In basketball and every other major pro team sport, we always seem to be in the middle of a period where one position is enjoying a “Golden Era.” Right now, a lot of people would say this is a Golden Era for point guards in the NBA. And if you haven’t seen Dime’s NBA preview issue yet, there I wrote that we’re seeing the beginning of a Golden Era for small forwards.
At the beginning of this decade, though, we were in the age of the power forward. As legends like Karl Malone and Charles Barkley were on their way out, All-Stars like Tim Duncan and Chris Webber and Kevin Garnett were in their prime, and youngsters like Elton Brand, Kenyon Martin and Amar’e Stoudemire were on the come-up. Looking around today, there aren’t as many elite PF’s on the NBA landscape, and historically, the four has been the one position that isn’t as littered with all-time greats.
In the TNT studio last night, Kenny Smith showed me and him are on the same page by naming Duncan his pick for greatest power forward of all-time, with Malone second and Barkley third.
I wouldn’t argue much with that, and taking it a step further, I’d throw Garnett at the fourth spot, but deciding on five is tough. Kevin McHale has the rings and solid numbers, but then C-Webb had a ridiculous amount of talent, and Dirk Nowitzki brings the element of being able to do one thing — shoot from the outside — better than anyone at the position has ever done. And I have to mention Shawn Kemp, who would’ve cracked the list easily if he hadn’t gotten in his own way. If I had to choose right now, I’d go with Dirk as the fifth guy.
Who are the five greatest power forwards of all-time?