NBA: Pre-Season Power Forward Rankings

Ryan Newell
10/29/15

Our fourth installment of our rankings highlights the NBA’s most rapidly evolving position: Power Forward. The 4 Spot has evolved from a position personified by rebounders like Charles Barkley and post players like Kevin McHale to shooters like Dirk Nowitzki and versatile athletes like Draymond Green.

 

Also Receiving Votes: “The Glue Guys”

  • Amir Johnson – Boston Celtics
  • Jared Sullinger – Boston Celtics
  • Channing Frye – Orlando Magic
  • Nemanja Bjelica – Minnesota Timberwolves
    • The 2014 Euroleague MVP may not be a recognizable name (or easy to pronounce) to the casual fan, but Bjelica shows promise as a versatile point forward. Bjelica averaged 14.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 2.6 APG on 59.2% during the ultra competitive 2015 Eurobasket Tournament.
  • Meyers Leonard – Portland Trail Blazers

 

Tier #6: “The Stretch Fours”Like the 3& D position on the wing, the Stretch Four is a vital but reasonably interchangeable piece on NBA rosters. Expect great value on 3-Point Percentage and lower end rebounding.

25.) Ersan Ilyasova – Detroit Pistons

24.) Patrick Patterson – Toronto Raptors

 

Tier #5: “Tremendous Upside Potential”This group of 4’s brings a versatile skill set along with multipositional athleticism and flexibility. Consistency is an issue for some of these raw talents.

23.) Thaddeus Young – Brooklyn Nets

22.) Terrence Jones – Houston Rockets

21.) Aaron Gordon – Orlando Magic

20.) Julius Randle – Los Angeles Lakers

19.) Cody Zeller – Charlotte Hornets

18.) Jabari Parker – Milwaukee Bucks

16.) Nikola Mirotic – Chicago Bulls

16.) Nerlens Noel – Philadelphia 76ers

Noel is a unique case because he is essentially a square peg being fit into a round hole. Noel fits the profile of a center, but due to Sam Hinkie’s “process” and asset collecting, Noel is being forced to play as a power forward alongside Jahlil Okafor. Noel lacks the array of post moves that Okafor has and the mid to long range shooting ability, but Nerlens’ value lies in his hustle stats after averaging nearly 2 blocks and 2 steals per game last season. Expect a near double-double with elite block and steals numbers.

15.) Kenneth Faried – Denver Nuggets

14.) Markieff Morris – Phoenix Suns

13.) Derrick Favors – Utah Jazz

 

Tier #4: “The Old Dogs”This duo has been productive for much of the last decade but have seen their numbers decline each year. Expect decent production at a minimal cost in under 32 minutes per game.

12.) Dirk Nowitzki – Dallas Mavericks

Nowitzki played under 30 MPG for the first time since his rookie year during the Clinton Administration, however he managed to maintain a 3 PT% near 40%. Nowitzki also posted a career low PER of 19.26 and True Shooting % of 56.0

11.) Zach Randolph – Memphis Grizzlies

 

Tier #3: “All-Stars”This is a group of established vets whose abilities serve as a lynch pin for their team’s offensive systems. Most are well into their prime, with a couple of players approaching their peaks.

10.) Draymond Green – Golden State Warriors

9.) Paul Millsap – Atlanta Hawks

8.) Serge Ibaka – Oklahoma City Thunder

7.) Kevin Love – Cleveland Cavaliers

6.) Paul George – Indiana Pacers (also covered in our Small Forward Preview)

5.) Chris Bosh – Miami Heat

4.) LaMarcus Aldridge – San Antonio Spurs

LaMarcus Aldridge, while still an elite power forward, will likely see a decline in numbers with his move south to San Antonio. Last season, Aldridge led all power forwards in usage at 27.6, nearly 7 points higher than Tim Duncan and over 10 points higher than his predecessor Tiago Splitter. Expect coach Gregg Popovich to utilize Aldridge’s post ups in a similar manner to Duncan in the early 2000’s, but in San Antonio’s frenetic passing offense it is difficult to imagine Aldridge nearing his career highs in usage. Aldridge had a career high in 3-point attempts (1.5 per game) last season and that should only go up in San Antonio.

 

Tier #2 “The Barkley Division”: These two frontcourt athletes make up our Charles Barkley division because they invoke images of some of Chuck’s most polished traits such as dribbling, running the break, and passing. Cousins, while normally a center, looks to start at Power Forward with Sacramento’s signing of George Karl favorite Kosta Koufos and drafting of Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein.

3.) Blake Griffin – Los Angeles Clippers

The Blake Show is no longer solely focused around dunks, as the former #1 overall pick out of Oklahoma has continually evolved and diversified his game. Amongst starting power forwards, Griffin was second in Assist Ratio at 19.3, second in usage at 27.0, and 4th in Estimated Wins added at 13.3. Blake has never been a prolific rebounder and has actually seen his rebounding numbers go DOWN each season, but his passing and ever growing range make him an elite power forward.

2.) DeMarcus Cousins – Sacramento Kings

 

Tier #1: “The Franchise Player”

1.) Anthony Davis – New Orleans Pelicans

Because Anthony Davis played on the 8th seeded New Orleans Pelicans, his historically great 2014-2015 season was lost in the shuffle between the rise of the Golden State Warriors and the return of the King to Cleveland. Through the first quarter of the season, the Brow’s PER rating was on pace to be the best of all time and finished in the top ten of qualified players, joining elite company such as Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James. Davis’ usage and PER have increased in each of his 3 seasons in the league and should skyrocket with the hiring of offensive guru Alvin Gentry as head coach to replace Monty Williams. If Davis can add a 3-pointer to his repertoire, he will be a threat to top 30 PPG. Only downside is injury (Davis hasn’t played more than 68 games in any of his 3 seasons) but should be your #1 overall pick in fantasy.

 

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