Saturday, June 15, 2013

Greatest power forwards of all time



Power forwards have rarely proven to be franchise centerpieces but they can certainly be vital pieces to successful teams. The better PFs in today's game vary wildly in playing style, from Tim Duncan's post presence to Chris Bosh's inside-outside game to Zach Randolph's relentless pursuit of offensive and defensive rebounds. (One could certainly argue that Bosh is a center and LeBron plays the 4 but we'll skip the semantics for now.)

That variability in playing style is also present in the best power forwards in NBA history, as you'll see in this ranking of the top-10 PFs of all time. Of course, there are also a couple examples of franchise players among these greats.

10. Dennis Rodman


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
Blocks
FG%
FT%
Titles
MVPs
FMVPs
7.3
13.1
1.8
0.7
0.6
.521
.584
5
0
0

This was one of the tamest pictures of Dennis Rodman that I could find. Really though, Googling "Dennis Rodman" gets you some of the more interesting pictures out there of athletes. Moving on...

Rodman may have scored a mere 7.3 points per game but when you have Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen on your team, there isn't much of a need for another scorer. What Rodman did do was haul down rebounds as well as anybody in the league. He shot efficiently throughout his career and ended up with five titles as an outstanding defensive player. Earning two Defensive Player of the Year awards and a reputation for "proving he could shut down any opposing player, from point guard to center," Rodman fit in perfectly with the offensive firepower in Chicago during the Jordan era.

9. Dave DeBusschere


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
Blocks
FG%
FT%
Titles
MVPs
FMVPs
16.1
11.0
2.9
N/A
N/A
.432
.699
2
0
0

An eight-time NBA All Star and two-time champion, Dave DeBusschere (say that as fast as you can) spent half of his career with the Pistons and half with the Knicks. A part of the stacked Knicks of 1970 and 1973, DeBusschere was also a player-coach for the Pistons from 1964-1967, and as such was the youngest coach in NBA history (24 years old). In 1983, he was named to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

8. Kevin McHale


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
Blocks
FG%
FT%
Titles
MVPs
FMVPs
17.9
7.3
1.7
0.4
1.7
.554
.798
3
0
0

A two-time Sixth Man of the Year and three-time NBA champion, Kevin McHale was a member of the 1986 NBA champion Boston Celtics. Along with Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge, and Bill Walton, the '86 C's are regarded as one of the best teams in NBA history. Like Bird, McHale could shoot lights-out, going into what he termed himself "the torture chamber." From February to March of 1987, he had a nine-game streak where he averaged 30.7 points and 10 rebounds on 71.7 percent from the field. That season he finished with 26.1 PPG and became the first player to ever shoot 60 percent from the field and 80 percent from the line.

7. Elvin Hayes


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
Blocks
FG%
FT%
Titles
MVPs
FMVPs
21.0
12.5
1.8
1.0
2.0
.452
.670
1
0
0

The No. 1 overall pick in the 1968 NBA Draft, Elvin Hayes' on-court greatness started no later than his rookie year. En route to the NBA All-Rookie Team, Hayes pulled down 17.1 rebounds in addition to his league-leading 28.2 points per game. He defined durability, playing in at least 80 games for every season of his 16-year career. Interestingly enough, he is not in the Hall of Fame. He has elected to boycott the opportunity until one of his coaches, Guy Lewis, is inducted.

6. Dirk Nowitzki


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
Blocks
FG%
FT%
Titles
MVPs
FMVPs
22.6
8.2
2.6
0.9
0.9
.475
.877
1
1
1

Although he just misses the top-five, Dirk Nowitzki is one of only two players on this list with at least one MVP and Finals MVP (the other sits at No. 1). Part of the reason he's "only" at six has to do with the same reason he's often called "_irk," but the German sharpshooter will definitely go down as one of the better scorers in NBA history, especially for a 7-footer. In the 2011 playoffs, he nailed 175 of 186 free throws including 24 straight in Game 1 of the Western conference finals.

5. Kevin Garnett


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
Blocks
FG%
FT%
Titles
MVPs
FMVPs
19.1
10.5
3.9
1.3
1.5
.498
.790
1
1
0

Still going strong at age 37, Kevin Garnett has been in the NBA for almost two decades. KG spent the majority of his career as a member of the lowly Timberwolves which did made it difficult for him to have any playoff success. But, once he departed for greener pastures, KG quickly made it known that it wasn't his inability to get it done in the post-season that was the deciding factor in those 10+ years in Minnesota. The year he joined the Celtics as a member of the first "Big Three," KG along with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen led the C's to their first title since 1986. A 15-time All-Star, he also took home the 2004 Defensive Player of the Year award.

4. Bob Pettit


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
Blocks
FG%
FT%
Titles
MVPs
FMVPs
26.4
16.2
3.0
N/A
N/A
.436
.761
1
2
N/A

Perhaps often overrated or underrated because he played in the 50s and 60s, Pettit had a solid career as a member of the then-Milwaukee Hawks franchise. The first player to win a regular season MVP award in NBA history, Pettit also lays claim to being one of two players in history to win four All Star game MVP awards (Kobe Bryant is the other). Would he be great in today's game? Who knows, but for his era, Bob Pettit dominated his position.

3. Charles Barkley


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
Blocks
FG%
FT%
Titles
MVPs
FMVPs
22.1
11.7
3.9
1.5
0.8
.541
.735
0
1
0

The Round Mound of Rebound was, of course, a power forward. But what is often forgotten in a career that  averaged better than 20 and 10 was the fact that this guy was 6'6". He was no Shaq, Malone, KG...Barkley made Ben Wallace at 6'9" look tall.

Like the player one spot ahead of ahead of him on this list, Barkley never won an NBA championship. He did, however, put on great shows in his Finals appearances, including Game 4 of the 1993 Finals where he racked up a triple-double (32-12-10). He just happened to be playing Michael Jordan that year who, not to be out done in Game 4 by Sir Charles, dropped 55 on Barkley and the Suns.

2. Karl Malone


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
Blocks
FG%
FT%
Titles
MVPs
FMVPs
25.0
10.1
3.6
1.4
0.8
.516
.742
0
2
0

Although the Mailman often is left out of the discussion for overall greatest NBA players of all time, there is no doubt he lands firmly in the No. 2 slot for his position. Maybe it’s because most of the other greats below him on this ranking don’t have many titles, but Malone and Stockton did make up one of the most famous duos in basketball history—before there became this desire for “Big Threes.” At or near the top of many all-time statistical lists, Malone appeared in 14 consecutive All Star games and won two regular season MVP awards.

1. Tim Duncan


Points
Rebounds
Assists
Steals
Blocks
FG%
FT%
Titles
MVPs
FMVPs
20.2
11.2
3.1
0.7
2.2
.507
.693
4
2
3

Tim Duncan has been the epitome of consistency at an elite level. As Bill Simmons pointed out in a recent article, his per 36 minutes stats are nearly identical for 16 years. It shouldn’t be possible and yet the Big Fundamental gets it done again and again. And again. He has appeared in the NBA Finals in three separate decades and has four titles to show for it. Add on two MVPs and a host of other incredible accomplishments and you have the center of a franchise—and the greatest power forward of all time.

Side note: Yes, that is a real picture of Tim Duncan smiling. If you haven't already seen, here's Manu's imitation of the greatest PF of all time:


Check out more of the "greatest of all time series" which includes greatest point guards, shooting guards, centers, and overall players of all time.

1 comment:

  1. Really Good list! I would actually argue for KG to be higher I would put him at #3 even #2. He was a top 3 defensive PF of all time, 1 of the best rebounders, best passers, and peak/prime KG could be the best ever in terms of all around skill.


    But Tim Duncan easily the greatest PF ever.

    ReplyDelete

Add your thoughts or opinion.