What is the Definition of a Power Forward?

  • January 17, 2015
  • / By Tom

power forward definitionPhoto By: Phil Roeder

The power forward position in basketball is traditionally a post spot, but a trend has emerged where the position takes on other responsibilities and are now more of a mix between post and perimeter player in many offenses at different levels of competition.

Trying to make a specific power forward definition for basketball is tricky, because they can be used in such different ways based on offensive and defensive systems. In general, the following can be used as a definition:

Power Forward – a position in basketball primarily responsible for post scoring and defense, and rebounding.

Traditionally, power forwards, along with centers, are post scorers on offense. They make moves from the high and low block. Skilled passers will also be able to set up teammates from the position. It also helps if the power forward has skills in the pick-and-roll, either as an aggressive finisher off of a pass or as a mid-range jump shooter if the defense slacks off.

In the NBA, players like Ryan Anderson and Draymond Green have made the position more perimeter oriented. Many offensive systems are now 4-out in nature. This means there are 4 players around the 3-point line, instead of the usual 3, with only the center in the post area. Anderson, for example, is primarily a 3-point shooter who makes his offensive impact by stretching the defense and crashing the offensive boards. Green has an all-around game like that of a small forward, which is where he primarily played when he entered the NBA. His unique offensive skills and ability on defense to guard different types of athletes makes him a special talent.

Defensively, it can be one of the trickiest positions to defend because of the mix of athletes they may have to defend. One night, they may be matched up with a big, physical low-post scorer, while the next night they have to chase a 3-point shooter around the wing. This requires the right combination of strength and athleticism.

The power forward is a position whose role can vary widely, based on the skills of the individual player. A power forward definition is based on the skills of that player and the system they play in.

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