NBA / Feb 25, 2010 / 8:30 am

Create-a-Three: Building the Perfect NBA Small Forward

Carmelo Anthony, Dime #53

The NBA is going the way of the wing. While some people cling to the idea that you still have to build a winning franchise around a big man, and others see a future where point guards run the show, this season has done nothing but prove me right on something I’ve been saying for a while now — that the next several years will belong to small forwards.

All due respect to Kobe, but you could argue that LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant have been better than any three players on the planet this year. And even after Kobe reaches NBA old-age, those three should still be in their primes and setting the standard by which most other players are judged.

Small forwards are always a diverse crew. LeBron is a powerhouse who could also play the point; ‘Melo is an effortless scorer who could play the four if he wanted; Durant is a perimeter sniper with a center’s height and two-guard range. Neither of them looks at all like the other, and yet the results are often the same: Bucket after bucket, with a healthy share of boards, assists and defense thrown in for good measure. Then you throw in colleagues like Danny Granger (shooter), Paul Pierce (scorer), Rudy Gay (high-flyer), Ron Artest (bully) and Gerald Wallace (Roller Derby), and the League’s elite threes are a study in variety.

How would you build the ideal small forward for the NBA in 2010? Take into account size, abilities, specific skills, mindset, and other intangibles.

Using only THREE current or former SF’s to put in a blender and combine their best (or worst) traits, create your perfect small forward…

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  • KnicksFan84

    I would just take the best of Lebron and the best of Durant and call it a day folks!

  • Chuck

    Give me larry bird’s shooting and toughness dude was beast back in the day
    Give me dennis rodmans defense and rebounding
    but i will take lebrons speed and strength and that will round out my 3

  • Beach Muscles

    Chris Mullin (shooting) + Bernard King (scoring everywhere else) + LeBron (athleticism, defense, passing) = BEAST

  • Jah

    LeBron James’ body
    Larry Bird’s jumper
    Ron Artest’s defense


  • geoluhread

    6’6 athletic, defensive stopper, mainly rebounder….Dennis Rodman defensive mindset, Julius Erving soft touch around the hoop, clueless on my last SF to add to this.

  • Trey bing bay

    Lebron is the perfect mould. Give him a Glen Rice type shot and Bruce Bowen like defensive IQ and there you have it.

  • Kevin

    Larry Bird – shooting (shoot your face off & then talk smack to you. All with a dirty mustache ha)

    LeBron James – athletic ability (speed, strength, hops, etc.)

    Kobe Bryant – Knowledge of the game (footwork, competitiveness, drive/desire to be the best, etc.)

  • geoluhread

    @Kevin Kobe’s a 2 guard not a SF….smart guy.

  • ab_40

    orlando Tmac plus 15 pounds, bruce bowen D and a kevin mchale like postgame. all these guys could average a full 5 or 6 points more if they posted up more often

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    Wow, great topic, Austin. I’m just glad that you didn’t name Caron Butler. I’m a Wizards fan, and I loved having him on the team. That having been said…dude was touted as an elite 3 for years and didn’t do anything other than put up (merely) pretty good stats.

  • S-SiN

    Bird x
    Pip x

  • kdog78

    Lebron’s size/athleticism/speed

    Pippen’s D/IQ/all around floor game

    Larry Legend’s jumper/hustle/leadership

  • Shakers

    Larry Legend/Lebron/Pippen pretty much nails it I think.

  • Chuck

    man I forgot about pip.

  • Alee-Mo

    Using LeBron is too easy … I’d go with Dominique’s athleticism and smoothness, Mullin’s jumper and left-handedness (lefties always harder to guard), and Bruce Bowen’s defense and toughness.

  • Chaos

    Lebron James – size/strength/athleticsm/passing
    Larry Brid – three point/jump shot
    Scottie Pippen – Defense/IQ/point forward floor game
    Carmelo Anthony – post/face up moves/first step/soft touch
    Ron Artest – hustle/grit/toughness

  • Kevin

    I have a feeling we’re not gonna see Richard Jefferson in any of the responses.

    But you know we have to go with the WORST small forward ever, too:

    DerMarr Johnson’s body + Peja’s defense + Jamario Moon’s offense and basketball IQ

  • rell

    Scottie Pippen defense and wing span
    Larry Bird heart, shooting, and killer instinct
    Lebron James speed, athleticism, body, and passing

  • karizmatic

    Come on man are you serious? The Perfect Small forward has LBJ’s size, power, athleticism, Carmelo Anthony’s offensive game, and Scottie Pippen’s defense. Throw in Pippen and/or LBJ’s court vision and passing skills for good measure. Give me this guy and he averages 30 pts, 10 assts, 10 rebs 3 stls and 1.5 blks for about 8 or 9 years straight. Gauranteed. Scary thing is LBJ could potentially be this guy all by himself.

  • Detroit Dave

    Carmelo’s – offense
    Tayshuan’s- IQ
    Stephen Jackson’ – grit

  • b

    90’s edition: grant hill, glen rice, tom gugliotta

  • Nyeme

    All you really need is Melo’s offense (post game, midrange, finshing in traffic, finishing period) & Pippen’s everything else AND maybe Bird’s stroke, but Melo is better at creating his shot off the dribble.

  • Soopa

    Pippen x Bird.

    Dont need a 3rd guy.

  • http://heckler@aol.com Heckler

    building around a wing player RARELY ever works.
    maybe Larry Bird was the only one where a team could be built around him.

    if you wanna build a dynasty and get to 5 finals in 7 years, your small forward (most likely) will be a complimentary player. foolish to build around a wing player and expect finals results.

    maybe LeBron will be the next exception, but I still dont see it.

    either way, the combo would be:

    Scottie Pippen (defense and ball handling)
    Chris Mullin (all around game smarts)
    Dominique Wilkins (raw power and scoring)


    Grant Hill (early motown yrs)
    Bernard King (scoring)
    James Worthy (yall crazy not to say big game james)


    Larry Bird (80s yrs)
    Ron Artest (Indy yrs)
    LeBron James

  • K C

    I’m glad people stop mentioning non-SFs (Kobe, Rodman, McHale).

    For the most part, I think it’s been nailed down:

    Melo – all around offensive game, add in Bird’s shot
    LBJ – size, athleticism
    Pip – defense, IQ
    Artest – toughness

    @ b
    how are you going to go with a 90s edition without PIP?

  • Pig

    Melo’s post game/cluthch/finishing
    Lebron’s athleticsism and defence
    Bird’s confidence and jumper

  • geoluhread

    @ KC didn’t Rodman play SF in Detroit?

  • isotope

    It really depends on what your needs are as a team. Durant wouldnt work with the Lakers where the SG carries the offensive load. That team would need a SF who can do other things like rebound and defend well. It seems more and more teams have Shooting Forwards and the SG spot is reserved for a defensive specialist. I personally would rather have my Shooting Guard be just that and have my small foward be versatile. So i’m thinking Pippen, Odom, Butler, Battier, etc.

  • b


    yeah pippen and hill both had that point forward game. but while pippen was such a beast on d, i could never realize why he didnt get more boards, maybe it was just playing with worm.

  • Jayo

    LeBron – Size/Athleticism

    Bird – Shooting Skill/Basketball IQ

    Artest – Toughness/Strength

  • K C

    Good point! I’ve always thought of Rodman as more of a PF.

    I don’t think Pippen ever had to get many rebounds. He averaged 8.7 the year he was the man with the Bulls (93-93).

  • K C

    I meant ’93-’94.

  • Celts Fan

    LeBron’s size/athleticism/passing with Melo’s scoring and Shane Battier’s defense and wrinkled head.

    and say what you will about “clinging to the idea of building around a big.” While you don’t need to build around a big, every title team in the last 20 years has had at least an all-star caliber big man other than MJ’s first 3-peat.

    Let’s look at this:

    09 Lakers – Pau and Lamar
    08 Celts – KG
    05 and 07 Spurs – TD
    06 Heat – Shaq
    04 Pistons – the Wallaces
    99 and 03 Spurs – TD and the Admiral
    00-02 Lakers – Shaq
    96-98 Bulls – Rodman
    94-95 Rockets – Hakeem
    91-93 Bulls – none
    89-90 Bad Boys – Rodman, Laimbeer

  • srb

    You already have the perfect SF. He wears #34 on the Celtics.

  • Ian

    bird plus pippen plus bowen you dont need anything bron in that mix unless u want pictures and weird handshakes pregame

  • KnicksFan84

    You know what, I can I change my mind and say Dominique, Glen Rice, Artest?

  • Ian

    how many more boards did u want pip to get?? he stayed between 6.5-8.5 lebron has never gotten to 8 and lets not talk about melo.

  • http://www.dui.com/dui-library/celebrities/images/Carmelo-Anthony---Slam-Dunk-Over-Jerome-Williams-Photograph-C12188613.jpg Mr. TKO


  • Ian

    everyime u guys say glen rice i die a bit inside. with the third pick of the 89 the san antonio spurs select (to play alongside david robinson) GLEN R… no wait sean elliott. what the f…. was thattttttttttt??????????? ive already let go the scola trade but i still cant forget this one.

  • http://www.dui.com/dui-library/celebrities/images/Carmelo-Anthony---Slam-Dunk-Over-Jerome-Williams-Photograph-C12188613.jpg Mr. TKO

    Damn ya’ll are commenting quickly. I was referring to #34 Lol

    Did you notice he repping #34 Paul Pierce and his comment is 34 too….. That’s a nice lil bit of Synergy.

    For Me it would Be
    LBJ athleticism and court vision, Melo/Durants stroke and Ron Artest toughness

    For 2k games, my created character is usually a buffer Josh Smith, with Ron Artest Defensive Iq/Intensity and a decent stroke like a slightly sorrier Melo or maybe Tough Juice. (I don’t like creating Superstars, i usually try to have him be a fallback option, he can do a lil bit of everything when needed but doesn’t dominate the team too much)

  • ballin

    @Celts Fan

    I actually came in here to say the exact same thing.

    You ALWAYS need an all-star big man unless you’re a once-in-a-generation talent like Michael Jordan or possibly Lebron.

    The reasoning behind this is simple: dominant big men change can positively impact a team in more ways than a dominant wing player.

    Wing players generally score and guard the particular player they’re guarding (as obvious as that might sound). Assists are just a different version of scoring. As far as rebounding is concerned, since wing players don’t play under the basket, they generally get long rebounds that bounce out to them and end up in their laps.

    But big men affect so much more. They’re not just guarding the one player they’re covering (like a wing player)… they’re protecting the rim against the entire opposing team. If they’re not outright blocking a shot, they’re at least trying to alter it. That’s why guys like Dwight and KG end up with the defensive player of hte year award… their defense impacts EVERY player on the court. If Ron Artest is guarding you, on the other hand, you can just pass to another people that has a better matchup. But there’s no way you can avoid a Dwight Howard coming out to contest your shot, unless you jack it from distance which is what the other team wants. So that’s why a good defensive center is better than a good defensive perimeter player: his impact is unavoidable. Next, big men actually SEEK OUT rebounds with the best opportunity to actually get them. This is HUGE, because it’s the only way to prevent the other team from having unlimited shots at the basket, and if you’re good at offensive rebounding it can give your team more shots at the basket. At the end of the day, the team who takes the most shots wins 4 out of 5 times unless they’re shooting a horrific percentage. Which brings me to my last point: all-star big men are capable of shooting the highest percentage and scoring the most efficiently. The league leaders in percentage are always big men, since they take most of their shots around the basket. When Dwight gets the ball, there’s a good chance he’ll either dunk on you or force you to foul him. Teams can live with LBJ shooting long 2 pointers over them, but you’ll never win a game with Dwight dunking on you with impunity.

    So to sum it all up:
    1) Bigs have a larger defensive presence
    2) Bigs are responsible for rebounding, which translates into which team gets the most shots, which usually translates into which team wins.
    3) Quality bigs are often the most efficient scorers in the game, so your offense will be improved almost as much as your defense.

    Building a team without an all-star big is just dumb.

  • ballin

    wow, after posting i realized i had so many spelling/grammatical errors. oh well, shit happens

  • http://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE

    I would say LeBron,and Carmelo. Defense I would say Xavier McDaniels.


    Am I going to have to choke a B**ch!

  • ronnabonbon

    adam morrison’s athleticism
    shawn marion’s shooting form
    and darius miles’s knees

  • http://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE

    This is going to be fun when it’s time to make the ultimate center.

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    @Celts Fan & @ballin — Like I’ve said before, I’m not claiming championship teams don’t need an All-Star caliber big man. But my point is that the big man doesn’t HAVE to be the franchise guy. Gasol, Garnett, Shaq in Miami, Ben Wallace, they were not The Man on their teams when they won the ‘chip.

  • Name (required)

    Perfect SF
    Josh Smith for size and athleticism
    Ron Artest for D
    Hedo Turkoglus passing and ball handling
    Durants outside shot
    Melos post game

    worst SF
    Josh Smiths IQ
    Ron Artests Crazy
    Hedo Turkoglus athleticism
    Durants Muscle
    Melos rebounding

  • http://www.WhyCandaceWhySheldon.thatbastard.com Chicagorilla

    Imagine a Sf 3 on 3 tourney

    Pippen, Wilkins, Mullin

    Bird, Lebron, Artest

    G.Hill(90’s), BEENard King, Worthy

    Vince Carter(early 00’s), Melo, Rick Barry

    Only a PG tourney would be nicer! I should set this up on 2k online or something.

  • flavur

    Dominique Wilkins
    Glen Rice
    Larry Johnson

  • http://www.WhyCandaceWhySheldon.thatbastard.com Chicagorilla


    Actually, Horace Grant (6’10) was an all-star before during his tenure with the bulls and the first 3peat. Dennis Rodman(6’8) on the other hand was not. And isn’t really a “big” man. But I do agree with your point.

  • http://CorneliusButterfield.com Corneius Butterfield

    Time out. TIME OUT! I can’t believe what I’ve just read. Seriously, Kevin Durant? You’re telling me that Kevin Durant is better this year than KOBE? (Somebody better get this guy some smelling salts, Red Bull, something.) Kobe can play every other position on the court, not just go-to guy. After Kobe hangs ‘em up, sure these also-rans will be telling everyone how they’re the king. Right now, there’s no question who is the dominate player in the NBA.


  • bigdoggchad

    @Name Melo for worst rebounding SF? Try Hedo, Peja, or even Ron Artest. All 5 RPG or lower for their careers.

  • bigdoggchad

    I do agree Melo needs to hit the boards a lil more cause when he does he is a beast, but he isn’t the worst rebounding SF.

  • bigdoggchad

    LeBron’s body and court vision
    Melo’s offense
    Pip’s defense
    Just a bit of Artest’s crazy

  • bigdoggchad

    oh yeah and melo’s clutch.

  • http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/ProphetGK ProphetGK

    Pippen, Bird and LeBron, says it all…

  • http://www.innoutnba.com Lucas Shapiro

    Modern Version:
    Work Ethic- Danny Granger
    Athleticism- LeBron (too easy)
    Coordination- Carmelo (so good with both hands)
    Body- Durant (once again, too easy)
    Defensive awareness- Shane Battier
    Aggressiveness- Ron Artest
    Ball Handling- Hedo Turkoglu
    Shooting- Paul Pierce

    Come on, does it get better than this?

  • Celts Fan

    @AB – I was agreeing w/ you (I think I said something like you may not have to build around them, but… which was just a bad way to phrase it I guess.)

    @Chicagorilla – I was gonna say something like “Horace Grant was effective at least.” Didn’t realize he’d made an All Star team. Kinda pictured him as a PJ Brown type (never an all star, but your team can always use a guy like him.)
    Couldn’t disagree w/ you more on Worm though. When a guy leads the league in rebounding something like 300 times, he’s a big man. When that same guy’s also been named DPOY once or twice, he deserves a HOF invite. He certainly wasn’t a post scorer by any means, but Worm OWNED the paint and glass.

  • sh!tfaced

    The perfect small forward?

    -Brian Scalabrine’s athleticism
    -Shawn Marion’s jump shot
    -Pippen’s nose
    -Adam Morrison/Larry Bird’s stache
    -Tim Thomas’ work ethic
    -Ron Artest’s sensibility
    -Vince Carter’s durability
    -Bruce Bowen’s freethrow accuracy
    -Nick Anderson’s ability under pressure
    -Big Baby’s appetite
    -Jason Kapono’s defense
    -Joe Alexander’s potential

    Kidding aside, the perfect small forward will be LeBron in about 3-5 years…

  • me

    not what you asked, but……

    how does carmelo anthony compare to bernard king? from what I think about melo and what i’ve heard about bernard, they seem to have similar games. anyone with the knowledge to compare their games?


    I’m gonna say the late Len Bias from way back. He’s the player who’s as close as you can get with a game like Bernard King.

  • smexy smaxy

    gimme skills of Scottie Pippen
    Mental toughness of Larry Bird
    Lebron’s strength, speed and atheletism

    It’s over!

  • http://www.dimemag.com Al Day

    LeBron, Granger, and G-Dub.

  • VBG

    LeBron’s body and durabiliity

    Tracy McGrady (Orlando version) skillset

    Shane Battier’s basketball IQ

  • @DreDre718

    Carmelo, he is the perfect small forward, no one can stop him:


    – terrific offensive rebounder,he can be 29 and 8, and 5, he just doesnt need to rebound though, thats y hes 29 5 and 5

    – best first step in nba

    all he needs is better passing

  • RC

    Scottie Pippen – Defense, Ball Handling

    LBJ – Size, Strength, Explosiveness

    Carmelo Anthony – Post moves, Mid range shot

    Larry Bird – Three point range

    Josh Smith – Shot blocking

    Brian Scalabrine – Michael Jackson dance moves

  • EsK

    Lebron + Bird + Pippen .. closest thing to perfect SF

  • LoBezn0

    Carmelo Anthony for the offense,
    Scottie Pippen for the defense and glue guy skills,
    Andrei Kirilenko for the bonuses.