Since the NBA has gotten smaller and quicker, power forwards have become more diverse. Some power forwards have traditional skillsets for their position, playing from the elbow and giving their respective teams a boost in the paint, while other power forwards have become threats from beyond the arc, rarely doing much of note in the paint. Of course, power forwards like Kevin Love can do everything.
As such, classifying players as power-forwards can be tricky. Chris Bosh, who was one of the league’s best power forwards in Toronto, has become a center since moving to Miami, but his thin frame and shooting range suggest that he is more of an ad hoc center than a bona fide one. In any case, power forwards are important precisely because they have the height to compete in the paint and the skillset to score from the mid-range and beyond. Whether by screening for guards on the perimeter or knocking down jumpers, good power forwards expand their respective teams’ offenses, opening up space for talented slashers to drive to the rim.
This list looks at the top 10 highest-paid power forwards in the league. As it will show, teams have put a lot of stock in power forwards, as six of them are among the league’s 20 highest-paid players.
10. Kevin Garnett—$12,433,735 in 2013-14
When Kevin Garnett retires, he will be a first-ballot selection into the Hall-of-Fame. He has averaged 18.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per game over 18 years in the league, and he won the MVP award in 2004. This season, however, Garnett has started to show his age, as he is averaging just 6.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, shooting just above 40% from the field. Brooklyn will count on Garnett’s veteran leadership come playoff time, but he looks over the hill—unfortunately.
9. Nene Hilario—$13,000,000 in 2013-14
Nene Hilario is averaging 13.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per game for a surprising Washington team. He surprised some experts when he decided to sign with the Wizards, as several championship-ready teams sought his services. However, at 31 Nene has reached his prime, and if John Wall continues to improve, Washington can pose a threat to one of the Eastern Conference’s powerhouse teams.
8. David Lee—$13,878,000 in 2013-14
A two-time All-Star, David Lee is averaging 19.2 points and 9.9 rebounds per game this season. Since joining Golden State from New York, Lee has excelled and justified his contract. On a nightly basis, Lee joins Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Andre Iguodala to dazzle NBA fans as one of league’s most exciting offenses. The former Florida Gator will play a pivotal role for Golden State in the playoffs, as the team has the potential to make another deep run.
7. Kevin Love—$14,693,906 in 2013-14
In recent league history, few players have made vast improvements to their game like Kevin Love has. When he came to Minnesota from UCLA, Love was heavier and slower, and fans expected him to be primarily a post player. However, Love has developed his game to become one of the most versatile players in the league, beating teams from the inside and outside. He is averaging 25.1 points and 13 rebounds per game this season, and has made a strong case for the MVP award. His team’s lukewarm success might affect his chances at winning the award, but no one can honestly doubt that he is elite.
6. LaMarcus Aldridge—$14,878,000 in 2013-14
The second overall pick in 2006, LaMarcus Aldridge keeps getting better and better. This season, he is averaging 24.1 points and 11.5 rebounds per game on a surprising Portland team. Now that he has dependable help again—Brandon Roy cannot be easily replaced—Aldridge is thriving. He has certainly justified his contract, but he and his team will be judged by their success in the playoffs. If everyone stays healthy, Portland will pose a formidable threat to other teams in the playoffs.
5. Carlos Boozer—$15,300,000 in 2013-14
Since signing with Chicago, Carlos Boozer has been less productive than he was in Utah. Nevertheless, Boozer is averaging 14.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game this season, and Chicago is in the playoff hunt. But the team has lost Derrick Rose indefinitely and traded Luol Deng to Cleveland, so Boozer’s future in Chicago remains uncertain. The team’s officials will probably look to excise Boozer’s bloated contract from their books, if they want to rebuild in the offseason.
4. Blake Griffin—$16,441,500 in 2013-14
Since coming into the league, Blake Griffin has entertained fans with jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring dunks. Griffin and point guard Chris Paul constitute one of the league’s best pick-and-roll tandems. This season, the former Oklahoma Sooner is averaging 22.5 points and 10 rebounds per game. If Griffin can improve his mid-range game, he will be a formidable power-forward for years to come. As it stands, though, Griffin’s superior athletic ability enables him to excel despite struggling from beyond the paint.
3. Zach Randolph—$18,238,333 in 2013-14
This season, Zach Randolph is averaging 17.1 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. He has been dominant on a Memphis team that has not played up to expectations. Marc Gasol, however, has missed most of the season due to injury, so experts have yet to write Memphis off. Randolph’s significance to this team cannot be overstated, and if Gasol can stay healthy, and the rest of the team finds its rhythm, Memphis can go deep in the playoffs.
2. Amar’e Stoudemire—$21,679,893 in 2013-14
Although experts routinely cite Amar’e Stoudemire’s contract as an example of a bad signing, Stoudemire’s first year in New York made the team’s officials look good. When the team brought Carmelo Anthony over from Denver, New York was supposed to be competitive again. However, injuries have derailed Stoudemire’s career, and he looks like he might be forced into an early retirement. This season, he is averaging a paltry 9.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Though he is only 31, Amar’e has played 11 years in the NBA. That kind of mileage suggests that his knees will never fully recover. In any case, his contract is bloated, and New York will have to restructure or excise it in the offseason.
1. Dirk Nowitzki—$22,721,381 in 2013-14
Since his contract was signed before the new CBA, Dirk Nowitzki makes well above the league’s max salary. Few experts, though, will argue that his contract is bloated or undeserved. The former MVP is having an excellent season, averaging 21.1 points and 5.9 assists per game on a Dallas team that is playing well. At 7 feet tall, Nowitzki will go down in the history of the NBA as the power forward who helped change the league’s culture. Indeed, his game, which is focussed on mid to long-range scoring, looks more suitable for a small-forward. Try telling that to Nowitzki.
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