As summer winds down and the day-to-day "news" falls flat, BDL will be ranking each NBA position, 1-through-30. Or, more accurately, 30-through-1. Here's an explanation.
In this post, we take on the power forwards, 30-through-21.Click the jump for the run.
30. Michael Beasley(notes), Minnesota Timberwolves (last year: unranked)
Beas certainly has the talent to vault into the top ten of this list, but for now he remains a sort of nonentity whilst on the court. Sure, he gets some points, some rebounds, but not a ton of either. And after two years I'm trying hard to remember a time that he really swayed the character of a particular game in any meaningful way. He'll get his chances in Minnesota, bouncing between forward spots and possibly coming off the bench. Here's hoping for a turnaround, while the pressure focuses elsewhere.
(In case you're wondering, it's defense. Yes, he scores more than a lot of other people on this list, and he was part of a very good defensive team this year. But until he shows me more, he's 30.)
29. Kenyon Martin(notes), Denver Nuggets (last year: unranked)
I still appreciate Martin's defense, and this is a "if healthy" type of ranking. If he can play, Martin's ability to finish off of a screen-and-roll, cover the same play on the other end and pin shots to the glass keeps him worth the minutes. Not worth the salary, mind you, but perhaps Denver can find something to do with that $16.5 million expiring deal.
At the bottom of this list, it really came down to, "who would I rather have on my team in 2010-11: Taj Gibson, or [name redacted]?" And Taj kept winning out. It's a giant mea culpa for me, because I didn't even think Taj was the 26th-best player in last year's draft when he was taken at that slot, but his all-around game and defensive work have me on his side as we enter his second season.
27. Thaddeus Young(notes), Philadelphia 76ers (last year: unranked)
Thaddeus' production has declined in the two years since his impressive rookie campaign, and though he's just 22, it is time for him to get it together. With an ultra-focused coach in Doug Collins and a defined role on offense, perhaps 2010-11 is his season to bounce back. He's certainly got the all-around skills to make it happen.
26. J.J. Hickson(notes), Cleveland Cavaliers: (last year: unranked)
For all the talk of Hickson working as some untradeable prospect for the Cavaliers last season, it might surprise some to see him this low. I've got to admit that I think this might be too high, actually.
J.J. is a good screen-and-roll partner, pretty good going in either direction to the hole. He finishes well, and though he doesn't often take a jumper, he has the form to put it together. His work on the other side of the ball is OK. He's a fringe starter, though. One you'd prefer to replace.
I just don't understand what I'm missing with Green.
He's a below-average shooter from long range who shoots too much, he's not a great interior finisher. He's a poor rebounder, a good defender at either forward slot to the naked eye (if not to the stat ledger), and at 24 he's not some prospect worth taking your time on. He just appears to be a below-average forward to me. Why he's being counted on as the third tier in Oklahoma City, or a potential member of Team USA, I just don't get.
24. Elton Brand(notes), Philadelphia 76ers (last year: 17th)
The slide continues for the too-proud power forward. Elton hurts himself because he over-thinks just about every possession he's part of offensively, though his defensive skills came in handy when his relatively short height isn't a huge deal. Brand missed only six games last year, and he gave his team 13 and 6 in just 30 minutes (along with 2.2 combined steals/blocks), so this might be too low a ranking for him. Then again, he'll turn 32 before this season ends.
23. Tyrus Thomas(notes), Charlotte Bobcats (last year: 29th)
It's yet another make-or-break season for Tyrus in a career of them. Truly, it was his rookie campaign that was his make-or-break year. The Bulls failed to get through to him, thinking that a veteran-heavy locker room would do the trick, and he's been flailing ever since.
Now we get to see how he responds to getting that second contract. Every bit of it is guaranteed, so it hardly matters if he goes in or out of Larry Brown's doghouse. For now, they're playing nice. One or 12 missed defensive assignments later, who knows?
22. Rashard Lewis(notes), Orlando Magic (last year: 16th)
If I'm honest, the only reason Lewis is ranked this high is because the skill he's best known for contributing (sound shooting from behind the arc) is so hard to find at this position, and he can be a matchup nightmare.
Because, too often, Lewis doesn't take advantage of his own gifts. And when he passes on being aggressive offensively, his terrible defense and position-worst rebounding tend to bring out the worst in him.
21. Andray Blatche(notes), Washington Wizards (last year: unranked)
This is a glass-half-full ranking.
If Blatche really gets into Flip Saunders' offense, plays hard and keeps his attitude in the right place? He'll have a great year, possibly better (I'm not going to get too optimistic, considering his defense) than a few of the players ranked ahead of him.
It's not likely to go that way. He'll have good stretches and bad. Which is unfortunate, because he remains a tantalizing talent.
- Taj Gibson