Celtics news is still slower than Jerome James with two broken feet, so we’re going to continue the first annual Celtics Town positional rankings. A deep and talented position, today’s power forwards are led by perhaps the greatest power forward ever. And if you can’t guess who that is, then you’ll have to find out at the end of this article.
In no particular order: Lamar Odom (not consistent enough), Paul Millsap (just started to be a monster, could become one of the better PFs in the league), Luis Scola (Mr. Dependable), Antawn Jamison (Great stats. Okay – at best – teams)
10. Carlos Boozer
Battling injuries all season, Boozer only played 37 regular-season games last year. Still, he averaged his annual ho-hum double-double, putting up 16.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.
Carlos can score with both hands on the block, and has a nice jumpshot that he shoots with a lot of arc. He’s a solid banger on the boards, and will post his normal 20 and 10 just about every night.
For anyone who thinks Boozer won’t come back strong from his injury – the man averaged 20.6 points and 13.2 rebounds a game in the playoffs. Each game is just another day at the office for one of the steadier players in the NBA.
9. Josh Smith
If basketball was all about athleticism, Josh Smith might be the best player in the world. At 6’9”, with a super-long wingspan and freakish vertical leap, Smith utilizes his athleticism very well on a basketball court. He blocks shots, gets out into passing lanes, and runs the wing on fast breaks.
But can you imagine if he ever decided to refine his game? Smith could be one of the most dominant players today if he could work on a legitimate face-up game with a 12-foot face-up jumper and a couple jab-step moves. As it is, he’s a great player and very valuable to the Hawks, but I can’t help but think, every time I watch him play, that he could be a lot better than he is.
8. Rashard Lewis
I saw Lewis destroy my beloved Celtics in the playoffs and I’ve got to tell you…performance-enhancing drugs must really work. All PED jokes aside, Lewis had a great postseason, letting everybody know just how valuable he is to the Magic and making some people even think, “Wow, Rashard Lewis actually deserves his contract.”
I still don’t think he’s worth $118 million over six years, but Rashard has earned a lot more of that money than I would have expected. He’s a tough player who can battle big guys down low but bring them outside on the other end. An absolute matchup terror for most teams, Rashard brought the versatility to Orlando that made them a special team.
7. David West
David West is kind of like the Sean Astin of the NBA – he goes about his business and compiles very solid statistics, but nobody thinks of him as a star. Astin was in five of the best movies of our generation (Rudy, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and The Goonies), but nobody thinks of him as more than a decent actor.
And West? He’s averaged at least 18 points and 8 rebounds over his last three seasons, helping the Hornets escape from obscurity to become a playoff mainstay in the Western Conference. Last year, when nobody talked about him at all, West quietly posted his best season ever, with 21.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. West hasn’t ever been a part of anything as memorable as Rudy, but he’s an underrated player who deserves a lot more credit than he gets.
6. Chris Bosh
Bosh has been a productive player for a long time, compiling statistics and playing in the all-star game for four consecutive years. On an individual level, Bosh might have had his best year last year, but his team struggled mightily to compete.
Bosh puts up great stats, but hasn’t found a way to consistently be part of a winner. As a star, those losses are at least partially his fault. He could be more highly rated based strictly on individual play, but every guy in front of him on this list not only shines individually but is a proven winner, as well.
5. Pau Gasol
The Big Poodle surprised me last year by coming back a little heavier, a little stronger, and a lot tougher. During the Lakers run to the finals, Pau proved to me what he never did in ’07-’08 – that he actually has a pair of balls. I always knew Pau was very talented offensively, with unfair skills for a 7-footer, but he always lacked, before last year, the drive and mentality to help his team win close, tough games. Not anymore – the new and improved Gasol is not only tough, he’s an NBA champion.
Gasol had such a great season last year that people might think I’m rating him too low on this list. Don’t get me wrong, I know Pau is a great player, one of the best in the league, and the Lakers are very lucky the Grizzlies decided to give him up for more or less nothing. But are you telling me the Lakers wouldn’t trade him straight up for any of the guys in front of him? If Pau was replaced by any of the top four on this list, the Lakers would have been a better team. That isn’t a knock on Pau, it’s just a testament to how good the top four players are.
4. Amare Stoudemire
A fluke eye injury last year ended Stoudemire’s season and Phoenix’s hopes of contending for a title. But Amare will be back, and something tells me he’ll be back very strong.
When healthy, Stoudemire is a physical force, with unrelenting drives to the basket and unmatched ferocity on his attacks to the hoop. Over the years, he’s also developed a reliable jumper, making him more versatile and adding a dimension to his game that will allow him to thrive even after his athleticism starts to recede.
Would Phoenix have won the title last year, had Amare stayed healthy? Probably not. But I’m willing to bet they would have made the playoffs, and I know there aren’t a lot of teams that wanted to play Nash, O’Neal and Stoudemire in the first round.
3. Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk’s had a rough offseason (to say the least), after his fiancée was arrested for fraud charges and then found to be pregnant. But Dirk, I’ve got a silver lining for you – she wasn’t that hot, anyways.
Dirk Nowitzki has been underrated since he was overrated and won the 2007 MVP. If that doesn’t make sense, I mean this…Dirk didn’t deserve to win the MVP, but after he won such an undeserved MVP and then proceeded to shit the bed in a first-round playoff loss, people have forgotten just how good Dirk is.
He is one of the most unstoppable players in the NBA, 7’1” tall with obscene touch on his jumper. His post-up turnarounds are more or less unblockable, meaning Dirk can get whatever shot he wants, whenever he wants it. He tends to settle too much for jumpers rather than using his size to overwhelm smaller opponents, but the results can’t be argued with. 25.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game last year? Dirk is an assassin.
2. Kevin Garnett
Even coming off an injury, Kevin Garnett deserves to be this high on the list. While some guys on this list score more points than Garnett, nobody affects both sides of the court like KG.
An animal on the court, the most intense player in the league, and a vicious competitor, KG leads by example and he leads with his words. His arrival in Boston made the Celtics instant contenders not only because of his basketball talent, but also due to his immeasurable leadership and desire.
1. Tim Duncan
Some people may argue that Tim Duncan is washed up, that he’s no longer in his prime, that he’s finally begun the downward cycle at the end of every player’s career. But people have been counting Duncan off for years. Every year, it seems that people consider Duncan to be over the hill, but every year he returns and posts his normal solid year.
With the Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess signings, the Spurs are poised for a long playoff run in the West.
And Tim Duncan is the main reason why.