After generating a healthy amount of conversation on the Internet with our backcourt rankings the other day, we of course have to complete the task with our look at the league's top frontcourts. Sometimes when we refer to "frontcourt," we're referring to just the big-man positions. But for today, we're referring to the three-position group of center, power forward and small forward.
The list is based on 2013-14 projected WARP as forecast by ATH, my system for generating performance predictions based on trait matching, athletic indicators and aging curves. At the bottom line, WARP is a function of both the quality and quantity of a player's production, so these rankings take into account not just how well ATH thinks a player will play, but how often.
The combined unit WARP for the frontcourts is based on the projections for each team's probable starters at center, power forward and small forward, plus the projected top reserve for the unit.
1. Miami Heat | Combined WARP: 35.3
No surprise here. Any ranking for which James is eligible will invariably find him on top. Beyond the MVP, Bosh is an established All-Star willing to sublimate some of his own abilities in service of winning championships. It would be nice to be able to fully quantify that, but Bosh comes out pretty well in projections as it is. Andersen proved his worth during last season's playoffs and is one of the better value players in the NBA right now.
During regular-season play, the Heat are at their best with Battier holding down the 3 position, though his up-and-down play had him briefly exiled from Miami's rotation during the playoffs. This season Battier, nearing the age of 36, won't be supplanted by the amnestied Mike Miller, which could reintroduce Rashard Lewis to a significant role. And beyond all this is Greg Oden. We have no idea what to expect from the former No. 1 overall pick, but we do know he'll be one of the more fascinating players to watch in the coming season.