Dirk Nowitzki is always dependable in Dallas and Josh Smith is going to be front and center on a rebuilding Atlanta Hawks franchise. Players to keep an eye on this season include Serge Ibaka, who should play an even bigger role with the Thunder this season, Ersan Ilyasova, who will get a chance to come into his own in Milwaukee and Kenneth Faried, who surprised a lot of people with his play in Denver last year and was one of their best players in the NBA playoffs.
Drum roll please...
Here are the top 25 power forwards in fantasy basketball this season:
- Dirk Nowitzki, DAL
He's one of the smoothest shooting big men in NBA history and has averaged at least 20 points per game in12 straight seasons. He's the Mavericks' MVP and as dependable as they come.
- Josh Smith, ATL
Smith averaged nearly a double-double a game last season. He's not afraid to attack the rim and crash the glass, and with the Hawks starting over again, Smith will be counted on heavily to produce.
- LaMarcus Aldridge, POR
Averaged more than 21 points per game for the second straight season and is clearly the leader of the Trailblazers. He put up All-Star numbers last year and will continue to do so this season as well.
- Pau Gasol, LAL
Averaged double-digit rebounds for the third year in a row and he'll get plenty of open looks on a start-studded line-up that is a championship favorite.
- Paul Millsap, UTA
One of the few power forwards in the league who can shoot close to 80% from the charity stripe. No reason he won't put up the same numbers we're used to this season.
- Kevin Love, MIN
His strong desire to take the Timberwolves into the playoffs is no secret. He is the only power forward in the league who is a legitimate threat to put up 30 points and 20 rebounds on any given night. He can also knock down shots from beyond the arc. He is a premier power forward without question and the return of Ricky Rubio at some point during the year only makes Love better. Averaged over 27 points a game in the second half of last year. Update: He'll miss up to six weeks of regular season action due to a broken right hand, so we've dropped him in the rankings a little bit. Otherwise he'd be ranked first overall.
- Serge Ibaka, OKC
He's made a name for himself with his energy and defensive presence, especially with what he was able to do in the playoffs last year. He's got himself a big fat contract extension and is clearly considered an integral part of the Oklahoma City Thunder's bid to win a championship. Averaged an unheard of 3.7 blocks per game and he'll probably play more as justification for his new long-term deal.
- Ryan Anderson, NOR
After a breakout year with the Orlando Magic last season, Anderson will get a chance to strut his stuff as a go to guy in New Orleans. Averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game is not a stretch on a team that is rebuilding and is able to put the above mentioned Davis beside him.
- Ersan Ilyasova, MIL
In the off-season the Bucks stated keeping Ilyasova was a given and that they'd match any offer for the restricted free agent. They stayed true to their word and with good reason as he put together career-highs in points (13), rebounds (8.8) and assists (1.2) per game.
- Kevin Garnett, BOS
Experienced somewhat of a resurgence in the playoffs last year and has shot over 50% from the field the last five years in a row. He'll turn 37 once the playoffs roll around and his best days are behind him. Has one or two more productive years left tops.
11. David Lee, GS
Routinely keeps his field-goal percentage above 50% and brought his points per game average back over 20 in his first year with the Warriors. If Andrew Bogut could stay healthy long enough to play a full season, Lee might have some help up front this season, but even if he doesn't, he can put up 20 points and 10 rebounds regularly.
12. Chris Bosh, MIA
Bosh is clearly the third wheel of Miami's big three, so his days of averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds are behind him at least for a few more years, but he is solid and still an All-Star.
13. Anthony Davis, NOR
The first overall pick in last year's NBA draft already has experience playing with the best basketball players in the world after being named to this past summer's U.S. Olympic team. He still has to develop an offensive game but he should be able to grab a ton of rebounds and alter the shots of his opponents in the post. He's athletically gifted and when he does find his scoring touch, he will be a force to be reckoned with.
14. David West, IND
Played less than 30 minutes a game for the Pacers last season for the first time since his sophomore year. With Roy Hibbert and Paul George establishing themselves as a young one-two punch in Indiana, West is clearly the third option there now.
15. Kenneth Faried, DEN
Seems like the kind of aggressive forward who could easily averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds in his second season in Denver. He exhibited great energy in the Nuggets' playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers last spring and should continue to grow along with JaVale McGee.
16. Kris Humphries, BRO
Humph and teammate Gerald Wallace probably wouldn't be Nets if Dwight Howard got his wish and ended up in Brooklyn, but the Nets opted to keep him around after all. He managed career-highs in points (13.8) and rebounds (11) last season.
17. Zach Randolph, MEM
Played just 28 games last season averaging less than 12 points and 10 rebounds a game. He's an All-Star when healthy and averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in back to back seasons before last year.
18. Tim Duncan, SAN
It seems everyone is waiting for Duncan to finally show signs of aging and slow down a little bit, but he was still able to lead his Spurs deep into the playoffs last season. Given how consistent Duncan has been throughout his career, he's still a safe pick even though he is getting older.
19. Carlos Boozer, CHI
He'll have to pick up the slack in order to keep the Bulls going throughout the regular season since Derrick Rose won't be around for most of it. His point per game average might see a boost for a little while, but he's pretty much settled in as a guy who gets about 15 points a game and maybe seven or eight rebounds.
20. Thaddeus Young, PHI
He averaged close to 13 points and just over five rebounds a game on a young 76ers team that took the Boston Celtics to seven games in the playoffs last year. With Andrew Bynum coming over from the Los Angeles Lakers and Elton Brand moving to Dallas, he will be expected to be a consistent contributor.
21. Elton Brand, DAL
Comes over to the Mavs after being amnestied by Philadelphia in the off-season. Not what he used to be as far as All-Star performances go, but still a solid veteran presence.
22. Blake Griffin, LAC
A fan favorite and a sure fire All-Star, he's guaranteed to average 20 and 10 on a nightly basis. He needs to work on his range and develop his jump shot, but even if he never does, he'll be regarded as a top talent for years to come.
23. Drew Gooden, MIL
He'll be counted on in the front-court with Andrew Bogut being traded to the Golden State Warriors, but that was the case even with the big Aussie on the team.
24. Brandon Bass, BOS
12.5 points and 6.2 rebounds a game last year were solid. His performance in the playoffs proved even moreso. I knocked the Raptors' Ed Davis out of the top 25 for this guy and he'll improve his numbers no doubt in 2012-13.
25. Brandan Wright, DAL
Should be more of known quantity once he gets a full season under his belt. Considering his previous output in the league, he clearly has yet to realize his potential, but more experience and playing time should help him develop this season.
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