Forwards

The power forwards of today are the most athletic the game has ever seen. In the past, a 7 footer like the Celtics' Kevin Garnett would always have been a center because he usually would have been the tallest player on the court. But with so many players 7 feet or taller, height is no longer something altogether unique in the NBA. Power forwards can be fast and powerful, like Karl Malone was, but they can also be tall, lean, and fast, like Kevin Garnett. These players are often better shooters from the outside than their predecessors from decades ago, but they are still counted on to do a lot of rebounding at both ends of the court.

Kevin Garnett: Minnesota, Boston

When the Boston Celtics acquired the nearly 7 foot Kevin Garnett before the start of the 2007–2008 season, they had one thing in mind: an NBA championship. Kevin, who was drafted out of high school by the Minnesota Timberwolves, delivered a championship to the Celtics his first season with them. Though he plays near the basket as power forward, there might not be a sleeker, leaner big man in the NBA who can run the court as well as Kevin. He made the All-Defensive Team five years in a row and was named NBA MVP in 2004 and Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. Kevin is also a very good shot blocker; while playing for the Timberwolves he set the team record with 163 blocks in one season.

KEVIN GARNETT

Points

Rebounds

Assists

20.4

11.2

4.4

Paul Pierce: Boston

Paul Pierce came into his own as a superstar in the 2007– 2008 season and helped the “Big Three” — himself, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen — lead Boston to the 2008 NBA Championship, in which Paul was named the finals MVP. Paul is a scoring machine, but he posts solid numbers both rebounding and passing the ball as well. In the 2008 NBA Playoffs, with Kevin and Ray struggling offensively, Paul took the team on his shoulders and carried them past the Los Angeles Lakers.

PAUL PIERCE

Points

Rebounds

Assists

23.1

6.4

3.9

LeBron James, Cleveland

Few players have come into the league with as much hype and pressure as LeBron “King” James, who was drafted first overall to rescue the Cleveland Cavaliers from years of mediocrity. LeBron has taken the team to the NBA finals, but has yet to win the crown that would fit his nickname so well. However, he is one of the most dominant players in the game. At 6 feet 8 inches and 250 pounds, LeBron can dribble and pass like a guard but can also drive to the basket against taller defenders to dunk, score a layup, or draw a foul. By drawing so many defenders to himself, LeBron has been able to dish out almost as many assists per game as rebounds. Though he has played with few All-Star teammates in his career, he has made Cleveland a regular in the playoffs. LeBron was named NBA MVP in 2009.

LEBRON JAMES

Points

Rebounds

Assists

27.3

6.9

6.6

Tracy McGrady: Toronto, Orlando, Houston

After being drafted by Toronto right out of high school, Tracy McGrady took a few years to get his NBA feet underneath him. Traded to Orlando, Tracy became a perennial All-Star and in the 2007–2008 season he led the Houston Rockets to one of the longest winning streaks in league history — 22 games. At 6 feet 8 inches and 203 pounds, Tracy is taller than the guards who try to defend him and quicker than the forwards who are assigned to him. He has been named a favorite player in polls by Sports Illustrated Kids and was dubbed a “Good Guy in Sports” by the Sporting News.

TIP - IN

LeBron is arguably the most celebrated individual player since Michael Jordan — who was drafted by the Chicago Bulls the year LeBron was born. LeBron signed a $90 million contract with Nike before he even started his playing career.

TRACY MCGRADY

Points

Rebounds

Assists

22.4

6.2

4.7

Chris Bosh: Toronto

Chris Bosh, who can play forward or center, averaged 22-plus points and more than nine rebounds a game from 2006– 2008 and emerged as a legitimate MVP candidate. At 6 feet 10 inches, Chris has been the focal point of the Raptors's resurgence in the East.

CHRIS BOSH

Points

Rebounds

Assists

18.9

9.0

2.1

Opposites Attract

One of the first great players of basketball — in fact, he was called Mr. Basketball — was George Mikan. His training regimen included shadow boxing, rope-skipping, and ballet! Sometimes things fit together perfectly even when they don't look like they should. Can you match these words with their opposite?

Major Milestone

In 1950, Earl Lloyd became a member of the Washington Capitols. He was the first African American to play in the NBA.

Score!

This scorekeeper is having trouble with numbers and letters. Can you help him unscramble the strings of letters here? Only one of them has all the letters to spell BASKETBALL SCORE.

Carmelo Anthony: Denver

With a career scoring average above 24 points a game, Carmelo Anthony has made the Denver Nuggets a regular playoff participant in the West. In his one and only season at Syracuse, Carmelo led the Orangemen to an NCAA championship. He was also a member of the 2004 Olympic Dream Team in Athens and the 2008 Redeem Team in Beijing.

CARMELO ANTHONY

Points

Rebounds

Assists

24.4

6.0

3.0

Dirk Nowitzki: Dallas

Dirk Nowitzki, the 7-foot center from Germany, has become the face of the Dallas Mavericks's franchise during his time in the NBA. Dirk is also known to stop eating his dinner and let his food get cold just to sign autographs for kids who approach him. What has made Dirk such a unique big man is that he can shoot the ball so well from the outside. In his career, he has made almost 40 percent of the three-point shots he has taken. He was named NBA MVP in 2007. Regarded by general managers as the best international player in the league, the one thing that has eluded Dirk is an NBA title, though the Mavericks regularly make deep runs in the playoffs.

DIRK NOWITZKI

Points

Rebounds

Assists

22.4

8.6

2.7

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