There are many debates about NBA basketball, and several of them have merit. I, on the other hand, am very careful about starting a debate about hoops, because the first thing most people throw at me is that I was a football player and that I don’t know much about basketball when, in fact, I have more college basketball experience than most of the guys who claim they know the game, because they played on a high school or YMCA team. That being said, there is an argument brewing amongst a lot of NBA followers about a new “best power forward in the game.”
In the past few years, it has been pretty much a non debate as the “Big Fundamental” Tim Duncan has held this title. Duncan was able to hold it down even when explosive guys like Kevin Garnett and fan favorite Rasheed Wallace showcased skills that would make even the best players in the game scratch their head.
When we speak of power forwards, we must include complete game. Rebounds, defense, scoring, and passing. The past few years it has been a toss-up at the position as Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol have been the two best at that position in the NBA. Now there are some budding stars as Blake Griffin and Demarcus Cousins have exploded on the scene. However, dare I say that neither of these guys, old or new, are the best power forward in the game? Dare I say that Kevin Love is the best power forward in the NBA?
Before you come at me with a dagger and throw all these scorers at me, remember what I said about completeness. Ask yourself: is my guy a better rebounder, passer, and defender than Love? Ask yourself: can my guy give me thirty points and thirty boards on any given night: Ask yourself: can your guy dominate a game without taking 20 or more shots? Chances are, the answer is no.
I take nothing from Dirk, Pau, or even Blake Griffin, but they are not complete power forwards. In fact, you can argue that Dirk and Pau are small forwards trapped in power forward bodies. Blake Griffin is still yet to be determined. He is a great offensive player. He can go get the lob, he can handle the rock, but he isn’t pulling in the boards, and he isn’t even close to being a good defender.
What Love is doing is bringing back what the position used to be about. He is a powerful player who gets all he can out of his ability in the post. He is not going to out jump anyone, he is not going to out run anyone, he isn’t even going to look more spectacular than anyone. But when you add up the stats at the end of the night, you can argue that he won’t be out worked by anyone.
Love’s current numbers are 26.1 points per game, 14.8 rebounds per game, along with two assists and one block a night. Dirk is averaging 19 points per game, 5.3 rebounds, three assists and is nowhere to be found in blocks. Pau is slightly better overall than Dirk in every category except scoring. Pau is averaging 17.1 points per game, 8.7 rebounds per game, two assists and two blocks per contest.
The numbers tell part of the story, and I know that there will be naysayers out there. Right or wrong, in my eyes, if he’s not the best, he is becoming the best.
Stay Breezy ~ I’m Out!
Color Commentator for Time Warner Cable Sports Network NC/SC/OH and NCCU Sports Network. Washed up athlete who used to ball, now I write and call.