NBA, Video / May 1, 2014 / 4:15 pm

The 10 Greatest Power Forwards In NBA History

Tim Duncan, DeAndre Jordan

Tim Duncan, DeAndre Jordan (Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports)

The NBA has been a big man’s league for a long time, dating all the way back to George Mikan and Bill Russell. But as the center position has increasingly moved to the perimeter, the emphasis has shifted to the four man. In today’s game, a great power forward is tasked with everything from blocking shots to stretching the defense and making three-pointers.

The position can sometimes be a thankless one, as night after night even the very best are assaulted from all corners. From LaMarcus Aldridge to Paul Millsap, from Tim Duncan to Ryan Anderson, there are no nights off.

Here are the ten greatest power forwards in NBA history.

[RELATED: The 10 greatest point guards in NBA history]

[RELATED: The 10 greatest centers in NBA history]

[RELATED: The 10 greatest shooting guards in NBA history]

Honorable mention: Dennis Rodman
Narrowly edging out Amar’e Stoudemire, the Worm will get the call. Known as much for his flamboyant personality as his passionate play, Rodman was a contributor on two of the greatest teams in NBA history. The Bad Boy Pistons and Jordan‘s Bulls both deployed Dennis the Menace as he racked up five career championships. He wasn’t the biggest, strongest or most skilled but Rodman led the league in rebounding seven straight seasons. He flat out wanted it more, every single night.

If Rodman could’ve contributed on offense even marginally he would’ve cracked the list. But this is a guy whose career-high point per game average is 11.6. Rodman was a perfect role player, which contrary to popular belief, isn’t a negative term. He knew his job and he went out and did it on a nightly basis. He wasn’t going to take over a game but he could help control one by focusing on the things he did well: defense and rebounding.

*** *** ***

10. Shawn Kemp
Career Accolades: 6x All-Star, 3x All-NBA
The Reign Man was explosive; he had his generation hooked. If only he truly focused on basketball. An elite talent who had some brush-ups with the law and alleged focus issues. I always think of Michael Irvin when I think of Shawn Kemp. He was still a star but could he have been the best ever if he kept his nose clean? The Reign Man had four straight seasons of 18 points, 10 rebounds and 50 percent shooting or better. He never won a championship but he did help Gary Payton and the Seattle Supersonics push Jordan’s Bulls to a six-game series in the 1996 NBA Finals.

9. Pau Gasol
Career Accolades: 2X champion, 4X All-Star, 3X All-NBA
The accolades don’t truly commend the effort Gasol has put forth over his career. He played in the era of elite power forwards, which definitely made it harder for him to rack up the All-NBA appearances. Gasol has an elite arsenal of post moves, he has the fundamentals around the basket that every coach dreams of. When people rag on Dwight Howard for his lack of post moves, Pau Gasol is the reason why. He finishes at the rim with both hands, and is incredibly quick with the ball. He was a bordeline franchise player in Memphis but when he got to Los Angeles he really shined as the 1B to Kobe Bryant‘s 1A. Many believe he should have won the Finals MVP award in 2010 when he led the entire postseason in win shares.

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  • squatty


  • Sean

    No way Dirk goes over KG


    Shawn Kemp???!!!!! One of the best of ALL TIME??!!!

  • Edelrey Paraon

    I think timmy is the Greatest but not the Best PF of all time … Great because of his Rings but in terms of skills and Malone is the Best PF ever

  • Isaiah Zeke Robinson

    Just my opinion, but I think Shawn is higher that Pau, and I think Blake Griffin is better than Pau, and he is nowhere near top 10

  • Ed Dobz

    Agree with Duncan and Dirk 1 and 2. But a couple guys like Dan Roundfield and Terry Cummings should get consideration.

  • J T

    Dude, Malone was very good, but John Stockton had plenty to do with that. If it is between best ever, the call for Power Forward is Timmy, but for point guard, Stockton has a better argument than Malone has at power forward.

  • Saleem Rainman

    oh yes way,

  • Josh Tufts

    No way Blake is better than Pau. Blake doesn’t play defense. He’s gotten much better offensively but he doesn’t have the post moves nor anywhere near the passing ability

  • Chris Johnson

    I think he just picked great power forwards his orders a little off

  • Juan Miguel Quiñones Treviño


  • Mel Rivera

    Here’s the real top 10 list: Karl Malone, Tim Duncan, Dirk, KG, Sir Charles, McHale, Pettit, Elvin Hayes, Wes Unseld, and Dave DeBusschere.

    To me winning titles is a team goal. It takes a great coach and obviously a great team. TD has been fortunate to benefit from all these factors. So fortunate in fact that he hasn’t had to be the team’s best player for over the past 5-7 years. That title would go to Parker. To me Malone was the perfect mold of what a PF is supposed to look like. Malone was a very underrated passer and defender, he was the most durable player the game has ever seen, and oh yeah he is also second all time on the NBA scoring list. Making a case that he needed Stockton is like making a case that Kareem needed Magic & Big O, you still have to put the ball in the hole. I’m a much bigger Duncan fan than I am Malone but the numbers don’t lie. Can’t put Rodman on the top 10 because he had no offensive game and would’ve been more of a liability on mediocre teams. When he had his head on straight, he was one of the best I have to say, but for the most part Rodman was too risky, he had the power to make or break your organization. Kemp was one of the best showmen in league history, but never quiet reached his full potential, doesn’t belong in the top 10. C Webb was another guy that never reached his full potential, his run in with the great Don Nelson didn’t help his case. Pau Gasol has had a great career, just don’t find it difficult to find 10 other PFs that I would rather have. Barkley had more heart and desire than most players in NBA history, had he been 6’9″ he’d probably be #1 all time.

  • Qbeach

    How do you choose Shawn Kemp over Elvin Hayes, Bob McAdoo, Tom Chambers or even Terry Cummings, Jack Sikma and James Worthy. I’ll take back Worthy because he played like a small forward for the most part. McAdoo was league MVP, scoring champ and Hall of Famer. Is anyone doing their research over there?

  • kingtoooooot .

    lmao! no way does dirk and KG goes over sir charles and malone. cause they got a ring? lmao!

  • Dave Miller

    Malone at 5? Gotta be kidding me. Most dominant power forward ever, rings give Duncan the edge, but noone else is close. Barkley is clear 3rd. KG and Dirk are down a peg from that.

    While it is true Malone choked in some big playoff games his overall playoff production was still very strong. He averaged 24.7 in the playoffs for his career, only .3 less than his overall average.

  • Varney

    Elvin Hayes, DeBusschere, McAdoo made their teams champions. So did Rodman, without him Bulls would have struggled to win the last 3, with him they were unBULLevable. Sir Charles and Rodman were the only ones who could defend Shaq in his prime, amazing.
    Malone did not come through in the playoffs. If only Dirk had the right team. Webber again could not take them to the promised land but deserves to be up there. Pettit proved it. Worthy was unique. Garnett could have won more on the right team. McHale deserves it. Timmy proved it over and over. Pau? Let’s see if the Bulls can do it. Kemp, no promised land.

  • Spadille Kennel

    rodman is not on the top ten… cant u read? honorable mention…

  • disqus_EBclYzQDil

    Question, if you were to build a frachise and have to choose num. 4 between Dennis, Kemp or Garnett, who would you pick?

  • disqus_EBclYzQDil

    Kinda agree on the list except some of the arrangement. For me Top 3 in order would be Duncan, Barkley, & Malone. Nuff said.

  • disqus_EBclYzQDil

    Malone is never Malone w/o a Stockton. That’s why Chuck and Duncan are better IMO. But on their prime I say, Chuck will dominate them all though.

  • Federico Velazquez

    I think championships are relevant in a comparison when we talk about a franchise player. In any case, Robert Horry, Power Forward, 7 rings…is not in the list…

  • Federico Velazquez

    Garnett: Scorer, rebounder, defender, champion spirit.

  • Daniel Johnson

    Lol, because Rodman couldn’t do ANYTHING but rebound. Now that’s a limited game.

  • Karlo Vran?i?

    Mailman is way better than no. 5…

  • golchie2

    Are you forgetting the simple word “defense”? Rodman was an animal out there. How do you think Jordan got so many 2nd chances for a basket?