Perhaps the most vital position to excel at in the NBA these days is the power forward, as having a quality four who can bang inside and space the floor from the outside can give an offense a multitude of possibilities.
Luckily for Detroit Pistons fans, they have one of the best po0
wer forwards in the league in Blake Griffin, as the elite play of the reigning third team All-NBA forward helped push a fairly average NBA team into a playoff appearance.
Although their run in the playoffs did not exceed four games, they’re in a great position to improve upon that total, especially with the solid core they have surrounded him with. Griffin’s scoring can create offensive opportunities for Reggie Jackson and Luke Kennard, and the pairing of him with Andre Drummond give the Pistons one of the better defensive frontcourts in the NBA.
But where exactly does Griffin rank amongst the league’s best power forwards? As good of a basketball player as Griffin is, he’s on the wrong side of 30, and his injury history is not exactly squeaky clean.
In terms of NBA power forwards, there’s no question that superstar big men in the MVP race such as Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo are ahead of Griffin on the totem pole. Putting them and future hall-of-fame forward Lebron James in Tier 1 when it comes to NBA power forwards makes too much sense, as though three will likely be in the top five when it comes to MVP voting come next summer.
Pistons fans should again be happy to hear that Griffin is probably in Tier 2, along with fellow All-Stars Kevin Love, Draymond Green and LaMarcus Aldridge, as well as reigning champion Pascal Siakam.
While naming the guys in those tiers was fairly simple, putting these players into the exact place in that tier is a little more complicated. In order to determine where Griffin is on that list, I asked myself “Would I rather have this player and their contract on the team over Griffin?”
The superstars listed above in the MVP conversation are obviously ahead of him, simply based on their high upside and immense talent, which drives other superstars to want to play with them.
Being that he will make less than $2.5 million this season and proved he can be the second-best player on a title team this past season, Siakam is the best bargain in the league. While Griffin is a more established player, I’m sure the Pistons would swap the two to avoid paying Griffin the hefty $34.2 million he is owed next season.
Griffin isn’t the only Tier 2 power forward with an expensive contract, as Aldridge is set to make $26 million and Green will make just above $18.5 million. Aldridge’s midrange game is elite, but he is four years older than Griffin and possesses less range and the same murky injury history as Griffin. Green has been a key cog on multiple championship teams, but was inconsistent last season and wouldn’t fit in well in a more star role in Detroit. It’s safe to say general manager Tom Gores wouldn’t give up Griffin for either of those forwards.
That leaves Love, who has been stuck on the tanking Cavaliers for more than a year now. Both players possess a knack for eating up rebounds, raining threes, and being consistent offensively from the interior and from beyond the arc.
Despite Griffin being a more volatile scorer (24.5 points per game average last season compared to Love’s 17.0), Love has proven to come up in clutch moments, even when that means locking down Steph Curry in a game 7.
Love has championship pedigree, as well as a more affordable contract, placing him above Griffin in Tier 2. That leaves Griffin as the sixth best power forward in the league, with only superstars and champions above him on the list.