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NBA / May 29, 2014 / 4:15 pm

The 10 Greatest Small Forwards In NBA History

Kevin Durant, LeBron James

Kevin Durant, LeBron James (Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

The small forward used to compliment the frontcourt, but in the contemporary game it’s a position that’s turned out elite wing players with the body of a power forward from just a generation prior. Small forwards are basketball renaissance men who can do it all: shoot, pass, handle the ball and create havoc for opponents. That’s what makes this list so difficult to pin down.

A class of players far deeper than that of the shooting guard position, the small forward is a hybrid position home to many all-time great scorers and defenders. Names like Alex English, Adrian Dantley, Bernard King, and Carmelo Anthony all hold meaning for their talent as elite scorers but the position class is so deep not one made the top 10. Multiple time All-Stars like Paul Pierce and Shawn Marion are worth noting but also fell short of the all time list. Selecting just ten names from such a large pool of players makes it tough to trim the fat. Here are the 10 greatest small forwards in NBA history:

[RELATED: The 10 greatest point guards in NBA history]

[RELATED: The 10 greatest centers in NBA history]

[RELATED: The 10 greatest shooting guards in NBA history]

[RELATED: The 10 greatest power forwards in NBA history]

Honorable mention: Paul Pierce
The Truth has been getting it done with an old school game predicated on wile rather than an overwhelming athleticism. He’s just as liable to pull out an up-and-under as he is to just go up with the ball. While he’s no longer the player who made 10 consecutive all-star games between 2002 and 2012, Double P is still worthy of mention on this list.

He has a title and was the 2008 NBA Finals MVP, but he’s only ever finished within the top 10 for MVP voting once, during Boston’s followup to his only ring. Now he’s masquerading as the same big shot player in Brooklyn, but his athletic gifts — already a notch below some of the game’s contemporary greats — are in remission. Still, he’ll be inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and if it weren’t for the overwhelming number of talented power forwards, he’d crack the top 10.


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10. Kevin Durant
Career Accolades: MVP, 5X All-Star, 4X All-NBA
It’s hard to put a player this young on the list. He’s 25 years old, never won a championship, and doesn’t have as long of a resume as many players left off the list. Yet, he might’ve just had the greatest scoring season ever for a wing. The MVP award definitely helps, and it goes a long way towards his inclusion when a guy like Pierce is left off. He also just won his fourth scoring title in seven years as an NBA player. He joins Adrian Dantley as the only two players ever to average 30 plus points a game with a true shooting percentage of .630 or higher. He also just became one of three players to average 30 or more points, seven or more rebounds, five or more assists, and still shoot above 50 percent from the field. The other two guys are Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan. Durant just came off a historic season and will have a chance to really throw himself into the conversation if he can carry his regular season success deep into the playoffs.

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  • Edelrey Paraon

    Loo James is Great and im a James fan .. but at his state right now … James is no.3 and Dr J is no.2

  • Erkki Corpuz

    LeBron is better than Dr. J. Are you even old enough to have seen him play?

  • Edelrey Paraon

    yeah Lebron is “Better” but when it comes to Greatness i think Dr J has a slight edge.. you see Lebron aint finished yet he’s still cementing his legacy.. so your saying that LBJ right now is already greater than Dr J’s career ? so Lebron’s 10 year career already surpassed Dr J’s ? i dont think so … the present is what were talking about not the future .. but I think when its all set and done … LBJ is the Top SF to ever played this game

  • Erkki Corpuz

    So you never actually saw Dr. J play, right?

  • magicmike

    LeBron is #1 by a huge margin.

  • Jay

    Just by reading the article and the impact… why is Hondo (Havlicek) not number 1? Among all these SF’s, he is by far the most successful…. beating Kareem and Big O is already a big feat by itself… Bird is #2 and James and Dr J are #3 and #4

  • toooitchy

    You’ve obviously never seen Dr. J play, because LeBron has surpassed him, he surpassed him some years ago at this point.

  • kakapupu

    Scottie pippen over elgin baylor??? This list is bogus.

  • giankeys luvs shemale porn

    ever heard of connie Hawkins? and—- barry MUST be higher– I wonder where len bias would’ve been: his talent was on par with Jordan and was more advanced as a shooter coming out of college. im a celtic hater but bird BARELY ( at this point) over lebron

  • giankeys luvs shemale porn

    I watched that series and the refs let cowens get away with murder on Alcindor ( in boston games). Hondo was great!!

  • giankeys luvs shemale porn

    I did and Dr J was incredible but his game had flaws: outside shooting and his D was NOT as good as lebrons– A young connie Hawkins was as good as DR J

  • giankeys luvs shemale porn

    I did,,,,,,,,,,,,, and LeBron is more dominant. easily: and I LOVE DR J–

  • Sambibo9

    hell no, Scottie Pipen is at least nr. 2, and Larry Bird should go WAY DOWN the list. also, KD deserves a better spot. and of course LeBron is nr. 1, case closed

  • spirit_of_58

    I want this to be the greatest starting five in NBA history: Magic, Kareem, Bird, MJ & Duncan… but I can’t believe any more that Bird is greater than LBJ. If he brings a title to Cleveland he will be deserving of All Time Great status.

  • Daniel Johnson

    Nope.

  • Daniel Johnson

    You are wrong about every single thing you’ve said. What are you, 10 years old?

  • toooitchy

    yes, his career has surpassed J’s. J was amazingly influential, and changed the game forever, but there is a difference between what you think Dr. J was, and how good he actually was. Not to downplay Julius Irving at all, but LeBron is MUCH better than him.

  • Timmy Chong

    LOL Larry bird not the top SF of all time? Get the fuck out of here, This is coming from a fan that bleeds purple and gold.

    unless you are 10, then i apologize for my foul language, cuss words are bad!