The NBA: January 2013 Position Battle – The Top 5 Power Forwards Right Now

With both Kevin Love and Dirk Nowitzki playing hurt this year and Tim Duncan chugging along in his near-40 body, the opportunity for any average Joe to rise up and become one of the best 4s in the league has hardly ever been more open. What we have in this post is a curious set of vets and young guns, a strange combo of athletes and workhorses. And, nope, there’s no David Lee, LaMarcus Aldridge, or Pau Gasol anywhere here.

5. Paul Millsap (UTA) - 17.0ppg, 8.2rpg, 3.2apg, 1.6spg, 1.4bpg, 21.4 EFF
Millsap’s FG% is not as gaudy as his PF peers, but he makes up for it with an all-around effectiveness usually seen in the league’s top swingmen (see previous position battle post for reference). The undersized 47th pick in the 2006 NBA Draft leads his team both in steals and FG accuracy, which, at 48%, isn’t exactly eye-popping. Still, he’s a big reason the Jazz are still above .500 and are very much in the thick of the playoff hunt.

4. Kenneth Faried    (DEN) - 13.0ppg, 10.4rpg, 1.0spg, .684 FG%, 21.6 EFF
The Manimal is just 24 years old. TWENTY FOUR. That’s about three to four years away from his physical peak, and then probably he’ll still be going at it just as strong well into his early 30s. Not bad for a guy picked after Derrick Williams, Enes Kanter, and the Morris twins. I mean, look at his field goal shooting! It should be illegal for a 6’8 guy to shoot that well. Yes, EVEN if all he does is throw down that rubber ball. Wondering how Denver has gone undefeated in its last five, including Ws over the Lakers and Warriors? Look no further than Faried.

The Manimal has been eating the competition alive
in the 2012-2013 NBA season.
(image by Barry Gutierrez/AP)

3. Blake Griffin (LAC) - 19.8ppg, 7.4rpg, 3.8apg, 2.0spg, .541 FG%, 22.4 EFF
The Clippers are the second-best team in the NBA mainly because of Chris Paul, but Chris Paul has been so good in no small part because of Blake Griffin. Griffin isn’t a nightly double-double juggernaut like Faried, but he’s a highlight-reel phenomenon who sells tickets and jams maybe stronger than anyone else outside of LeBron. Check that, maybe even stronger than the King himself! Griffin continues to be the Clips’ most reliable post presence despite his occasional risky turnaround J.

2. Tristan Thompson (CLE) - 14.8ppg, 11.6rpg, 1.2spg, .561 FG%, 22.6 EFF
And from out of nowhere comes Tristan Thompson! He has been a double-double churner for Cleveland for the past week or so. And look at those steals and that FG stat! Man, if this guy can find some consistency, then the Cavs might be playoff contenders as early as next season. Yes, NEXT SEASON. Remember the quip about average Joes taking advantage? This guy is a prime example.

1. Carlos Boozer (CHI) - 21.0ppg, 10.0rpg, 2.4apg, .526 FG%, 24.0 EFF
Now when we talk about a veteran campaigner, this is the guy we have in mind. The 31-year old bruiser who was the biggest steal of the 2002 Draft (#35 pick!) continues to have his dominant moments interspersed with bouts of I-want-to-do-too-much moments. Still, Boozer’s strong play, coupled with the continued emergence of Joakim Noah, has given Chicago a really solid frontline – a frontline that has been able to keep the Bulls relatively in step with the East’s powerhouse squads. And when Rose returns, well, things should be even more interesting!

Game Recaps (courtesy of the Sports Network):
January 11
Toronto 99, Charlotte 78
Alan Anderson sank four 3-pointers en route to a game-high 16 points as the Toronto Raptors rolled over the Charlotte Bobcats, 99-78, at Air Canada Centre. Jose Calderon followed with 15 points and six assists, while Amir Johnson and Ed Davis contributed 13 and 12 points, respectively, for Toronto, which has won two straight and 10 of its last 13 overall. Michael Kidd-Gilchrest, Kemba Walker and Ben Gordon scored 12 points apiece to pace the Bobcats, who have dropped two straight and three of their last four.

Atlanta 103, Utah 95
Devin Harris poured in a season-high 24 points to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a 103-95 win over the Utah Jazz on Friday at Philips Arena. Harris, who returned to the lineup on Wednesday after missing 11 games with a right foot injury, went 7-for-8 from the field and 4-for-5 from behind the arc to help the Hawks snap a four-game skid. Josh Smith had 15 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, Lou Williams dropped in 14 points and Ivan Johnson added 13 off the bench for Atlanta. Randy Foye dropped in 25 points, Al Jefferson had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Paul Millsap donated 20 points to go with 13 boards and five assists for the Jazz, who had won four of their last five entering the contest.

Boston 103, Houston 91
Paul Pierce poured in a team-high 23 points on Friday night to lead the Boston Celtics to a 103-91 triumph over the Houston Rockets at TD Garden. Kevin Garnett added 17 points and eight rebounds, while Courtney Lee and Jared Sullinger each donated 14 points off the bench for the Celtics, who have won five straight games. James Harden paced the Rockets with 24 points and Chandler Parsons followed with 18 in the setback, Houston's second in a row.

Brooklyn 99, Phoenix 79
Joe Johnson led five Brooklyn players in double figures with 19 points on 8-of-19 shooting as the Nets took care of the Phoenix Suns, 99-79, on Friday at Barclays Center. MarShon Brooks added 17 points, while Andray Blatche contributed 15 and eight rebounds for Brooklyn, which has won five straight. Jared Dudley connected on all four of his 3-point attempts and finished with a team-high 18 points for the Suns, who have lost five in a row. Shannon Brown donated 15 points and Goran Dragic and Luis Scola finished with 12 apiece in defeat.

Memphis 101, San Antonio 98 (OT)
Rudy Gay missed two key free throws late in regulation, but drained a go-ahead jumper with 27.8 seconds remaining in overtime to help the Memphis Grizzlies fight off the San Antonio Spurs, 101-98, in a playoff-like atmosphere at FedExForum. Memphis was swept by its Southwest Division rival in all four meetings last season and dropped an overtime decision back on Dec. 1 after squandering a 14-point fourth quarter lead. The Grizzlies also saw a double-digit cushion fall by the wayside on Friday, and needed to survive Tony Parker's game-tying 3-pointer at the regular buzzer to win their fourth straight game. Gay finished with a team- high 23 points, Mike Conley added 21 points and five assists and Zach Randolph totaled 18 points and 10 rebounds in the statement victory. Parker led all scorers with 30 points, while Tim Duncan chipped in 13 points and 15 boards in the Spurs' third straight road loss.

New Orleans 104, Minnesota 92
Greivis Vasquez had 18 points and 13 assists as the New Orleans Hornets rallied from an early deficit to down the Minnesota Timberwolves, 104-92, at New Orleans Arena. Eric Gordon followed with 16 points, Ryan Anderson netted 15 and Jason Smith dropped in 14 off the bench for the Hornets, who stretched their season-best win streak to four games. Al-Farouq Aminu contributed a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds in the victory. Luke Ridnour scored a game-high 20 points and Nikola Pekovic added 18 with six rebounds for Minnesota, which dropped its second straight.

Chicago 108, New York 101
Luol Deng posted a season-high 33 points, and the Chicago Bulls held off New York, 108-101, despite the return of Knicks star Carmelo Anthony. Carlos Boozer added 17 points and Richard Hamilton scored 14 for the Bulls, who never trailed and moved to 3-0 against the Knicks this season. Chicago, winners in four of its last five overall, also received 12 points apiece from Taj Gibson and Marco Belinelli. Anthony, who finished with 39 points on 14-of-32 shooting, was suspended for one game without pay by the NBA for confronting Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett following Monday's 102-96 loss at Madison Square Garden. New York, losers of a season-high three in a row, was never ahead. Tyson Chandler had nine points and 18 rebounds. J.R. Smith scored 13 in defeat.

Carlos Boozer's strong play has helped the Bulls keep
abreast of the East's top teams.
(image by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Detroit 103, Milwaukee 87
Greg Monroe scored a game-high 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting and ripped down 11 rebounds as the Detroit Pistons used a huge third quarter to top the Milwaukee Bucks, 103-87, on Friday at Bradley Center. Brandon Knight netted 20 points and handed out five assists, while Jason Maxiell added 10 points and seven boards for the Pistons, who have won five of their last six contests. Kyle Singler donated 10 points in the victory. Brandon Jennings struggled from the floor for Milwaukee, shooting just 5-of-13 for 15 points, while Beno Udrih also scored 15 as the Bucks' two-game winning streak came to an end. Monta Ellis added 13 points and five assists in a losing cause.

Denver 98, Cleveland 91
Danilo Gallinari poured in 23 points to go with seven rebounds as the Denver Nuggets downed the Cleveland Cavaliers, 98-91, at the Pepsi Center on Friday. Kosta Koufos tallied a career-high with 21 points, Kenneth Faried had 17 points and 11 rebounds and Andre Iguodala posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets, winners in four straight. Kyrie Irving finished with a game-high 28 points and also dished out seven assists and Dion Waiters donated 18 points off the bench for the Cavaliers, who have dropped three of their last four.

Golden State 103, Portland 97
David Lee had 24 points and 10 rebounds, Stephen Curry added 22 points and 12 assists and the Golden State Warriors withstood a furious comeback by Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers in a 103-97 victory at Oracle Arena. Klay Thompson chipped in 16 points and Carl Landry netted 15, including a big layup after the Blazers pulled within four in the final minute of regulation. Golden State avoided its first three-game losing streak of the season and reached 23 wins to match its entire win total in last season's lockout-shortened 66-game campaign. Lillard nearly single-handedly carried Portland back from a 20-point deficit by hitting 10 straight shots in the second half en route to a 37-point effort. But it wasn't enough for the Blazers, who shot 15-of-43 from behind the arc and saw their four-game winning streak come to an end.

Oklahoma City 116, LA Lakers 101
Kevin Durant poured in a game-high 42 points to go with eight rebounds and five assists on Friday, as the Oklahoma City Thunder routed the reeling Los Angeles Lakers, 116-101, at Staples Center. Russell Westbrook posted a double-double with 27 points and 10 assists, while Kevin Martin added 15 points for the Thunder, who have won four of their last five. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 28 points and Antawn Jamison donated 19 points and 10 rebounds for Los Angeles, which has lost six straight for the first time since a seven-game slide from March 2-15, 2007.

January 12
Orlando 104, LA Clippers 101
Arron Afflalo and J.J. Redick combined for 51 points and made big shots in the fourth quarter to help propel the Orlando Magic to a 104-101 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday. Afflalo tallied 30 points -- 23 coming in the second half -- to go with seven rebounds and seven assists, while Redick scored 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting to help the Magic snap a 10-game losing streak. Redick shot 4-for-8 from beyond the arc, and his triple with under a minute left gave Orlando the lead for good. Nikola Vucevic recorded 18 points and 15 rebounds in Orlando's first victory since Dec. 19. Blake Griffin filled the stat sheet with 30 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Clippers, who saw their franchise- best 13-game home winning streak come to an end. Chris Paul contributed 10 points, 16 assists and four steals for Los Angeles, while Jamal Crawford scored 13 points off the bench in defeat.

Indiana 96, Charlotte 88
David West notched a triple-double and the Indiana Pacers grabbed their 10th straight home victory with a 96-88 decision over the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday. West tallied 14 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for the red hot Pacers, who have won four games in a row and 13 of their last 16. Indiana, which also received 19 points from George Hill, has won 10 games in a row at home for the first time since a 14-game streak in the 2002-03 season. Lance Stephenson was good for 17 points on 8-of-13 attempts from the field and also had seven rebounds and four steals. D.J. Augustin contributed 18 points off the bench. Ben Gordon scored a game-high 21 points and Kemba Walker filled the stat sheet with 16 points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks. The Bobcats, though, were unable to break their losing habits as the team dropped their third in a row and fell for the 22nd time in the last 24 contests.

Washington 93, Atlanta 83
The Washington Wizards haven't had a lot to get excited about this season, but all of that changed on Saturday. John Wall, who had yet to play this season because of a knee injury, made his season debut, dropping in 14 points and four assists to lead the Wizards to 93-83 win over the Atlanta Hawks at Verizon Center. Bradley Beal and A.J. Price scored 16 points each and Martell Webster added 15 points for the Wizards, who won back-to-back games for the first time this season. Jeff Teague poured in a game-high 19 points, Al Horford scored 16 points to go with 12 rebounds and Josh Smith added 11 points and eight boards for the Hawks, losers in five of their last six contests.

Utah 90, Detroit 87
Al Jefferson compiled 20 points and 10 rebounds and the Utah Jazz overcame a 13-point second-half deficit to post a 90-87 win over the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Jefferson racked up 10 of his points on 5-of-6 shooting during a third quarter in which the Jazz outscored Detroit by a 25-11 count to move ahead after trailing 50-39 at halftime. Randy Foye added 17 points -- 11 of which came after halftime -- and Paul Millsap also had 17 along with seven rebounds for Utah, which improved to 5-2 thus far in January. Brandon Knight led the Pistons with 16 points and Will Bynum made all six of his field goal attempts in a 13-point display in a losing cause. Detroit, which had won five of its last six coming in, also received 12 points and 11 rebounds out of Greg Monroe.

Philadelphia 107, Houston 100
Jrue Holiday totaled 30 points and nine assists to lead the slumping Philadelphia 76ers back into the win column with a 107-100 victory over the Houston Rockets at Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers, mired in a 3-13 stretch coming in, avoided losing six straight by hitting 49 percent of their shots in a balanced scoring attack. Thaddeus Young posted 18 points and 12 rebounds, Jason Richardson added 16 points while Evan Turner stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, seven boards and six assists for the victors. James Harden led four Rockets in double-figures with 29 points to go with nine rebounds and six assists. Chandler Parsons followed with 23 points, but had six of Houston's 17 turnovers in the club's third loss in four days.

Phoenix 97, Chicago 81
Luis Scola led the way with 22 points while Michael Beasley added 20, as Phoenix Suns snapped a 12-game road losing streak with an unlikely 97-81 victory over the Chicago Bulls at United Center. Sebastian Telfair chipped in 13 points off the bench and Shannon Brown netted 11 for the Suns, who held Chicago to 36 percent shooting to earn their first win as the visitor since Nov. 27 at Cleveland. Luol Deng, one day after scoring a season-high 33 points in a win over the Knicks, was held to 13 on 5- of-16 shooting in the loss. Carlos Boozer posted 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Joakim Noah totaled 10 and 13 in a losing cause.

Dallas 104, Memphis 83
Shawn Marion scored 20 points to lead a balanced offensive effort as the Dallas Mavericks routed the Memphis Grizzlies, 104-83, at American Airlines Center. All five of Dallas' starters scored in double digits, with Dirk Nowitzki pouring in 17 points, Chris Kaman netting 14, O.J. Mayo scoring 11 and Darren Collison contributing 10. Elton Brand added 10 points and nine rebounds off the bench for the Mavericks, who have won two straight games for the first time since a three-game run from Dec. 6-10. Rudy Gay had 12 points to pace Memphis, which saw its four-game win streak come to an end. Darrell Arthur and Josh Selby were the only other members of the Grizzlies to score in double digits with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Miami 128, Sacramento 99
Mario Chalmers tied a franchise record by connecting on ten 3-pointers en route to a career-high 34 points as the Miami Heat hammered the Sacramento Kings, 128-99, on Saturday. Chalmers shot 10- for-13 from beyond the arc to tie Brian Shaw's mark set on April 8, 1993. LeBron James added 20 points, seven assists and five rebounds for Miami, which shot 17-for-37 from three-point range as they snapped a two-game slide. Isaiah Thomas finished with 34 points and five assists for the Kings, who have lost four straight. DeMarcus Cousins contributed 11 points, eight boards and four assists in defeat.

January 13
New York 100, New Orleans 87
Carmelo Anthony and Chris Copeland scored 27 and 22 points, respectively, as the New York Knicks snapped a three-game skid with a 100-87 victory over the New Orleans Hornets. Amare Stoudemire added 12 points for the Knicks, who went 11-of-30 from beyond the arc. Tyson Chandler tallied five points and 14 rebounds. Eric Gordon ended with 22 points for the Hornets, who had a four-game winning streak snapped. Anthony Davis donated 13 points and eight boards.

Milwaukee 107, Toronto 96
Brandon Jennings poured in 19 points and handed out 10 assists as the Milwaukee Bucks pulled away in the fourth quarter to topple the Toronto Raptors, 107-96, on Sunday at Air Canada Centre. John Henson added 19 points and six rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench, and Monta Ellis netted 17 points for the Bucks, who bounced back from a 103-87 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Friday. Mike Dunleavy donated 15 points and Larry Sanders gave 11 points and eight rebounds in the victory. DeMar DeRozan scored a game-high 23 points and added five boards and Amir Johnson netted 22 and grabbed 14 rebounds for the Raptors, who coughed up a 20-point first-quarter lead and had a two-game winning streak snapped. Jose Calderon dropped 21 points, while Ed Davis contributed 20 and 12 boards in a losing cause.

Brooklyn 97, Indiana 86
Deron Williams scored a team-best 22 points to go with nine assists and five rebounds as the Brooklyn Nets took care of the Indiana Pacers, 97-86, on Sunday at Barclays Center. Joe Johnson shot 7-of-16 from the floor for 20 points and added five rebounds, while Brook Lopez netted 15 points and pulled down nine rebounds for the Nets, who won for the sixth consecutive time. Kris Humphries added 10 points and nine boards in 17-plus minutes off the bench in the victory. David West dropped in a game-high 27 points on 11-of-19 shooting, while Paul George scored 15 points to go with 12 rebounds and six steals for the Pacers, who saw their four-game winning streak come to an end. Gerald Green contributed 15 points and five boards for Indiana, while George Hill donated 13 points in a losing effort.

San Antonio 106, Minnesota 88
Tony Parker scored 20 points and dished out six assists to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 106-88 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday Gary Neal added 15 points, Tim Duncan added 12 points, nine rebounds, seven blocked shots and five assists, and Manu Ginobili finished with 12 points for the Spurs, who have won 12 straight games at the AT&T Center. J.J. Barea scored 15 points, Nikola Pekovic added 14 and Luke Ridnour chipped in with 13 points and six assists for the Timberwolves, who haven't won in San Antonio since the 2003-04 season.

Denver 116, Golden State 105
Danilo Gallinari scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half and the Denver Nuggets used a huge late run to notch a 116-105 victory over the Golden State Warriors at the Pepsi Center. Ty Lawson added 20 points for the surging Nuggets, who recorded their season-high fifth consecutive win on the strength of a 15-0 surge that erased an 89-83 deficit with under 10 1/2 minutes to play. Denver shot a sizzling 70 percent (14-of-20) in the fourth quarter and outscored the Warriors by a 33-16 count over the final 10-plus minutes. Wilson Chandler returned from a two-month absence to contribute 14 points and six rebounds off the bench to the win, while fellow reserves Corey Brewer and Andre Miller netted 13 and 12 points, respectively, for the Nuggets. The Warriors were dealt their third setback in four outings despite Stephen Curry dropping in 29 points and making 7-of-9 attempts from 3-point range. David Lee posted 23 points and 13 rebounds in defeat, with rookie Harrison Barnes putting up a career-high 21 points for Golden State.

Oklahoma City 87, Portland 83
Kevin Durant poured in 33 points to go with six assists and four rebounds to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to an 87-83 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday at the Rose Garden. Russell Westbrook added 18 points, nine assists and eight rebounds and DeAndre Liggins chipped in 11 points for the Thunder, winners of three straight and five of their last six games. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 33 points to go with 11 boards and Nicolas Batum added 21 points and seven rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who have dropped two straight on the heels of a four-game winning streak. Damian Lillard finished with nine points and nine assists in the setback.

LA Lakers 113, Cleveland 93
Dwight Howard returned to the lineup and helped the Los Angeles Lakers snap out of their worst slide in six years. Howard tallied 22 points and 14 rebounds as the Lakers put the brakes on a six-game skid with a 113-93 triumph over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Howard, who has missed the last three games with a right shoulder injury, went 9-of-11 from the field for Los Angeles, which finally earned its first win of the new year to put an end to the team's worst losing streak since February of 2007. Pau Gasol, though, is still out of the lineup. He missed his fourth straight game due to a concussion. Kobe Bryant added 23 points and six assists in the victory. Kyrie Irving recorded 15 points, seven assists and three steals for the Cavs, who have dropped seven of their last nine contests.

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