The 20 Greatest Power Forwards Ever

Greatest Power Forwards: In the energetic world of basketball, few players capture our attention like the power forward. These athletes bring a mix of strength, skill, and passion to the game. They play a special role on the court, dominating close to the basket with their scoring ability and determination to grab rebounds. Their influence goes beyond just numbers; they shape the game by affecting defensive strategies and sparking offensive opportunities.

Greatest Power Forwards

Think about legendary players like Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki—they’ve left a lasting mark on basketball history. This article explores the stories of the 20 greatest power forwards to ever play the game, highlighting their significant contributions to the sport.

1. Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan is widely regarded as the greatest power forward ever. He’s known for being super consistent at playing at a really high level. If you look at his stats throughout the years, you won’t see a lot of ups and downs. He’s actually the player who has blocked the most shots in the history of the playoffs, with a whopping 568 blocks. And get this, he’s one of only 5 players to win the NBA Finals MVP title at least 3 times.

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They call him “The Big Fundamental,” and he spent his whole pro career with the San Antonio Spurs. Under his leadership, the Spurs won the NBA championship 5 times, and they were the champs of the Western Conference 6 times. People often say he’s the best power forward in history, and he’s always been one of the top guys when it comes to grabbing rebounds.

  • Five NBA titles
  • Three Finals MVPs
  • Two MVPs
  • 10 All-NBA 1st Team selections
  • Eight All-Defensive 1st Team selections

2. Dirk Nowitzki

  • NBA Rank: 6 in scoring, 26 in rebounds, 53 in blocks, 94 in steals, 155 in assists

Dirk Nowitzki, the second-greatest power forward in NBA history, played for the Dallas Mavericks from 1998 to 2019. He made history as the first European to win the NBA MVP in 2006/07 and the first German to secure an NBA championship and Finals MVP in 2011.

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Nowitzki was a 14-time NBA All-Star, known for his impressive career stats, with 31,560 points scored and 1,522 games played. He’s highly regarded globally, earning praise from legends like Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley. In 2023, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, capping off a remarkable career.

  • One NBA title
  • one Finals MVP
  • one MVP
  • 12 All-NBA selections
  • 14 All-Stars

3. Karl Malone

Karl Malone, ranked as the third-greatest power forward in NBA history, was famously known as “The Mailman” during his playing days. This nickname reflects his reliable scoring ability, similar to how a postman consistently delivers letters into a mailbox.

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Widely recognized as one of the best power forwards ever, Malone spent an impressive 19 seasons in the NBA, with 18 of them playing for the Utah Jazz. Throughout his career, he earned MVP honors twice and was selected as an NBA All-Star an impressive 14 times. In 2010, he was rightfully inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

  • Two MVPs
  • 11 All-NBA 1st Team selections
  • 14 All-Stars
  • three All-Defensive 1st Team selections

4. Kevin Garnett

  • NBA Rank: 9 in rebounds, 18 blocks and steals, 19 in scoring, 52 in assists

Kevin Garnett holds the fourth spot on the list of greatest power forwards in NBA history. He played in the NBA from 1995 to 2016, notably for the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Boston Celtics.

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Garnett is widely recognized as one of the NBA’s premier players, boasting a remarkable 15 All-Star selections. He earned a spot on the All-NBA Team nine times and the All-Defensive Team an impressive 12 times. In the 2003/04 season, he secured the league MVP title, and in 2008, he clinched an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics. Garnett’s contributions to the game were acknowledged in 2020 when he was rightfully inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player.

  • One NBA title
  • One MVP
  • nine All-NBA Teams
  • 15 All-Stars
  • one Defensive Player of the Year award
  • nine All-Defensive 1st Team selections

5. Giannis Antetokounmpo

  • NBA Rank: 110 in scoring, 121 in blocks, 124 in rebounds, 179 in assists

Giannis Antetokounmpo, ranked fifth among the greatest power forwards, is a Greek-born NBA star known for his exceptional skills. Standing at 6’11” with a 7’3″ wingspan, he’s versatile, excelling in scoring, rebounding, and playmaking.

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In the 2022-2023 season, he led the Milwaukee Bucks to their second NBA championship in three years, earning him playoff MVP honors. With two NBA MVP titles, six All-Star selections, and four All-NBA First Team nods, Antetokounmpo is a dominant force in the league, admired for his talent and work ethic.

  • One NBA title
  • one Finals MVP
  • two MVPs
  • five All-NBA 1st Team selections
  • seven All-Stars
  • one Defensive Player of the Year award
  • four All-Defensive 1st Team selections

6. Bob Pettit

Bob Pettit, ranked as the sixth greatest power forward, played in the NBA from 1954 to 1965 for the Milwaukee Hawks/St. Louis Hawks team, winning a championship in 1958.

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Throughout his NBA career, Pettit achieved notable accolades, including being a two-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) and an 11-time NBA All-Star. He led the league twice in scoring and once in rebounding. In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the sport, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1971.

  • One NBA title
  • two MVPs
  • 10 All-NBA 1st Team selections
  • 11 All-Stars

7. Elvin Hayes

  • NBA Rank: 4 in rebounds, 11 in scoring, 24 in blocks

Elvin Hayes, nicknamed “the Big E,” holds the seventh spot among the greatest power forwards. The American former professional basketball player, also a radio analyst for his alma mater Houston Cougars, is celebrated for his offensive and defensive skills.

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Hayes is recognized as one of the best power forwards in NBA history and has earned a place in the NBA’s 50th and 75th anniversary teams. His remarkable longevity is highlighted by being third all-time in NBA minutes played, totaling exactly 50,000, and missing only nine games during his impressive 16-season career. Moreover, he is an esteemed inductee in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

  • One NBA title
  • six All-NBA selections
  • 12 All-Stars
  • two All-Defensive 2nd Team selections

8. Anthony Davis

  • NBA Rank: 37 in blocks, 120 in scoring, 126 in rebounds

Anthony Davis, ranked eighth among the greatest power forwards, is a versatile player known for his time with the New Orleans Pelicans and the Los Angeles Lakers. A multiple-time NBA All-Star, he has achieved success with four All-NBA First Team selections and four NBA All-Defensive Team honors.

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Davis played a pivotal role in the Lakers’ 2020 NBA Finals victory. His college career at Kentucky was equally impressive, winning national championships and numerous individual awards. As the first overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, Davis quickly made a mark, becoming the youngest player to score at least 59 points in a game. His international success includes gold medals with the U.S. national team in the Olympics and World Cup, making him the first player to achieve success at the NCAA, NBA, Olympic, and FIBA World Cup levels.

  • One NBA title
  • four All-NBA 1st Team selections
  • eight All-Stars
  • four All-Defensive selections

9. Jerry Lucas

  • NBA Rank: 17 in rebounds, 181 in points

Jerry Lucas, ranked ninth among the greatest power forwards, had an illustrious basketball career. He achieved success as a high school standout, a college star at Ohio State, and a gold medalist in the 1960 Olympics. Lucas led Ohio State to an NCAA championship in 1960 and received numerous accolades, including being a three-time Big Ten Player of the Year.

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In the NBA, Lucas continued to excel with three All-NBA First Team selections, two All-NBA Second Team selections, and seven NBA All-Star appearances. He was named the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1964 and earned the Most Valuable Player title in the 1965 NBA All-Star Game. Lucas was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980, solidifying his status as one of the all-time greats.

  • One NBA title
  • three 1st Team All-NBA selections
  • two 2nd Team All-NBA selections
  • seven All-Stars, Rookie of the Year

10. Kevin McHale

  • NBA Rank: 30 in blocks, 92 in scoring, 109 in rebounds

Kevin McHale, ranked tenth among the greatest power forwards, is a Hall of Famer and renowned for his time with the Boston Celtics. A key bench player, he won two NBA Sixth Man of the Year awards before becoming a starter alongside Larry Bird and Robert Parish, leading the Celtics to three NBA championships.

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McHale earned seven NBA All-Star selections, was named to the All-NBA Defensive Team six times, and is on both the NBA’s 50th and 75th-anniversary teams. Post-retirement, he played various roles for the Minnesota Timberwolves and coached the Houston Rockets. Currently, McHale is an on-air analyst for NBA TV and TNT’s NBA on TNT.

  • Three NBA titles
  • one All-NBA 1st Team selection
  • seven All-Stars
  • six All-Defensive selections
  • two Sixth Man of the Year awards

11. Pau Gasol

  • NBA Rank: 21 in blocks, 28 in rebounds, 42 in scoring, 129 in assists

Pau Gasol, ranked eleventh among the greatest power forwards, is recognized as the best Spanish and one of the finest European players in basketball history. His brother, Marc Gasol, also had a notable career in the NBA.

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Pau was honored with induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 2023.

  • Two NBA titles
  • four All-NBA selections
  • six All-Stars

12. Dolph Schayes

  • NBA Rank: 29 in rebounds, 72 in scoring, 218 in assists

Dolph Schayes, ranking twelfth among the greatest power forwards, was a dominant force as a top scorer and rebounder. A 12-time NBA All-Star and 12-time All-NBA selection, he secured an NBA championship with the Syracuse Nationals in 1955. Schayes, named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History and part of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team in 2021, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1973.

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Schayes spent his entire 16-year career with the Nationals and the Philadelphia 76ers, leading his team to the playoffs 15 times. After becoming player-coach for the 76ers, he concluded his playing career in 1964 and continued as coach for two more seasons, earning NBA Coach of the Year honors in 1966. He also had a brief coaching stint with the Buffalo Braves.

  • One NBA title
  • six All-NBA 1st Team selections
  • 12 All-Stars

13. Charles Barkley

  • NBA Rank: 19 in rebounds, 27 in steals, 29 in scoring, 106 in assists, 127 in blocks

Charles Barkley, ranked 13th among the greatest power forwards, stands at 1.98 meters tall and was named Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1993. Despite not winning an NBA championship, he is regarded as one of the best basketball players in history. In 1996, he was honored among the 50 greatest players of all time.

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Barkley achieved success on the international stage, winning two gold medals with the USA national basketball team, known as the Dream Team, at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona and 1996 in Atlanta. In 2006, he was rightfully inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Post his playing career, Barkley transitioned into a successful sports commentator on Turner Network Television and authored several books, showcasing his diverse talents beyond the basketball court.

  • One MVP
  • 11 All-NBA selections
  • 11 All-Stars

14. Chris Bosh

  • NBA Rank: 87 in rebounds, 97 in scoring, 115 in blocks

Chris Bosh, ranked 14th among the greatest power forwards, had a 14-year tenure in the NBA. Starting with the Toronto Raptors in 2003, where he was initially drafted, he later joined the Miami Heat in 2010 and played with them until 2017.

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Throughout his career, Bosh earned NBA All-Star honors eleven times and secured NBA titles with the Heat in 2012 and 2013. Standing at 2.11 meters tall, he showcased versatility by playing both power forward and center positions.

  • Two NBA titles
  • one All-NBA 2nd Team selection
  • 11 All-Stars

15. Dennis Rodman

  • NBA Rank: 23rd in rebounds

Dennis Rodman, ranked 15th among the greatest power forwards, had a notable NBA career spanning from 1986 to 2000. He played for several teams, including the Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, and Dallas Mavericks.

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Known by the nickname “The Worm,” Rodman led the NBA in rebounding seven times and received the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award twice. He participated in the NBA All-Star Game twice and won NBA championships five times—twice with the Detroit Pistons and three times with the Chicago Bulls. Rodman’s exceptional defensive skills and rebounding prowess have solidified his status as one of the best in NBA history. In 2011, he was rightfully inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

  • Five NBA titles
  • two All-NBA 3rd Team selections
  • two All-Stars
  • two Defensive Player of the Year awards
  • seven All-Defensive 1st Team selections

16. Chris Webber

  • NBA Rank: 71 in rebounds, 98 in points, 167 in assists

Chris Webber, ranked 16th among the greatest power forwards, had a noteworthy NBA career from 1993 to 2008. He played for various teams, including the Golden State Warriors, Washington Bullets, Sacramento Kings, Philadelphia 76ers, and Detroit Pistons.

During his stints with the Bullets and Kings, Webber achieved significant recognition. He was a five-time NBA All-Star and earned spots on five All-NBA teams. Additionally, he secured the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in his debut season in 1993–94. Webber’s contributions on the court have solidified his place among the top power forwards in NBA history.

  • Five All-NBA Team selections
  • five All-Star Year

17. Dave DeBusschere

  • NBA Rank: 46 in rebounds, 181 in points

Dave DeBusschere, ranked 17th among the greatest power forwards, had a versatile career spanning both Major League Baseball (MLB) and the NBA. He played for the Chicago White Sox in MLB in 1962 and 1963. In the NBA, DeBusschere played for the Detroit Pistons from 1962 to 1968 and the New York Knicks from 1968 to 1974. Notably, he also served as the head coach for the Pistons from 1964 to 1967.

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Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983, DeBusschere was further recognized in 1996 as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history. In October 2021, he received additional honors by being named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team, solidifying his legacy as one of the league’s all-time great players.

  • Two NBA titles
  • one All-NBA 2nd Team selection
  • eight All-Stars
  • Six All-Defensive 1st Team selections

18. Bobby Jones

  • NBA Rank: 107 in blocks, 155 in steals

Bobby Jones, ranked 18th among the greatest power forwards, had a distinguished career playing for both the Denver Nuggets in the American Basketball Association (ABA) and the Philadelphia 76ers in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

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Known as “the Secretary of Defense,” Jones contributed significantly to the 76ers’ success, winning an NBA championship in 1983. His accolades include being a four-time NBA All-Star, an eight-time member of the NBA All-Defensive Team, and earning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award in 1983. Jones’ impact on both ends of the court solidifies his place among the top power forwards in NBA history.

  • One NBA title
  • four All-Stars
  • eight All-Defensive 1st Team selections
  • one Sixth Man of the Year award

19. LaMarcus Aldridge

  • NBA Rank: 46 in points, 58 in rebounds, 64 in blocks

LaMarcus Aldridge, ranked 19th among the greatest power forwards, had a notable career that began with two seasons playing college basketball for the Texas Longhorns. He was selected as the second overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft. He spent nine seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers before signing with the San Antonio Spurs in 2015.

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In March 2021, he joined the Brooklyn Nets after the Spurs bought out his contract. Although he initially retired due to an irregular heartbeat, Aldridge returned to the Nets in the following season after receiving medical clearance. Renowned for his signature fadeaway jump shot, Aldridge has achieved significant recognition, including five All-NBA team selections and seven NBA All-Star appearances. His impact on the court has solidified his place among the top power forwards in the NBA.

  • Five All-NBA Team selections
  • seven All-Stars

20. Draymond Green

  • NBA Rank: 104 in assists, 165 in steals

Draymond Green, ranked 20th among the greatest power forwards, is a highly decorated NBA player primarily known for his defensive prowess. With four NBA championships, four All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals, Green is recognized as one of the best defensive players of the 2010s.

Greatest Power Forwards Ever
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Playing a key role in the Golden State Warriors’ success, he is versatile, often acting as an undersized center. Despite praise for his passing and defensive skills, Green has faced criticism for on-court conduct and perceived “dirty” play.

  • Four NBA titles
  • two All-NBA Team selections
  • four All-Stars
  • one Defensive Player of the Year
  • four All-Defensive 1st Team selections

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