In the past, championship teams were anchored by elite power forwards. From the likes of Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki, and many more, the power forward position was once one of the most prevalent in the game. Although there are still a good quantity of star level fours in today’s NBA, due to the revolution of the game, the need for a top notch power forward has become less and less significant.
For the most part, teams with championship aspirations now build around a point guard and/or a small forward unlike the past. Even then, in most cases this position wasn’t the focal point, as centers used to be built around more often with guards playing the role of the primary facilitators. The power forward position is definitely the weakest right now, and very arguably the weakest position in NBA history, but with the endless talent in the league today, there is still an immense collection of quality players from top to bottom. Without further ado, let’s get right into it.
- Kelly Olynyk (Miami Heat)
2020-21 Stats- 9.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.6 TOV, 41.4 FG%, 32.4 3PT%, 72.7 FT%, 53.1 EFG%, 54.1 TS%, 26.5 MPG
Since the Miami Heat’s cinderella story from the bubble has concluded, there have been a lot of downsides for them. Despite retaining valuable point guard in Goran Dragic this offseason as well as signing quality role players with winning mentalities such as Maurice Harkless and Avery Bradley, a lot has gone wrong. One of the more integral pieces to their finals run, Jae Crowder, took his talents to Phoenix this offseason. This opened up a huge hole to fill for the power forward spot, as Crowder provided good shooting and defense which ultimately made him a valuable piece on the perimeter.
Miami has experimented with multiple players at the 4 spot to see who can take the reigns as full time starter, and none have necessarily filled the hole. Maurice Harkless has been underwhelming on both ends, KZ Okpala has sky high potential but the 21 year old currently lacks an NBA ready feel and IQ, so the last option has fallen to Kelly Olynyk, the veteran stretch big. He specializes in shooting the rock, and although there’s moments where he gets trigger happy and launches bad shot after bad shot, there’s also moments where he can catch fire, and unfortunately the Gonzaga alum hasn’t necessarily been great.
Over the past 4 games, he’s shot a whopping 18% from 3, and for a shooting specialist who doesn’t do much of anything else well outside of that, when he’s not hitting shots he’s not bringing any value. The Heat as a whole have been pretty underwhelming thus far to say the least, and a large part of that has to do with the inconsistencies of Kelly Olynyk.
- Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento Kings)
2020-21 Stats- 13.4 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 0.9 APG, 1.6 TOV, 46.7 FG%, 34.8 3PT%, 53.6 FT%, 50.8 EFG%, 51.9 TS%, 26.4 MPG
Not long ago was Marvin Bagley III one of the most hyped high school and college prospects in the entire world. He displayed an elite post game on the offensive end as well as a really solid scoring package for a power forward before levelling up to the pros, but the former 2nd overall pick has been nothing short of underwhelming. The biggest concern of Bagley’s career so far has been his health. He’s already suffered a scary amount of injuries throughout his young three year career, which clearly makes it hard for him to succeed going through these injuries this early in his career.
Not only that, but his offense hasn’t looked as promising as we expected. He’s an overall bad & inefficient shooter, as he shoots 54% from the line and a below average 52% true shooting percentage. His defense was always something to be desired before the pros, and nothing has changed in that regard since entering the league, as Bagley is consistently a negative on that end of the floor. The 3rd year player still has potential, however, it’s been hard for him to showcase it due to nagging injuries & below average defense.
- Darius Bazley (Oklahoma City Thunder)
2020-21 Stats- 10.9 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.8 TOV, 40.0 FG%, 28.3 3PT%, 74.2 FT%, 47.0 EFG%, 49.6 TS%, 29.6 MPG
Darius Bazley has had quite the rocky start. He’s had some very good games showcasing his immense potential, but has also had some rough outings. Bazley is a jack of all trades on the offensive end, as he’s a great shooter despite being inefficient this year, and he can also slash to the rim and have spurts of shot creation. His skill at 6’8″ is nearly unprecedented as he has a tight handle with a deep dribble package, so combining this with his size, mobility, and length allows him to get past a multitude of defenders.
On the defensive end, he’s nothing special as of yet, but with all of his physical attributes and overall athleticism, he has potential to be great on that end. You can’t really blame him for playing bad so far, as he’s in his 2nd year and has gone from end of the rotation to starter right away while being on a bad team. As of now, he’s not a great player, but I have faith that he has a tremendous career ahead of himself.
- Jarred Vanderbilt (Minnesota Timberwolves)
2020-21 Stats- 7.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.9 TOV, 64.0 FG%, 100.0 3PT%, 45.5 FT%, 64.7 EFG%, 62.6 TS%, 18.9 MPG
Jarred Vanderbilt was regarded as merely a throw in piece for the D’Angelo Russell trade at last years’ deadline, but he’s turned heads around so far this year. The 21 year old has showed tremendous defensive potential as he’s mobile and lanky. His interior defense still isn’t great, but he’s a switchable defender who can guard the pick & roll and get in passing lanes. Offensively, he’s a good finisher, but doesn’t do too much well on that end. He also brings tremendous energy for a Minnesota team that values this.
Despite shooting 100% from beyond the arc, he’s only taking one attempt so far which doesn’t give anyone a good outlook to determine what he is as a shooter. Despite the potential offensive woes that are included with Vanderbilt, he’s exactly what this team needs for the future; a versatile defender to put at the four next to a primary offensive center. Vanderbilt and Towns are like peanut butter and jelly, one’s a defensive specialist who doesn’t provide much on offense, and the other is an offensive genius who lacks defensive upside. Look for Vanderbilt to be the “glue guy” of this Minnesota team moving forward.
- Nicolas Batum (Los Angeles Clippers)
2020-21 Stats- 9.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.6 APG, 0.7 TOV, 48.6 FG%, 45.2 3PT%, 87.0 FT%, 63.8 EFG%, 66.2 TS%, 29.1 MPG
Remember when Nicolas Batum was heavily regarded as one of the worst players in basketball just a year ago? Me neither. Despite a horrific end to his tenure in Charlotte, Batum has revitalized his career as a member of the Clippers. After being bought out of his horrendous max contract this offseason, Los Angeles picked him up as another guy with experience in the league as well as to see what he has left, and for Batum, this was a chance to get his career back on track and prolong his stay in the association rather than being out of the league, and this season, he’s done exactly that.
He’s played his role to perfection; he’s a great spot up shooter, especially in the corner, and most importantly, he’s great at initiating ball movement. This was one of the Clippers’ problems last year. They relied on too much isolation scoring rather than moving the ball, and this year, their identity has completely changed as they’re one of the best ball moving teams in the league.
Batum only averages three assists, but he finds many “hockey assist” opportunities, and he’s an elite communicator as he is always calling out where the open man is located. Batum has proven to still be a reliable role player, and with his overpaid label gone, it’s time he gets more recognition.
- Blake Griffin (Detroit Pistons)
2020-21 Stats- 12.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 4.0 APG, 1.7 TOV, 37.6 FG%, 34.4 3PT%, 70.5 FT%, 47.6 EFG%, 51.0 TS%, 31.6 MPG
Blake Griffin has had some of the worst luck of any player over the past few seasons. Due to a plethora of injuries, he was forced to change his entire game from uber athletic interior force to a perimeter player who could shoot the lights out and play make at a high level. Griffin reinvented his game for the better, as his old style had become outdated, so this new poise and skill he developed seemed to be prolonging his NBA career. And as soon as he does this, he gets hurt yet again.
Coming back from yet another major injury, Griffin hasn’t been nearly the same player as before. For the most part, all of his strengths from the past are gone. His jump out of the gym athleticism, feel for the game, and shooting are all gone. It could be a factor of him not being bought in as he’s on the worst team in basketball, or he could just be flat out regressing. Whatever the case may be, it’s unfortunate to see the decline of Blake Griffin come this early, ranking him in the lower part of the list.
- Cameron Johnson (Phoenix Suns)
2020-21 Stats- 11.4 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.8 TOV, 44.2 FG%, 36.8 3PT%, 85.0 FT%, 57.0 EFG%, 59.0 TS%, 25.9 MPG
When the Phoenix Suns selected Cameron Johnson with the 11th pick in the 2019 draft, many called it a bad pick and a reach due to his age coming into the draft & the fact that he was projected to go in the early 20’s to late 20’s. Circa 2021, the Phoenix Suns were completely right in selecting the UNC alum. Johnson has bought into his role since making the NBA. He’s a stretch four who excels shooting off the catch and has moments of putting the ball on the floor, which perfectly compliments the star studded backcourt of Chris Paul and Devin Booker.
Not only that, but he’s shown to be a very capable defender, as he can guard multiple positions and play great help defense. Johnson isn’t a spectacular defender by any means, but he’s shown enough to be considered solid. The 24 year old has proven he’s already a great role player, which will make him a coveted asset for teams for years to come.
- Robert Covington (Portland Trail-Blazers)
2020-21 Stats- 6.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.1 TOV, 31.6 FG%, 28.0 3PT%, 91.7 FT%, 41.7 EFG%, 44.4 TS%, 30.3 MPG
When Robert Covington was traded to Portland this offseason, many referred to him as the missing piece this team needed to get them over the hump. He’s an extraordinary defender which is something the Blazers desperately needed coming off of a season where they had one of the worst defenses in the NBA. And at the time of the trade, he looked to fit in very well offensively as he was a great shooter in the past.
However, this season Robert Covington has been one of the most underwhelming players in the NBA. He’s been a flat out offensive liability as his percentages are dreadful, and his defense isn’t as good as years past as he’s struggled in some areas he usually excels at. Despite the struggles on both ends, he’s still been above average despite being worse than usual, and it’s unlikely he stays in this slump all year long. Has Covington disappointed? Yes. Is it enough to put him even lower? No.
- Paul Millsap (Denver Nuggets)
2020-21 Stats- 9.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.1 TOV, 49.6 FG%, 38.9 3PT%, 71.1 FT%, 57.6 EFG%, 60.7 TS%, 23.2 MPG
Paul Millsap may not be the All-Star he once was, but that doesn’t mean he’s no longer an impactful NBA player. Millsap has always been a great 3&D player, and even though his defense has evidently gotten worse, he’s still an average defender with his interior and help defense. As a shooter, he’s a great spot up shooter from the corner and wing, which brings value to any team he’s on, especially for Denver and Nikola Jokic. There’s not much to say about Millsap, as he’s a stereotypical 3&D forward at this stage of his career who plays his role well. It’s not enough to warrant a top placement, but it is enough to get him near the top 20.
- PJ Tucker (Houston Rockets)
2020-21 Stats- 5.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.1 TOV, 45.3 FG%, 39.1 3PT%, 76.9 FT%, 57.3 EFG%, 59.5 TS%, 31.1 MPG
PJ Tucker draws a lot of parallels to the last entry, Paul Millsap. He’s an impactful 3&D four in today’s NBA who heavily impacts the game in those areas. Tucker is one of the best spot up shooters in basketball, especially in the corner where he’s one of the best shooters from the NBA in that area. His defense has gotten somewhat worse this season, but he’s still been solid on that end and is an above average defender nonetheless.
Even at 35 years old, Tucker brings tremendous energy to the starting group as he makes all the hustle plays to win games. There’s a solid chance Tucker is gone by this year’s trade deadline, as he’s one of the hottest names in trade rumors right now. Regardless of what jersey he’s wearing in the coming months, his impact will be felt for that team as he’s one of the best veteran players in all of basketball.
- Aaron Gordon (Orlando Magic)
2020-21 Stats- 13.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 4.3 APG, 2.9 TOV, 42.9 FG%, 36.7 3PT%, 60.8 FT%, 49.5 EFG%, 52.2 TS%, 29.4 MPG
If Aaron Gordon was on virtually any other team, there’s a strong chance he’s ranked higher. Gordon has been in an awful situation since being drafted. From playing small forward where he was completely misutilized, to playing the four while another four is slotted at small forward, to now not being surrounded by many shooters, Gordon has had it rough throughout his career.
He has all the makings to being a solid glue guy on a playoff team; he’s a freak athlete who gets to the rim ferociously, he’s an underrated passer who can bring the ball up the floor, he’s a solid shooter off the catch, and he’s developed to be a solid defender. Gordon is a very well rounded player in today’s NBA who can fit as a starting four on a number of teams, but due to the fact that he’s been misused for his entire career, he can’t rank much higher.
- Rui Hachimura (Washington Wizards)
2020-21 Stats- 13.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.8 TOV, 48.1 FG%, 33.3 3PT%, 76.7 FT%, 51.3 EFG%, 56.4 TS%, 27.3 MPG
Coming out of college, Hachimura was known for his offensive versatility & physicality, and so far in his short career, he’s brought both of those things over to the league. He’s great at getting to the rim and getting to his spots in the mid range, and in the post he uses his strength to back down whatever defender is on him to finish at the rim. He’s great at making tough shots with one being heavily contested fadeaways which he makes a lot. He’s an improving shooter, as this year he’s shown improved form with a higher arc and better follow through on his shot, and he’s taking more efficient three’s that are more balanced than the ones he took last year.
On the other side of the ball, Rui hasn’t shown much, but he’s had countless flashes of defensive potential. He’d likely be better defensively if he was surrounded by other good defenders, but he hasn’t shown enough to make him a notable defender thus far. Rui has immense scoring potential, and despite what the numbers say, he’s improved a lot from his rookie year.
- PJ Washington (Charlotte Hornets)
2020-21 Stats- 12.6 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 3.0 APG, 2.1 TOV, 44.8 FG%, 33.8 3PT%, 74.6 FT%, 50.7 EFG%, 54.9 TS%, 29.3 MPG
Since entering the league, PJ Washington has shown advanced NBA readiness along with his potential for the future. He’s a great shooter despite the percentages, can score on the inside as well, and this year, he’s made additional strides to his game. He’s much more mobile now which has made him more versatile, and this has also helped him as a playmaker as he’s an improved passer and decision maker. He’s a good rebounder who boxes out very well, and on the defensive side, he’s nothing remarkable, but he’s solid enough. Washington looks like he’s going to be a very valuable player for Charlotte’s future, and they should hang onto him as long as humanly possible.
- Royce O’Neale (Utah Jazz)
2020-21 Stats- 7.8 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.9 TOV, 47.1 FG%, 44.0 3PT%, 81.0 FT%, 63.0 EFG%, 65.3 TS%, 32.4 MPG
The Utah Jazz have shocked the NBA world in its entirety this season, as they’ve started 15-4, giving them the best record in basketball. A lot of this has to do with their formidable trio of Conley, Mitchell, and Gobert, along with the sixth man of the year frontrunner in Jordan Clarkson, but Royce O’Neale has flown completely under the radar for them. O’Neale is a terrific defender as he can guard multiple positions and hold his own in the post. He’s one of the best help defenders in basketball, and on the perimeter, he’s a nightmare for the opposition. Offensively, he’s a great shooter as he compliments everyone on this roster with his spot up shooting. O’Neale is one of the most underrated players in the association as he brings tremendous value, and he’s a big reason for Utah’s tremendous start.
- Lauri Markkanen (Chicago Bulls)
2020-21 Stats- 19.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 0.9 APG, 1.7 TOV, 50.7 FG%, 40.0 3PT%, 84.2 FT%, 61.3 EFG%, 64.8 TS%, 30.9 MPG
Lauri Markkanen had a blazing hot start to his NBA career, averaging 15 PPG in his rookie year and 19 PPG in his second year. His potential looked really promising, until Jim Boylen came in and ruined it for him. He transitioned him into a primary spot up shooter, which Lauri excels at, but it ultimately hurt him as he does more than just shoot. This year, under a new & more competent coach in Billy Donovan, Markkanen has found his footing again as a player. He’s attacking the rim way more and is finding plenty of good shots for himself, which is always something you want to see out of one of your young guys.
I find Markkanen to be a bit overrated, as he’s too slow to play the 5 which is the position he’s best suited for and is a well below average defender, but you can’t dispute his offensive capabilities. It’ll be interesting to see how Chicago manages his contract, as he’s entering restricted free agency this offseason, but no matter where Lauri ends up, he’ll have an important role.
- Keldon Johnson (San Antonio Spurs)
2020-21 Stats- 14.5 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.6 TOV, 48.6 FG%, 33.9 3PT%, 76.4 FT%, 52.9 EFG%, 57.2 TS%, 30.8 MPG
Keldon Johnson got his first real NBA opportunity in the Orlando bubble this August, where he played incredibly well, posting up multiple efficient 20 point games, and this year, he’s won the full time starting spot. He’s got some of the best motor I’ve ever seen from a 21 year old, which by itself screams future star. He’s exceptional at attacking the rim and using his body to get good looks, and he’s incredible at relocating without the ball in his hands and finding open three’s. He’s been a streaky shooter so far, but if he can improve his consistency, he can easily be an elite shooter down the line.
Defensively, he gives it his all and is a valuable piece for the Spurs on that end as he excels on the interior and uses his mobility to cut passing lanes. Keldon is one of the most well rounded players on this list and is just 21 years of age, and the amount of potential he has is through the roof.
- Larry Nance Jr (Cleveland Cavaliers)
2020-21 Stats- 10.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.5 TOV, 48.2 FG%, 38.7 3PT%, 57.1 FT%, 56.8 EFG%, 57.3 TS%, 34.1 MPG
To many, Larry Nance is your prototypical rim running big who makes a highlight play here and there, but in actuality, he’s far more than that. Nance has rounded out his game to become a legitimate jack of all trades, and is the perfect glue guy for a young Cleveland team trying to be competitive. He’s made tremendous strides defensively, as he’s versatile on that end and is a terrific interior and perimeter defender, can run the floor at a high rate, is a very underrated passer who you can run some offense through, is a way improved shooter, and is one of the most athletic players in all of basketball. Nance is a player every team would want to hold onto tight, and thus far, he’s been one of Cleveland’s three best players. Nance has made tremendous strides this season, and is looking like one of the best role players in basketball.
- John Collins (Atlanta Hawks)
2020-21 Stats- 16.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.3 TOV, 53.9 FG%, 40.3 3PT%, 80.0 FT%, 59.3 EFG%, 62.4 TS%, 30.9 MPG
Despite the uncertainty of Collins’ future as an Atlanta Hawk, he’s still a tremendous offensive talent. Collins is one of the best lob threats in basketball, and he’s also a stupendous shooter for a big, which fits seamlessly with star point guard Trae Young. His ability to put the ball on the floor isn’t amazing, but he can slash to the rim with the best of them which is enough. His defensive woes are overblown, as many act like he’s some defensive liability when in actuality he’s middle of the pack in that regard. Despite that, his defense isn’t too noteworthy, factoring into why he doesn’t rank higher than 13. Collins has all the offensive talent in the world, but he has things he needs to polish up.
- Jaren Jackson Jr (Memphis Grizzlies)
2019-20 Stats (Hasn’t played thus far)- 17.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.7 TOV, 46.9 FG%, 39.4 3PT%, 74.7 FT%, 56.5 EFG%, 59.3 TS%, 28.5 MPG
Many look at the Memphis Grizzlies core and straight to the the ultra talented point guard in Ja Morant, but Jaren Jackson Jr deserves some of the spotlight as well. The 21 year old has exhibited his defensive versatility to the entire world since being drafted, as he’s capable of guarding bigger & stronger players, but can also step out to the perimeter and contain shifty guards.
Offensively, he’s an elite stretch big who can shoot off the catch while also being able to put the ball on the floor and create for himself. His form seems like it should be a negative, but he makes his wonky form work which is enough. He has to get more physical on the glass, as there’s no reason for a seven footer who’s a defensive monster and can space the floor to not play center. Five rebounds for someone with his height & strength is all around bad, and it’s by far the biggest knock on him. Besides that, Jackson projects to be a future star, and is an integral part of Memphis’ core.
- Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors)
2020-21 Stats- 18.9 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 4.4 APG, 2.6 TOV, 44.9 FG%, 25.0 3PT%, 75.7 FT%, 48.2 EFG%, 52.5 TS%, 35.6 MPG
At first glance, it seems unusual to put someone who made an All-NBA team just last year not even top ten at his position, but Siakam has trended downwards. Starting with the positives, he’s still a solid slasher and an underrated defender, and his passing has vastly improved this season which is something he needed to work on. Despite this, the negative parts of his game are glaringly obvious. He has little to no offensive versatility as he doesn’t have a lot of moves to score the ball, is an inefficient scorer and bad shooter, and he lacks adaptability. Siakam is forced to be in a role he shouldn’t be in which is as one of the main guys, as he best serves as the glue guy of a team like he was for Toronto in 2019.
- Tobias Harris (Philadelphia 76ers)
2020-21 Stats- 19.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 2.8 APG, 2.4 TOV, 51.4 FG%, 46.8 3PT%, 81.4 FT%, 58.5 EFG%, 60.8 TS%, 33.8 MPG
In the 2018-19 NBA season, Tobias showed how good he was as an offensive player with the Los Angeles Clippers under head coach Doc Rivers. Unfortunately for Tobias, he was traded to Philadelphia, transitioning from a coach who used him to the best of his abilities to a coach who used him to the worst of his abilities. Everything came full circle for Tobias though, as he now plays under Rivers again, and is having a career year. He’s been ultra efficient scoring the rock this year, and he’s back in the role of a creator for this team while also having off ball responsibilities which is his best case scenario. He’s not a good defender despite having good size, but his offensive ability is enough to get him in the top ten.
- Julius Randle (New York Knicks)
2020-21 Stats- 22.2 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 6.0 APG, 3.4 TOV, 47.1 FG%, 34.7 3PT%, 81.1 FT%, 51.1 EFG%, 57.2 TS%, 36.6 MPG
There’s always players who make random improvements every year, and Julius Randle is this year’s version of that, but not in the way you’d expect. Last year, his raw stats still looked great, averaging 19 PPG and 10 RPG, but watching him play, it was evident that he was a flat out ball hog, defensive liability, and was an inefficient scorer. This year, he doesn’t have any of those labels.
He’s gone from the biggest ball hog in basketball to willing passer and lead playmaker, from defensive liability to well above average defender, and is still somewhat of an inefficient scorer but has improved a lot in that department. This could be because he’s in a contract year, it could be Tom Thibodeau changing his game, or it could be Randle having a reality check about his game. No matter what the case is, Randle has made an other worldly improvement and is playing like an All-Star.
- Kristaps Porzingis (Dallas Mavericks)
2020-21 Stats- 18.6 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 0.9 APG, 1.0 TOV, 44.9 FG%, 28.6 3PT%, 79.2 FT%, 50.3 EFG%, 53.0 TS%, 30.0 MPG
Kristaps Porzingis is one of the league’s premier 3&D big men. He’s an elite stretch big who can shoot from literally everywhere on the court, and he’s an impressively good rim protector & interior defender. He’s shown the ability to put the ball on the floor and score effectively at all 3 levels which is nearly unprecedented for someone who’s 7’3″.
He has some flaws though; like Jaren Jackson Jr, there is absolutely no reason he shouldn’t be at center. Porzingis has to get more physical on the boards and make that his primary position as it opens up so much for the team. He’s also a weak perimeter defender, and for someone who’s on the perimeter so much, this isn’t a weakness you want to have. Despite that, he’s still a star and will continue to get better if he can stay healthy, which unfortunately is a big if for the Latvian star.
- Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
2020-21 Stats- 4.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 6.6 APG, 2.4 TOV, 34.9 FG%, 21.2 3PT%, 66.7 FT%, 39.2 EFG%, 42.3 TS%, 26.6 MPG
Draymond’s raw numbers are nowhere near top seven or anywhere in that stratosphere, but legitimately all of his impact comes off the stat sheet. Green is the best glue guy of all time, as he’s one of the three smartest defenders ever and overall one of the best defenders ever, is an elite passer, and is one of the best leaders ever. Green doesn’t care about the stats, he purely just wants to win basketball games. Despite this, his lack of any real scoring and shooting at all is concerning, and his efficiency is even worse. He’s still one of the best players in basketball, but his scoring and shooting woes are too much to ignore.
- Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans)
2020-21 Stats- 23.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.3 APG, 2.6 TOV, 58.7 FG%, 25.0 3PT%, 66.7 FT%, 59.0 EFG%, 61.9 TS%, 32.9 MPG
Going into the 2019 draft class, Zion Williamson was being hyped up more than most prospects in NBA history, and thus far, he’s lived up to the hype. He’s one of the most dominant inside scorers in basketball, is a freight train when attacking the rim, and is one of the most athletic players in the sport. He’s not a great playmaker, but his decision making and patience has improved, and he’s one of the league’s best transition players.
His defense has taken a step up from horrific to slightly below average, which still isn’t good, but it’s an improvement nonetheless. He lacks the ability to space the floor at a high rate, but everything else in his game is spectacular, resulting in him being right outside of the top 5.
- Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers)
2020-21 Stats- 20.5 PPG, 12.2 RPG, 5.8 APG, 3.4 TOV, 54.8 FG%, 36.2 3PT%, 68.2 FT%, 57.9 EFG%, 60.9 TS%, 36.8 MPG
At the time of the Paul George to Oklahoma City trade, Victor Oladipo was easily the centerpiece of that deal, and while both have blossomed into stars, Sabonis’ rise has been way more unexpected. He’s one of the best big men playmakers in basketball, especially out of the post, he’s improving game by game as a shooter, he’s a phenomenal rebounder, and he’s wildly efficient. Not only that, but his mobility flies under the radar, as he can run the floor and provide impact on the perimeter. His defense is still not where it should be, but it’s safe to say that Sabonis is an offensive juggernaut and fully deserves this spot.
- Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)
2020-21 Stats- 26.8 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 3.7 APG, 2.5 TOV, 48.4 FG%, 43.5 3PT%, 83.3 FT%, 55.6 EFG%, 58.4 TS%, 34.8 MPG
Tatum has shown to be one of the league’s best wings, as he legitimately doesn’t have a flaw in his game. The primary part of his game is the scoring versatility, as he’s one of the best three-level scorers in basketball and has a full arsenal of moves with one being his signature side-step three, which he uses to get buckets at will. His defense is elite as well, as he’s one of the best wing defenders in basketball and can guard one through four on a nightly basis. His playmaking is coming along as well, as he continues to improve as a decision maker and overall passer over the past year. His scoring efficiency is through the roof as well, as he’s shooting a high percentage from everywhere. The 22 year old is only going to continue to climb up the ranks, but as of now he’s comfortably fourth.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
2020-21 Stats- 27.8 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 5.7 APG, 3.9 TOV, 55.3 FG%, 28.0 3PT%, 59.1 FT%, 58.7 EFG%, 60.4 TS%
Putting the back-to-back league MVP at number three sounds wrong, and although he’s a superstar, there’s a reason for this. He’s easily the most dominant player in basketball right now, as the only way you can hope to contain him is by throwing three good defenders on him at once. He’s the best defensive player in basketball as he doesn’t have a flaw on that end, he’s a great scorer, and his on ball playmaking and decision making continue to improve. Despite this, compared to the others ahead of him, he lacks offensive versatility, and his lack of any sort of three point shot in a league where spacing is more important than it’s ever been does nothing but knock him down. Giannis is a generational talent there is no disputing that, but his flaws compared to the top two can’t be ignored.
- Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers)
2020-21 Stats- 22.2 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.7 TOV, 51.5 FG%, 33.3 3PT%, 70.2 FT%, 54.2 EFG%, 57.5 TS%, 32.9 MPG
Anthony Davis is one of the most unique players ever. He’s a combination of the traditional big and the current big; he’s a dominant post and inside scorer as he’s virtually unstoppable in that regard, but he’s also one of the best mid range shooters in basketball. This combined with an above average three point shot for a big and a stellar handle which most bigs don’t possess makes him to be one of the most versatile & skilled offensive bigs ever. Not only is his offensive versatility elite, but he’s one of the three most versatile defenders in basketball, as he does it all on that end. Coming off a title run, Davis has looked sort of gassed and unengaged, but has still managed to sleepwalk into a surefire All-Star spot. Anthony Davis is one of the most gifted players I’ve ever seen, thus leading to him ranking in at 2.
- Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets)
2020-21 Stats- 30.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 5.5 APG, 0.7 TOV, 51.7 FG%, 44.4 3PT%, 86.0 FT%, 59.0 EFG%, 64.8 TS%, 36.7 MPG
After coming off an achilles tear, Kevin Durant still somehow looks like an undisputed top three player in basketball. He’s still the best scorer in the league by a pretty wide margin, his playmaking is elite, he’s one of the best shooters in basketball and is pretty easily the best shot creator in the league, he’s an above average defender, and he’s one of the most efficient players in the game while putting up 30 every night. No matter what you say about Kevin Durant, you still have to acknowledge he’s one of the greatest players to ever step foot on the hardwood, and although it’s close in the top three, he’s still the best power forward in basketball.
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