The NBA has evolved into an athletic, perimeter-heavy league. While this type of emphasis can excite the audience with spectacular plays, strong froncourts are still the belly of the beast for many teams. Teams that boast dominant frontcourts are a force to be reckoned with, especially in the postseason when the game slows down.
Before reading the rankings of the NBA’s best frontcourts, it should be noted that the following list is based on the three positions of center, power forward and small forward. Additionally, the rankings are based on the frontcourt’s performance one month into the season. Therefore, frontcourts of the Memphis Grizzlies, the Brooklyn Nets, and the Houston Rockets are sitting on the edge of the top 10 list and will in all probability bump a frontcourt off this list when the Omer Asik situation is resolved and health returns to Marc Gasol and in Brooklyn.
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10. SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter
It shouldn’t shock anyone anymore that the Spurs will find a way to be among the best of the best year in and year out. Gregg Popovich continues to make the argument that he is the best coach in the NBA today, and the Spurs’ Big Three in Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili continue to prove that age is just a number. The Spurs’ frontline is all about the fundamentals, as The Big Fundamental himself, Tim Duncan, sets the tone for Tiago Splitter, who is stepping up this season on the boards (7.3 RPG). However, Kawhi Leonard has been the breakout player for the Spurs since last season, and is evolving into a big impact player in San Antonio and in the NBA.
In the first 15 games of the season, San Antonio’s frontcourt has averaged 32.3 PPG and 21 RPG on 49.4 percent shooting from the field. The Spurs are highly efficient in scoring in the paint, where they post 47.7 PPG (fourth in the NBA), per Team Rankings. The second-best defensive team in the league (92.4 defensive efficiency ranking) defends the paint quite well, giving up 40 PPG to opponents. The Spurs have been and continue to be the epitome of team ball, and their frontcourt is no different as they get the job done by working off each other.
9. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Andre Iguodala, David Lee, Andrew Bogut
Golden State is one of the most exciting teams to watch in the stacked Western Conference. They feature the best shooting backcourt in the league in Steph Curry and Klay Thompson that can take over the game at any point. However, the frontcourt’s improvements on both ends of the floor have pushed them into contender status in the West. Andrew Bogut is finally healthy enough to see major minutes on the floor for Golden State, which has drastically strengthened their inside defense. The addition of Andre Iguodala not only adds yet another offensive weapon to their arsenal, but also adds that perimeter defense they desperately needed. Finally, while David Lee is not close to being an elite defender, his post play and versatility on the offensive end cannot be overlooked.
While Iguodala is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury, Harrison Barnes has successfully stepped up in his place over the past four games. However, Iguodala’s presence in the frontcourt has been missed, as they have dropped three of their last five games without Iggy in the lineup. Yet, their frontcourt numbers remain among the top of the league. Golden State’s frontcourt puts up better defensive numbers, which isn’t too surprising, as their backcourt seems to dictate the offense. According to Hoops Stats, Golden State’s frontcourt holds the ninth-best defensive efficiency recap difference* of 6.6, while grabbing 41.1 RPG (fifth in the NBA). However, Golden State’s frontcourt is offensively efficient** with the 12th-best ranking in the NBA.