We are at the penultimate point in my positional tiers series. This week I bring you my power forwards. The first couple of tiers offer a diverse selection of players to start your team build, next we have some older guys to provide stability, two of my favourite players are available in the mid-rounds, and to finish off there is a mixture of youth and experience to round out your team.
To prevent confusion, the players in my tiers are listed in the position which they appear in Rotowire's depth charts. Underneath each tier you will find a paragraph with my thoughts and comments on those particular players.
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- Anthony DavisNew Orleans Pelicans
- DeMarcus CousinsSacramento Kings
Anthony Davis is arguably the best player in fantasy basketball and rightly so considering he is putting up numbers not seen since David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon in the early-mid 90s. It is ridiculous to think that he is still only 22 years of age, not yet in his prime, and now has a new Coach in Alvin Gentry who will increase the pace of the Pelicans ensuring Davis receives more touches.
To put a DeMarcus Cousins and Davis comparison into perspective, Cousins put up the same points and steals, with slightly more rebounds and assists than Anthony Davis last season. Yet Davis had 1.2 more blocks per game, shot six per cent better from the field, two percent better from the free throw line and committed three less turnovers per game. We all know Cousins is a beast, so it shows statistically just how much better Davis is than any other big in the game. Cousins should not fall out of the top 6 in eight category leagues, but bump him down a few spots if you are counting turnovers.
- Blake GriffinLos Angeles Clippers
- Paul MillsapAtlanta Hawks
- Draymond GreenGolden State Warriors
- Serge IbakaOklahoma City Thunder
- Pau GasolChicago Bulls
- Nerlens NoelPhiladelphia 76ers
I personally find it difficult to own a power forward/centre who doesn't make a pretty big impact in steals or blocks - and under eight rebounds per game doesn't cut it either - so I'm not as high on Blake Griffin as most. His out of position assists are nice if that’s what you are looking for. Can he increase his free throw percentage for a fifth straight season?
Paul Millsap is a timeless fantasy player. He just missed out on averaging a three, steal and block per game for the second consecutive season by 0.1 of a block per game. His steal rate is better than most point guards and he can compliment any first round selection.
Draymond Green did average a three, steal and block per game last season. The big question is, can he improve again after a career season? An improvement in efficiency would see him creep into the top 15.
Serge Ibaka missed 18 games last season after only missing three games in the four season's prior. I'm not concerned of any residual effects going into this season and expect him to return to his shot blocking best.
I have a bad feeling that 34 minutes per game across 78 regular season games, 32 minutes per game over 10 playoff games and 30 minutes per game in eight Euro Basket games over the past 12 months is eventually going to catch up with a 35 year old Pau Gasol. His per game value is still elite, just prepare for the wear and tear to take its toll in the latter part of the season.
Nerlens Noel is a defensive beast. Post All-star break last season he had more steals than Steph Curry, Chris Paul and James Harden, and more blocks than DeAndre Jordan and Andre Drummond. The addition of Jahlil Okafor may eat into his rebounds a little, but not enough to drop him out of this tier.
All of these guys make great targets in the second or third rounds of drafts and have unique skill sets depending on your build and strategy.
- LaMarcus AldridgeSan Antonio Spurs
- Derrick FavorsUtah Jazz
- Kevin LoveCleveland Cavaliers
- Chris BoshMiami Heat
LaMarcus Aldridge's playing time and field goal attempts are going to take a pretty decent hit now that he is a Spur. We know that Greg Popovich likes to keep his star’s playing time under control, so Aldridge could see a drop of 3-4 minutes per game from last season. Additionally, don't expect Aldridge to come in and dominate offensively and throw up 20 shots per night. The last time a Spurs player took over 16 field goal attempts per game was Tony Parker in 2008-2009. Aldridge should see better shots in a better system though and therefore a slight increase in his field goal percentage. Defensively, I don't think his output will be much different from what his career averages show.
Derrick Favors is a quality young power forward. Don't worry about the impact of Rudy Gobert, as Favors was slightly better in every category except field goal percentage post the All-star break last season.
Kevin Love was never going to put up the numbers in Cleveland, as he did in Minnesota, but few saw his production reducing that dramatically. If he can get to 18 points, 10 rebounds and two threes per game, with his usual elite free throw percentage, then he'll justify his top 40 selection on draft day.
Chris Bosh had last season cut short due to blood clots in his lungs. He has made a full recovery and will be ready for the start of training camp. Bosh doesn't offer as many rebounds and threes as Love, but should put up 20 points and nearly a steal and block per game with a better field goal percentage.
- Nikola MiroticChicago Bulls
- Terrence JonesHouston Rockets
Ahhh, Nikola Mirotic. The rookie averaged 16 points, 6.3 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 0.9 blocks and 1.7 threes whilst shooting 82 percent from the free throw line on 5.4 attempts in 26 minutes after the All-star break last season. The talk is that he will start at power forward this season and will fit new Coach, Fred Hoiberg's, up-tempo offensive system perfectly. It would take a bold owner to draft him inside the top 50, but given at least 30 minutes per game, he will finish there at the end of the season.
Terrence Jones fantasy value is undeniable. His last two seasons combined have seen him average 12 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 0.6 steals, 0.4 threes and shoot 53 percent from the field in just 27 minutes per game. Unfortunately, injuries along the way have prevented him from building some real consistency for the Rockets. Jones no longer has to worry about Josh Smith eating into his playing time, while Donatas Motiejunas had back surgery in April and is a long shot to be ready for the start of the season, allowing Jones to begin the season as the starting power forward without competition for minutes. If that's not enough incentive, Jones will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, so he will be looking for a career season putting big financial offers on the table. If it all comes to fruition, like Mirotic, Jones will be a top 50 player come the end of the season.
- Gorgui DiengMinnesota Timberwolves
- Zach RandolphMemphis Grizzlies
- Kenneth FariedDenver Nuggets
Gorgui Dieng had an outstanding second half to last season averaging 10.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.1 steals whilst shooting 55 percent from the field and 76 percent from the free throw line in 33 minutes after the All-star break. What complicates things this season, is the arrival of number one draft pick, Karl-Anthony Towns, and the rapid development of Yugoslavian big man Nemanja Bjelica (see below). Dieng should see 26-28 minutes early on in the season, but may struggle for touches with Andrew Wiggins, Kevin Martin and Towns fit and healthy. Dieng is a mid-late round option with upside who you may need to be patient with.
Zach Randolph begins another year after posting one of his better seasons in recent memory. The improvement in his value came from an increase in efficiency and he averaged at least one steal per game for only the third time in his career. Randolph will once again score and rebound and is a solid option if you don't require blocks.
Kenneth Faried was downright disappointing last season (I know, I owned him in multiple leagues). With new Coach, Mike Malone, in charge in Denver, the talk from Faried this off season is promising. He has been working hard on the court and watching film off of it trying to improve. Consider him around pick 70-80.
- Enes KanterOklahoma City Thunder
- Ersan IlyasovaDetroit Pistons
- Patrick PattersonToronto Raptors
- Donatas MotiejunasHouston Rockets
- Dirk NowitzkiDallas Mavericks
- Thaddeus YoungBrooklyn Nets
- Ryan AndersonNew Orleans Pelicans
- Meyers LeonardPortland Trail Blazers
Enes Kanter was a double-double machine once traded to the Thunder last season. Don't expect those numbers to continue as he only played 10 game with Serge Ibaka, while Kevin Durant is back who isn't a bad scorer or rebounder either. Temper expectations in the range of 15 points, 10 rebounds with his normal brilliant efficiency.
Ersan Ilyasova will start at power forward for the Pistons and looks a great fit in Stan Van Gundy's system next to Andre Drummond. Ilyasova should have the licence to shoot from range and it is pretty easy to see a career high in points and threes on the horizon. His overall value though, will depend on his efficiency.
Patrick Patterson has the opportunity to prove himself as the starting power forward in Toronto. He could flirt with a steal, block and three per game and put up solid point and rebound numbers too. At around the 100 mark, you could do a lot worse than draft Patterson for your team.
As mentioned above, Donatas Motiejunas will be coming off a limited offseason and should see a delayed start to the year. Like Jones, Motiejunas will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season so there is a chance the Rockets move one of them while they can. Motiejunas is a versatile big man who can do enough of everything and is a nice late round selection for owners who are taking a long term view to their team.
Dirk Nowitzki's time as a fantasy relevant player is like his post-game…fading away. He's now a guy you can only rely on for points, threes and free throw percentage. He's a better option in rotisserie leagues than he is in head-to-head.
Thaddeus Young still offers superb steals from the forward position. He can score in the mid-teens, grab a handful of rebounds and his efficiency can be inconsistent - even from month to month. Young can be a worthwhile player with the right team around him.
Ryan Anderson can put up some big lines and tempt you into thinking 'why didn't I draft him?' A week later he'll be injured and sitting on the sidelines and you'll say 'I'm glad I didn't draft him.’ He can drop threes with the best of them, but I wouldn’t want too many other injury prone players on my team if you select him on draft day.
I'd be more bullish on Meyers Leonard if the Trailblazers front court wasn't so damn deep. He has Noah Vonleh, Ed Davis, Mason Plumlee and Chris Kaman all vying for playing time. Leonard has the most fantasy potential and shot a super-efficient 50/40/90 from the field/three point range/free throw line last season. If he can carve out a 25-28 minute role, he'll be worth owning in 12 team leagues.
- Aaron GordonOrlando Magic
- Markieff MorrisPhoenix Suns
- Jabari ParkerMilwaukee Bucks
- Nene HilarioWashington Wizards
- Jordan HillIndiana Pacers
- Josh SmithLos Angeles Clippers
- Julius RandleLos Angeles Lakers
- Tristan ThompsonCleveland Cavaliers
- David LeeBoston Celtics
- Jared SullingerBoston Celtics
- Frank KaminskyCharlotte Hornets
- Kristaps PorzingisNew York Knicks
- Nemanja BjelicaMinnesota Timberwolves
I can't recommend drafting Markieff Morris until his situation clears up. He's adamant he won't play for the Suns this season, so until we have a resolution, let someone else deal with the uncertainty.
Jabari Parker will ease back into the season so slowly he won't be worth owning in standard leagues for the first two months of the season.
Nene is injury prone and inconsistent, but for now he is the starting power forward in Washington and should see 25-28 minutes.
Jordan Hill should see some minutes in a depleted Pacers front court. If you need points and rebounds and not much else then maybe.
It is hard to see how Josh Smith will get enough minutes in the Clippers front court to be fantasy relevant. If Blake Griffin gets injured then he becomes a must own everywhere.
Julius Randle should be able to beat out Brandon Bass for the starter’s role in LA. I'm not convinced he has a fantasy friendly game though, so he's a deep league option only at this point.
Tristan Thompson is still in contract negotiations with the Cavaliers. If he remains with the team his value is extremely limited behind Kevin Love and Timofey Mozgov. Even if he does find 30 minutes of playing time, he only contributes in rebounds.
I'm not convinced David Lee or Jared Sullinger will see enough minutes in a deep Boston front court to be standard league relevant to start the season. Lee is a poor man's Enes Kanter now, while Sullinger has more upside and is in a contract season. Even then, Sullinger is a late round flier at this point.
Rookie's Frank Kaminsky and Kristaps Porzingis could start for the Hornets and Knicks respectively. I wouldn't use anything but your very last selection on them and can't see them having top 150 value this season.
Nemanja Bjelica has seemingly come from nowhere to now be fantasy relevant. Kevin Garnett won't play heavy minutes, Nikola Pekovic is already (still?) injured and won't be 100 percent coming into training camp and Anthony Bennett has just be waived. Bjelica isn't worth drafting in 10-12 teams yet, but monitor him closely and be prepared to add him if he sneaks into the 20 minutes per game range.
Sleeper alert: Aaron Gordon. The Magic selected Gordon with the 4th selection in last year's draft before injuries limited him to 47 games in his rookie season. Over a promising offseason where he averaged 21.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.7 blocks and two threes, shooting 50 percent from the field in three Summer League games, Gordon looks set for a big sophomore season and there is every chance he starts over Channing Frye. Keep a close eye on him over training camp and preseason games, as he could be one of this season's best value sleepers.