Ball Don't Lie - NBA

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, 20-through-11.Click the jump for the run.

. Udonis Haslem(notes), Miami Heat (last year: unranked)

I'm still shaking my head at Udonis' defensive work from last season. I'm sure my co-workers here at Y! are sick of hearing about it, but the guy was just everywhere last season, and that's while taking into consideration his already-staunch career-long history of defensive work. Haslem's return to Miami gives this team so, so much versatility, as he can defend two positions expertly while covering for the mistakes of guys named Chris Bosh(notes).

. Lamar Odom(notes), Los Angeles Lakers (last year: 12th)

L.O. was rightfully ranked that high last season because he set so much up within the confines of Los Angeles' offense that didn't show up in the box score, alongside some pretty happenin' help defense. The defense was there last year, but he didn't seem to have as much of an impact offensively, and I was more than dismayed by his slight-but-still-annoying uptick in 3-point attempts, without an uptick in 3-point percentages (31.9 percent on the year, right in line with his career averages).

Still, there are few players in this league I enjoy watching more.

. Blake Griffin(notes), Los Angeles Clippers (last year: 20th)

There are nights where Blake will act the part of a top five player at his position, even in his official rookie year. His hands, explosiveness, touch and timing will do well, and he'll be a terror coming down the lane and coming through with the last play we saw him make just before he destroyed his kneecap.

There's still a long way to go, though, before we'll see the real Blake. And Baron Davis(notes) is his point guard. So, your patience is appreciated.

. Paul Millsap(notes), Utah Jazz (last year: 13th)

Why does Paul drop four spots despite the absence of Carlos Boozer(notes) in the Utah lineup?

Well, though he has the talent for it, Paul's not going to just step in and start handing out 20 and 10s. Andrei Kirilenko(notes) will eat up some power forward minutes, and Al Jefferson(notes) will jump between the center and power forward slot at times, and his game more closely resembles Millsap's than it does the departed Boozer's. Big Paul, as he's usually done, will take it all in stride.

Also, this guy catches passes that have no business being thrown, and still turns them into buckets. Fantastic player.

. Antawn Jamison(notes), Cleveland Cavaliers (last year: sixth)

With LeBron James(notes) gone and the Cavaliers hurting for scoring, one would think that Antawn would be the guy to step up and step in with what could be his finest scoring season in years.

That might happen, but efficiency and defense matter here, and it's worth noting that the 34-year-old Jamison was dropping off in production even before his trade to Cleveland. Appreciate the heck out of the guy, I'd just want some more well-rounded big men on my team before him at this point.

. Carl Landry(notes), Sacramento Kings (last year: 19th)

Landry is an uncanny scorer who scores at a very efficient rate, and he gives the Kings the sort of interior presence offensively they've lacked since Chris Webber(notes) fell apart.

But he also falls short on the glass and on defense, and his minutes could be leveled with DeMarcus Cousins(notes) trying to find a position in this league and Jason Thompson's(notes) presence. This leaves him just a step behind the sort of starting-quality studs that rank ahead of him.

14. Luis Scola(notes), Houston Rockets (last year: 25th)

In 16 games spread in the month of March last season, Luis Scola averaged 20.5 points on 52 percent shooting and 10.5 rebounds. He also played 39 minutes a contest. And if he just approximates that run for most of 2010-11, than this 14th ranking will be a joke.

The problem is, I don't know if he will. I don't know if he'll get the ball enough or play enough minutes. I'd like to see him get the ball more -- and with Trevor Ariza(notes) gone, he'll certainly have his chances -- but I just can't be too confident. Here's hoping he turns this middle-of-the-road rating into a joke, instead of leaving it as merely a potential joke.

. Troy Murphy(notes), New Jersey Nets (last year: 26th)

Talk about a hiring straight out of central casting. You weren't? Oh.

Murphy's shooting gifts and rebounding acumen (10.2 caroms a game last year in just 32 minutes a contest) will act as a perfect fit in New Jersey this season. His defense? Not so much, but he's also a massive expiring contract and a Jersey native. Acquiring him was the best move for all involved.

The worry with Murphy is that he turned 30 last May, and that his production could fall off. That said, I turned 30 last May. And despite all the carpal tunnel and crying and grey hair and growing obsession with the temperature dial in my house, I feel as if I'm chugging along with the gusto of a man many weeks younger than I. Like, three weeks.

. David West(notes), New Orleans Hornets (last year: ninth)

You hate to predict a fall-off for a guy who doesn't turn 30 until next week -- and someone who has been remarkable in his year-to-year consistency following an injury-plagued rookie campaign. With Chris Paul(notes) hopefully back for a full season, West's step-back jumpers and solid-enough rebounding will likely carry over to yet another season spent on the fringe of the All-Star rankings.

. LaMarcus Aldridge(notes), Portland Trail Blazers (last year: seventh)

Factoring in minutes and pace and efficiency and all that, and LMA has more or less been the same player since his rookie year. That might disappoint some who see the potential for stardom in him (people like me, who see those gifts and that length and wonder why he can't do more with it), but if you're going to get stuck in a rut, 18 points and a little under eight boards a game isn't all that bad a rut to find yourself in.

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