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Top 10 Power Forwards in NBA History

Updated on June 30, 2016

These guys had to get rebounds and have a killer jump shot. Today I rank the top 10 power forwards in NBA history.

10. Dennis Rodman

"The Worm" was one of the greatest defenders of his era.

A second round pick by Detroit in 1986, Dennis Rodman fit in perfectly with the hardnosed style of the "Bad Boys." In his seven years with Detroit, he established himself as a dominant defensive present and a fierce rebounder while helping the Pistons reach three NBA Finals and two championships. After head coach Chuck Daily resigned after 1992, Rodman personality began to change and demanded to be traded. After two seasons in San Antonio, he was traded to Chicago in 1995. With the return of Michael Jordan, the Bulls returned to dominant form and Rodman flourished in his new environment averaging 20 or more rebounds 11 times in the season and helped the Bulls achieve their second three peat of the 90's. He spent his final NBA seasons with the Lakers and Mavericks and played in Europe and the ABA before retiring in 2006.

In his 15 NBA seasons, Rodman two time All-Star, 10 time NBA All-Defensive team, an NBA record seven time NBA rebounding champion, two time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and five time NBA champion. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.

9. Dolph Schayes

"Sputnik" was professional basketball's original power forward.

The fourth overall pick in 1948 by the Tri-Cities Blackhawks, Dolph Schayes was immediately traded to the Syracuse Nationals( now the Philadelphia 76ers.) Although tall for his era, he was especially known for his deadly, high-arcing, outside set-shot and defenders who attempted to deny him the outside shot were confronted by his powerful drive to the basket. Schayes didn't miss a single game from February of 1952 to December of 1961, an NBA-record streak of 706 games. He was the first player in NBA history to achieve 30,000 career total PRA and the first player to amass 15,000 career points. Towards the end of his playing career, he became a player/coach with Philadelphia. After retiring from playing, he transitioned into a pure coaching role with the 76ers, earning NBA Coach of the Year honors in 1966.

In his 16 seasons, Schayes was a 12 time All-Star, 12 time All-NBA team, the 1951 NBA rebounding leader, led his team to the playoffs 15 times, and 1955 NBA champion. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973.

8. Kevin McHale

He had some of the best post moves basketball has ever seen.

The third overall pick in 1980, Kevin McHale teamed with Larry Bird and Robert Parrish to form one of basketball's greatest frontlines. Primarily coming off the bench early in his career, he was named NBA sixth man of the year in back to back seasons. Along with the rest of the "Big Three," he helped Boston to five NBA Finals appearances with three NBA championships. Possessing a wide variety of offensive moves close to the basket, the long armed McHale was able to score with ease. An fierce defender, he averaged nearly two blocks per game for his career and twice had games with nine blocks. He retired after the 1993 season and has since transitioned to coaching.

In his 14 seasons, McHale was a seven time All-Star, 1987 All-NBA team, six time All-NBA defensive team, two time NBA sixth man of the year, and three time NBA champion. He was inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.

7. Bob Pettit

He took Schayes' style of play and built further on it.

The second overall pick in 1954 by the Hawks, Bob Pettit switched from his college position of center to power forward. The move paid off as he averaged a double-double per game and was named the Rookie of the Year. A phenomenal offensive rebounder and an instinctive scorer, he adjusted his game so that he would get to the free-throw line for easy points for his team and foul trouble for the opposition.

In his 11 seasons, Pettit was an 11 time All-Star, 11 time All-NBA team, the 1955 NBA Rookie of the Year, two time NBA scoring champion, for time All-Star Game MVP, and 1958 NBA champion. He was inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame in 1970.

6. Kevin Garnett

"KG" plays power forward like a middle linebacker.

The fifth overall pick in 1995 by Minnesota, Kevin Garnett became the first player drafted out of high school in nearly two decades. He made an immediate impact with the Timberwolves, leading them to eight consecutive playoff appearances. By the 2003-2004 season, he set career highs in in points, rebounds, blocks and lead the league rebounds all while being named league MVP. In 2007, Garnett was traded to Boston for seven players in one of the biggest blockbuster trades in NBA history. Joining Paul Pierce and the newly acquired Ray Allen, the Celtics had a resurgence in 2007-2008 and won the NBA title. Garnett played six years in Boston and two in Brooklyn before returning to Minnesota in 2014.

In his 22 seasons, Garnett has been a 15 time All-Star, nine time All-NBA team, 12 time NBA All-Defensive team, the 2008 NBA defensive player of the year, the 2003 All-Star Game MVP, 2004 NBA MVP, and 2008 NBA champion.

5. Elvin Hayes

"Big E" was the ideal scoring power forward.

The first overall pick by the Rockets in 1968, Elvin Hayes led the NBA in scoring as a rookie. By his second season he became the first player other than Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain to lead the league in rebounds in over a decade. In 1972, he was traded to Washington where he helped the team to three NBA Finals, with a title win in the 1978 series over Seattle. Hayes was traded back to Houston in 1981 where he played until he retired in 1984.

In his 16 seasons, Hayes was a 12 time All-Star, six time All-NBA team, two time NBA All-Defensive team, two time NBA rebounding leader, the 1968 NBA scoring leader, the Washington Wizards all time leading scorer, and 1978 NBA champion. He was inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame in 1990.

4. Charles Barkley

"The Round Mound of Rebound" played the position with reckless abandon.

The fifth overall pick by Philadelphia in 1984, Charles Barkley joined a veteran team that included All-Stars Julius Erving, Moses Malone and Maurice Cheeks. With help from Malone, Barkley was able to manage his weight and learned to prepare and condition himself properly for the NBA game. Undersized for the power forward position, he was able to outplay his taller and quicker opponents due to his strength and agility. An efficient offensive scorer, he led the league in field goal percentage five straight seasons. He played for three teams over his career, and no matter where he played, he was a big part of the offense.

Barkley retired after the 1999-2000 season. In his 16 seasons, he was an 11 time All-Star, 11 time All-NBA team, the 1987 NBA rebound leader, the 1991 NBA All-Star Game MVP, and the 1993 NBA MVP. He was inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

3. Dirk Nowitzki

He is one of the best international players in league history and the best shooting seven footer in league history.

The ninth overall pick in 1998 by Milwaukee out of Germany, Dirk Nowitzki was traded to Dallas almost immediately. After struggling his rookie year, he came into his own in 1999 becoming one of the most versatile frontcourt players basketball has seen. An exceptional shooter for his size, Nowitzki has made 88% of his free throws, nearly 50% of his field goal attempts and nearly 40% of his 3-point shots. His unique shot mechanics makes defending his jump shot next to impossible. On the court, he has led the Mavericks to two NBA Finals, with a victory in 2011. He currently ranks sixth on the NBA's all time scoring list and is the only European player to score 25,000 career points.

In his 18 seasons in Dallas, Nowitzki has been a 13 time All-Star, 12 time All-NBA team, the Dallas Mavericks all time leading scorer, the 2007 NBA MVP, 2011 NBA champion, and the 2011 NBA Finals MVP.

2. Karl Malone

"The Mailman" dominated the paint and always delivered.

The 13th overall pick by Utah in 1985, Karl Malone joined point guard John Stockton to form one of the best guard/forward tandems in league history with Stockton being the game manager and Malone being the foundation. He was a physical defender and rebounder, and one of the most durable players ever in the NBA, missing a total of only five regular season games in his first 13 years in the league. He led the NBA in free throws made a league-record seven times and maintained a high level of play in his latter years, becoming the oldest player to both log a triple-double and to be a starter on an NBA Finals-bound team. He is the second leading scorer in league history and helped the Jazz to two NBA Finals appearances. He spent one season with the Lakers before retiring in 2004.

In his 19 seasons, Malone was a 14 time All-Star, 14 time All-NBA team, four time All-Defensive team, the Utah Jazz all time leading scorer, two time All-Star Game MVP, and two time NBA MVP. He was inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.

1. Tim Duncan

"The Big Fundamental" has been a consistent force for San Antonio for nearly two decades.

The first overall pick in 1997 by San Antonio, Tim Duncan joined David Robinson to form the best frontcourt in basketball. Together, the "Twin Towers" were a defensive force close to the basket forcing opponents to beat them from long range. After Robinson retired in 2003, Duncan began playing a mix of power forward and center. Over the course of his career, he has been one of the top scorers, rebounders, and shot blockers in the NBA. His regular season stats are impressive but they are even better in the playoffs as he has helped the Spurs to six NBA Finals, with five titles.

In his 19 seasons, Duncan has been a 15 time All-Star, 15 All-NBA team, 15 time All-Defensive team, the 1998 NBA Rookie of the Year, the San Antonio Spurs all time leading scorer, the 2000 NBA All-Star Game MVP, two time NBA MVP, five time NBA champion, three time NBA Finals MVP.

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