Power forward has long been a staple of quality fantasy basketball teams, and it remains as one of the most important positions even as the play-style of many of the best starts to evolve. While guys like Ryan Anderson and Chris Bosh used to be extra valuable due to their ability to add the occasional three-pointer, it’s become more common than ever for power forwards to be contributors from distance.
The guy who many consider to be the future of the position, Kristaps Porzingis, embodies this entirely: he scores from distance, rebounds, and posts an elite block rate.
The variety at the position is growing, and I’ve got my top-ten dynasty assets at power forward to help you get some perspective on where your squad stands in the changing landscape.
Listed age is how old a player will be as of Jan. 1, 2017.
1. Anthony Davis, NO (Age 23): Just a year ago, Davis was pretty much the consensus number-one player in dynasty. However, after another injury-riddled year (Davis missed 21 games last season), the hype around the ultra-talented forward/center has begun to fade. If you already have Davis or are beginning a new dynasty league, rest assured that he is still a top asset, not only at his position but overall.
Still just 23, Davis has not played more than 68 games in any of his four professional seasons. On the flip side, he has never played fewer than 61 games, so it’s not like he is suffering major injury after major injury. There is some concern that the bumps and bruises will keep Davis from ever dominating an entire season, but if he can find a way to stay healthy for a full campaign he will do just that: dominate.
The former Kentucky Wildcat has put up three straight years of at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 2.0 blocks to go with career percentages of 51.6 (field goal) and 78 (free throw). Over even 75 games those numbers are going to position your fantasy squad as a major contender, and there’s still the possibility that he continues to get better (and healthier) as his career moves towards his prime. Hold Davis (and invest in him) with confidence.
2. Kristaps Porzingis, NYK (Age 21): Placing Porzingis this high projects a big jump from him over one of the next couple years, but seeing his success despite the horrendous coaching situation he was in last season has made me supremely confident that we are looking at one of the future superstars of fantasy basketball in “The Unicorn”.
It appeared that he hit a rookie wall last season, as his field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage and rebounds per game all dropped post-All Star break. That seems to line up with the pre-season narrative that Porzingis was more of a work-in-progress than NBA-ready prospect given his rail-thin build.
However, it’s likely the incompetent coaching of Derek Fisher, and later Kurt Rambis, did the young Latvian no favors. In spite of these factors working against him, he finished the season with averages of 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.1 three-pointers, and 1.9 blocks in 28.4 minutes per game.
With better coaching lined up this season and a full NBA off-season program under his belt, Porzingis is positioned to take strides this season. He should see a nice minutes bump, and in the 27 games that he played 30 to 39 minutes last season the young star averaged 18.6 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.6 three-pointers, 2.3 blocks, while shooting 46.8-percent from the field and 85-percent from the free throw line. Even if Derrick Rose and the new additions don’t help Porzingis this season, the projected increase in minutes should allow him to be highly productive; and he’s only getting better.
3. Draymond Green, GSW (Age 26): If I had to bet on it, Draymond Green would probably be my choice for “who sacrifices most” out of the Golden State Big Four. He’ll likely have the ball in his hands less than he has the past few seasons and it remains to be seen exactly how big of an impact that will have on his game overall. However, he’s going to be eligible at two forward spots (and should get center eligibility at some point, you’d think) and will still give you a little bit of everything on the stat sheet. He’s entering his prime and is still a top power forward to own as a player who could get you a triple double any night with a three, a steal, and a block to boot.
4. Blake Griffin, LAC (Age 27): Yes he’s coming off a season that featured a quad injury that essentially ended his season and a broken hand that accompanied a bizarre off-the-court fight with a Clippers’ staffer, but it feels like the fantasy community is down on Griffin more than they should be. At his best, he’s an elite scorer who can provide the best assist numbers at power forward this side of Draymond Green, solid rebound totals, a steal, and good percentages. He’ll never be a prolific shot blocker, and the rebound numbers will stay at “solid” as long as he plays next to DeAndre Jordan, yet he’s still one of the best power forwards you can have on your roster. If he ends up in a situation where he’s the primary playmaker — a trade or unexpected Chris Paul injury could happen — his value will increase even higher.
5. Kevin Love, CLE (Age 28): The trade rumors have died off–winning a championship will do that–and Love is settling in with Cleveland as a rich man’s Ryan Anderson for fantasy purposes. And that’s not a bad thing; the big guy can offer big game-to-game points upside, a pair of threes, assists, and 10 rebounds a game. It’s not Minnesota Kevin Love, and it won’t be for as long as he’s on the Cavaliers as currently constructed, but there’s enough useful statistical production to keep him on the radar as a top-five asset at his position.
6. Derrick Favors, UTA (Age 25): Favors is still just 25, but it looks like he’s sort of plateaued in his current situation. After taking a big jump in the 2014-15 season, the stats ended up virtually the same last year, and not much has changed as far as his role is concerned. Even if this is pretty much as good as it gets for Favors, he’s likely to be a top-10 asset for his position for the better part of the next decade. 16 points, eight rebounds, a steal, and a block are extremely useful numbers in pretty much any format.
One note here: Favors is due to become a free agent after the 2017-18 season, and it’s not clear-cut that he’ll stay with the Jazz. Utah must pay Gordon Hayward, George Hill, and Rudy Gobert after this season, while Favors, Rodney Hood, and Dante Exum are due up in 17-18. It’s unlikely they are able to keep everyone, so the possibility he changes addresses is out there. He could see an uptick in numbers if he moved to a team where he was the biggest guy on the court or if his squad played more up-tempo than the extremely slow Jazz.
7. Paul Millsap, ATL (Age 31): If you are contending bump Millsap up towards the top of this list. Not much has changed with the big guy over the last few years, and that’s a good thing. He’ll get you 17 points, eight boards, a three-pointer, a block, and a couple of steals as long as he’s healthy. The only note here is that he is a potential free agent this off-season and a prime trade candidate if the Hawks are terrible early in the new year. Unless he goes to a team where he sees a minutes reduction — and this is a virtual lock to not happen — expect more of the same from Millsap going forward.
8. Serge Ibaka, ORL (Age 27): This is a make-or-break year for Ibaka, who is on his second team and is somehow still only 27 years old. His production declined as the third/fourth fiddle on the Thunder last season, and if you believe that shift in role was the reason for the lack of production–not his potentially eroding skills–then it’s unlikely you will ever get a better price on the shot-blocker extraordinaire.
As for his new situation? It should give us insight to whether his role was to blame for his disappointing fantasy production last year. He’ll be the best player on the Magic, and he’s in a contract year. Orlando dealt arguably its best asset (Victor Oladipo) to get Ibaka, so it’s logical to assume he’ll get plenty of minutes despite the massive amount of overlap on the roster. If the Magic get him closer to the basket, his blocks could climb back towards the absurd totals he used to post (he averaged at least 2.5 from 2011-2015) as well as stronger rebounding and scoring numbers.
9. Nerlens Noel, PHI (Age 22): There’s a lot to talk about with Nerlens Noel. Rumors of his immaturity irritating his current employers (the 76ers) aren’t directly correlated to his fantasy value, but potential off-the-court issues certainly don’t help his value. And, when he’s on the court, there’s that whole log-jam that’s irritating Noel to the point of speaking out publicly about the problem. Plus, he could be traded (that might be good), and he’s seemingly always dinged up (that is definitely bad).
So, how on Earth is Noel a top-10 asset at power forward in dynasty leagues? Well, when he plays, he is an absolute game-changer.
He’s proven that he can be an effective offensive player, despite having an extremely limited skill set on that end and running with the worst point guards in the league until Ish Smith arrived last season. He finished 13th in steals per game last year and 16th in blocks per game, which isn’t too shabby when you realize he played 29.3 minutes per contest last year. The rebound rate isn’t elite, but if he can ever get into a situation where he’s playing over 30 minutes per game, he should average a double-double or close to it.
I’m investing as much as I can now while the price is depressed because once the 76ers straighten out their center position he should be primed to rack up defensive numbers with the best of them.
10. LaMarcus Aldridge, SA (Age 31): There’s something to be said about being reliable, and Aldridge is about as risk-free as it gets for fantasy basketball. In his first year as a Spur, Aldridge sacrificed a bit of raw production for efficiency (he shot a career-high 51.3-percent from the field versus his 48.7-percent career average). The minutes were also down — you know what you’re getting when you invest in San Antonio’s players — which would explain his worst per-game rebounding season in five years despite posting the second highest rebound rate of his career. Long story short is this: the skills are still there, his health should be there due to the Spurs’ approach, and you should be happy with the solid, not spectacular, production that Aldridge should continue to provide.