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20 in 20: The top 10 power forwards in the NBA

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20 in 20: The top 10 power forwards in the NBA

Friday, Sept. 17, 2010
10:56 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com
A historic summer for the NBA has passed and for the Bulls, while they didn't acquire quite the star power many expected andor hoped for, optimism runs high, both within the organization and throughout the team's fan base. With the offseason coming to an end, the time to fully delve into the upcoming NBA season is here. Instead of a traditional season preview, issues both throughout the league and in Chicago will be probed daily here on CSNChicago.com up until the squad officially convenes for training camp toward the end of September.

10. Who are the top 10 power forwards in the league?

1. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks (2009-10 season averages: 25.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 48.1 field-goal percentage in 81 games): The years go by and Nowitzki continues to achieve at a high level, carrying his always-successful Mavs through the regular season without a true sidekick and even when they're inevitably eliminated from the postseason, putting up monster performances, often in vain.
2. Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers (2009-10 season averages: 18.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 53.6 field-goal percentage in 65 games): Playing second fiddle to Kobe Bryant has clearly paid off for Gasol--viewed by many as the game's best true big man--but even with his marvelous array of post moves, unbelievable fundamentals, stout defense and strong rebounding, he'll always be seen as a tad brittle and not exactly the toughest competitor.
3. Amar'e Stoudemire, New York Knicks (2009-10 season averages: 24.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, 55.7 field-goal percentage in 82 games): Not having Steve Nash to spoon-feed him easy baskets will prove to be a challenge, but Stoudemire seems to be embracing New York's spotlight already and if under current and former coach Mike D'Antoni, he can produce numbers in the fashion fans are accustomed to seeing, the glare won't be too harsh--regardless of how the Knicks fare.

4. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat (2009-10 season averages: 24.0 points, 10.8 rebounds, 51.8 field-goal percentage in 70 games): With the caliber of at least two of his new teammates, it's unlikely Bosh will get the opportunity to be the dominant force he was in Toronto, but if he can play in the same fashion he did in the 2008 Olympics, he'll be much more valuable to the Heat.
5. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs (2009-10 season averages: 17.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, 51.8 field-goal percentage in 78 games): Duncan has slowed down over the past few years, but is still as consistent as it gets, has a major impact on games even when he doesn't put up huge numbers and is the main reason the aging Spurs are still viewed as a contender.

6. Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls (2009-10 season averages: 20.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, 56.2 field-goal percentage in 78 games): While Deron Williams is Utah's franchise player, Boozer was the team's leading scorer and despite a semi-feud with Jazz management, he produced in a major way, while proving to be a bit more durable than given credit for.

7. Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies (2009-10 season averages: 19.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, 48.8 field-goal percentage in 81 games): After years of bouncing around the league--and acquiring a less-than-stellar reputation in the process--Randolph seemed to turn the corner in his debut campaign for Memphis, providing a formidable low-post presence and surprising veteran leadership.

8. Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks (2009-10 season averages: 15.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 50.5 field-goal percentage in 81 games): It appears that Smith also finally figured it out last season, as he subtracted his erratic shot selection in favor of using his superb athletic gifts closer to the basket on offense, all while dominating defensively at times and displaying extremely underrated savvy and unselfishness.

9. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics (2009-10 season averages: 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 52.1 field-goal percentage in 69 games): "The Big Ticket" is obviously no spring chicken, something made clear by both his numbers and significantly downgraded athleticism, but his heart, determination, tough defense, selflessness, high basketball I.Q., inspirational tactics and occasional flashbacks make him more valuable than many of the players who now surpass him physically.

10. David Lee, Golden State Warriors (2009-10 season averages 20.2 points, 11.7 rebounds, 54.5 field-goal percentage in 81 games): It's easy to believe Lee's Big Apple production was inflated because of D'Antoni's system--fortunately for him, he'll be coached by similar-minded Don Nelson in Oakland, unless a change is made in the very near future--but it's hard to argue with the Florida product's numbers, hustle and versatility, if not his sometimes-lax defense.

Next 10 (in alphabetical order):

LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trailblazers: Although Aldridge hasn't quite been able to shed his "soft" label, he has clearly taken strides over the course of his young career and developed into a reliable second option.

Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers: This selection is a bit of a cop-out--any one of Oklahoma City's Jeff Green, Washington's Andray Blatche, Toronto's Andrea Bargnani could have been in this spot--but if healthy, the youngster should make the most of his postponed rookie season, as his physical tools are simply too good not to make a splash in the league.
Antawn Jamison, Cleveland Cavaliers: Forced to choose between fellow perimeter-oriented big Rashard Lewis of the Magic and Jamison, the vet wins out due to his versatile offensive game and the fact that he'll be more in his previous go-to guy Wizards role with the departure of one of his team's key components.

Al Jefferson, Utah Jazz: Jefferson barely missed the top 10 simply due to an expected adjustment process--and with Mehmet Okur out for an extended period, he'll have to play some center, where he's less effective--but name a more productive, more fundamentally sound, more underrated big man in the game.

Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves: With the aforementioned Jefferson gone, Love will have more opportunities to dominate the boards, play his workmanlike yet savvy game and do what he does best--put up double-doubles.

Paul Millsap, Utah Jazz: No longer Boozer's understudy--although the addition of Jefferson will cut into his minutes--Millsap will finally have a chance to prove he's more than just a great bench player.

Troy Murphy, New Jersey Nets: While he's not the best defender you'll come across, Murphy has toiled in the shadows by virtue of playing on some pitiful squads, and while that won't necessarily change this season, the Jersey native's contract year and playing in front of his hometown fans should provide sufficient motivation.

Lamar Odom, Los Angeles Lakers: Playing behind Pau Gasol, many observers likely forgot what Odom was capable of, but his outstanding performance in the World Championships demonstrated he's more than Mr. Kardashian.

Luis Scola, Houston Rockets: If his second half of last season didn't alert fans to his abilities--the Rockets must have paid attention, as they inked him to a hefty contract extension in the offseason--then surely Scola's FIBA dominance this summer made it evident that he's one of the league's more underappreciated players.
David West, New Orleans Hornets: Chris Paul's sidekick isn't the multi-faceted type--his defense and rebounding are lacking, to say the least--but his precise offensive game makes him one of the toughest matchups at his position.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Four observations: Bulls rout Atlanta Hawks in much-needed get-right game

Four observations: Bulls rout Atlanta Hawks in much-needed get-right game

The Bulls picked up a valuable get-right win in a 136-102 blowout of the Atlanta Hawks. Observations from a game the Bulls had to win, and did handily:

The bench provided a spark (again)

Bulls starters not named Zach LaVine got off to a sluggish start in this one. At the 3:14 mark of the first, the Hawks led 29-21 and were shooting a scalding 13-for-18 (72.2%) from the field (3-for-6 from 3-point range). LaVine had 12 of the Bulls’ 21 points.

The hosts ended the period ahead 37-33, buoyed by a 16-4 run by a bench unit of Coby White, Ryan Arcidiacono, Denzel Valentine, Thad Young, and Daniel Gafford. Valentine hit four floaters over that stretch, Gafford had a resounding block, White had a strong and-one take over Alex Len and Thad Young tallied five points, for good measure. 

Bench runs have become commonplace for this Bulls team, even in the midst of a three-game losing streak. This one carried over into the second quarter, which the Bulls won 29-19, holding Atlanta to 6-for-21 (28.6%) shooting, 2-for-10 (20%) from three. They didn't look back from there.

Young finished the first half with nine points, four rebounds, and two assists. White had a flashy night — tallying 19 points. Valentine and Gafford connected on a handful of alley-oops (which has quickly become a tradition).

Zach LaVine bounced back

LaVine — averaging 20 points on 33.3% shooting during the team’s three-game losing streak — was ripe for a breakout, and this Hawks team (29th in the NBA in defensive rating) presented an opportunity to bounce back. He took advantage.

As mentioned, LaVine carried the Bulls offense early: he had 18 first-half points on 7-for-9 shooting. Embedded in that line were a few highlight-reel dunks that awoke the United Center:

He tacked on a cool 17 (!) in the third quarter before coming out with the game out of reach for the Hawks. LaVine finished the night leading all scorers with 35 points and shot a staggering 7-for-7 from 3-point range. When he’s on, it’s too much fun, and he dazzled in this one. 

In a favorable matchup, the defense kept rolling

Coming into this game, we knew the Bulls defense, theoretically, matched up well with Atlanta’s offense plan of attack. For the most part, that bore out, in practice.

Kris Dunn was outstanding in containing Trae Young tonight, hounding him off of every screen (where he was usually aided by a hedge from the big in coverage) and staying attached even in instances when Young was able to penetrate.

Young didn’t score until the 11:07 mark in the second quarter and finished the night with 15 points on 4-for-14 shooting (1-for-6 from three) and seven turnovers. This is the fourth-leading scorer in the NBA we’re talking about here. He did rack up 13 assists (six in the first quarter) — and some were very, very pretty — but most of those came in transition. In the halfcourt, the Bulls’ set defense effectively bottled him up.

The Hawks, as a team, committed 23 turnovers on the night, which the Bulls were able to convert into 15 points. Atlanta is an inferior opponent, yes, but it was a strong showing, nonetheless.

Blowouts are fun

This one was a little too close for comfort early on but ended in a rout. The Bulls simply outclassed the Hawks, winning statistical categories this team has often been overmatched in, from rebounds (42-40) to points in the paint (78-42), to blocks (7-4), to the 3-point battle. Lauri Markkanen even utilized garbage time to turn a fine stat line into a good one: he had 10 points in the fourth quarter, finishing the game with 22 points on 8-for-9 shooting. 

So, you know what? Rest your brain with some of the best clips of the night. You’ve earned it:

 

 

 

 

The Bulls can push questions about fourth-quarter stagnation, cold shooting streaks, and crowded rotations until this weekend. This was a solid overall performance.

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Chicago-native Zach Norvell Jr. waived by Lakers

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USA TODAY

Chicago-native Zach Norvell Jr. waived by Lakers

The Bulls have been quite fond of adding players with connections to the city over the years. This list includes names like Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Jabari Parker, Eddy Curry, and even our very own Kendall Gill. And while the Bulls may not necessarily be in the market for any additions at the moment, there is least one name the Bulls should be monitoring if they aren't already and that is former Simeon alum Zach Norvell Jr., who was waived by the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. 

Coming out of Simeon, Norvell was an ESPN 100 prospect and a McDonald's All-American and committed to Gonzaga, where he starred for two seasons after a redshirt year. Norvell went undrafted but was picked up by a Los Angeles Lakers team that was particularly bereft of 3-point shooting, specifically volume 3-point shooters like Norvell, who shot 6.4 3-point attempts per game in his NCAA career and is currently attempting just under eight 3-point attempts per game in the NBA G League with the South Bay Lakers. 

The (NBA) Lakers don't really require much help at the moment, with their stellar defense and league-leading field goal percentage on offense resulting in them having the league's best record through 24 games despite ranking 25th in the league in 3-point attempts. The Bulls have, as head coach Jim Boylen so infamously stated, trusted 'the math' and thusly are top-10 in the league in 3-point attempts per game (8th in the league with 36.0 3-point attempts per game coming into Wednesday night). Despite their aggressiveness from the perimeter, the Bulls rank 22nd in the league in 3-point percentage (34.7%) and 22nd in assists per game, both areas where Norvell could provide help.

Since Norvell has been waived by the Lakers, he is no longer a two-way contract player (a player who plays in the NBA and G League) for them, but will still be playing with their G League affiliate should they choose to sign him to a G League contract.

The Bulls have the maximum amount of two-way players on the roster already (two in Adam Mokoka and Max Strus) but they could look to make a move to free up room for Norvell on the G League or NBA roster if they are interested. Mokoka specifically has struggled at the G League level (8.5 points per game on 34% from the field and 31% from 3) and may not necessarily need a two-way contract for the Bulls to keep other teams from snagging him, meaning that waiving Mokoka but keeping him on the Windy City Bulls roster while adding a shooter like Norvell could be an interesting value play for Chicago. 

Norvell is averaging 13.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.9 turnovers per game while shooting 35.3% from the field and 34% from 3-point range.

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Bulls games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.