2011-12 RotoRob NBA Draft Kit: Power Forward Rankings
Stylin’ Serge Ibaka will be throwing a block party for the Thunder.
We’re back with more of the 2011-12 RotoRob NBA Draft Kit today. So while you wonder how Chuck Hayes can have his contract voided by the Sacramento Kings for health reasons, and then turn around and sign an even bigger deal with them just four days later, let’s turn our attention to the power forward position.
When filling the four slot, you’re looking at a range of skills. There are the dominant rebounders (Kevin Love, Pau Gasol, Zach Randolph, etc.), the pure scorers (such as Disco Dirk) and the block party kings (like J-Smoov and Serge Ibaka). Most 20-10 men will generally play power forward; guys like Z-Bo and Blake Griffin.
When picking a power forward, make sure you look for those that shoot a high percentage.
Last year’s rankings are in parentheses.
1. Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves (17): To say that Love exploded as a Fantasy asset last season seems as big an understatement as suggesting that Lady Gaga is merely weird. She’s a total freakazoid, and he’s become a serious stud in the T-Wolves frontcourt, leading the NBA is rebounding last season. Love’s shooting touch soared to new personal bests, his FT shooting continues to get better, his rebounding – on both ends of the floor – was phenomenal, and even his assists were up a shade. If this dude ever turned into a shot blocker, he’d be the most valuable player in Fantasy basketball. But as it stands now, this 23-year-old has quickly become one of the most promising players in the game and he’s helped turn Minnesota into a team to watch and one that should improve by leaps and bounds this season.
2. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks (1): The downward trajectory of Nowtizki’s career is definitely underway, but he remains one of the top options at the four spot. His rebounding numbers have dipped in each of the past six seasons, and if that trend continues, Disco Dirk may only bag you 6.5 or so per game this season, so you can’t count on him threatening as a 20-10 player any longer. His steals – never a huge part of his game anyway – reached a new low last season and his scoring dropped to its lowest level since 2003-04. The good news was that despite Nowitzki’s reduced bucket total, he sunk them at a higher rate than ever before, and that helped save his Fantasy value. Will the greybeard trio of Nowitzki, newcomer Lamar Odom and Jason Kidd combine for another title run?
3. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers (3): Gasol has never been known as an outside threat, but there are rumblings that he plans to add that to his game this season. We’re not holding our breath that this will happen, but he’d soar near the top of the list if it did. Gasol had another big season in LA last year. He continues to log heavy minutes and put up more shots last season. Gasol didn’t do quite as good a job of getting to the line, and if he’s serious about letting loose on more long bombs, that’s a trend that will continue. The combo of Gasol and Kobe Bryant remains among the best duos in the game, and that should continue for a couple of years even with their advancing age.
4. Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks (7): The straw that stirs the Hawks is prone to inconsistent play, but few players have his immense across-the-board skills. While Smith wasn’t quite as good last season as he was in 2009-10, there were still plenty of positives. He became a more integral part of the offense and took plenty more shots from downtown – with more success than ever. J-Smoov’s free throw shooting – always his biggest weakness – improved substantially. His rebounding numbers dipped, but not dramatically, and his scoring was up to near career-high levels. The only negative here is that Smith is rumoured to be on the block — and he wants out – so it’s reasonable to wonder how that distraction affects his performance.
5. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers (32): Griffin has yet to play in a postseason game, but that could change this season with all the talent he’s now surrounded by in LA. The addition of Chris Paul alone should provide a boost for the exciting second-year forward. As a rookie last season, Griffin played heavy minutes, and showed no ill effects after missing what should have been his first season the year before because of injuries. He immediately proved he was an impact scorer and did a solid job of earning trips to the line, but will need to improve his FT shooting to take the next step. Griffin didn’t get many blocks, but made up for that with copious rebounding. The prospect of watching CP3 toss up alley-oops for Griffin to flush with furry is a perfect excuse to forgive the NBA for the stupid lockout and get back to watching the game you love.
6. LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers (20): In his fifth season in the NBA, Dallas native Aldridge broke through with his finest effort. He became the team’s focal point offensively and improved his shooting touch while doing a much better job of getting to the line. Aldridge matched his career best by averaging a steal per game and also tied his personal high in assists per game. He was also instrumental in the team signing Jamal Crawford, although we’re not sure how he’ll feel about the move when Crawford wears out his welcome, as is his custom with every team over time.
7. Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies (14): Z-Bo has thrived in Memphis, leading the Grizz to tie him up with a long-term extension in April. He dealt with some minor injuries, but was superb otherwise. For the second straight season, both Randolph’s FT attempts and percentage dipped, but his turnovers also dropped. Other than blocks and treys, he’ll help you in every category. Adding Randolph for Q-Rich in the 2009 offseason sure has worked out well for Memphis.
8. David Lee, Golden State Warriors (5): Lee’s bloated contract is beginning to be a thorn in the Warriors’ side. After parlaying a career season with the Knicks in 2009-10 into a six-year, $80-million deal from Golden State, so far he’s been a bust. In fairness, he did excellent work on the offensive glass and he again averaged a steal per game, but Lee’s scoring and defensive rebounds dipped significantly. The Warriors have named him as one of three co-captains, so hopefully the vote of confidence spurs Lee to rediscover his New York form.
9. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat (8): There’s word that Bosh is planning to use the deep ball more often this season, and that may be his saving grace, because no one’s stats were hurt more by the union of the Super Friends in Miami than CB4. Last season was Bosh’s worst since 2004-05 and his ugly 6-for-25 mark from beyond the arc didn’t exactly portent that he would plan to forge ahead with that weapon. Bosh did a good job from the line, but didn’t get there nearly as often as usual, a contributing factor to his scoring plummeting. Of course, he immediately went from being the No. 1 option in Toronto to the third option on the Heat. Bosh’s rebounding – especially defensively – also suffered. He’s still a potential All-Star, but clearly has lost a lot of value in the move. A real spike in his 3-point shooting would certainly help reverse that trend.
10. Paul Millsap, Utah Jazz (27): Finally given a full-time starting role last season, Millsap enjoyed a breakout campaign, showing his versatility with fine across-the-board production. He became a way bigger part of the Jazz offense, did great work on the defensive boards and even pitched in with an un-power forward-like 2.5 assists per game. Millsap has quickly turned into a grizzled veteran, but don’t be shocked if there’s still upside in his game, especially from a rebounding perspective.
11. Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder (NR): Despite the fact that he didn’t play starter’s minutes, Ibaka enjoyed a wonderful season in 2010-11. He earned more looks, improved tremendously as a free throw shooter and did much better work on the glass, especially on the defensive end. Ibaka finished third in the NBA in blocks, and given more PT this season, he’s a major threat to set the pace in swats. Part of the great young core the Thunder has put together, Ibaka is nowhere near his prime, so look for him to take another big leap forward this season.
12. Andray Blatche, Washington Wizards (26): Blatche dealt with several injuries last season, most seriously a shoulder woe that caused him to shut it down early and miss the final 10 games. He still enjoyed his finest season, getting more touches, even if he struggled from the field more than usual. In 2009-10, Blatche showed signs of developing a bit of an outside game, but it was a non-factor last season. However, he made up for that by approaching elite level in steals – especially for a big man. He remains a bit of a headcase, but the talent is there, so as long as he stays healthy Blatche should take another step forward this season.
13. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs (16): One of just 20 players in NBA history to average at least 20 PPG in at least 120 playoff games, Duncan is in the twilight of his career, and his overall production has dipped in each of the past four seasons. His scoring dropped dramatically last season as both his touches and shooting touch each declined. Now 35, The Big Fundamental remains a fine power forward, but like many players his age, it’s a concern of how he’ll deal with the accelerated schedule this season.
14. Antawn Jamison, Cleveland Cavaliers (18): Jamison had a rough first season in Cleveland. Injuries were a factor and his rebounding dipped to its lowest level since the once season he spent in Dallas. Jamison never fared worse off the offensive glass in his career. On the plus side, he had more blocks than normal, but that’s never been a big part of his game. Jamison’s scoring was also down, but it’s worth noting that his contract expires after the season, which means he’s (a) a major trade candidate; and (b) motivated to return to elite levels. Whether he can get back there, however, is questionable given his age and injury risk.
15. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics (31): Aging KG isn’t pleased that training camp has been rushed, and he’s made no secret of it. And while he had a decent rebound effort last season, it’s reasonable to wonder how the truncated schedule and back-to-back-to-backs are going to affect the 35-year-old. The 3-point shot has long ago almost completely disappeared from Garnett’s arsenal, but last season was his finest effort in steals since arriving in Beantown. While his turnovers were up slightly, he remains a consistent double-double threat. Does the King of Trash Talking have another big season left in the tank? We bet he remains a solid option this season, but his days as a Fantasy stud are definitely long gone.
16. Luis Scola, Houston Rockets (29): Scola continues to improve as an offensive force and he even pitched in with a career high in assists last season as well. He’s a bit of a liability in turnover leagues, but Scola has morphed into a near All-Star performer. His upside, however, is likely capped.
17. Kris Humphries, New Jersey Nets (NR): In the wake of the Kim Kardashian fiasco, Humphries has become the most vilified player in the NBA, but he’s coming off a breakout season in which he averaged a double-double and was one of Fantasy basketball’s most pleasant surprises. He’s a liability in FT percentage leagues, but his work on the glass – especially on the offensive end – helps mitigate that. Humphries also showed more offensive touch than ever last season, and as long as he can deal with the fallout of his celebrity marriage failure, he should be a solid option again, especially early on while Brook Lopez is out.
18. Boris Diaw, Charlotte Bobcats (49): Diaw could find himself playing centre this season if the Bobcats don’t add another big man, and that could be trouble for the 6’8” player’s rebounding numbers. He’s proved durable the past couple of seasons, and last season enjoyed a solid campaign with his typical across-the-board production. Diaw’s 3-point shooting bounced back and he averaged a trey per game for the second time in three seasons, but he didn’t get to the line very often, and struggled when he did get fouled. Diaw’s turnovers dipped, but that’s a product of his PT dropping for the second straight season. The Frenchman doesn’t wow in any one cat, but his ability to provide numbers not traditionally associated with the four makes him a sneaky play.
19. Lamar Odom, Dallas Mavericks (35): In a big surprise move, Odom was dealt to the Mavericks a couple of weeks ago. He’s expected to come off the Dallas bench at SF behind Shawn Marion, but Odom will see plenty of time at both the three and four, so we slotted him here. The durable and versatile forward enjoyed a big final season with the Lakers, mostly off the bench. Odom never shot it better and got to the line more often, although his FT percentage dipped. His rebounding work – especially on the defensive end – wasn’t as good and his assists dropped, but he made up for that with fewer turnovers, more treys and more points. A real locker room leader, Odom brings a great veteran presence to a Maverick team that will be trying to defend their title.
20. David West, Indiana Pacers (11): West is going around the fifth round of most drafts, but that may be too soon. He’s coming off an ACL injury, and those are the type of health ailments that are hard to overcome quickly. Last season, West missed the final 10 games of the season plus the playoffs and his PT was down for the second straight season. That’s a trend that’s unlikely to change as West is 31 now, and the Pacers will want to take it easy on him – especially in a hardcore schedule season such as this. On the plus side, his rebounding bounced back a tad, he upped his steals and committed less turnovers. West remains a fine pick and pop threat who can also score down low, but we’re not as bullish on him this season as usual.
21. Channing Frye, Phoenix Suns (33): In the past couple of seasons, Frye has become a major deep threat, making him a fine option to target in your draft’s later rounds. Last season, he got more burn than ever, but his outside touch wasn’t as dynamic as the season before. Frye put up a block per game for the first time, but he also got into more foul trouble and wound up fouling out a career-high four times. Even without J-Rich and Vince Carter, the Suns will once again be a deadly perimeter team, and Frye will be a huge part of that.
22. Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls (22): Boozer first season with the Bulls was marred by inconsistency and – as usual – injuries. His FG percentage plummeted as did his assists and points. At least Boozer had less turnovers, but that was mostly because his PT was down. After recording a career high 55 double-doubles in his final season with the Jazz, he only managed 30 last season. The Bulls expected more when they signed him, so hopefully they will see a better return on their investment this season.
23. Elton Brand, Philadelphia 76ers (37): Brand screwed the Clippers when he bolted for Philly in the summer of 2008, but he hasn’t been the same player since. Well, last season he came the closest to rediscovering that form, doing a great job from the line, upping his assists and scoring, and doing a slightly better job of staying out of foul trouble. Brand’s rebounding and blocks were both up as well. Brand has yet to play every game in a season, and that is unlikely to start this season as the 76ers would be wise to give the 32-year-old, oft-injured big man extra days off in the compressed schedule.
24. J.J. Hickson, Sacramento Kings (50): Hickson’s been durable the past couple of seasons, and last season he emerged as a real force on the glass – especially on the defensive end. The youngster clashed with Cleveland management, so he was dealt away after the season. It’s a move the Cavs may rue, but a great deal for the Kings as Hickson is flush with potential.
25. Amir Johnson, Toronto Raptors (56): Johnson is a six-year vet, but is still just 24 and remains driven to become a better player. He took a huge step forward last season. Johnson’s turnovers rose with extra PT, but not much as you’d think they would. He put up more shots than ever and also got to the stripe more often. Johnson’s percentages are strong and if this dude ever begins getting starter minutes, he’s going to be a consistent double-double threat capable of holding a block party every night.
Others to Consider
26. Rashard Lewis, Washington Wizards (28): The Magic dealt Lewis to Washington for Gilbert Arenas last season in a trade that didn’t work out so well for either team. With Orlando at the start of the season, Lewis was getting fewer touches and sinking them less often. Once he arrived in Washington, he improved his rebounding, but his scoring slipped and knee tendonitis sidelined him for the final 21 games. Lewis is expected to start at SF this season, but he’s 32 now and has had a tough time staying healthy lately. His days of being a Fantasy stud are definitely in the rear view mirror.
27. Tyler Hansbrough, Indiana Pacers (NR)
28. Charlie Villanueva, Detroit Pistons (51)
29. Ryan Anderson, Orlando Magic (NR)
30. Ersan Ilyasova, Milwaukee Bucks (NR)
31. Ed Davis, Toronto Raptors (NR)
32. Carl Landry, New Orleans Hornets (34)
33. Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers (NR)
34. Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz (NR)
35. Bismack Biyombo, Charlotte Bobcats (NR)
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