Howard, Okafor top power forwards

What do Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Chris Webber, Ben Wallace, Karl Malone, Jermaine O'Neal, Kenyon Martin, and Pau Gasol have in common?

It just so happens that this year, the top nine teams in the league (according to record) also have, arguably, the top nine power forwards in the league. What a coincidence. The trend also explains why the West continues to dominate the East.

"Everyone talks about the disparity between the West and the East, but it really comes down to the power forwards," one Eastern Conference GM told Insider. "The West has a bunch of good ones, the East has three or four. And none of them are on par with the Garnetts, Duncans and Webbers of the West."

The Rockets are the only team in the West that will make it to the playoffs without an All-Star caliber power forward. In the East, Toronto's Marshall is the only decent power forward not expected to make the playoffs. The big guys matter, folks.

That's why teams go nuts over power players in the draft. In 2002, six power forwards were drafted in the lottery. In 2001, the first three picks were power forwards, and nine overall were taken in Round 1. Last year was a major aberration. Only four players in the lottery were power forwards, and only six power forwards, overall, were drafted in the first round.

That, however, was because of a lack of talent, not a lack of need. The good news is that this is a pretty decent draft at the power forward position. As many as 10 power players have a shot at getting drafted in Round 1, as many as five in the lottery.