The Greatest Power Forwards in NBA History

Over 14.9K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Greatest Power Forwards in NBA History
Voting Rules
Only players who played power forward for most of their career.

The greatest power forwards in NBA history are listed here on this list of the best power forwards of all time, ranked by loyal NBA fans. The list of top NBA power forwards ever rank among the top NBA players ever and includes some of the best current NBA players.

What makes a great power forward? The best power forwards are quick, versatile, hard-working, rebound and shooting machines. They can sink shots from near and far, and they do it all while making their acts of extreme athleticism seem effortless. But when it comes down to choosing the top power forward from a pool that includes Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett, and Tim Duncan, is it even possible to single out one athlete as the greatest power forward in NBA history?

Who are the best power forwards in NBA history? What skills do the greatest power forwards have? Are power forwards the best players in the NBA? This greatest power forwards list takes the opinions of NBA fans and attempts to name one man the greatest NBA power forward in history. If your favorite NBA player isn't on the list, make sure to add him so others can vote for him in the quest to pick the best power forward ever.
Most divisive: Serge Ibaka
Ranked by
  • Tim Duncan
    8,694 votes
    San Antonio Spurs

    Widely regarded as the greatest power forward of all time, Tim Duncan defined his era with his fundamentally sound and cerebral approach to the game. Nicknamed "The Big Fundamental," Duncan's incredible impact on the game was demonstrated through his mastery of the bank shot, his ability to anchor some of the best defensive teams in NBA history, and his iconic partnership with legendary coach Gregg Popovich. Duncan will forever be remembered for his quiet leadership, unselfish play, and ultimately, as the epitome of basketball excellence.

  • Larry Bird
    1,744 votes
    Boston Celtics

    A true legend of the game, Larry Bird transformed the power forward position with his unparalleled shooting ability, supreme court vision, and undeniable competitive fire. Bird proved that a big man could be a primary playmaker, paving the way for future generations of power forwards to expand their skill sets. His fierce rivalry with Magic Johnson and role in reviving the Boston Celtics' storied franchise ensures Bird remains an iconic figure in NBA history, embodying the spirit of grit and tenacity that defined the sport in the 1980s.

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
    811 votes
    Milwaukee Bucks

    A marvel of modern basketball, Giannis Antetokounmpo has burst onto the scene as an unstoppable two-way force with a near-mythical blend of size, strength, and agility. Known as the "Greek Freak," Antetokounmpo's unique combination of length and ball-handling ability allows him to wreak havoc on both ends of the floor, defenses scrambling in his wake. As he continues to develop his skills and refine his already impressive game, there's no doubt that Antetokounmpo is poised for a long and storied career among the NBA's pantheon of great power forwards.

  • Kevin Garnett
    7,063 votes
    Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, Brooklyn Nets

    A fiery competitor and defensive maestro, Kevin Garnett revolutionized the power forward position during his tenure in the NBA with his unmatched intensity and passion for the game. Garnett could do it all, from scoring to rebounding to dishing out assists, his style of play defined by ferocity and unrelenting energy. Few players have left a bigger imprint on the sport, with Garnett's influence felt across the league as today's big men strive to emulate his tenacity, versatility, and heart.

  • Dirk Nowitzki
    7,832 votes
    Dallas Mavericks, Milwaukee Bucks

    Blending incredible shooting touch with an unguardable signature fadeaway, Dirk Nowitzki changed the game and ushered in a new era for power forwards. As one of the first European stars to make a significant impact in the NBA, Nowitzki's inside-out game and deadly accuracy from beyond the arc paved the way for the modern stretch-four. The towering German will forever be heralded for his ability to step up in the clutch, his remarkable longevity, and his unwavering loyalty to the Dallas Mavericks.

  • Karl Malone
    7,393 votes
    Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers

    Known as the "Mailman" for his relentless ability to deliver in the post, Karl Malone was an immovable force who consistently put up staggering numbers throughout his illustrious career. With an unmatched work ethic and a devastating pick-and-roll partnership with John Stockton, Malone imposed his will upon opponents and left an indelible mark on the NBA landscape. Malone's combination of physicality and finesse set the stage for the modern power forward, leaving fans in awe of his unparalleled grit and determination.