Historically, this has been one of the most competitive positions in the entire NBA. The power forward position might not have had the iconic and celebrated figures like Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Magic Johnson but they have more than held their place in history: Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Elvin Hayes and Kevin McHale, not to mention the recent duo of Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett who are both sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famers. However, due to changes in personnel and their advanced age, Duncan moved to the center position to prolong his career, and Garnett did the same in Boston (although we ranked him here since he’s now playing next to Brook Lopez).
The newest iteration of the players in the power forward category are nothing like your father’s version. They still rebound and defend the paint, but they are also able to space the floor by becoming not just adequate jump shooters but deadly all the way from 3-point range. On top of this they also handle the rock, throw down jaw-dropping alley-oop dunks and lead their teams in multiple statistical categories.
So let’s take a look at what makes these power forwards the best in the NBA, today.
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20. TRISTAN THOMPSON
This Canadian-born forward made headlines recently for something I can’t remember any modern day NBA player doing: Thompson will be changing his shooting hand on his free throws. Strange, indeed. However, Thompson’s toughness and his willingness to defend is not so strange. Having almost averaged a double-double last season, Thompson is definitely looking to fight for his place amongst the up-and-coming fours in the league.
19. AMAR’E STOUDEMIRE
It’s a shame to see Stoudemire reduced to a shell of what he once was. The injuries to his knees and back have robbed him of the explosiveness and athleticism that made him one of the most exciting players to watch. Having missed 72 games the past two seasons, let’s all hope that Stoudemire can at least end his career on a positive note rather than fade into obscurity.
A lot of Nene’s contributions to a team don’t necessarily make it on the stat sheet: his basketball IQ, hustle, ability to rise to the occasion rather than “get his” in blowout situations. Having gone through a “pitch count” of sorts in his minutes last season due to past injuries, Nene won’t be held back at all this season. He will be counted on heavily this season as Emeka Okafor will miss significant time with his neck injury.
17. KENNETH FARIED
The “Manimal” is every teammate’s dream come true. He gives 100 percent effort on both ends of the floor, does all the dirty work and does it well. Coaches never run plays for Faried, thus allowing his teammates to get all the usage points. However, Faried always finds a way to leave his mark on the game: a crucial screen, a devastating block or just beat his man down the floor consistently. This is, of course, part of the reason why he only averaged 11.5 PPG and 9.2 RPG last season. His overall production might not spike anytime soon but there is also a reason why the Nuggets won a franchise-best 57 games last season as well.