- Bradford Doolittle, ESPN Staff Writer
Last year, LeBron James topped our power forward rankings, which in a way was unfair to the guys who play the position on a full-time basis. But what are you going to do? James played the 4 more often than not again last season, his final in Miami.
But now that he's going back to Cleveland, James has slimmed down and appears poised to reclaim his old job as small forward of the Cavaliers. So we shifted him back to the 3 for this year's rankings, which opens up the field for the real power forwards, one of whom might challenge James' supremacy atop the league very soon and another who will be trying to help James hoist another title trophy.
Below we continue our NBA positional ranking according to forecast WARP, with the projected top 10 power forwards for the 2014-15 NBA season. (An explanation of the statistic can be found at the bottom of the page.)
Projected 2014-15 WARP: 14.3 | Win%: 66 percent
Davis has already blossomed into the kind of player the Pelicans hoped he'd be when they won the 2013 draft lottery and, at 21, he can still get much better. Davis' offensive game exploded last season as he put up the usage rate of a high-scoring wing and the true shooting percentage of a solid, close-to-the-basket big man. Add it all up and Davis' 15.1 WARP ranked fifth in the league. The other players to hit that WARP before reaching age 22: Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Shaquille O'Neal and Tracy McGrady.
While Davis claims the top projection by our new methodology, this system does hurt him a bit because his real plus-minus (RPM) values, while positive, suggest his impact doesn't quite boost his teammates as much as his production suggests it should. Don't worry, that part of his game will come next, along with a lot of MVP votes.
3dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann