The power forward position, also known as the “four” is arguably one of the most ambiguous and ever changing positions in the game of basketball. As the game continues to transition to fast paced, high-temp offenses, the role of the power forward is something that has been up for debate among NBA experts and fans.
While some may prefer their power forward to operate primarily in the paint and be a physical presence both offensively and defensively, others may prefer the position to be a spot for an offensively gifted scorer who can do most of their work outside of the paint.
Regardless of your take on the position, the power forward spot has provided NBA fans with some of the best players the league has ever seen. Over the past decade, NBA fans have seen some of the most aw-inspiring and revolutionizing talents to play the position. An influx of new talents from the collegiate level, the continued development of players already in the league, as well as the prolonged greatness of star players has made the power forward position one of the most talented spots in the NBA. Here are the 15 best NBA power forwards of the past decade.
15. Paul Millsap
A rock solid player his first several years in the league, Millsap really made the jump to an All-Star level player with his 2010-2011 season. That year, Millsap averaged 17.3 points and 7.6 rebounds while shooting 53 percent from the field. Millsap has continued to improve his production since 2013 when he became a member of the Atlanta Hawks. Since then, Millsap has averaged over 16.5 PPG as well as a career high 9 RPG this past season. Millsap has also posted a PER (Player Efficiency Rating) of over 19 in each of the last six seasons which includes two seasons over 21. Millsap has blossomed into a very good big man in his days as an Atlanta Hawk, and if he is made available this upcoming offseason, there will be several teams lining up to offer for Millsap. Millsap is right below the top tier of power forwards in the league.
14. Josh Smith
The man nicknamed “J-Smoove” has put together a very solid NBA career over 12 seasons. Smith made a name for himself playing in Atlanta and turned some very productive seasons into a big free agent contract with the Detroit Pistons in the 2013 offseason. Smith has since seen his production decrease since his payday, but his numbers over the past 10 years are rock solid. Part of what made Smith such an appealing player is his great shot blocking skills. Smith has averaged greater than 2 BPG in four seasons, including his best season in 2006-07 when he averaged 2.9 a game. In his prime, Smith was also a good, but not great scorer and rebounder, making him a well-rounder power forward. In his nine seasons with Atlanta, Smith really was a stat sheet stuffer for the Hawks. “J-Smoove” averaged over 15 PPG, 2.1 BPG, 8 RPG and over 3 APG.
13. David Lee
Over the past 10 years, David Lee has had some extremely impressive years both rebounding and scoring the basketball. The two-time NBA all-star has four times ranked in the league’s top ten in terms of rebounds per game, including his stellar 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons where he averaged 11.7 rebounds per game. After his tenure with the New York Knicks, Lee amassed some very strong seasons as a member of the Golden State Warriors. In five seasons with the Warriors, Lee average 16.7 PPG and 9.3 RPG. In his career, Lee has twice eclipsed the 20 PPG mark in his career and has also scored more than 16 in four other seasons. Lee has also been efficient throughout his career, posting a PER over 19 in seven different seasons. Lee’s best days are long behind him, but for a period of time, he was one of the league’s better power forwards.
12. David West
Throughout the course of his 13 NBA seasons, David West has been a model of consistency at the power forward position. West has long been known as one of the better shooting power forwards in the league and has done most of his damage due to his strong midrange game. Partly due to playing with Chris Paul, West produced some excellent seasons in his tenure in New Orleans. Arguably his best two seasons of his career, West earned appearances in back-to-back all-star games in 2008 and 2009. West scored over 20 PPG in both of those seasons as well as collecting over 8.5 RPG. In his eight total seasons in New Orleans, West averaged over 16 PPG, while collecting 7.3 RPG. West continued on to produce solid seasons after he signed a free agent deal with the Indiana Pacers. West left Indiana last season in hopes of competing for a NBA championship, but recently declined his player option making him a free agent this offseason.
11. Anthony Davis
The former Number 1 overall pick has only been in the league for four seasons, but his elite production over that span earns him a spot on this list. Davis has battled some injuries throughout the early stages of his career, but while he’s on the court his numbers are jaw-dropping. Entering the NBA draft, many wondered if Davis would be able to score the basketball at a high level in the NBA. After 4 seasons, Davis has left little doubt that he can be an elite scorer in the league. In the past three seasons, Davis has averaged 20.8, 24.4 and 24.3 PPG while shooting over 49 percent from the field in each of those seasons. Davis has also been a force on the glass as he has averaged over 10 rebounds each of the past three seasons. What truly separates Davis from the rest is his efficiency. In 2014-2015 Davis had a staggering 30.8 PER.
10. Amar’e Stoudemire
A first round selection by the Phoenix Suns back in 2002, Amar’e Stoudemire showcased himself as an elite power forward throughout the prime of his career. In the ten-year span used for the rankings of this article, Amar’e Stoudemire had five seasons in which he scored over 20 PPG along with five seasons of over 8 RPG. “Stat’s” best year as a Sun came in the 2007-2008 season when he posted impressive averages of 25.2 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 2.1 BPG while shooting 59 percent from the field. Stoudemire finished that season with a PER of over 27. After eight seasons with the Suns, Stoudemire signed a big free agent deal with the New York Knicks. His first season in the big apple was another great year for him as he averaged over 25 points along with over 8 rebounds. Stoudemire has unfortunately suffered some very tough knee injuries in recent seasons making it hard for him to play extended minutes in games.
9. Zach Randolph
The 34-year-old Randolph has been in the league for nearly 15 seasons now and has continuously put up strong numbers in each of the past 10 seasons. Randolph spent six very productive seasons as a member of the Portland Trailblazers in which he averaged 16 PPG and 7.7 RPG. However, Randolph really elevated his production when he became part of the Memphis Grizzlies. “Z-Bo” kicked off his tenure in Memphis with possibly the best season of his career. Randolph finished the year averaging 20.8 PPG and 11.7 rebounds earning him the first all-star appearance of his career. Over seven seasons with Memphis, Randolph has produced five seasons with over 10 RPG, including 12.2 per game in his 2010-2011 season. “Z-Bo” really generates his value due to his work on the offensive glass. He has twice lead the league in offensive rebounds, finished second one another time and currently ranks sixth on the active leaderboard.
8. Kevin Garnett
A top five selection in the 1995 NBA draft, Kevin Garnett has put together a Hall of Fame career over the course of his 20 NBA seasons. Although most of his best years were produced before the start of the ten-year span used for this article, Garnett has still had some great seasons in the past ten years. “The Big Ticket” has six times been an all-star in that span, bumping his career total to 15 all-star appearances. Garnett’s best season in the past decade arguably came in his last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2006-2007 campaign. KG averaged 22.4 PPG to go along with a league-leading 12.8 RPG and a 24.1 Player Efficiency Rating. Garnett next became a member of the Boston Celtics the following season and continued his strong play. Garnett averaged over 18 a game, with 9 rebounds and also earns the honor of Defensive Player of the Year that season.
7. Blake Griffin
A human highlight reel throughout his collegiate career at Oklahoma, Griffin was selected first overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2009 NBA draft. Based off his first six seasons in the association, L.A. is probably very happy with the return Griffin has given them, although they had to wait a year for him to get on the court due to a severe injury. Griffin kicked off his NBA career with a stellar rookie season where he averaged 22.5 PPG and 12.1 RPG en route to earning the honor of Rookie of the Year. Griffin started off his career with five straight all-star game appearances and would have likely earned a sixth had it not have been for an injury shortened 2015-16 season. Over his career, Griffin has averaged 21.5 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 4.0 APG all while steadily improving his field goal percentages over his career, leading to a solid career mark of 52 percent.
6. Kevin Love
Another collegiate standout, as well as a top five selection in the NBA draft, Kevin Love has built quite the career in his early NBA seasons. Love’s career really took off in his 2010-2011 season with Minnesota. Love scored 20.2 PPG, while grabbing an astounding 15.2 RPG. Love lead the league in both rebounds per game and total rebounds that season. Love upped his scoring the following season to over 26 a game while still accumulating over 13 rebounds per contest. Love has seen his numbers take a bit of hit since he was traded to the Cleveland Cavilers two seasons ago, but has still produced at a solid level with the Cavs. In total, Love has gathered over 12 rebounds a season four times throughout his career, has been in the top four in the league in scoring three separate times, the top five in PER three times and has appeared in three all-star games. Quite the career for Mr. Love.
5. Pau Gasol
The 35-year-old, Spanish born Pau Gasol has now been in the association for 15 seasons and when it’s all said and done could be an NBA hall of famer. Gasol spent the first few years of the past decade with the Memphis Grizzlies and then became a member of the Los Angeles Lakers where he became a two-time NBA champion. Gasol has put fourth an impressive run of production over the past decade making him a clear cut choice for this list. In that span, Gasol has averaged over 18 PPG six out of the 10 seasons, has never averaged under 8.5 RPG and has averaged over 10 five separate times, including three seasons with more than 11 RPG. Pau has continued to produced even as he has gotten older as two of his better seasons came in the past two years with the Chicago Bulls. Pau has averaged 17.6 PPG and 11.4 RPG in those two seasons and has ranked in the top 10 in blocks both seasons.
4. LaMarcus Aldridge
LaMarcus Aldridge spent the first nine seasons of his NBA career as a member of the Portland Trailblazers after he was acquired in a draft night deal for Tyrus Thomas that turned out to be very beneficial for Portland. Aldridge took off in his second full season in the league and has been a star player since. Over the past nine season, “LA” has averaged over 17 PPG in each season and has surpassed the mark of 21 PPG five times. Aldridge has also averaged over 7.5 rebounds in each of those nine years, including a span of seven straight seasons with more than 8 a game. His best year came in 2014-2015 when he averaged 22.8 PPG, 10.2 RPG and had a PER of 22.8 In his career, Aldridge has been an all-star five times and has been in the top-ten in scoring four times. His ability to work inside and outside of the paint has made him a lethal offensive weapon.
3. Chris Bosh
Selected fourth overall in an NBA draft that included both LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh has made quite the name for himself in the association. In the past ten years, Bosh has been an all-star each of those 10 seasons and has a current run of 11 straight appearances. To start off the past decade, Bosh posted four straight seasons of over 22 PPG including an excellent 2009-2010 season with the Toronto Raptors. That year, Bosh averaged 24 PPG, 10.8 RPG while shooting 51 percent from the field and finished the year with the fourth best PER in the league at 25. After that excellent season, Bosh joined the Miami Heat in free agency with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade to form one of the best trios the league has even seen. Bosh saw his scoring numbers slip a bit but still put up very good numbers. For his career, he’s average 19.2 PPG and 8.5 RPG.
2. Tim Duncan
Probably the best Power Forward of all time, Tim Duncan produced his best seasons prior to the past decade. However, Duncan has still been an extremely good and efficient player over the past ten seasons. Duncan was still a very good scorer in terms of quantity for the first several years of the past 10 seasons, but due to minutes’ restrictions he has seen his PPG numbers decline over that span. Duncan really separates himself from other power forwards because of the incredible efficiency he has showcased throughout his career. Over the past ten seasons, Duncan has averaged a PER of 22.9 and has five times been in the top ten in the league in that category. Duncan has also displayed great merit on the defensive end of the court as he has six times been in the top ten of the league in blocks per game and total blocks. “The Big Fundamental” is a no doubt hall of fame player.
1. Dirk Nowitzki
The best European player in the history of the NBA, Dirk Nowitzki is a one of a kind player. The 7-foot tall German superstar has been a monster offensively throughout his NBA career and has showcased never before seen shooting talents from a man of his physical stature. Nowitzki posted several great seasons before the threshold for this article, but some of his best have come in the best ten seasons. Dirk started the decade off by averaging 24.6 PPG, 8.9 RPG and 3.4 APG while shooting 50 percent from the field. He went on to win the league Most Valuable Player award that season. In the past ten seasons, Nowitzki has seven times scored over 20 PPG, six times been in the top ten in scoring and PER and had also posted a PER over 19 in each of the ten seasons. Dirk earned his way to 8 all-star games over that span. You’d be hard pressed to find a better 10-year span at the position than Nowitzki had.
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