Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett

If you’re a fan of any of the players on this list besides Dirk Nowitzki, odds are you’re going to think I ranked your guy too low. What does that say about the depth of talent at this position? Of the top 20 in each category, here are the number of power forwards among these leaderboards:

  • Points per game: 6
  • Rebounds per game: 14
  • Blocks per game: 6
  • Player Efficiency Rating (PER): 6

When Josh Smith, Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap aren’t quite good enough to crack this month’s rankings, that’s a sign that there are a lot of really good NBA power forwards right now.

10. (New entry) Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies — 2010-11 stats: 50 GP, 37.0 MPG, 20.2 PPG, 1.6 APG, 13.2 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 0.4 BPG, .487 FG%, .179 3P%, .754 FT%, 21.7 PER

Do you think Zach Randolph looks at his numbers and wonders why everyone’s making such a big deal about Kevin Love? Let’s just say that Z-Bo was probably a little more motivated than usual on defense when they faced each other on Feb. 2 — Randolph finished with 23 and 13 in a win while K-Love was held to 10 and 10.

9. (New entry) Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs — 2010-11 stats: 52 GP, 29.0 MPG, 13.4 PPG, 3.0 APG, 9.2 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 2.0 BPG, .483 FG%, .000 3P%, .711 FT%, 21.5 PER

I left Timmy off my January rankings because of the widely-held belief that he’s slowing down and the fact that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is limiting him to 29 minutes per game. Then I saw him dominate the Raptors on the defensive end last night and looked up his per-36-minute averages this season to compare to his career averages, which are coincidentally on exactly 36 minutes per game. This season’s per-36-minute averages: 16.7 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.5 blocks. His career averages: 20.7 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.3 blocks. So Duncan doesn’t score as much as he used to but he sets up his teammates more and he’s still a dominant rebounder and shot-blocker. It’s not just out of sentimentality that Duncan is going to play in his 13th straight All-Star game — he’s still pretty damn amazing.

8. (6.) Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves — 2010-11 stats: 52 GP, 36.8 MPG, 21.4 PPG, 2.5 APG, 15.6 RPG, 0.5 SPG, 0.4 BPG, .471 FG%, .439 3P%, .879 FT%, 24.5 PER

The Kevin Love backlash has begun (“He only cares about his numbers!”) and the critics have a point that he’s not helping his team win games. However, if you put him next to a solid defensive bigman and teamed him with an elite wing scorer, he’s probably still going to give you 18 and 12 on a winning team. It’s true that the only numbers that really matter are wins, but Love’s a special talent that the T-Wolves can build around.

7. (5.) Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers — 2010-11 stats: 52 GP, 37.6 MPG, 22.6 PPG, 3.5 APG, 12.6 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 0.5 BPG, .514 FG%, .500 3P%, .605 FT%, 22.4 PER

It was inevitable that teams were going to start to gameplan and double-team Griffin more extensively and we’re discovering that teams with great defensive frontcourts can limit the damage he inflicts. In a recent five-day, three-game span, he shot 8-for-18 against the Hawks, 7-for-17 against the Heat and 4-for-12 against the Magic. Lest you think I’m suggesting that the whole league is figuring him out, I should mention that Griffin went off for 47 points and 14 rebounds on 19-for-24 shooting against the Pacers on Jan. 17.

6. (7.) Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics — 2010-11 stats: 42 GP, 31.1 MPG, 14.9 PPG, 2.3 APG, 9.0 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 0.9 BPG, .528 FG%, .000 3P%, .838 FT%, 21.0 PER

If this was an intensity ranking, it’s safe to say that KG would be the obvious choice for the number one spot. There’s growing evidence that he may be gradually crossing the line separating intensity from insanity, but you can’t really disagree with what Celtics president Danny Ainge said about him recently: “There’s not a team in the league that wouldn’t die to have him, and there’s not a coach or general manager in the league, or fans, that wouldn’t wish that every one of their players played like Kevin Garnett.”

LaMarcus Aldridge

5. (4.) Chris Bosh, Miami Heat — 2010-11 stats: 48 GP, 35.6 MPG, 18.2 PPG, 1.9 APG, 8.0 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.7 BPG, .496 FG%, .278 3P%, .785 FT%, 19.2 PER

You might notice that Chris Bosh is setting up offensively on the right side more than he used to, and that’s because Heat coach Erik Spoelstra showed him some film and spreadsheet data which revealed that he’s been historically more effective on that side. Bosh being the scholarly (read: nerdy) type he is, he accepted the feedback and is adapting his game accordingly. Behold! Stats nerds are changing the game whether you like or not, haters!

4. (New entry) LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers — 2010-11 stats: 52 GP, 39.3 MPG, 21.6 PPG, 2.0 APG, 9.1 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 1.3 BPG, .489 FG%, .188 3P%, .782 FT%, 21.1 PER

OK, let’s just get this out of the way. I would like to apologize to Blazers fans for being so egregiously wrong when I left Aldridge off last month’s PF rankings. I didn’t believe that he could keep playing at that high level but in the 16 games since my horrific oversight, Aldridge has averaged 25 and 10 on 51 percent shooting and the Blazers remained in the Western Conference playoff hunt with a 9-7 record over that span. With Brandon Roy expected to return to the lineup soon, Blazers fans know their selfless star will gladly sacrifice a few shot attempts if it means rising up in the standings.

3. (3.) Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Knicks — 2010-11 stats: 51 GP, 37.0 MPG, 26.2 PPG, 2.7 APG, 8.6 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 2.2 BPG, .509 FG%, .500 3P%, .786 FT%, 24.1 PER

Stoudemire provides a strong example of how stats can be deceiving — he’s fourth in the NBA in blocks per game this season, but anybody who has watched more than a handful of Knicks games this season should have noticed that Amar’e is a weak and sometimes indifferent man-to-man defender. This is nothing new, and neither is his ability to occasionally dominate a game single-handedly with his ridiculous offensive arsenal.

2. (2.) Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers — 2010-11 stats: 52 GP, 37.4 MPG, 18.7 PPG, 3.6 APG, 10.5 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 1.9 BPG, .525 FG%, .000 3P%, .814 FT%, 23.6 PER

It’s well-known that Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson are constantly prodding Gasol to be more aggressive. On a recent kids TV show appearance, a seven-year-old named Tobey told Pau, “You need to try to get fouled more.” Damn, you know you have a soft rep if a little kid is calling you out. Anyway, Gasol went to the free throw line nine times in each of his last two games so he apparently took the kid’s advice to heart.

1. (1.) Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks — 2010-11 stats: 43 GP, 34.4 MPG, 22.8 PPG, 2.4 APG, 6.8 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 0.8 BPG, .521 FG%, .411 3P%, .882 FT%, 23.3 PER

In my mind, Dirk has surpassed Kobe as the last man I want to have the ball on an opposing team in the dying seconds of a tie game. According to 82games.com, Dirk trails only Kobe in points scored per 48 minutes in “clutch situations” this season (4th quarter or overtime, less than 5 minutes left, neither team ahead by more than 5 points) but Dirk’s far superior success rate on those shots (.600 FG% compared to .385 for Kobe) gives him the clear edge. Of course, Dirk’s “clutch rep” will never compare to Kobe’s unless the big German leads the Mavs to a championship.

Comments (27)

  1. I can absolutely disagree with Danny Ainge. I would seriously consider switching allegiance from the team I have loved for 20 years if they got Garnett. I do not wish any player on my team played like him.

  2. That’s better. (LA2LA)

  3. No Boozer.

    And that’s fine by me.

  4. It’s not that I wonder why everyone is overlooking Z-Bo to make a big deal about Kevin Love- Love has been ridiculous.

    What does get me though is that Randolph is more or less statistically on par with Love and even Dwight Howard and he barely sneaks onto this list. Meanwhile LaMarcus Aldridge, who’s great, don’t get me wrong, has a slight scoring edge but a rebounding average ~40% below Randolph’s, and leapfrogs virtually all PFs to #4.

    I know the whole “stepping in for Roy” thing is big, but how is LMA ranked this far ahead of Zach, who was named January’s West Player of the Month and plays for a team that’s won 20 of 32 and is 1 game behind Aldridge’s blazers?


  5. The league is stacked with power forwards and will be for years. Can’t forget about the likes of David West and Elton Brand is having an above average year.

    Love the website guys, first time commenting but for a diehard Association fan like myself this website is a great daily read.

  6. This is just about perfect. Well done.

  7. Its cause you’re a pussy adam.

    Wowwww BOSH > KG?


    i’m done

  8. You do know defense plays a big part when it comes to choosing PF…

  9. Really, you’re going to call someone a pussy while defending KG? Really? When has he ever stepped up to anyone his size? Assuming you’ve read the internet before, there’s no need to direct you to the abundance of video evidence of Garnett being the biggest pussy in the league. Dude picks on little guys, and backs down from everyone.

  10. …but here’s one just in case. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FASClJTnJ4I

  11. LaMonster Aldridge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Adam, I don’t think you’d be hired as a GM or a coach with any team. Garnett is the most important player in green this year, no question. He changes the game defensively, totally gives the wings license to be way more aggressive. He is a phenomenal passer, and has great range. Also he’s still a monster on the boards.

    He “backs down” because what he’s trying to do is to get in people’s heads. He doesn’t actually want to fight them. He’s trying to win a basketball game. It’s the guys that actually let it get to them who are pussies, because they can’t handle it. Anybody who you see after their team lost saying “he needs to respect me as a man” (s-jax, blatche, to name two) is someone who couldn’t handle it.

  13. Kobe just today on KG:

    “He’s always been intense,” Bryant said. “He’s not an [expletive] by any stretch of the imagination. He’s just a good dude. He plays his heart out.”

    Kobe….another guy who plays a little dirty but who I respect a great deal.

  14. A note: no one outside of Boston cares who the “most important player in green” is.

    Another: it is possible to have good range, pass and rebound well, and be a solid defensive player without being a dick. In fact, they are unrelated.
    If I were looking to players that I would want on my team more than Garnett, I don’t think I would point out Steven Jackson or Andre Blatche as examples. I would, however, opt for someone who respects the game (and also respects, like, other human people). Again, they aren’t mutually exclusive, and in fact, have nothing to do with each other.
    If you are looking for an example of a player who plays hard every night and isn’t regarded by everyone in the league as a terrible person, might I suggest, say, everyone else on this list?
    That “intensity” crap is so old at this point. He’s just a dick. Doesn’t make him better or worse than anyone else, bball wise (although he often is), it just means I wouldn’t want him on my team.

  15. LaMarcus is awesome.

  16. Well man, you’re the one who said “I don’t wish anybody on my team played like him.” So, I was just confused, because it seems like you might want at least SOMEBODY who is a good defender, passer, shooter, and rebounder.

  17. I think Kevin Love does help his team wins. As it stands, the team has an efficiency differential in line with that of a 25 win team. I think they’d maybe win 15 without Love.

  18. I’m surprised Z-Bo is a new entry here……tough competition I guess.

  19. adam why u-mad for?

    Did he make one of your boyfriends cry? Get over it princess.

    The Art of War – Sun Tzu

    Look into it.

  20. Are you kidding me? Where’s Scola?

  21. Matt: Did you actually look at the list? Zach Randolph averages 20 points and 13 rebounds on a team with a better record than the Rockets and he’s in the 10th spot. I invite you to tell me who I should bump from this list to make room for your countryman.

  22. Much respect to the two only players I hate for no real reason, Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki, for being among the greatest at their positions if not overall every other year.

  23. There is no way Bosh is playing better than Love and certainly not better than Griffin? How was this ranking system made? By overall team wins? Here the top 10 PFs as I see it:

    1. Amare Stoudemire
    2. Blake Griffin
    3. Kevin Love
    4. Dirk Niwitzki
    5. Pau Gasol
    6. David West
    7. Zach Randolph
    8. LaMarcus Aldridge
    9.David West
    10. Chris Bosh

    Any takers?

  24. That is awesome. Yay for Aldridge.

  25. Mansexybad2: Bosh might make the All-Defense Second Team this season with his play on that end of the court. I couldn’t be more surprised considering how he played in that end in Toronto, but he’s been an excellent defender and a key element to the Heat’s success this season.

  26. Mansexybad2: That is a great list if all you cared about was offense. Try factoring in defense next time… Is David West really good enough to make the list twice?

  27. I love that the Clips were the team that ended Cleveland’s streak and that Jamison and Hickson schooled Griffin. That guy doesn’t do anything to help his team win. As soon as Gordon went down the Clippers have been in a tail spin. Griffen deserves to be in LA for all-star weekend but, only in the rookie sophomore game. Poor choice NBA coaches.

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