With point guards, shooting guards and small forwards taken care of, today we’re proceeding to the projected top 10 fantasy power forwards this season. A few of these players are eligible to play center as well, but the ones listed here are slated to start the season at power forward. As always, please feel free to share your thoughts below.
1. Dirk Nowitzki: Diggler is as steady and productive as big men come. Dallas has a stronger, deeper roster than they did last season, but it won’t affect Nowitzki’s sexy stats, which leave little to be desired. His scoring could dip a point or two, but his assists should climb a bit while his shooting percentages will remain intact. It would be great to see him make his way back into the 1+ steal, 1+ block club, but Dirk will leave his owners very happy (and, with his new headband, entertained) even if he doesn’t.
2. Amar’e Stoudemire: His eye injury was a bit disconcerting and though he now dons a pair of Bo Outlaw-esque goggles, STAT seems primed to take advantage of a faster pace and the extra room to operate now that Shaquille O’Neal is gone. He doesn’t appear to be in ideal form during the preseason so far, but it won’t take Stoudemire long to assert himself with more points, rebounds and blocks than last season. Don’t forget that he’s playing for a contract if he doesn’t exercise his player option, and Amar’e has shown a penchant for a certain degree of selfishness, which could bode well for his motivation and, consequently, his production.
3. Chris Bosh: When healthy, Bosh is a fantasy beast. However, he’s been dealing with hamstring and knee issues this preseason and the conspicuous apparatus on his right leg doesn’t exactly exude confidence. Throw into the pot recent trade rumors to Golden State and there are a handful of unknowns for Bosh entering this season. Regardless, he’s a lock for about 22 and 9 along with a block and solid shooting percentages. If you decide to draft him make sure you understand the risks.
4. Pau Gasol: Given the previous player’s health concerns it’s completely reasonable to place Gasol a spot higher than this. His numbers aren’t all that great, but he’s as efficient as they come. If Andrew Bynum stays healthy expect Gasol’s minutes to drop off a bit, but not enough to drastically affect his production. He’ll continue to shoot 50+ percent from the field, hit about 80 percent of his free throws, dish out a few assists and produce double-doubles on a frequent basis.
5. Tim Duncan: He started his offseason regimen a bit later than usual to give his sore knee extra time to rest and is now wearing a very noticeable brace on that left knee. With coach Gregg Popovich appearing ready to limit Duncan to 32 minutes a night and yanking him from his lineup with little notice to give his star sufficient rest, things look a little bleak for the Spurs’ big man. However, if you can stomach the missed games you’ll be handsomely rewarded by his productivity when he is on the court, as Duncan remains one of the elite big men in the game who gives you the stats you want from a power forward.
6. Kevin Garnett: The good news is that he’s finally back on the court and looking relatively fine. The bad news is that Doc Rivers will almost certainly limit KG’s minutes throughout the season, especially in the early going. So long as Garnett gets 30+ minutes a night, you can count on him for at least 15 and 8 along with 1+ steal and 1+ block and great shooting percentages. If you decide to draft him, be patient. If he remains healthy Garnett should see more minutes and will boost his production closer to 2007-08 levels during the latter half of the season, which would help any fantasy team’s championship run.
7. Troy Murphy: He had a career year last season and while Murphy will be hard-pressed to repeat or improve on it, it’s tough to deny him the recognition he deserves. His health is sometimes spotty, but with a potentially bigger post presence from Roy Hibbert, the Pacers’ power forward could see a few more open looks from behind the arc. If he stays healthy and at least maintains his three-point proficiency, shooting percentages, double-digit rebounding and low turnovers, Murphy could finish the season a couple spots higher on this list.
8. Elton Brand: It appears the 76ers’ well-paid big man is set to finally play his first full season for his new team. Brand has played very well during the preseason and seems set to remind us all of his value. He gives you all the numbers you’d want from a power forward and shoots decently from the charity stripe, too. It’s unclear how he’ll fare in a faster offense for 82 games, but Brand could fall a lot lower than he should in many drafts.
9. Josh Smith: After a disappointing 2008-09 campaign, Smith seems prepared to bounce back strong. He lost weight and worked on his ball-handling and mid-range jump shot during the summer, which makes it easy to be optimistic about his prospects this year. Expect improvements in his free-throw percentage, rebounding, steals, blocks and points this year.
10. Al Harrington: Besides missing 14 games, Harrington had a great season for the Knicks last year. What sets him apart is his ability to pour in threes (2.4 per game last season). He also bulked up a bit and trained diligently during the offseason. This might be because he’s playing for a new contract this year, but whatever helps him perform at his best should be fine with his fantasy owners.
On the cusp: David West, Carlos Boozer, LaMarcus Aldridge, Jeff Green, Antawn Jamison
What do you think?
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