We’ve gone through the best centers and power forwards in the NBA, so now it’s time for the best small forwards. These guys are mostly go-to scorers. Any assist-passes, rebounding and/or defense that they might contribute are highly-prized bonuses.
1. LEBRON JAMES
2. KEVIN DURANT
Scoring is his primary obligation, so it’s not really a problem that his pass-work is only so-so. However, disregard all those bogus numbers that are used to “prove” KD is an excellent defender. While he does have long arms and quick feet, the overriding truth is that his center of gravity is so high that smaller opponents can usually zip past him. Still, Durant is an incredibly dynamic, game-changing, point-maker.
3. KAWHI LEONARD
He’s absolutely, positively the best two-way player at this position. With his vastly improved shooting and the increased responsibility put on him to score, Leonard has also evolved into a big-time scorer. Plus, he’s the best small-forward defender in the known world, and a legitimate superstar.
4. CARMELO ANTHONY
Because Melo is a much more effective post-up scorer than either LBJ or KD, and has a better stroke than James, he’s the NBA’s most versatile scorer. On the negative side of the equation, he tends to avoid exerting himself on defense, which is somewhat understandable given his history of injuries and his age (32). Melo has also been justly accused of having sticky fingers when the ball is in his hands.
5. JIMMY BUTLER
If he does a little bit of everything, Butler’s specialty is scoring in one-on-one situations. Indeed, most of his assists result from drive-and-kick moves. Otherwise, his three-point shooting is sub-par, his defense is a sometimes thing and he (like Melo) has also been accused of being a ball hog.
6. CHANDLER PARSONS
This guy is smart, capable and versatile in every aspect of the game. His most glaring flaw, however, is his overweening arrogance. But as long as he fills the stat sheet and the Grizzlies make a serious run to challenge the Western Conference elite, then Parsons’ Rick Barry-like attitude will be perfectly acceptable.
7. PAUL GEORGE
He shoots, scores; makes a few appearances at the foul line; keeps on shooting and scoring; turns the ball over; more shots and more scores; is sometimes a liability on defense; but he won’t stop shooting and scoring.
8. EVAN TURNER
A tough dude who can defend and, even though his shooting is iffy, make big-time buckets in the clutch.
9. JOE JOHNSON
If he’s no longer the defensive stopper he used to be, JJ can still periodically carry an offense with his formidable iso game.
10. KENT BAZEMORE
He’s a dependable three-point shooter and defender, making Bazemore one of the NBA’s most underrated players.
DANILO GALLINARI, HARRISON BARNES, DEMARRE CARROLL, JAE CROWDER