- Point-forwards have been embracing their skill sets since the 1980s
- Some of the greatest players ever have been point-forwards
- The game has changed so much, we are seeing point-centers as well
In the ever-evolving landscape of the National Basketball Association, the roles and responsibilities of players have expanded beyond traditional positions. Among these dynamic players, few have left as indelible a mark on the game as the point-forwards.
Blurring the lines between guards and forwards, point-forwards have revolutionized the way basketball is played, combining the court vision and playmaking skills of point guards with the size and versatility of forwards.
This article delves into the storied history of the NBA to explore the careers of the most exceptional point-forwards to have graced the hardwood, shaping the game and inspiring generations of players to come.
From the 1980s, when the league took a jump in versatility to the modern-day dominance of multi-functional stars, join us in celebrating the 10 greatest point-forwards in NBA history who redefined the concept of position and reshaped the essence of basketball itself.
10. Boris Diaw
Career Statistics: 8.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.5 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Achievements: 2013-14 NBA Champion, 2005-06 Most Improved Player
Many might not remember him, but Boris Diaw was a very skilled forward. A 6’8” power forward from France, Diaw was difficult to defend, and he proved to be a solid role player over his career. The Frenchman possessed a remarkable blend of skills that extended beyond traditional positional boundaries.
He had the court vision, passing accuracy, and basketball IQ of a point guard, coupled with the size and versatility of a forward. His ability to handle the ball, initiate plays, and make pinpoint passes allowed him to seamlessly transition between being a primary ball-handler and a playmaking forward, making him a dual threat on offense.
Diaw’s best individual campaign came in the 2005-06 season when he captured Most Improved Player by averaging 13.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game for the Phoenix Suns. Diaw was literally a point guard with a 6’8” body but could also run the floor, rebound, and score from the perimeter. To kick off the list of greatest point-forwards, Diaw is a great start.
9. Paul Pressey
Career Statistics: 10.6 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Achievements: 3x All-Defensive Team Selection
Paul Pressey is often regarded as one of the best point-forwards in NBA history due to his pioneering role in popularizing the concept and his well-rounded skill set. Pressey’s career spanned from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, a period when traditional positional roles were strictly defined.
He demonstrated that players could effectively initiate offense, create opportunities for teammates, and guard multiple positions regardless of their height or typical position. At 6’5” tall, Pressey had the size to compete on the wings but was more than effective as a ball-handler with floor leadership.
Pressey possessed an excellent basketball IQ and playmaking ability. He could bring the ball up the court, run the offense, and distribute with precision, much like a traditional point guard, and he could also take smaller guards into the post or use his passing to create open shots for teammates. With three All-Defensive Team selections to his name, Pressey was one of the best point-forwards ever during the mid-1980s.
8. Lamar Odom
Career Statistics: 13.3 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 3.7 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.9 BPG
Achievements: 2x NBA Champion, 2010-11 Sixth Man of the Year, 1999-00 All-Rookie Team Selection
Lamar Odom possessed a remarkable skill set that allowed him to impact the game in multiple facets. He could handle the ball like a guard, pass with precision, score from various positions on the court, and rebound effectively.
Odom’s passing ability was a standout aspect of his game. He had exceptional court vision and the ability to deliver pinpoint passes, often setting up teammates for easy baskets. His rebounding skills were another dimension that elevated his point-forward role. He could grab defensive rebounds and initiate fast breaks, effectively turning defense into offense.
Odom’s roles as a point-forward were mostly evident during his stint with the Los Angeles Lakers as he gained the major accolades of his career during this time. Odom won back-to-back titles with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010 as a playmaker and triple-double threat and also captured the 2011 Sixth Man of the Year by posting 14.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game in his last great season in the league.
7. Andre Iguodala
Career Statistics: 11.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Achievements: 4x NBA Champion, 2014-15 Finals MVP, 2011-12 All-Star, 2x All-Defensive Team Selection, 2004-05 All-Rookie Team Selection
Andre Iguodala’s versatility was a hallmark of his game. He could handle the ball like a guard, make precise passes, and create scoring opportunities for teammates. His court vision and decision-making were crucial components of his playmaking ability.
The point-forward’s impact transcended statistics. He often embraced roles that didn’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet, such as guarding the opposing team’s best player, making timely defensive plays, and providing veteran leadership.
His unselfishness and team-oriented mindset made him a vital contributor to winning teams, as evidenced by his contributions to championship-caliber squads.
Iguodala achieved the most success in his career with the Golden State Warriors, bringing his playmaking, defense, and clutch scoring abilities to win four NBA titles as a role player. His presence as a point-forward also led to the formation of the “Death Lineup” which featured Iguodala as a power forward and Draymond Green at center.
6. Draymond Green
Career Statistics: 8.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 5.6 APG, 1.4 SPG, 1.0 BPG
Achievements: 4x NBA Champion, 4x All-Star, 2x All-NBA Team Selection, 8x All-Defensive Team Selection, 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year, 2016-17 Steals Champion
Draymond Green is widely regarded as one of the best point-forwards in NBA history due to his unique skill set, defensive prowess, and instrumental role in revolutionizing the modern game of basketball. No matter what critics have to say, NBA players and his own teammates understand how vital Green has been to the Golden State Warriors dynasty.
Green’s playmaking ability has defied traditional positions. He possesses excellent court vision, passing skills, and decision-making, enabling him to initiate offense and create scoring opportunities for teammates. His high basketball IQ allowed him to read opponents’ actions, make quick decisions, and adapt to changing game situations.
Beyond appearing on the stat sheet, Green’s innate skill of leading the fast break and acting as the primary playmaker in the half-court has given Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson unlimited scoring opportunities from the perimeter. Make no mistake about it: without Draymond Green’s ability as a point-forward and defender, the Warriors would not have won four championships.
5. Grant Hill
Career Statistics: 16.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.6 BPG
Achievements: 7x All-Star, 5x All-NBA Team Selection, 1994-95 Rookie of the Year, 1994-95 All-Rookie Team Selection, Hall of Fame
Grant Hill was expected to be the next Michael Jordan. He was that good. While he possessed the athleticism that made Jordan so great, he had his own skill set in terms of being a multi-functional All-Star with incredible playmaking and floor leadership. His versatility made him a triple threat on offense and a difficult matchup for opponents, as he could exploit mismatches from various positions on the court.
There was hardly a way to stop Hill from dominating games in his prime. He could initiate the offense, handle the ball in transition, and create scoring opportunities for teammates. His vision and decision-making facilitated ball movement and made his teammates better, showcasing his impact beyond scoring.
Unfortunately, injuries robbed Hill of what could have been one of the greatest careers in NBA history. Very few players in NBA history could combine ball-handling, passing, defense, mid-range excellence, and extraordinary athleticism like Hill, which is why he made the Hall of Fame and finished his career with seven All-Star selections.
4. Chris Webber
Career Statistics: 20.7 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.4 SPG, 1.4 BPG
Achievements: 5x All-Star, 5x All-NBA Team Selection, 1993-94 Rookie of the Year, 1993-94 All-Rookie Team Selection, 1998-99 Rebounds Champion, Hall of Fame
While most, if not all, of the players on this list are small forwards, Chris Webber was one of the rare power forwards who could play like a point guard. Is there any wonder as to why the big man made the Hall of Fame?
Chris Webber’s exceptional passing ability set him apart as a point-power forward. His court vision and basketball IQ allowed him to create scoring opportunities for teammates and initiate offense like a guard. His ability to make precise passes, whether in half-court sets or transition, showcased his playmaking prowess.
At 6’10” and 245 lbs, Webber was obviously a big man, but his handles and quickness with the ball made him very difficult to stop on defense. Even when stopping him from scoring, Webber was capable of finding his teammates for easy looks.
No doubt, since entering the NBA as a star from the “Fab Five” at the University of Michigan, Webber served as a model for future power forwards, inspiring them to expand their skill sets and contribute in multiple facets of the game.
3. Scottie Pippen
Career Statistics: 16.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.2 APG, 2.0 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Achievements: 6x NBA Champion, 7x All-Star, 7x All-NBA Team Selection, 10x All-Defensive Team Selection, 1993-94 All-Star Game MVP, 1994-95 Steals Champion, Hall of Fame
We all know how great Scottie Pippen was as a six-time NBA champion and the key part of the dynasty Chicago Bulls that dominated the 1990s. He combined the ball-handling, playmaking, and passing skills of a guard with the size, athleticism, and defensive prowess of a forward.
Pippen’s unique skill set allowed him to excel in a wide range of roles on both offense and defense. His playmaking abilities were integral to his point-forward role, as he had excellent court vision, decision-making, and the ability to create scoring opportunities for teammates.
While Michael Jordan was carrying the scoring burden, Pippen was often responsible for initiating the offense and acting as the primary point-forward. Along with his key defensive skills, Pippen’s greatest skill was pushing the break, handling the ball, and creating easy scoring opportunities. As Pippen once said, he was “LeBron James before LeBron James” during his time.
2. Larry Bird
Career Statistics: 24.3 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Achievements: 3x NBA Champion, 2x Finals MVP, 3x MVP, 12x All-Star, 10x All-NBA Team Selection, 3x All-Defensive Team Selection, 1981-82 All-Star Game MVP, 1979-80 Rookie of the Year, 1979-80 All-Rookie Team Selection, Hall of Fame
Larry Bird is without a doubt a top-two small forward ever, and while he was a dominant scorer and rebounder, the man’s ability to lead the offense was the reason he was a dynamic point-forward. Bird’s ability to read defenses, make quick decisions, and deliver pinpoint passes set him apart as a true point-forward.
As the standout star of the 1980s alongside Magic Johnson, Bird’s versatile skill set allowed him to contribute in multiple facets of the game. He possessed the shooting touch of a guard, the rebounding ability of a forward, and the court awareness of a playmaker.
Remember, Bird averaged 6.3 assists per game over his career, with three seasons posting over 7.0 assists per game. As a result of Bird’s all-around ability, the Boston Celtics never had a weakness going into big games.
The Celtics won three NBA titles under Bird’s leadership, with the player capturing two Finals MVP awards. Even if his back stopped Bird from achieving even more greatness, his dominance as a point-forward helped transcend the position in the 1980s onward.
1. LeBron James
Career Statistics: 27.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 7.3 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Achievements: 4x NBA Champion, 4x Finals MVP, 4x MVP, 19x All-Star, 19x All-NBA Team Selection, 6x All-Defensive Team Selection, 2007-2008 Scoring Champion, 2019-2020 Assist Champion, 2003-2004 Rookie of the Year
LeBron James is widely regarded as the best point-forward ever due to his unparalleled combination of skills, versatility, and impact on the game. Even until the end of the 2022-23 season, James has consistently been one of the best to ever do it.
LeBron’s playmaking ability is among the best in NBA history, and he challenges Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Steve Nash, and Jason Kidd as the best passers of all time.
No doubt, LeBron’s versatility is unparalleled. He combines the skills of a point guard, forward, and even center when necessary. His combination of size, speed, and agility is unprecedented in basketball history.
His unique skill set enables him to impact every facet of the game, from scoring and rebounding to defense and leadership, which is why he is the all-time great triple-double threat.
LeBron’s floor leadership skills are the best aspect of The King’s game, as he took what Larry Bird could do in terms of playmaking but had a muscle-bound body with incredible explosiveness and athleticism. We have never seen a forward pass the way that James does, which is why he is on the Mt. Rushmore of all-time great players.