Now that Joe Johnson and his 15-18 shots a game no longer call Philips Arena home, the proverbial torch has been passed to a prolific duo to lead the Atlanta Hawks organization to possibly new heights, at least for one more season. Josh Smith and Al Horford may fly under the radar nationally, but Atlantans know the prowess they display on a nightly basis.
In an era of increased small-ball play, quality dynamic power forward-center duos have seemingly dried up from their height in earlier NBA and even ABA eras. It is refreshing to see some emergence of back to the basket ability and a fierce desire to bring down rebounds.
And, without further ado, I present to you the top power forward-center duos in the NBA:
5. Carlos Boozer – Joakim Noah:I tried to get 2 duos from both the Eastern and the Western Conference (excluding Smith and Horford) and this was the third best in the East. What helped this pair of Bulls was the borderline insane amount of minutes Tom Thibodeau demands from these two veterans. Noah is up for defensive player of the year by averaging 37 minutes a game and Boozer adds over 15 points and 9 rebounds in 31 minutes of play. The Bulls have treaded water without star player Derrick Rose and the Boozer and Noah combo is a big reason why.
4. David West – Roy Hibbert: Before you point to Roy Hibbert forgetting how to put a ball in a basket, remember that the Pacers are the second best team in the Eastern Conference and lead the NBA in all major defensive categories. Also, both have been extremely durable, starting in all but 1 game this season. David West has expanded his offensive game and has become an exceptionally passer out of the post. Hibbert has done his best Tyson Chandler impression with 2.7 blocks and imposing rim defense. Both have some obvious deficiencies but it was a pair that was impossible to overlook.
3. Paul Millsap – Al Jefferson: Despite the conundrum of not trading either while simultaneously sliding out of playoff positioning, the Jazz front office is lucky that this pair has buoyed the Utah Jazz for the last 2 ½ years. These Salt Lake City buddies have the most pressure to score as a guard-starving team and have put up the most impressive scoring numbers. Combined, they account for 37 points per game and have a true shooting percentage above league average, despite Utah being a below average offensive team. Though behind them on the depth chart, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter have great potential, the Jazz front office made it a point to try to ride out this duo as they enter free agency this summer.
2. Josh Smith – Al Horford: The production from Al Horford and Josh Smith is more than the sum of their parts. The chemistry they have shown playing alongside each other for the past 6 years is remarkable to watch on a nightly basis. I’d imagine they score 1.5 points per possession (Don’t look that up) when Larry Drew has them run their trademark high-low set. Horford and Smith are also only one of two pair of bigs averaging at least 8 rebounds a game (with Boozer and Noah). Through in the fact that both average over 17 points per game, and it separates this duo from the duo in the Windy City. Despite being such a joy to watch over the years, and this season especially, we may be nearing the end of this duumvirate. Josh Smith may find himself in a different jersey come next November, but it’s unlikely he’ll find as compatible a post partner than what he has in Atlanta.
1. Zach Randolph – Marc Gasol: The big Grizzlies are all that stand between the high flying Hawks in this list. Both are classic low post players, which sometimes crowds the paint too much and puts pressure on the Grizzlies guards to space the floor. Nonetheless, they prop up the second best defense in the league, according to Hoopdata’s defensive efficiency. The Grizzlies also rank first in offensive rebounding percentage, in large part to so many shots coming so close to the rim. The Grizzlies have justified moving Rudy Gay by going 17-6 since his departure and the bulk of the credit has to go to the blue pillars in the paint.
- Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic (who would most likely be included if not for missed time due to injury)
- Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson (needs more time)
- Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins (needs more minutes and less insubordination)
- Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter (Tiago Splitter?)
- Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan (Excel at finishing lobs, not quite there in other areas)
Also, I wanted to include the LeBron James and Chris Bosh duo since power forward and center, respectively, have been their main positions but, like LeBron’s game, that would be simply unfair. The pair of Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler is also bending the rules in a similar fashion. However, Carmelo has been playing the 4 with much more regularity due to Amare Stoudemire’s nagging injuries. Traditionally, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are considered small forward so I’ll leave them out of this exercise. If those two were included, Miami and New York’s group would rank #1 and #2 respectively.