Think back to the days of Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, and even Kevin McHale and what a power forward meant to teams. For the most part this position was filled by players with low-post games who were very good rebounders.
Flash forward to the new generation of superstar power forwards, and you see an aging group led by champions Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, and Kevin Garnett. The major difference between these newer stars and those Hall of Famers is the versatility the younger generation brings to the court.
On any given night, Duncan can step out and nail a 17-footer, block shots, or control the glass. Garnett can intimidate and frustrate opponents (see Carmelo Anthony) while stepping out to the perimeter and creating havoc for defenses. Nowitzki can not only initiate his own offense and that of his teammates, but also make shots with range well beyond the 3-point line.
During the playoffs this spring, both Duncan and Garnett will turn 37, while Nowitzki turns 35 later this year.
The point is that the position of power forward is changing, and when these stars retire there will be guys like Chris Bosh, Kevin Love, and Blake Griffin to step up as the premiere players at the position. However they will be rare, as the NBA is changing it’s definition of the position.
Over the last few drafts the top power forwards taken were Anthony Davis, Tristan Thompson, and Kenneth Faried. While the jury has just begun deliberations on these youngsters, it is becoming clearer that teams prefer their power forwards to be active, energetic, dirty-work guys that won’t command the ball or bring too much ego into the locker room.
When examining this year’s crop of 4s, its important to remember that teams aren’t necessarily looking for the best player — rather the player that best fits into their team.
If you like players that do the dirty work, prepare to enjoy. While there may be some debate about some college prospects and whether they are considered power forwards, these positional rankings are based on NBA projections of where players will be not only in the short-term but what they will grow into as well.
Anthony Bennett, PF UNLV
If Bennett were taller he’d undoubtedly be a frontrunner for the top overall pick, but as it stands is chasing Nerlens Noel for that distinction, at the moment.
From a type-of-game standpoint, Bennett has been compared to Larry Johnson and Zach Randolph. There is no denying his game involves a physicality that is advanced beyond his age. While Bennett’s production has slipped, some of late that is more due to the fact that opposing defenses have been making him the primary focus.
Offensively, Bennett is an efficient scorer with the ability to face from beyond the 3-point line, but his calling card is a post game in which he punishes defenders down low. Bennett is a very good rebounder and an above average shot blocker due to his 7’2″ wingspan.
It is apparent in watching his game film that Bennett has abilities that are unique for his position. A lock to go in the top-10, he should go higher.