It’s getting harder to define what is a power forward and what is a center these days in the NBA, but it’s still possible. In any case, after eliminating the hybrids and weeded out the not good enough, we’re left with six players that make us feel confident about attacking best to their name: Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Dirk Nowitzki, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love and David West.
For Davis, he’s still playing without a solid center next to him but there’s no doubt he’ll look better than last year. The same goes for Love and Nowitzki, who don’t have any injuries slowing down, and hopefully won’t have to deal with some either.
Number 6 – Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans won’t be good enough to make the playoffs this year, but they’ll get closer, and a big reason for that will be Anthony Davis. The rookie averaged 13.5 points and 8.2 rebounds last season while shooting 51.6% from the field. He’ll be (hopefully) healthy for more than 64 games like he was last year, and with more attention to his improving team, the recognition of just how good he is and going to be will be a lot easier to share among more than just Pelicans fans.
Number 5 – David West, Indiana Pacers
Nothing flashy about David West, but he’s a big reason why the Indiana Pacers have become the main challengers for the Miami Heat in the Eastern conference. He averaged 17.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, and his ability to attack the glass for offensive boards and be like a second playmaker for the Pacers with his back to the basket has been vital in their slow offensive development, not to mention being someone that gives LeBron James a lot of trouble on both ends of the floor.
Number 4 – Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
Blake Griffin’s numbers might be on their way down, averaging “only” 18 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, but he’s trying to become much more than just a high flying dunker he’s been known for since entering the league. He’s a better defender, and last year’s playoff series against the Grizzlies surely taught him a less or two after getting steamrolled by Zach Randolph, and more importantly a better decision maker than before, less and less afraid of taking open jumpers or playing some sort of facilitator he began to do last year with a career high in assists per minutes.
Number 3 – Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Healthy right from the get go, there’s a good chance we won’t see another beardathon from the Mavs as they try and reach .500. Nowitzki needed some time to get back to his old ways after coming back from an injury, he ended up averaging 17.3 points per game. But he did shoot better than before at 47.1% from the field and 41.4% from beyond the arc. With Monta Ellis taking some offensive responsibility from him, a healthy Nowitzki, even at 35, should be one more the more enjoyable big men to watch in the NBA once again.
Number 2 – LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers
There were rumors all offseason about Aldridge trying to push for a trade out of Portland, but either that wasn’t true or a deal wasn’t worked out. In any case, Aldridge has the best team he has played for since 2011, the last year for Brandon Roy on the team. Not just a strong starting unit like last season, but a pretty decent bench as well. It might not be enough for the playoffs in the loaded Western conference, but it should be enough for more than we saw last season, as Aldridge will continue being one of the more reliable power forwards in the league, posting 21 points and 9 rebounds a night like clockwork.
Number 1 – Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
No injuries should mean the Timberwolves are once again playoff contenders, and that Kevin Love is once again primed to be the double-double machine of the NBA, but much more than that as well. No one but Nowitzki has his offensive range or the sheer importance of him to the team he’s playing for. An excellent passer and improving defender, this is the year Love might finally finish with a smile on his face about what he’s achieved with the team, although it might not be completely up to him.