The Best Five Power Forwards in Lakers’ History

Lamar Odom of Los Angeles Lakers against Denver Nuggets at Staples Center April 2011

So, what makes a great power forward? First, you are going to have to be tall if you are going to be first on the scene for those rebounds. Second, you are going to need physical strength and a good amount of controlled aggression. Your job above all else is to be the best convertor of rebounds in the NBA – mastering those boxing out techniques. This is an offensive position but you will mostly play with your back to the basket and be sure to man-to-man defend the oppositions’ power forward.

The Lakers have never been short of these dominant big men. While most tend to start as centers rather than power forwards, they are essentially tasked with the role of rebound specialist. Lakers’ power forwards and centers are therefore likely to be more athletic and agile than pure strongmen who can sometimes be a bit of a blunt, unsophisticated tool.

With all this assessment of greatness in this position in mind, it is time to name the top five players to take on this role for the LA Lakers.

Number Five: Robert Horry

While Horry never had those games where he romped through a massive 30 points in a game or even someone to dominate the ball, he could be counted on to pull off the final shot. He was a clutch player – when the pressure was on and you needed someone with the blood of ice to make the shot, you could be sure that Horry would deliver.

He was a member of the three-peat team in the 2000s with Bryant and O’Neal, so the Lakers had enough star quality. What they needed from Horry was reliability – and this is what he delivered in his seven seasons. 

If you are thinking his stats are pretty mediocre – with an average of 6.3 points and 5.5 rebounds, remember that the Lakers may have not won that three-peat if it weren’t for Horry delivering the game-winning three points against the Kings. Trust us here – when there are Bryant and O’Neal on the court to score regularly, you don’t need to be the shot maker. However, when the time comes and your skill is needed – you can turn it on. This is what permits Horry his place on this list.

Number Four: Kurt Rambis

Kurt Rambis of Los Angeles Lakers guards Rick Mahorn of Washington Bullets during an NBA basketball game circa 1981

Oh man, it must have been awful to be an opponent of Rambis. He glued himself to you and would never let you have the freedom of the play you wanted to make. He was also reliable – this guy was not one for glory hunting – he was in it for the team. If you are going to be a title-winning Franchise, which the Laker team was during Rambis’ time, you need a player like him. He would do all the dirty work others baulked at. He never demanded the ball when he knew there was a better team play out there.

Ultimately, however, Rambis makes the list of power forwards because he executed the core function of this position to perfection. If there was a rebound to be gained, he would be there to score. 

Before you look at his stats, remember two things. One, he was a member of a four title-winning team, and two, when he retired, they retired his shirt. Now, that shows the value that the Lakers placed on his contribution – no room here for you to doubt them.

Number three: A.C. Green

So, power forward is all about strength. Then, it is a good job you are considered the “Iron Man” of the Lakers team. He would continue to play through injuries and would rebound his career from setbacks. While you might remember him for his injuries, he actually managed to stay healthy for much of his NBA career.

Green was something of a find for the Lakers. Picked 23rf in the 1985 draft he made an immediate impact and justified the faith shown. He also was a key player helping the team to the finals and a win in 87 – 88. 

While his playing days for the Lakers was not stellar, more solid, his return to the team to act as mentor to stars such as O’Neal and Bryant made him the star of the show for us. Drawing out the best of the whole team rather than demonstrating individual brilliance will always win the day in our book.

Number two: Lamar Odom

We know – Odom left a pretty significant bitter aftertaste because of the way he parted ways with the franchise. Lakers’ fans may be slow to forgive but there is much to argue that his contribution to the team was impressive. He easily makes the case for being one of the best power forwards the Lakers have ever seen.

More than his strength and power, he was known for his versatility. He could play any position and would willingly take on the role of the sixth man, relishing this position and the opportunities it offered. Starting never bothered Odom, coming on as the impact player made the benched start worthwhile.

During his time at the franchise, Odom was loved by the fans and received a standing ovation after the news was released that he had been traded to the Mavericks. Maybe that bitter taste is only in the minds of the player and the coaches. The fans will also love this man.

Number One: Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol of Los Angeles Lakers against Boston Celtics at Staples Center February 2014

Gasol was part of the same generation of players as Odom, which makes their ranking one and two on this list remarkable. Gasol spent five seasons with the Lakers and in that time was always the top pick over Odom. However, this is not why he ranks so highly. In one manic last-minute signing deal, Gasol turned the Lakers from mediocre to a title contender, seemingly overnight.

Gasol was taught a lesson by the Celtics in that first year. He came back stronger and as a result helped the team to back-to-back titles.

if you have enjoyed reading this article, make sure to check out our rankings of the five best point guards in Lakers’ history.

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