It’s never easy ranking players, but the top five small forwards listed below are legit. Of course not everyone will be pleased, but at the end of the day it’s hard to argue against these players being in the top five for the small forward position. Let’s get to it…
#5 Paul George
Paul George is a putting up respectable numbers (20.3 PTS, 3.3 AST, 5.6 RB) on a lost Oklahoma City Thunder team. At only 27 years old, he’s just entering his prime. He bounced back from the devastating leg injury he suffered at a USA basketball scrimmage in 2014. When the ball is in his hands, players respect him. He has a player option and can become a free agent next season. If George does decline his player option, teams that have the cap space will do everything possible to persuade him to join them this upcoming summer. He’s a talent that any team would love to have.
#4 Kawhi Leonard
Based off of his past few seasons in the league, Kawhi Leonard has proven to be an excellent two-way player. Two defensive player of the year awards proves Leonard’s lock down defense is nothing to sneeze at. “The Claw” has been recovering from an ankle injury he suffered in the Western Conference Finals, but he just recently made his season debut against the Dallas Mavericks. Give the 26 year-old some time and he will be back to himself in no time.
#3 Giannis Antetokounmpo
Only 23 years old and Giannis Antetokounmpo (29.9 PPG, 10.3 RB, 4.5 AST) is considered a top-tier small forward in the NBA. He can race down the court with his long strides and convert at a high rate with his length. If he eventually builds his three point game to the point where players have to close in on him, he will really become an elite player even more-so. Keep an eye on “The Greek Freak” as the years go on.
#2 Kevin Durant
A 6’11” finesse player who can shoot the lights out from any spot on the court. Kevin Durant (26.1 PTS, 7.0 RB, 5.3 AST) is a problem for any defender. With his long arms it’s hard to get him to re-adjust or even make his shot uncomfortable. Also, if he gets that long first step on you when driving to the basketball, it usually results in a dunk or layup. Durant deals with a lot of scrutiny for joining the Warriors in 2016. However, he’s an incredible talent to say the least, and that should forever be recognized.
#1 LeBron James
LeBron James (28.1 PTS, 8.3 RB, 9.1 AST) has arguably been the best player for the last decade. Entering his fifteenth season with 4 MVP’s and 3 championship rings, James refuses to slow down. He literally has gotten better statistically in almost every category. He is a once in a generation type player. James has a gift to see the floor better than anyone in the game which contributes to his incredible playmaking ability. The fact he can score essentially with ease just adds to the struggle for opposing teams. What also sets him apart from these other four players, as well as the rest of the league is his athleticism. Some of you may think Russell Westbrook is faster or even Zach LaVine can jump higher. Maybe that’s true, but neither of them are 260 pounds and 6’8″. James will forever have haters, especially since he challenges Michael Jordan for the “GOAT” conversation. My only advice, love him or hate him, don’t take LeBron James for granted.
By: JR DePierro
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Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com
Pictures courtesy of Sports Illustrated, USA Today, The Source, SF Gate, NBA.com