The NBA has been a big man’s league for a long time, dating all the way back to George Mikan and Bill Russell. But as the center position has increasingly moved to the perimeter, the emphasis has shifted to the four man. In today’s game, a great power forward is tasked with everything from blocking shots to stretching the defense and making three-pointers.
The position can sometimes be a thankless one, as night after night even the very best are assaulted from all corners. From LaMarcus Aldridge to Paul Millsap, from Tim Duncan to Ryan Anderson, there are no nights off.
Here are the ten greatest power forwards in NBA history.
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Honorable mention: Dennis Rodman
Narrowly edging out Amar’e Stoudemire, the Worm will get the call. Known as much for his flamboyant personality as his passionate play, Rodman was a contributor on two of the greatest teams in NBA history. The Bad Boy Pistons and Jordan‘s Bulls both deployed Dennis the Menace as he racked up five career championships. He wasn’t the biggest, strongest or most skilled but Rodman led the league in rebounding seven straight seasons. He flat out wanted it more, every single night.
If Rodman could’ve contributed on offense even marginally he would’ve cracked the list. But this is a guy whose career-high point per game average is 11.6. Rodman was a perfect role player, which contrary to popular belief, isn’t a negative term. He knew his job and he went out and did it on a nightly basis. He wasn’t going to take over a game but he could help control one by focusing on the things he did well: defense and rebounding.
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10. Shawn Kemp
Career Accolades: 6x All-Star, 3x All-NBA
The Reign Man was explosive; he had his generation hooked. If only he truly focused on basketball. An elite talent who had some brush-ups with the law and alleged focus issues. I always think of Michael Irvin when I think of Shawn Kemp. He was still a star but could he have been the best ever if he kept his nose clean? The Reign Man had four straight seasons of 18 points, 10 rebounds and 50 percent shooting or better. He never won a championship but he did help Gary Payton and the Seattle Supersonics push Jordan’s Bulls to a six-game series in the 1996 NBA Finals.
9. Pau Gasol
Career Accolades: 2X champion, 4X All-Star, 3X All-NBA
The accolades don’t truly commend the effort Gasol has put forth over his career. He played in the era of elite power forwards, which definitely made it harder for him to rack up the All-NBA appearances. Gasol has an elite arsenal of post moves, he has the fundamentals around the basket that every coach dreams of. When people rag on Dwight Howard for his lack of post moves, Pau Gasol is the reason why. He finishes at the rim with both hands, and is incredibly quick with the ball. He was a bordeline franchise player in Memphis but when he got to Los Angeles he really shined as the 1B to Kobe Bryant‘s 1A. Many believe he should have won the Finals MVP award in 2010 when he led the entire postseason in win shares.