A power forward usually plays with sheer force and is usually required to man the protect the paint, grab rebounds, score inside. In the modern day, NBA, the prototypical role of a power forward has changed dramatically and these players can do more than just post moves, they can shoot the three, handle the ball, take players off the dribble and pass. So now it’s no longer just being stuck in the paint for power forwards. But one thing though that has not changed is players who have left their mark whilst playing this position.
These are my top 5 power forwards to ever play in the NBA:
5. Dirk Nowitzki
A product of Wurzburg, Germany, Dirk’s journey to the NBA began when the Milwaukee Bucks, who drafted him with the 5th overall pick in 1998, traded him to the Dallas Mavericks. In all due respect to the Bucks for making this pick, but making a huge error in shipping that pick to Dallas. Dirk would later become the cornerstone of the Maverick franchise. Early in Dirk’s NBA career, it was not smooth sailing. In his first season with the Mavericks, Dirk only managed to average a measly 8.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg and 1.0 apg.
Things quickly got better for Dirk in his second NBA season, where he averaged 17.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.5 apg. This was clearly the turning point of Dirk’s NBA career. And since then he has only improved to higher heights. He was named to 13 NBA All-Star teams, from 2002-2012, 2014-2015. He has been name to four All-NBA First teams, from 2005-2007, 2009. He was the NBA MVP in 2007, which is a remarkable achievement, especially by a foreign-born player. He has been a five-time All-NBA Second Team, from 2002, 2003, 2008, 2010, 2011. Dirk has pretty much overachieved in the NBA, his three-point shooting ability as a power forward has never been seen before and may never be seen again.
That one-legged fadeaway move that is his signature move is pretty much unblockable and it has helped him move to number sixth all-time on the NBA scoring list. Dirk is not the prototypical power forward who likes battle down low in the post. He is more of a finesse player who uses his solid agility and shooting to punish his opposition. Dirk’s high skill level has allowed him to lead his team to an NBA championship, in 2011. His team defeated the “Big 3” of the Miami Heat in six games.
Dirk has won numerous accolades, like the NBA Three-Point shootout in 2006, NBA Shooting Stars Champion in 2010. He was the FIBA World Cup MVP in 2002. and FIBA World Cup Scorer. Dirk has certainly left a legacy which will be remembered for years to come. It can be said that he is by far the best European player to ever play the game and arguably the best foreign player to play in the NBA.
4. Charles Barkley
Also called “Chuck” or “Sir Charles” during his playing days, was a player who was very animated, and as a result, he was the kind of guy people would either like or just flat out hate. Barkley grew up in a small city in Alabama, and would probably have never expected that he would become such a great NBA player. He would go on to play his college ball at Auburn University from 1981-1984, there he would have a good career and would win the SEC Player of the Year in 1984.
After ending his stellar college playing career, Barkley got drafted fifth overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1984. He quickly found success in the NBA, and in only his third year he was selected to an NBA All-Star game in 1987. In all, Barkley was selected to 11 NBA All-Star games, from 1987-1997. Charles Barkley was an overachiever in the NBA, for his size which may have more been suited for a shooting guard or small forward back then. He certainly did not let being undersized take away from his legacy, rather it helped shaped it. He is one of few players to be 6'6" and to lead the NBA in rebounding, which he did 1987, even with the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Hakeem Olajuwon still playing in the league.
Barkley was a beast in the paint and would slam it down ferociously most of the time. He had guard skills and could easily take big men off the dribble and score. He had the ability to finish in close or on the midrange jumper. Charles was a good passer and would deliver some nifty passes to teammates. Barkley’s abilities led to more accolades, to him being named MVP of the NBA All-Star Game in 1991, NBA MVP in 1993. He was a five-time NBA All-First Team from 1988-1991, 1993. He left with career averages of 23,757 in total points while averaging 22.1 ppg and 12,546 rebounds while average 11.7 rpg, 4,215 assists while averaging 3.9 apg. Barkley did not win a ring but surely earned his right to be called one of the best power forwards to ever play this game.
3. Kevin Garnett
KG, as he was known during his playing days, was a product of the state of Chicago and made his jump to the NBA, straight out of high school. After having a stellar high school career, he was selected with the fifth overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1995. Garnett found success quickly in the NBA, after only his second season he was named to an NBA All-Star game, in 1997. He went on to make fourteen more NBA All-Star game appearances, 1997, 1998, 2000-2011, 2013. KG was an athletic and very skilled big who could drive to the basket and finish strong with a dunk or could use his signature turnaround jumper, he could hit the baseline jumper and use some post moves. He was a great rebounder and all around very good defensive minded player. These abilities helped him carved a productive and long career in the league.
He led the league in rebounding for four consecutive years, 2004-2007. This feat is very impressive when you would have the likes of Duncan and Shaquille Oneal still playing. He took home the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award in 2008 as a member of the Celtics. This same year he won his first and only NBA Championship. He was a nine-time NBA All- First Defensive Team, from 2000-2005, 2008, 2009, 2011. An NBA All-Star Game MVP in 2003, three-time NBA All- Defensive Second Team from 2006, 2007 and 2012. Aside from just being a great player, Garnett had a great personality and was a vocal leader for most of the teams he played on. Garnett will be remembered for his famous powder in hands ritual before every game. He left the NBA with total 26,071 points while averaging 17.8 ppg, 14,662 rebounds while averaging 10.0 rpg and 5,445 assists while averaging 3.7 apg.
2. Karl Malone
He was called the “Mailman” for a reason, he delivered great on court performances. Malone, a product of the state of Louisiana, played his college ball at Louisiana Tech from 1982-1985. Malone had a solid college career and was subsequently drafted 13th overall by the Utah Jazz in the 1985 NBA Draft. In the NBA, Malone became a monstrous force in the paint who would fearlessly posterize opponents. He pretty much had no flaws in his game, he could shoot the turnaround jumper with ease or use the hook shot, make the midrange jumpers. He could even handle the ball somewhat; his rebounding skills were quite good also. Malone’s skills allowed him to carve out an illustrious NBA career.
He was selected to 14 NBA All-Star games, from 1988-1998, 2000-2002. He became MVP of the league twice, in 1997 and in 1999. This award which he won in 1997 is just a testament of how good Malone was at that time, he would have been going up against the likes of Michael Jordan for that award but he was still able to win.
Malone was a member of the 1992 “Dream Team” that won Olympic gold. He was a two-time MVP of the All-Star Game, in 1989 and 1993. He was named to an eye-boggling 11 All-NBA First Team from 1989-1999. He was only selected to the All-NBA Second team twice, in 1988 and 2000. To be selected to the first team shows how productive Malone would have been throughout the season. He made it to three NBA All-Defensive First Team from 1997-1999, NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 1998. Malone would play in three NBA Finals, twice as a member of the Utah Jazz and once as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, in 1997, 1998 and 2004.
Malone was a model of consistency through his eighteen year NBA career, and left with 36,928 total points which is second all time, 14,968 rebounds and dished out 5,238 assists. Malone as a power forward was certainly greatness exemplified.
1. Tim Duncan
Duncan was a player with a quiet on court demeanor, but his game spoke volumes. Duncan who hails from the US Virgin Islands did not commence his sporting career as a basketballer, rather, he was a swimmer, and it was only due to a natural disaster that he began playing basketball. Duncan can surely look back and be thankful because of this, as he went on to have an illustrious basketball career.
Duncan became a standout college player for the Demon Deacons of the Wake Forest University, from 1993-1997. And during his career in college, went on to pick up some accolades like National Player of the Year, ACC Player of the year which he won twice, in 1996 and 1997. After having an impact on the college level, Duncan was drafted first overall by the San Antonio Spurs in 1997.
Duncan quickly found success in the NBA and grabbed Rookie of the Year honors in 1998. Two years later, Duncan would hoist his first Larry Obrien Trophy in 1999, this being the Spurs first ever championship. Duncan was only in his second year in the league, but that did not stop him from winning the NBA Finals MVP in 1999, doing so whilst playing with another great player in David Robinson. Duncan has since won this award on 3 different occasions, 1999, 2003, 2005. Duncan was a very good shot blocker and rebounder during his playing career.
He was also a big threat in the post, as he could use the hook shot effectively and could step out an use his signature bank shot from about 17 feet, he also had a very high basketball IQ and though not being the quickest player on the floor, he put his fundamentals to good use. He was a good passing big man and was an over achiever in the NBA. Duncan earned respect even from his opponents, like Shaq, who called him the “The Big Fundamental”. Duncan was all about winning and won five NBA championships in all, in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014.
He garnered NBA MVP honors twice, in 2002 and 2003. Duncan was named to fifteen NBA All-Star games, from 2000-2011, 2013, 2015. Duncan was one of the NBA players to have one of the longest NBA careers. To be exact, his career lasted for nineteen years, during which time he scored a total of 26,496, whilst averaging 19 ppg, grabbed 15,091 rebounds, whilst averaging 10.8 rpg, dished out 4,225 assists, whilst averaging 3.0 apg. Duncan’s NBA career can be summed up by one word, winning. Since becoming a member of the Spurs organization in 1997, Duncan has never missed an NBA Playoffs series. And it for this reason that he is the best power forward to ever play in the NBA.