When it comes to pure power forwards, or more accurately, players who can’t or hardly will play as centers, there’s not perfect player or complete package. Each flawed in his own way, Josh Smith, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge and above all Kevin Love consist of the best in the position among NBA players.
Number 5 – Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
Last season was the best of Josh Smith’s 8-year career, averaging career highs in points (18.8) and rebounds (9.6). He played almost as a center during the postseason, averaging 13.6 boards per game. His maturity and consistency was much improved, and he’ll probably take just as much on his shoulders next season after Joe Johnson left, which might be his last year in Atlanta with the Hawks.
Number 4 – Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
There’s no doubt about the explosiveness of Griffin and his ability to amaze us every night with a few alley oops and some physics-defying dunks, on the way humiliating a few players across the NBA. The numbers? Pretty good, with 20.7 points and 10.9 rebounds during the regular season and just about the same in the playoffs. But you expect more from him – a mid-range game, more effort on defense, and evolving into more than just a highlight machine.
Number 3 – Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
A little slower, a little more tired looking, but Pau Gasol is still one of the more versatile and effective big men in the NBA. He averaged 17.4 points and 10.4 rebounds during the regular season but had a second consecutive disappointing postseason with his field goal percentage nosediving to the 40’s. Next to Dwight Howard and an amped up Lakers team, his numbers might not be better, but he’ll be a lot more loose defensively and might see more of the ball with an actual point guard to play with.
Number 2 – LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trailblazers
For the second straight season, the Blazers were Aldridge’s team, and despite all of their problems and getting used to life full-time without Brandon Roy, if it weren’t for Aldridge missing 11 games and a bit more luck here and there, a playoff wasn’t out of the question. Aldridge averaged 21.7 points and 8 rebounds per game last season, and in order to give the Blazers a better chance, the 6’11 forward needs to continue and increase his aggression and prowess in the paint and becoming more of a force inside.
Number 1 – Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
He’s still not the best defender he can be, but Love is set on improving and taking his team into the playoffs. An injury will keep him out of the first six weeks of the season, but it’s hard to ignore the leap he’s taken over the last couple of seasons. The best rebounder in the NBA next to Dwight Howard while hitting 37.2% of his three point shots, averaging 26 points per game. He’s not perfect, but if he manages to shift a little bit of his intensity and focus to the defensive side, he’ll be the complete big-man pacakage.