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Power Forward is a Dying Position in the NBA

Columnist Adam McQueen bemoans the passing of the bruising big man in the modern NBA.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Clippers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The old-school NBA power forward is no more. We’ve known for some time that the league is drifting towards a perimeter-oriented game that would leave former All-Stars like Buck Williams and Charles Oakley at a loss. Columnist Adam McQueen, writing for westcoastpostup, examines the transition and the striking transformation of NBA rosters in recent years, including that of the Portland Trail Blazers.

When the Cavaliers announced at the start of the regular season that Kevin Love would start at center, its fate was all but confirmed. The power forward position has been sacrificed, no longer holding value in the modern game.

Though its name exists on the boxscore, the power forward position has been removed in favour of another wing player. Having two forwards with limited shooting range leaves teams struggling to keep pace with uptempo opposition. Defensively, slower and large frames are being replaced by athletic and switch-heavy players that can guard a variety of positions.

McQueen uses Portland’s transformation after the departure of LaMarcus Aldridge as an example.

Portland have replaced their traditional power forward, LaMarcus Aldridge who thrived off of post ups and mid-range pick and pops, with an extra wing player. Above, Al-Farouq Aminu’s ability to space the floor shows how much more deadly the Blazers offense has become. Possessing one of the best screeners in the league with Jusuf Nurkic, McCollum and Lillard are offered acres of spaces to drive into the lane with kick out options aplenty littered across the three point arc.

The citation may have flaws. The Blazers probably would have retained Aldridge if they could, and he was hardly a low-post banger. Aminu’s reputation as a floor-spacer may be premature. But it’s worth noting that rookie Caleb Swanigan—a 6’8, 250 lb forward with the frame of a cement mixer—is valued for his ability to face up as much as rebound.

Will there ever be space for a low-post, rebounding power forward in a Golden State Warriors, three-point-happy world or do you suspect the league will cycle around again the next time a dominant paint player captures our imagination? Is the demise of traditional power forwards evolution or destiny? Weigh in below.