Aldridge was one of the biggest All-Star snubs last season, and proved it as he averaged career highs practically across the board. This could be the season that Aldridge goes next level, and establishes himself as one of the top forwards in the league. Without Brandon Roy the Blazers will need Aldridge to lead the team on and off the court, and if he’s up to the challenge his numbers should benefit greatly. Aldridge is one of the most skilled, versatile power forwards in the Western Conference, and should have a very strong season.
4. Pau Gasol: PF, C, Los Angeles Lakers
2011-12 Projections: 18.6 PPG, 3.3 APG, 10.3 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 1.5 BPG
The 7-foot Spaniard started last season on an absolute tear. In fact, for the first quarter of the year many considered him an early MVP candidate. However, Gasol’s season ended in disappointment as he performed a disappearing act in the post-season. To cap that off he spent most of the off-season at the center of trade rumors, and was even traded to Houston before the league vetoed the trade. Still, when he’s on his game Gasol is one of the most productive fantasy players in the league. Gasol is a strong scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker. He’s also one of the most efficient big men in the NBA.
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3. Dirk Nowitzki: PF, Dallas Mavericks
2011-12 Projections: 23.3 PPG, 2.5 APG, 7.2 RPG, 0.6 SPG, 0.7 BPG
Dirk’s unbelievable tear through the post-season helped erase the memory of his worst fantasy season in nine years. While Dirk’s numbers probably will be very similar this year, he is still one of the best PF options in the game. His ability to put up 25-30 points on any given night is hard to match at this position. Another strong feature of Dirk’s is his ability to stay on the court. In his 12 seasons as a member of the NBA, Nowitzki has missed a total of just 38 games due to injury.
2. Amar’e Stoudemire: PF, C, New York Knicks
2011-12 Projections: 25.6 PPG, 2.2 APG, 8.1 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 2.1 BPG
Entering his second season as a member of the New York Knicks, Amar’e Stoudemire is looking to have another solid statistical season. This will also be the first full season he will play with teammate Carmelo Anthony. Now, generally it is not ideal for fantasy production to have two superstar players on the same team. But, Stoudemire and Anthony seem to play well off one another. Stoudemire should still see strong offensive numbers in 2011-12, and may even see an increase in his blocks as well under head coach Mike D’Antoni’s defensive scheme.
1. Kevin Love: PF, Minnesota Timberwolves
2011-12 Projections: 20.1 PPG, 2.6 APG, 15.3 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Last season Kevin Love had one of the most impressive fantasy seasons in recent history. It culminated in a 30-30 performance that was the first such accomplishment in 28 years. Love’s numbers should continue to impress this season as he is once again the best player on a not-so-great team. Love is a rebounding machine that thrives in the paint, making him the perfect power forward pick. While Love isn’t the best defensive option at power forward, his offensive production more than makes up for his lacking numbers on the defensive end.