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, 10-through-1.Click the jump for the run.

. Kevin Love(notes), Minnesota Timberwolves (last year: 15th)

This man was sixth in rebound rate last year. Sixth. Two of the players ahead of him combined to play just 51 games (clearly, they played for the Trail Blazers), and all the men ahead of him played the center position. If I'm starting a team from scratch tomorrow, there might not be another player on this list - 1 through 30 - that I'd rather have starting at power forward.

As it is now, the guy averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds in just 28 minutes a game last season. At age 21. And I'm feeling pretty ridiculous for ranking him this low.

. Zach Randolph(notes), Memphis Grizzlies (last year: 14th)

Randolph didn't really change the way he looked just before he tossed in another lefty hook or pulled in another defensive rebound last season, but the way he went about setting up those hooks changed completely.

Or, "sped up quite a bit."

Zach didn't hold the ball last season. He got the pill, made a move and didn't muck about. Either passed it back out or put it up. Didn't wait for everyone to leave his side of the court. And helped, kind of, defensively. So, though his statistics didn't change much, his impact did. More of the same in 2010-11, please.

8. Kevin Garnett(notes), Boston Celtics (last year: third)

Kevin Garnett is just about the best power forward I've ever seen, so it hurts to rank him this low. But when he fell off last season -- and you saw it -- the man fell hard. At his peak? No doubt, perhaps still the best in the game at times. But those were just times. They popped up enough to keep us around, but they were merely times. Pity.

I'd still trust him, above anyone else, to guard that screen-and-roll.

I'd still trust his voice above anyone else's to tell me where I went wrong. I mean, I know I went wrong, but I'd really like to hear it from a guy who has been paying expert attention since the fall of 1995 to tell me just how I went wrong. If he wouldn't mind.

I'd still trust him covering my guy and his somehow at the same time, especially after I predicted a zig, and my guy zagged.

I'd still trust him turning over that right shoulder, going baseline with the turnaround jumper.

I'd still trust him down there, guarding any name you want to throw out. Names 1-through-30 on this list. Go ahead.

I still know that he's the best all-around player of his generation. Better than Duncan, better than Kobe, better than Shaq. In the era after Bird and before LeBron, nobody put it all together like K.G.

Enjoy him, please, in 2010-11.

. Josh Smith(notes), Atlanta Hawks (last year: 11th)

Smith just got it together last season. And when you're a player of Josh's considerable skill and athletic ability, getting it together leads to big things.

He's just an all-rounder, tossing in a relatively paltry 16 points and nine rebounds (and that's rounded up), but shooting over 50 percent while averaging 3.7 combined steals/blocks and 4.2 assists. My man, that works.

Famously, at least around these parts, he also gave up on 3-pointers last season. After averaging 112 3-point attempts between 2005 and 2009, Josh attempted just seven last season, and to these eyes nearly all of them were last-second heaves from half court or beyond.

. Carlos Boozer(notes), Chicago Bulls (last year: eighth)

It was a weird run for Carlos in Utah. He stabbed a CBA-cheating owner in the back by reneging on an illegal handshake agreement to sign with the Jazz, and then ran injured for a while, drawing the ire of his new team's front office. Then Paul Millsap(notes) popped up, and while Boozer's backup didn't exactly make him redundant, he did allow for the trade rumors that really escalated before Boozer's 2009-10 player option, assumed-but-eventually-declined 2009 free agency and eventual split in 2010.

Yikes. So, it's as if he never was a member of the Jazz. Now he's a Bull, he sets screens, he gathers well and finishes expertly with either hand, and truly comes straight out of central casting for a team like Chicago. Assuming he averages 65 games a season. Anything less, and Chicago will continue to have Jazz-like issues.

. Chris Bosh(notes), Miami Heat (last year: fourth)

Given his own team, lots of possessions and plenty of space around him, there's a great chance Bosh could average, oh, the 24 and 11 he managed last season on his own in Toronto. But his numbers will go down in Miami. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if Bosh topped out at 15 or 16 points per game this season.

It also wouldn't surprise me if he shot about 97 percent from the field.

. Dirk Nowitzki(notes), Dallas Mavericks (last year: second)

Nowitzki figures to come close to sustaining the 25 points and eight rebounds he came through with last season. He'll be 32 on opening night, but his shooting is as strong as ever and we could see an uptick in 3-point attempts during 2010-11.

But defense and the demands of a team that is far, far more talented than the squad Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) will be on this year, could play a part. But, really, I'd have no qualms with anyone switching his and Amar'e's rankings.

3. Amar'e Stoudemire, New York Knicks (last year: fifth)

Free to fly in New York, Stoudemire will miss the presence of Steve Nash(notes) in his backcourt ... until he realizes that he's probably the best pure paint scorer this league has, and that he can drop 25 points with or without the expertly placed pass.

His defense can be crummy, and it's possible that he won't have as much all-around impact as several of the players ranked below him, but I'd like to see the Knicks play for a while before I go half-empty with my assumptions.

. Tim Duncan(notes), San Antonio Spurs (last year: second, but ranked at center)


Weren't you the guy bleating on and on about how Duncan was mischaracterized as a power forward for years?

Well, first off, thanks for calling me a guy. And, secondly, sure. Tim Duncan played in the low post for years and guarded centers. His teammates at "center" played away from the low post and guarded power forwards or sometimes even small forwards. Duncan was a center.

This year, I don't think he's a center. I think Tiago Splitter(notes) is a center, and I think Duncan moves to the high post more often in 2010-11. There's a good chance I'm wrong, but this is what I'm going with.

And I'm going with a guy who might only top out at 31 minutes per game as the Spurs try to rest him. I'm going with the best big man of his generation, and I think (even considering defense) he'll have a slightly poorer year than Pau Gasol(notes) once everything wraps up.

. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers (last year: first)

Big men don't get more versatile than this guy. He's bad at absolutely nothing, and top gear in just about everything. Scores with either hand on either block. Dominates from the high post. Nails cutters, sets screens and finishes off the good or bad pass. He can play defense now, he's worked his way into becoming a fierce rebounder and his brain is bigger than our brains are.

Even with Tim Duncan's history, his smarts, his ability and his formidable all-around play, there isn't a power forward in this league that I think can help me win more than Pau Gasol. He just does things too excellently too often to overlook.

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