Dirk Nowitzki won the NBA Finals MVP award last season, making him a deserving #1 among the elite power forwards of the NBA. He may be 33 with 1100 games behind him, but he’s still going to be the hardest big man playing outside to guard in the NBA.
As for the rest of them, athleticism and inside work is a common feature. LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, Zach Randolph and Amar’e Stoudemire all join Dirk in the NBA’s top 5 Power Forwards we predict will dominate in the 2011-2012 season.
Number 5 – LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers
Whether he wants to or not, this is his team now. Aldridge will be “the man” for the Blazers as Brandon Roy, used to that role, announced his retirement earlier this month. The former Longhorn had the best season of his career last season, leading Portland without Roy for most of the time. It’ll just be more of the same this year. He averaged 21.8 points and 5.3 rebounds, both career highs, with his Win Shares reaching an 11.1, also the highest number of his career.
Number 4 – Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies
When Randolph is motivated, he puts up monster numbers. A perennial 20-10 kind of guy, despite being a tad short at Power Forward, Randolph is happy and fantastic for Memphis. He averaged 20.1 points and 12.2 rebounds for a team that made the conference semi finals for the first time. Things are looking up for the Grizzlies with Rudy Gay back after a long injury.
Randolph averaged 22.2 points and 10.8 rebounds in the playoffs last season, his only third appearance in the postseason in his NBA decade.
Number 3 – Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
Blake Griffin, without Chris Paul and a revamped DeAndre Jordan led the Los Angeles Clippers to a roller coaster of year, which was pretty awful when away from home. Still, he gave on of the more dominant rookie seasons in recent memory, averaging 22.5 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.
He became the first rookie to play in the All-Star game since Yao Ming in 2003 and the first voted by the coaches since 1998. With Chris Paul, and with no intention of slowing down or jumping any lower, expect Griffin’s numbers to pick up and youtube to be filled with extremely fun to watch alley oops pretty soon.
Number 2 – Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Knicks
Amar’e's first Big Apple season went very well even before Carmelo Anthony came to help. Stoudemire averaged 25.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, his best scoring output since the 2004-2005 season, the year before his season ending injury. His passion for basketball seemed renewed, stronger than ever actually.
Stoudemire was the leader on the Knicks team from the moment he got there, apparently relishing his chance in the biggest market of them all. He helped New York make their first playoff appearance in a while only to swept by the Celtics, struggling with only 14.5 points per game during the series. Things will be different this season for him and the Knicks, probably better. A first round appearance won’t do anymore for Knicks fans.
Number 1 – Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
In a different year, Nowitzki’s Eurobasket’s antics might have meant that he’d be pretty worn out at the start of the NBA season. The NBA lockout took care of that, giving the NBA Champions’ old bones a well earned rest. Nowitzki’s numbers did slip during the regular season, falling to 23 points and 7 rebounds per game, as did his playing time.
In the playoffs? Nowitzki, the one and only, with a better supporting cast, enough to win the NBA title after so many years. Nowitzki averaged 27.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. His fourth quarters output of 62 points during the six games, averaging just over 10 points in the crucial quarter, equaled that of James and Wade together.