliber" Power Forwards

The starting caliber power forwards are just that. They aren't necessarily flashy or well rounded, but they are really good at at least one or two things, and are more than serviceable if you don't currently have an All-Star at the position.

20. Ryan Anderson, New Orleans Pelicans

17.3 PER / 114.3 ORTG / 112.1 DRTG

2014-15 Season Averages:
28.9 MPG: 15.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.2 BPG, 0.8 TO (42% FG, 33% 3P, 90% FT)
PER 36: 19.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.3 BPG, 1.0 TO

Analysis: Some may refer to him as a "poor man's Kevin Love", but Ryan Anderson is the definition of a stretch four. He isn't a "banger" down low, and he isn't a great rebounder, but, he's a really good faceup four who can shoot the three, though he's shooting just 33% from deep this season.

19. Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets

17.4 PER / 109.6 ORTG / 107.0 DRTG

2014-15 Season Averages:
26.3 MPG: 11.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.5 BPG, 1.8 TO (51% FG, 33% 3P, 69% FT)
PER 36: 16.2 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.6 BPG, 2.4 TO

Analysis: "The Manimal" is such an underrated player. He's a high energy, high motor player who gives 110% every night. You have to appreciate that. The numbers don't look spectacular, but the way Faried crashes the boards and makes the most of his opportunities is why he's a really solid player.

18. Giannis Antetokounmpo , Milwaukee Bucks

15.3 PER / 105.9 ORTG / 104.3 DRTG

2014-15 Season Averages:
27.4 MPG: 11.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.7 BPG, 1.9 TO (50% FG, 18% 3P, 73% FT)
PER 36: 15.6 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.0 BPG, 2.5 TO

Analysis: "The Greek Freak" could be the next big thing in the NBA. Some people called him a raw version of Kevin Durant before the 2013 draft, and I can see it. He's got such great length, defensive potential, and is a smooth athlete. He runs the floor unlike most players I've seen before him. He definitely needs to get stronger (especially if he's going to be a four going forward) and improve his jump shot, but sky is the limit.

17. Draymond Green, Golden State

15.0 PER / 106.3 ORTG / 96.6 DRTG

2014-15 Season Averages:
33.1 MPG: 12.1 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.4 BPG, 2.0 TO (44% FG, 34% 3P, 74% FT)
PER 36: 13.1 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.5 BPG, 2.2 TO

Analysis: Defense, aggressiveness, tenacity, energy, effort. All words I would use to describe Golden State's combo forward. Green isn't a top scoring option for Golden State, but he still finds plenty of ways to be productive. He could be getting paid this summer.

16. Markieff Morris, Phoenix Suns

16.9 PER / 106.2 ORTG / 104.8 DRTG

2014-15 Season Averages:
30.5 MPG: 14.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.2 APG, 0.6 BPG, 2.0 TO (49% FG, 30% 3P, 82% FT)
PER 36: 17.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.7 BPG, 2.4 TO

Analysis: Markieff Morris has been more productive than his twin brother so far in the NBA. He's become a pretty good offensive player. He's strong in the post, and shoots the ball as well as most stretch fours. He may not be elite, but he's a solid starting power forward.

15. David West, Indiana Pacers

16.2 PER / 101.5 ORTG / 101.0 DRTG

2014-15 Season Averages:
28.4 MPG: 12.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 3.2 APG, 0.6 BPG, 1.2 TO (47% FG, 30% 3P, 67% FT)
PER 36: 16.1 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 4.0 APG, 0.8 BPG, 1.5 TO

Analysis: It seems like David West has been under the radar his entire career. He doesn't get enough credit for just how good he is on both ends of the floor, and he's put together a pretty good season statistically.

Tier 3: The "Rising All-Star" Power Forwards

These players have All-Star talent, and are having really good seasons. If they continue to produce, have success, and improve their games, they'll be in the All-Star conversation sooner rather than later.

14. Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics

17.0 PER / 107.4 ORTG / 105.5 DRTG

2014-15 Season Averages:
28.0 MPG: 13.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 2.3 APG, 0.6 BPG, 1.3 TO (46% FG, 36% 3P, 65% FT)
PER 36: 17.1 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 2.9 APG, 0.8 BPG, 1.7 TO

Analysis: Sullinger isn't the most athletic player--in fact, he plays well below the rim--but, he still has a respectable post game, and can stretch the floor as a perimeter shooting threat. He's also a very good rebounder.

13. Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls

18.9 PER / 118.5 ORTG / 103.4 DRTG

2014-15 Season Averages:
28.5 MPG: 12.2 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.4 BPG, 1.3 TO (54% FG, 0% 3P, 70% FT)
PER 36: 15.4 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.7 BPG, 1.6 TO

Analysis: Taj Gibson is a damn good player. He's an elite defender, a good shot blocker, an aggressive rebounder, and he's an underrated offensive player. I like his mid-range game, and the energy he brings on both ends of the floor.

12. Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons

18.4 PER / 105.8 ORTG / 107.0 DRTG

2014-15 Season Averages:
29.2 MPG: 14.6 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.2 BPG, 2.0 TO (47% FG, 0% 3P, 74% FT)
PER 36: 18.0 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.3 BPG, 2.5 TO

Analysis: Greg Monroe really knows how to go to work in the post, which is impressive, because it seems like post play is a lost art these days when it comes to basketball. Monroe is having a strong season, but, he just hasn't made the big jump I was hoping he would've made by now. He should be much higher on this list.

11. Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz

22.9 PER / 118.1 ORTG / 108.1 DRTG

2014-15 Season Averages:
30.4 MPG: 15.7 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.6 BPG, 1.4 TO (56% FG, 0% 3P, 70% FT)
PER 36: 18.5 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.9 BPG, 1.7 TO

Analysis: Derrick Favors has shined given the opportunity to be a go to option for Utah this season. I'm not sure he'll ever be a superstar, but he's a pretty good offensive player with a strong inside game, and is an above average rebounder and shot blocker.

10. Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder

16.7 PER / 108.3 ORTG / 101.9 DRTG

2014-15 Season Averages:
32.6 MPG: 14.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 0.9 APG, 2.3 BPG, 1.6 TO (47% FG, 41% 3P, 82% FT)
PER 36: 16.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.0 APG, 2.6 BPG, 1.8 TO

Analysis: Serge Ibaka is one of the elite interior defenders and rim protectors in the league. He's got a reliable, consistent mid-range game, and has become a true stretch four. I want to see Ibaka work on his post game and become a better rebounder. He could be a future all-star.

Tier 2: The "All-Star" Power Forwards

Several of these players could be snubbed when it comes to All-Star voting, which is a testament to just how good the position is at the top. Some of these players may have a case to be the best power forward in the NBA overall, but they're not quite in that "elite" group.

9. Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers

18.0 PER / 113.9 ORTG / 106.2 DRTG

2014-15 Season Averages:
36.2 MPG: 17.1 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.5 BPG, 1.9 TO (43% FG, 34% 3P, 83% FT)
PER 36: 17.0 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.5 BPG, 1.9 TO

Analysis: Kevin Love isn't getting as many touches as he did in Minnesota this season, which was expected. He's still averaging a double-double, and putting up solid numbers, but, I think Cavs fans are expecting more out of "the best power forward in the league". His shooting percentages are not as high as they should be (probably because most of his shots are three pointers), but Love can still go to work in the post. If Love weren't such a defensive sieve, it would be easier to give him the benefit of the doubt.

8. Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks

19.3 PER / 105.9 ORTG / 98.2 DRTG

2014-15 Season Averages:
33.5 MPG: 16.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.4 APG, 0.8 BPG, 2.2 TO (48% FG, 36% 3P, 65% FT)
PER 36: 17.7 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 3.2 APG, 0.8 SPG, 2.4 TO

Analysis: Paul Millsap may be the most underrated power forward in the game today. He plays at such a high level on both ends of the floor. On offense, he's got a nice post game, and is one of the better mid-range/three point shooters at his position, and is an underrated passer. He looks like an All-Star this season for sure.

7. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

21.9 PER / 110.4 ORTG / 107.5 DRTG

2014-15 Season Averages:
35.3 MPG: 22.9 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 4.7 APG, 0.5 BPG, 2.5 TO (49% FG, 47% 3P, 72% FT)
PER 36: 23.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 4.8 APG, 0.5 BPG, 2.5 TO

Analysis: Blake Griffin is one of the elite athletes in the NBA. He runs the floor extremely well, and has become one of the best passing big men in the league. He's extended his range to beyond the three point line this season, and should be on his way to another All-Star game in February. I want to see him be more physical, crashing the boards harder, doing more work in the post, and being more consistent on defense, because Griffin has the potential to be the best power forward in the NBA.

6. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks

21.7 PER / 117.6 ORTG / 108.0 DRTG

2014-15 Season Averages:
29.4 MPG: 18.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.2 APG, 0.5 BPG, 1.2 TO (47% FG, 34% 3P, 91% FT)
PER 36: 23.1 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 2.7 APG, 0.6 BPG, 1.5 TO

Analysis: This may or may not be surprising, but at age 36, Dirk Nowitzki is playing like an All-Star. That is a testament to just how great he is. His shooting percentages are a bit down, but Dirk is still putting up big numbers in less than 30 minutes a game. He's still one of the best offensive big men in the NBA.

5. Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies

20.3 PER / 109.4 ORTG / 100.0 DRTG

2014-15 Season Averages:
31.6 MPG: 16.1 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.1 BPG, 1.7 TO (48% FG, 100% 3P, 74% FT)
PER 36: 18.4 PPG, 13.0 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.1 BPG, 1.9 TO

Analysis: Another All-Star caliber power forward who doesn't get nearly enough attention. You have to appreciate a player like Zach Randolph, who does most of his work in the low post, the way it should be. He's not the most athletic player, but still manages to pull down 13 boards per 36 minutes. And even though he's not a shot blocker, he's still a tough defender.

4. Pau Gasol, Chicago Bulls

20.3 PER / 107.8 ORTG / 100.5 DRTG

2014-15 Season Averages:
35.1 MPG: 17.8 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 2.5 APG, 2.1 BPG, 2.3 TO (48% FG, 40% 3P, 80% FT)
PER 36: 18.2 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 2.6 APG, 2.1 BPG, 2.3 TO

Analysis: Pau Gasol has such an impressive offensive skill set. He's one of the best post players in the league, is very consistent as a mid-range shooter, and is a very good passer from the post. His defense is severely underrated, and he's blocking over two shots per game. If he doesn't make the Eastern Conference All-Star team, something is wrong.

Tier 1: The "Elite" Power Forwards

The best of the best in such a talented position group. You can easily make a case for any of these three players as being the best power forward (and maybe even the best big man) in the game right now. A future hall-of-famer, and an MVP candidate are among the three elite fours in the NBA.

3. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

22.3 PER / 108.7 ORTG / 96.9 DRTG

2014-15 Season Averages:
32.1 MPG: 16.1 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 3.1 APG, 2.2 BPG, 2.1 TO (48% FG, 0% 3P, 72% FT)
PER 36: 18.1 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 3.5 APG, 2.5 BPG, 2.4 TO

Analysis: "The Big Fundamental" is arguably playing better than he did last season, and he's 38 years old. It's incredible that he's still showing night in and night out that he can quietly and consistently record double-doubles, protect the paint, and just do all the little things well. He's still one of the elite big men the NBA has to offer.

2. Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans

32.3 PER / 125.9 ORTG / 101.3 DRTG

2014-15 Season Averages:
35.3 MPG: 24.6 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 1.6 APG, 3.0 BPG, 1.3 TO (57% FG, 0% 3P, 80% FT)
PER 36: 25.1 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 1.6 APG, 3.1 BPG, 1.3 TO

Analysis: Many people feel like Anthony Davis is arguably the best player in the entire league right now. I won't argue with that. I will say that he's an elite player. I mean, 25 points per game is very rare for a big man in today's NBA, and Davis can make it look easy, especially with an improved jump shot. He is an elite shot blocker, and has a top 15 defensive rating among players at his position. If he works on his post game a bit more, and improves just a little more on defense (he's usually about a half second late rotating at times, and can be a bit overaggressive), he will be even better, but sky is the limit for the 21 year old power forward.

1. LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers

21.9 PER / 107.9 ORTG / 99.9 DRTG

2014-15 Season Averages:
36.2 MPG: 22.9 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.3 BPG, 1.7 TO (45% FG, 47% 3P, 85% FT)
PER 36: 22.7 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.3 BPG, 1.7 TO

Analysis: Consistent mid-range game, elite post game, extended range to beyond the three point line, and excellent offensive rebounder? That's why LaMarcus Aldridge is an elite offensive player, and one of the top scorers in the NBA this season. He's also improved his overall rebounding over the past two seasons, and is having a great year as a defender. As far as I'm concerned, he's the best power forward in the NBA this season.