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Fantasy basketball player tiers: Power Forwards

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Who are the top power forwards for fantasy basketball purposes? Certainly Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge have to be considered a solid one-two punch in the rankings

These positional tiers are based on our expert player rankings here at Baller Mind Frame and are tools you can use as you navigate through your fantasy basketball drafts.

Tier one: Please call it a comeback!

Kevin Love, PF/C
Minnesota Timberwolves
Take it from one who has him as his top keeper in a 20-team league that last season was a total bust for Kevin Love. I considered so many trading options but eventually abandoned all of them because I’m a pain in the ass to trade with and the only offer excepted (Larry Sanders and a fourth-round pick) was shot down by the dreaded trade committee, basically saying I didn’t know what I was a doing and Love was too valuable. Well not if he isn’t playing, folks, and I want to try and win in the playoffs! But I digress. At this point Love is still the best power forward in the game. As long as he doesn’t have a reoccurring issue with his problematic hand, I see him bouncing back and having one of his best seasons to date. Word out of Minnesota is Love’s in the greatest shape of his life, and with the talent they have surrounding him, all signs point to a successful fantasy season on the horizon. Look for Kevin to be coming off the board as early as the eight pick, draft accordingly.

Tier two: Some locks on the block, and blocks with missed shots.

Serge Ibaka, PF/C
Oklahoma City Thunder
The biggest question hanging over Serge’s head coming into the training camp: can the block machine reach the next level in production that we all expected to see last season? I have always been a sucker for a shot-blocker, after all it’s the rarest stat in fantasy basketball and by that designation extremely important. Throw in the fact that Ibaka can actually hit free throws from the center position and you start to understand all the fantasy love over the years. I have been targeting Serge for the last couple of years, but this is the season I can’t justify it as his ADP (average draft position) is just a bit too high for my liking. I would rather try to grab a more rounded player, most likely a point guard, and try and snatch up Larry Sanders in the third round. Of course now that I’ve changed my strategy he will have his greatest season ever and make me look like a fool.

LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C
Portland Trail Blazers

Aldridge is about as good a power forward you can find in the NBA. At 27 years old, we could possibly see some improvement on his already fantasy friendly 21.1/9.1/2.6 stat line. The only knock on Aldridge is the lack of blocks, so you may find yourself searching for them later in the draft. With his ADP in the mid to late teens, LMA makes a more than solid second-round pick.

Helpful Hint: If you find yourself hunting for blocks in later rounds, I’ve seen DeAndre Jordan slip through the cracks and go undrafted in several mocks. Grab him if you can afford the hit to your free-throw percentage.

Dirk Nowitzki, PF/C
Dallas Mavericks

Dirk Nowitzki has been in the NBA for 15 years. Depending on your age that just made you feel really old or really young. Dirk is 35! Read that second sentence again. So, yeah Dirk is pretty old in basketball terms and I’m just not so sure drafting him this year is a winning strategy. While he delivers across the board production, his games played (73, 62*, 53) have been trending downward for the last three years. With Dirk on his way to the retirement home, Dallas has decided to reload, adding the pass-happy point guard Jose Calderon, the ever defensive Sammuel Dalembert, and everyone’s favorite moped-riding gunner, Monta Ellis. With Mr. Ellis in town, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Dirk passes over the leading scorer’s baton to the Mississippi Missile.

*Lockout-shortened season

Anthony Davis, C/PF
New Orleans Pelicans

After a slow start to his rookie season due to injuries, “The Brow” put it together with a splendid second half of the season, finishing with averages of 15.3 points, 9.3 boards and 1.5 blocks on 52 percent shooting. Not too shabby for the future defensive fantasy monster. While he may be tabbed with the injury risk label, I don’t think we have another Greg Oden situation on our hands here. Draft Davis with confidence in the second round and have fun at the block party.

Josh Smith, SF/PF
Detroit Pistons

Josh Smith has found a new home in Detroit, but should we expect the same old J-Smooth? When I look at the Pistons roster a lot of basketball red flags seem to jump out. With the addition of Brandon Jennings and the possibility of Andre Drummond being unleashed, Detroit sounds like it will be a fun team to watch. I just don’t see them winning many games. If things do go south quick in Motown, look for the three-point jacking Josh Smith to come out a lot sooner then your fantasy team’s percentages can take. Don’t get me wrong, I love to watch his all-round game and his across the board fantasy production (17.5 PPG,8.4 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.8 BPG, 1.2 SPG), but I just don’t see myself drafting him much this season. If you think these are just the crazy ramblings of an overly obsessed fantasy basketball addict, you are half right. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Pau Gasol, C/PF
Los Angeles Lakers

With Dwight Howard hanging his hat in Houston, Gasol will now have a bigger role in Mike D’Antoni’s offense. This should be a revival of sorts for Pau and may even find himself carrying a larger role than he wants if Kobe Bryant is out longer than expected. Gasol underwent a procedure in May to eliminate scar tissue and heal tendinitis in both of his knees. Let’s hope with a full training camp he can regain his basketball form and even develop a little chemistry with new frontcourt mate Chris Kaman. I would expect the elder Gasol to bounce back with scoring in the high teens and just under double digit rebounding, making the perfect addition to any fantasy team in need of a power forward.

Tier three: Breakouts or breakdowns.

Blake Griffin, PF
Los Angeles Clippers
This is the year Blake needs to expand his game if the Clippers are going to take it to the next level. Chris Paul knows it, Blake knows it, I know it. And if you didn’t before, you do now. The problem is, the more games the Clips seem to win, the worse his overall numbers look. Now the Clippers stand as one of the deepest teams in the league and I’m not so sure that bodes well for Blake’s fantasy prospects. He will still be a solid source of scoring (18.0) and rebounding (8.3) but his lack of blocks and poor free-throw shooting keeps him from being considered an elite fantasy big man.

David Lee, PF/C
Golden State Warriors

David Lee had a mixed bag of a season last year. He put up great numbers (18.5/11.2/3.5), made the All-Star team, and then he tore his hip flexor in his first playoff game ever, supposedly out for the remainder of the playoffs. However, he battled back and showed tremendous heart and leadership while boosting the Warriors’ morale at the same time by returning to playoff action. Lee eventually was forced to turn to surgery for his injured hip in May and says he has “no ill effects.” He also added that he’s lost five percent body fat and he’s in great shape. Lee led the NBA in double-doubles last year and is expected to have a solid bounce-back season. With Lee being drafted in the late third to early fourth rounds he could turn out to be a nice value pick for 2013-14 season.

Paul Millsap, PF/SF
Altalnta Hawks

Every NBA stat-head and fantasy aficionado’s favorite tweener, Paul Millsap, has found a new home with the Atlanta Hawks and a secure starting role. While I wouldn’t say Paul’s role with the Utah Jazz was limited, there was a crowded frontcourt, which couldn’t be further from the case in Atlanta. I will caution with Millsap being so hyped: you may have to reach a bit if he is on your must-have list. Expect Millsap to put up similar numbers to his 2010-11 campaign (17.3/7.6/2.6), when he was a fantasy stud seeing 34 minutes a game.

Tim Duncan, PF/C
San Antonio Spurs

This has to be the year Kawhi Leonard becomes a bright star if the Spurs hope to challenge for Western Conference supremacy. As I’ve said, I just don’t draft older players, players coming off an injury or any combination of the two. Yes, Tim Duncan was great last season and proved doubters like me wrong, but I’m strictly playing the odds here folks. Facts are facts and Timmy is 37 years old and plays for a coach who has no qualms resting players any time he chooses much to the chagrin of the NBA and its fans. Much of that rest will take place as the NBA season is winding down, and the fantasy playoffs heating up.

Tier four: Ready to bust?

Greg Monroe, C/PF
Detroit Pistons
I have always been a big fan of the sweet-passing (3.5 APG) big man since he was doing his thing with the Georgetown Hoyas. If you took my advice last season and targeted Monroe you were handsomely rewarded to the tune of 16.0 points and 9.6 rebounds per contest. He’s a poor shot-blocker at the position, which drops him a few rounds. Despite all the Andre Drummond breakout hype, I still envision an All-Star bid on the horizon for the burgeoning Monroe. Even if we play devil’s advocate and imagine Dre seeing 30-plus minutes per game with Greg sliding over to the power forward spot, the offensive touches down low will still go to Monroe. Drummond just isn’t ready to be a featured force in an NBA offense. As much I like Dre’s potential, I see more Anthony Randolph than Kevin Garnett at this point. Look to grab Monroe in Round 3.

Derrick Favors, PF/C
Utah Jazz

Finally! The beast named Derrick Favors is being unleashed … let’s all bow our heads in a moment of fantasy silence. Too much? Forgive my exuberance but it feels like we (I) have been waiting forever for this to happen. You see, I owned Derrick in a 20-team legacy league and his inconsistent minutes were driving me crazy! Since I already had Kevin Love, I flipped Favors and Dion Waiters for Chris Paul. Pretty good, huh? Until Love broke his hand again, leaving me with nothing but hope and Boris Diaw at the power forward position. While Derrick hasn’t quite shown what he can do as a backup, as a starter in eight games he averaged a double-double and looked downright dominant at times. Now as the full-time starter his bouts of inconsistency, poor free-throw shooting and high foul rate may become problematic. But it’s a chance I’m willing to take on a highly skilled 22-year-old big man in a league devoid of post players in general. I fully expect Favors to be a double-double machine and rack up blocks to boot. Future All-Star watch is in effect.

Kenneth Faried, PF
Denver Nuggets

Kenneth Faried appears to be on the verge of a breakout season, but it might just be a mirage. While he has the tools and the starting job is his to lose, the Nuggets have one of the deepest frontcourts in the NBA. Power Forwards: Faried, J.J. Hickson, Darrell Arthur and Anthony Randolph. Centers: JaVale McGee and Timofey Mozgov. With Faried and McGee both being foul prone and somewhat inclined to make poor basketball decisions, the Nuggets bigs will be cancelling out each other on a nightly basis. I wouldn’t go as far as to say they are un-draftable, but for me personally, I want to avoid the headache of owning guys who aren’t a clear lock for minutes. Buyer beware.

David West, PF
Indiana Pacers

David West just keeps plugging along year in and year out. Fresh off a solid season, averaging 17.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists, the underrated and often overlooked fantasy asset signed a brand-spankin’-new three-year, $36 million contract to stay with the Pacers. While I don’t expect West to top those numbers with Luis Scola now backing him up, he should come close to replicating them.

Thaddeus Young, SF/PF
Philadelphia 76ers

Thaddeus is by default the main scoring option on a very young and talent-depleted Philadelphia 76ers roster. I fully expect Thaddeus to have a monster year, setting career highs across the board. With news of projected starting power forward Arnett Moultrie having ankle surgery and now out until at least January, the 76ers will be forced to lean even more on Thaddeus. It will be an extremely fantasy friendly team that loses a ton of games in the process.

*Deep League Fantasy Alert: With Moultrie out, pencil in LaVoy Allen as Philadelphia’s starting power forward. While underwhelming most of last season, LaVoy will see plenty of minutes now and is worth keeping an eye on.

Ersan Ilyasova, PF/SF
Milwaukee Bucks

I get the feeling this is a make-or-break year in Milwaukee for the Turkish big man. After signing a $40 million, five-year deal in 2012, big expectations were put on Ilyasova coming into the 2012-13 season. With Ersan struggling to start the year, one had to wonder whether the contract burden was weighing too heavily. Fortunately, Ilyasova was able to bounce back and end the season in a positive fashion, with a 13.2/7.1/1.6 stat line. Ersan is once again on many fantasy lists of “breakout” players, but I can’t help but wonder if John Henson can push him for playing time, and possibly out of Milwaukee. Bucks general manager John Hammond recently stated the need to give John Henson more minutes. “We know we have to get John on the floor and we have to find some minutes for him,” Hammond said. “It’s not easy because we also have Ersan Ilyasova … I think given the opportunity [Henson] will perform and play extremely well and could be another bright future piece for us.” Ersan should still be a solid fantasy play in standard leagues, just don’t expect him to end the season in Milwaukee.

Tier five: Have a heart, we’re playing it old school.

Ryan Anderson, SF/PF
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans are an intriguing team this year. What they are not is deep, at any position. With Jason Smith and Anthony Davis most likely starting up front this year, it’s Anderson, rookie Kansas product Jeff Withey and one-trick journeyman Greg Stiemsma coming off the bench. In other words, Anderson may start the game on the pine, but he’ll see close to starter’s minutes, often with Anthony Davis sliding over to play the 5. Look for Anderson to build on his career-high 16.2 points from last season and continue the madness from downtown.

Kevin Garnett, PF/C
Brooklyn Nets

It has already been announced that Kevin Garnett will be rested on a regular basis and won’t play much in back-to-back games. While he should be solid most of the year in standard leagues, know that he will most likely be rested throughout the fantasy playoffs. Not so sure about you, but losing one of your bigs during the most important part of the fantasy season seems problematic to me. Draft accordingly.

Zach Randolph, PF
Memphis Grizzlies

I wonder if Z-Bo can feel Ed Davis’ glare as the youngster patiently waits on the bench to steal minutes from him? While we don’t hear the term handcuff much in fantasy basketball, that’s exactly how I look at Ed Davis. If I draft Randolph, you better believe I’m grabbing Davis as my last-round flier. Zach Randolph isn’t getting any younger and has only averaged 64 (63.8333333 to be exact) games per season in his 12 years in the NBA. Even if Z-Bo doesn’t miss any time due to injury, I would be willing to bet Ed gets leaned on more this year to aid in his development and spell Z-Bo. This doesn’t mean we are quite ready to put Zach out on the curb with the trash, just be aware of all the angles at play

Carlos Boozer, PF
Chicago Bulls

Boozer takes a lot of flack for his lack of defense and strange “hair” style, but he is one of the more reliable 15 points and 9 rebounds you will find in the NBA. According to Chicago Bulls beat writer K.C. Johnson, Carlos Boozer looks “noticeably slimmer and toned” this summer. When asked about his new and improved physique, Boozer said, “We got D-Rose (Derrick Rose) back. Our fast break is going to be a little faster.” With Rose returning and the Bulls back to full strength, Boozer may see a slight dip in overall production, but not enough for him to slide in drafts.

Tier six: Huge potential with a side of what the hell

Tobias Harris, SF/PF
Orlando Magic
Fresh off arriving in Orlando as the centerpiece in the deal that sent J.J. Redick, Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith to the Milwaukee Bucks, Tobias Harris instantly put the league on notice that he was for real with a 14-point, 6-rebound, 3-block performance in just 25 minutes. Tobias hit the ground running with the Magic and started the final 20 games, looking outright dominant at times while setting career highs on a nightly basis. As with all young players, he did experience some growing pains in the form of poor shooting nights, but he still turned out to be a fantasy powerhouse to the tune of 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.0 three-pointer per game. Harris will hold down the stating power forward spot with Glen “Big Baby” Davis still on the mend and most likely even when he returns. It’s not hard to see the star potential Harris possesses and I just can’t fathom any reason the Magic would want to stunt his overall growth by sitting him. My best fantasy advice regarding Tobias Harris, DRAFT HIM.

Amir Johnson, PF/C
Toronto Raptors

Amir Johnson is one of my favorite types of players. He brings his lunch pail and hard hat everyday and puts in work. He’s also been a fantasy darling of sorts, because of his shot-blocking (2.0 per 36 minutes for his career) ability. For years it has seemed like Amir has been on the cusp of that one breakout season. It looks like the wait is over. Johnson now has the starting power forward role all to himself in Toronto with no competition in sight. Expect Amir to put up nightly double-doubles and set career highs across the board. He seems to be flying under the radar a bit, and looks to be a high-value pick in the second half of drafts.

Andrea Bargnani, PF/SF/C
New York Knicks

Andrea Bargnani has always been a unique fantasy combination of scoring, three-pointers and blocks. After several disappointing, injury-plagued years with the Raptors, the former No. 1 overall draft pick now finds himself in the bright lights of Madison Square Garden, suiting up next to Carmelo Anthony. As a player not known or flourishing under the spotlight, I’m not so sure this is the best fantasy situation. With Barg’s going very late, or even undrafted in standard leagues, he is actually sizing up to be a nice upside pick at the end of drafts.

Anthony Bennett, PF/SF
Cleveland Cavaliers

The first ever Canadian No.1 overall NBA draft pick seems buried on the suddenly deep Cavaliers roster. It appears that Bennett will backing up Tristan Thompson unless the Cavaliers decide to slide the talented scorer down to small forward to advance his development. Let’s be real, Andrew Bynum is not the savior the Cavaliers are waiting for. Plus they aren’t challenging for the NBA championship any time soon. Anthony Bennett is the first freaking pick in the draft! He needs to play sooner than later. The Cavs will eventually realize playing Anthony Bennett is the best thing for them. I say snatch him up in the later rounds and reap the benefits once the Cleveland Cavaliers come to their senses.

Luis Scola, PF/C
Indiana Pacers

Luis Scola is one of the greatest international players ever, and one of the best NBA imports as well. Always a solid fantasy player, Luis now finds himself in a reserve role with the Pacers, backing up David West and Roy Hibbert. While this may seem like a fantasy death sentence for some, I have a feeling Scola actually carves out a solid fantasy role this season. It’s no guarantee, but who is at this point in the draft?

Amar’e Stoudemire, PF/C
New York Knicks

Is Amar’e much more than just an overpaid role player on a minutes cap at this point? He’s just not worth considering outside of DEEEEP leagues. Move along, nothing more to see here.

Tristan Thompson, PF/C
Cleveland Cavaliers

Newly right-handed Tristan Thompson may find himself open on a regular basis if double-team magnet Andrew Bynum ever suits up for Cleveland. While I don’t buy it, anything is possible. I actually think Thompson will be a better fantasy player in 2013-14 than Bynum. He is young, works hard and has the backing of the Cleveland Cavaliers coaching staff. He will undoubtedly build upon his sophomore season (11.7 PPG and 9.4 RPG) and looks to be a big upside pick in the latter stages of drafts.

Glen Davis, PF
Orlando Magic
The Orland Sentinel has recently reported Glen Davis is not expected to participate in training camp, while there’s also a chance he could miss the preseason and start of the regular season. Is he even in the Magic’s plans when he returns? With Tobias Harris starting in his place, it’s not likely. We can’t forget Davis was a hot fantasy commodity and delivered a pretty 15.1/ 7.2 /2.1 stat line in 34 games before going down for the season. With Glen expected to play at some point this season, we have to keep him our radar. But right now Big Baby is better left undrafted in standard leagues.

Nerlens Noel, C/PF
Philadelphia 76ers

While the possible steal of the 2013 NBA draft may not be ready for the start of the 2013-14 season, he should be ready to make a significant impact as the fantasy playoffs roll around. The 76ers were already ridiculously thin up front before losing Arnett Moultrie. Now Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young will be playing even more minutes than expected. Look for Nerlens to jump right into a starting role as soon as he his healthy enough to hit the hardwood. While he is raw on the offensive end, Noel should be a steady producer in blocks and rebounds. You cold do a lot worse for a late-round flier, it’s better than drafting Cody Zeller.

Cody Zeller, PF
Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets

Zeller is lightly penciled in to start alongside Al Jefferson and will be given every opportunity to succeed by the Bobcats (Hornets). Zeller will have to contend with deep-league waiver wire favorite Josh McRoberts for playing time. I have had conversations with several people who believe Cody Zeller is a bonafide NBA player, I’m not one of them.

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