best small forwards in nba all time
Looking back at history, where do these guys actually rank among the greatest players at their position? And in only his third season, LeBron finished second in the NBA MVP voting ballots by leading Cleveland to a 50-32 record which was good for the Eastern Conference fourth seed. Havlicek stole the ball! With that being the case, we’re going to look at the top 10 small forwards ever. In transition, Hondo was a supremely conditioned athlete who thrived in a fast break system for uncontested layups and dunks. Despite not making the top 25 scoring list, Baylor would be on the list if the three-point shot had been counted during his playing career. He also maximized his opportunities at the free throw line, shooting at an 89.3% clip with his famous underhanded “grandma” shot. A four-time All Star and two-time All-NBA selection, Shawn Marion was one of the more unique offensive players, mainly because of his jump shot. As a passer, Bird would play the angles to feed the likes Kevin McHale and Robert Parish for pretty dunks and scoop shots beneath the basket. With a few years left in his tank, Durant can still build on his impressive resume. After bouncing around the league in the twilight of his career, Pierce retired after the 2017 season. Along with LeBron James, Durant is the only active player to make the top 10 on this list. He continued to be a mainstay in the All NBA team while serving as an elite second option. Opposing teams paid tribute to Erving similar to how modern fans did it with Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade. Without further ado, here are the five best defensive small forwards in NBA history. Hagan carved out a Hall of Fame career for the St. Louis Hawks and Dallas Chaparrals during 13 seasons. 4. In addition to his playoff heroics, Pierce won a championship with the Boston Celtics and ended his career number 15 on the all-time scoring list. In the 1985 and 1988 slam dunk contests, Nique split two toe-to-toe heavyweight bouts with Michael Jordan off foul-line dunks, 360 spins, and off-the-backboard jams. In his 14-year career, King posted averages of 22.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Furthermore, because some halls had low ceilings, Arizin was forced to develop his “line drive” shots which became part of his deadly offensive arsenal in the NBA. From 2004-2011, Wallace averaged double-digit points every season, including a career-high 19.4 per game in 2007. In his 12 year career, KD has averaged over 25 points per game eleven times and is one of only seven players to be part of the 50-40-90 club. In 1981, Dr. J became the first and only ABA MVP to also win the NBA MVP. Behind his deadly jump shot, deceptively fast dribble drive, and automatic underhanded free throw shooting, Barry could take over games and score in bunches at any moment. Subpar seasons in the NBA, McGrady would join the Orlando Magic, where he went on to average better than 25 points per game for four straight seasons. A continuation of the series, this list focuses specifically the best defensive on small forwards. On top of that, he has made it to the NBA Finals in nine out of those thirteen seasons, even making eight straight NBA Finals trips from 2011 to 2018. All of this allowed Pippen to consistently contribute to winning proven by his sixteen post season appearances and six rings. NBA fans of today may less understand T-Mac’s greatness, but McGrady was one of the best players in his prime before being hobbled by injuries that would prevent him from sustaining his massive potential. Throughout his career, Pierce utilized his craftiness and footwork to score over faster and stronger defenders as evidenced by his 26,397 career points (16th all time). Horry was never a volume scorer, but his presence inside the locker room and ability to hit timely shots, especially in the playoffs, earns him a spot on my top 50. In his career, Dantley averaged 8.7 free throw attempts per game, tenth best in the all time NBA leader board. When crowded, Dantley would put the ball on the floor with an explosive first step for easy lay-ins at the goal. No portion of NBA.com may be duplicated, redistributed or manipulated in any form. In his three championships, Bird was awarded MVP of the Finals twice and is one of only four players to have won the award more than once. As a result, Baylor only played in 48 games that season. As a shooter, Larry Bird could light it up from all spots on the floor. Poetry in motion, we can all picture the Great Doctor and his well-coiffed ‘fro taking flight from the foul line, wrapping around the basket support to finger roll, or skying from the wing to swoop in for the cradle dunk in transition. His defensive prowess allowed him to rack up 67.29 DWS, good for 18th overall. The following season, Johnson made the All-Star game and led the league in minutes per game. A big reason for this was his uncanny ability to draw fouls. In his impressive career, McGrady made 7 All-Star appearances and was selected to the All-NBA team seven times. His career averages include 22.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. However, the Celtics were simply too strong with their superior team play. And in Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals versus the Phoenix Suns, Havlicek sank a miraculous, game-saving basket in the second overtime period. His leadership pushed Boston to claim the title against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in six games, with Pierce bagging the Finals MVP award behind averages of 21.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.2 steals, and 0.3 blocks. Pierce was brilliant in the playoffs which included a 41 point performance in Game 7 of the second round against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Like Julius Erving, Dominique Wilkins may be more known for his ferocious dunks than his basketball skills. As a winner, Havlicek bridged the gap between the likes of Bill Russell, Sam Jones, Dave Cowens, and Charlie Scott to bring home eight championships to the city of Boston between 1963 and 1976. In the Finals, Pierce continued his brilliant play despite getting an injury scare in Game 1. Over the course of 12 seasons, Worthy’s dynamic talents translated into 17.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, and three assists per game to go alongside his seven All-Star Game appearances. During his career, he achieved several milestones. In his second season, Arizin was already considered a bonafide star. With the score tied at 89 with 1:51 left, Iguodala had an open lane in the fast break when LeBron came out of nowhere to block his layup. Whether it was a point guard or a power forward, chances are, Pippen defended them and more often than not, shut them down. The 1990-1991 season was a breakout year for Pippen where he emerged as a bonafide star and a reliable second option for the Bulls while continuing to contribute in all aspects of the game. A multidimensional, do it all forward, Pippen’s greatest assets were his vision as a play maker and his elite ability to lock down anyone on defense. Carter recently announced his retirement this past week in June 2020. New NBA Coaching Hire: Is Billy Donavan the Spark the Bulls need? His stellar play earned him an All-Star selection in 1992, and his jersey still hangs in the rafters at TD Garden today. For this reason, Pippen lands at number six in our list. He averaged a career-high 28.9 points and 27.5 points in those two seasons. For his career, Wilkins averaged more than 25 points per game in ten consecutive seasons from 1984 to 1994. Bird’s greatness on the basketball court far exceeds his scoring ability, as Bird also holds averages of 10 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game. In the following seasons, Havlicek continued to come off the bench even though he was one of the cornerstones of the franchise. Lewis was also an exceptional shooter from three-point range and finished his career with a 38.6 percent mark behind the arc. One thing I learned from Red Auerbach was that its not who starts the game, but who finishes it, and I generally was around at the finish.”. He also broke a long standing record by Larry Bird after his 27 point, 14 rebound, 14 assist game in 2013 against the Nuggets made him the oldest player to notch such numbers. Baylor remained one of his generation’s best scorers and was one of the best in the NBA before the three-point shot was introduced. Dr. J remains one of the most exciting high-flyers in NBA history. Beyond nuts-and-bolts execution, the ideal small forward is an electric athlete who fires up the home crowd with up-and-under moves, crossover dribbles off the triple threat, and windmill slams on the fast break.
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