NBA

The top 20 power forwards in the 2020-21 NBA season

PORTLAND, OREGON - MAY 08: DeMar DeRozan #10 of the San Antonio Spurs dribbles against Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers during the first quarter at Moda Center on May 08, 2021 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The NBA is filled to the brim with a bevy of talent. As the players grow more skilled by the year, the game itself changes. One of the bigger changes comes from the power forward position. Because the league has become more centered around ball movement and three-point shooting, big men have had to readjust. These days, NBA power forwards range between slender, sniping seven-foot-tall bigs and versatile six-foot-six forwards. Sometimes a guy who traditionally plays at the three moves to the four. It’s all a part of this shift throughout the league.

All that said, when looking at the top power forwards from the 2020-21 NBA season, you’ll notice a variety from the crop. The differences between the following players aren’t just based on their offensive production, but also their style of play, body type, height, strengths, weaknesses, etc.

For this list, we ranked players based solely on their performance from this season. As such, some of the league’s better players will only rank so high. We looked at players’ individual numbers and factored in team success and games played. These are the top 20 power forwards from the 2020-21 NBA Season.

20. Miles Bridges

Apr 27, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges (0) runs the offense against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first half at Spectrum Center. The Milwaukee Bucks won 114-104. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports
Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets turned a lot of heads this season. They played well above what was expected from them. Had it not been for a mid-season injury to LaMelo Ball, they might be playing right now. Part of their rise this year was the continued development of Miles Bridges. Shifting to the four spot proved fruitful for the third-year forward. 2021 was Bridges’ most efficient to date. He has the potential to grow even more impactful as the Hornets young core develops.

19. Rui Hachimura

May 20, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura (8) shoots during practice prior to the start of the game against the Indiana Pacers at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

In his second NBA season, Rui Hachimura picked up from where he started in 2020. While his offensive numbers remained largely the same, he did grow as a defensive presence. This development in his game proved crucial for a Wizards team that surged toward the end of the season. His contributions helped Washington secure the final playoff spot out East. No matter what happens with Brad Beal or Russell Westbrook, I’d expect Hachimura to be a key piece for Washington in the long term.

18. Marcus Morris

May 11, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; LA Clippers forward Marcus Morris Sr. (8) sits on the bench during a time out in the second quarter during a game against the Toronto Raptors at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

One of the better role players in the NBA today, 2021 was the standard year for Marcus Morris. As the LA Clippers sought out changes after their bubble exit, Morris was reassured of his spot with a four-year extension. Despite his role being reduced, Mook further proved his worth. This season saw the veteran forward hit a career-high in effective field goal percentage with a 59.2 score. As LAC continues its hunt for championship glory, Morris will undoubtedly be a key component in their efforts.

17. Aaron Gordon

May 24, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon (50) reacts from the sideline in the second quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers during game two in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

It was a tale of two seasons for Aaron Gordon in 2021. As the Orlando Magic fell apart without the services of Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Issac, they ultimately decided to rebuild their roster. Orlando then moved Gordon at the trade deadline to Denver. His scoring average to a hit, but his efficiency grew strikingly. Defensively, his impact was invaluable to his new team. When on the floor, Denver had a league-best defensive rating of 101.3. As he continues building chemistry with his new teammates, expect Gordon to become even more productive.

16. Doug McDermott

Apr 7, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Doug McDermott (20) shoots the ball while Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) defends in the first quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Doug McDermott quietly had the best season of his NBA career in 2021. He hit career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, and field goal percentage. As Indiana’s year was flashed in tumult, considering the big early-season trade and uncertainties about the new head coach, McDermott’s play helped stabilize the situation. His career year couldn’t have come at a better time. He enters this offseason as an unrestricted free agent.

15. Chris Boucher

Mar 28, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher (25) grabs a rebound against the Portland Trail Blazers during the third quarter at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports
Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

An unexpected revelation from this season, Chris Boucher has solidified himself into the Raptors rotation. The fourth-year forward took a massive leap, with career-high numbers across the board. It was a down year for Toronto overall. However, the future looks bright moving forward. As remnants of the old guard like Norm Powell and Kyle Lowry move on, it’s key for Toronto to find suitable replacements for the future. Boucher looks to be one of them.

14. Bojan Bogdanovic

Apr 28, 2021; Sacramento, California, USA; Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) dribbles the ball during the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Another top-tier role player, Bojan Bogdanovic, continued to thrive with the Jazz in 2021. His contributions played a big part in Utah claiming the top record in the NBA this season. Moreover, his play was significant in the Jazz being a top-five offense. With him available this time around, he could push the Jazz into further legitimacy this postseason.

13. Kelly Olynyk

May 7, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Houston Rockets center Kelly Olynyk (41) drives for the basket against Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) during the first quarter at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Kelly Olynyk was having his standard year in the first half in Miami. However, after being traded to Houston at the deadline, he took his game up a notch. With the Rockets re-tooling their roster at the seams, Olynyk became a key contributor for them. In the 27 games he played in Houston, Olynyk averaged a career-high 19 points, four assists, and eight rebounds, on 54.5 percent shooting. As he enters free agency this offseason, expect Olynyk to have a bevy of suitors for his services.

12. John Collins

May 12, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins (20) is guarded by Washington Wizards guard Raul Neto (19) during the first quarter at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

John Collins has stood alongside Trae Young at the forefront of the Hawks rebuild. While his offensive numbers took a minor dip, he still remains a top producer at his position. Moreover, his performance in the current postseason will be key in how far Atlanta goes.

11. Pascal Siakam

Mar 31, 2021; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) dribbles the ball up the court against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

While he has yet to prove whether he can be the face of a franchise, Pascal Siakam has still been a top performer for the Toronto Raptors. He has plateaued from the prior season, but averages of 21, seven and four are nothing to scoff at. If Toronto can get back on track as they return home next season, Siakam could take another step in his progression.

10. DeMar DeRozan

May 8, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward DeMar DeRozan (10) drives to the basket against Portland Trail Blazers forward Robert Covington (23) during the first half at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

After spending most of his basketball career as a wing, DeMar DeRozan took on a new position in his 12th NBA season. Despite his move to the four, DeRozan maintained his production and even hit career highs in assists per game and free throw percentage. As he heads into free agency this Summer, DeRozan can market himself as a guy capable of playing three or four positions. Given the fluidity of positions in today’s league, that may give DeRozan several suitors.

9. Tobias Harris

May 31, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (12) runs down the courts after scoring in the second half against the Washington Wizards during game four in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

A borderline all-star performance, Tobias Harris has solidified his role in the 76ers offense this season. Harris struggled on the court in spades during the 2020 season due to coaching and roster construction. Reuniting with Doc Rivers proved most beneficial for the tenth-year forward. The numbers look similar, but the difference is in execution. I trust that he’ll continue to thrive in Philly moving forward.

8. Anthony Davis

May 19, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) warms up before the NBA play-in game against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

To be clear, Anthony Davis is not the eighth best power-forward in basketball. However, this year was rather forgettable by his standards. Only having played 36 games this season hurt his case to be higher on this list as well. Still impressive numbers overall, but not what you expect from one of the league’s top players.

7. Draymond Green

May 11, 2021; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) celebrates against the Phoenix Suns during the fourth quarter at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In a season where the only consistent scorer on his team was Steph Curry, Draymond Green re-claimed his status as an elite defensive player. His two-way play throughout the season helped the Warriors bounce back after a terrible 2020 season. While it all wasn’t enough to get past the play-in tournament, Golden State remains viable going into next season, with Green playing at this level.

6. Kevin Durant

May 25, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets small forward Bruce Brown (1) separates power forward Kevin Durant (7) from a confrontation with the Boston Celtics during the third quarter of game two of the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The only thing keeping KD this low on the list is that he only played 35 games. Other than this, Kevin Durant was his usual self. Having missed an entire season to a ruptured Achilles in 2020, no one knew what to expect from KD this season. Durant answered all our questions quickly as he picked up in Brooklyn, where he left off in Golden State. An all-time great scorer and key defender for his team, KD continuing to get healthy will go a long way in him becoming the league’s best player.

5. Jerami Grant

Apr 26, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant (9) holds the ball while defended by Atlanta Hawks forward Onyeka Okongwu (17) during the third quarter at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Many were shocked at Jerami Grant’s decision to sign with a rebuilding Pistons team last Fall. After a great year with the Denver Nuggets, Grant sought an opportunity to expand his game offensively. He did just that in his first season in Detroit. With career-highs in points, assists, and free throw percentage, the 27-year-old looks to be a top candidate on the trade market in the coming months, depending on where the Pistons go moving forward.

4. Domantas Sabonis

May 18, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis (11) shoots the ball in the second quarter against the Charlotte Hornets at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Domantas Sabonis has steadily grown from his rookie season in Oklahoma City. Once a key contributor to his teams, he has officially become the face of the Indiana Pacers this season. While Indiana failed to make the playoffs this year, Sabonis’ continued development gives them room to grow as a team for the foreseeable future.

3. Zion Williamson

May 3, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) flexes his muscle after making a basket against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during the second half at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a reason this guy is hailed as a potential future face of the league. Zion Williamson dominated this season to the tune of 27 points and 7 rebounds a game on 61 percent shooting. There are still holes in his game that could use further development, like his free throw and long-range shooting. Otherwise, Zion is well on his way to contending as the game’s top player.

2. Julius Randle

May 28, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) controls the ball against the Atlanta Hawks in the fourth quarter during game three in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA’s most improved player. Julius Randle was always a good player, but rarely did he ever look like a true star. That all changed with his 2021 campaign. His first all-star selection and leading the New York Knicks out of an eight-year playoff drought earns him the no.2 spot on our list.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

May 29, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) dribbles the basketball against Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) during the third quarter of game four in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

He may not be the league MVP anymore, but Giannis Antetokounmpo continued to excel at the highest level. Giannis led the Milwaukee Bucks to another exceptional regular season with a lethal scorer in the paint and a terror on the defensive end. As he caps off another great year, he takes the top spot as the best of the NBA power forwards.

Some key names that just missed the cut include Carmelo Anthony, Robert Covington, Thad Young, P.J. Washington, and Marvin Bagley. It shows just how deep the talent is among power forwards in the NBA today. With everything that is yet to come in the draft and free agency and more, it’ll be interesting to see how positions on this list change next season.

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