Projecting top 10 PFs for 2013-14

LeBron James' sky-high 23.2 WARP projection tops position ranking

Updated: August 8, 2013, 9:20 AM ET
By Bradford Doolittle | ESPN Insider

LeBron JamesNathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesMiami's LeBron James is the NBA's top power forward, according to WARP projections.

On Monday, I listed the composite projected WARP by base position. Power forwards came in a strong second to point guards (see chart). That this would be the case demonstrates just how much the NBA game has changed over the past 15 to 20 years.

Power forwards, or 4s, used to be easy to pick out. They were big, only not as big as a center. They were much more rugged than 3s, or "quick forwards" as they used to be called. There were exceptions, of course, but the primary tasks of the traditional power forward were to rebound, set screens, hit midrange jumpers when left unguarded and serve as a secondary post option.

These days, the 4 position defines the style of basketball a team plays. A point guard-dominated offense that uses a lot of drive-and-kick plays likely looks for a long 4 who can score from deep. The Heat and Knicks use their best players, who traditionally would be small forwards, at the 4 to create mismatches and open up the floor. Teams like Indiana and Chicago use more of a traditional 4, with David West and Carlos Boozer, respectively, serving as primary post-scoring options. That gives these rankings a lot of diversity because many of these guys can and have played other positions.

Here's the series primer: As the depth charts have filled, so have the forecasts generated by ATH coalesced. ATH is the projection module of NBAPET, my system of integrated spreadsheets for tracking, evaluating and forecasting all things NBA. Players are ranked according to ATH's forecasted WARP, or wins above replacement level, which accounts for a player's efficiency, volume of production and team context.

Here are the projected top 10 power forwards for the 2013-14 NBA season.

PG | SG | SF | PF | C


James

1. LeBron James, Miami Heat

Projected 2013-14 WARP: 23.2

Really, what can you say? The undisputed best player in the world has shown nothing resembling signs of slippage, and if you asked me who will win the MVP award in the coming season, I'd take James over the field. Remember, James played most of his minutes at power forward last year -- no one should be surprised he tops the list here instead of at the 3. We discussed why he's a PF instead of SF here.