If you want to win a championship the small forward position is the most important position to have. Just look at the last eight Finals MVPs. They have all been small forwards. Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant have won seven of the eight and those three players are in a battle for the best player in the league title right now. The Golden State Warriors were looking for a three-peat but their title hopes were stopped short when Durant was out for basically the whole series. If you are going to be relevant in the NBA you need a great wing player at the three. Here are the top five small forwards of all time.
Top Five Small Forwards of All Time
5. Elgin Baylor
If you know your NBA history Elgin Baylor was LeBron James before LeBron James. Baylor is one of the greatest Los Angeles Lakers players. He teamed up with Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West to create one of the earliest big threes in NBA history. In 1960-61 he played 73 games and averaged 34.8 points per game and 19.8 rebounds per game. In 1962-63 he played 80 games and averaged 34.0 points per game and 14.3 rebounds per game. He averaged a double-double for his career with 27.4 points per game and 13.5 rebounds per game. Mr. Inside was what his nickname suggested. He was great around the rim. Baylor could float the ball in anywhere around the hoop. Motormouth had the great transition game that all good small forwards have. As you can see by his great rebounding numbers, he was great at that too. Elg averaged double-digit rebounds in 11 of his 14 seasons played. Baylor was an 11-time All-Star, 10-time All-NBA, 1958-59 All-Star MVP, and 1958-59 Rookie of the Year.
4. Larry Bird
Larry Bird is probably the greatest shooter of all time. Stephen Curry has something to say about that nowadays though. He is also one of the greatest small forwards of all time. Bird famously won the three-point contest without taking off his warmup. He wasn’t the most athletic player but he was very creative with what he did have. He would dive for loose balls and pass the ball between the legs of defenders. Also, he shot over 40 percent from three six times in his 13-year career. Larry Legend achieved the 50-40-90 mark back to back years from 1986-87 to 1987-88. The 50-40-90 mark is when a player is able to shoot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from the three-point line and 90 percent from the free throw line. He was one of the best free throw shooters in NBA history. His lowest free throw percentage was when he shot 84 percent in 1982-83. Bird, is a three-time NBA champ, 12-time All-Star, 10-time All-NBA, three-time all-defensive team, three-time MVP, and two-time Finals MVP player. He also won the 1979-80 Rookie of the Year.
3. Scottie Pippen
Everybody always says that Michael Jordan didn’t win a ring until Scottie Pippen came on the team. He was Robin to Jordan’s Batman for six championships in the nineties. Pippen is one of the 50 greatest players of all time. That list was to celebrate the NBA’s 50th season. Pippen was a great defender and he could lock down the best wing player so Jordan could focus on offense even though Jordan was a great defender himself. Also, was also an exceptional highflyer just like Jordan. he probably has the most disrespectful dunk ever when he dunk on Patrick Ewing and pushed him to the floor to rub it in. He and Jordan used to light things up on the floor. They would play in transition with pinpoint efficiency and lock you up on defense too. Just like Larry Bird and Elgin Baylor, Pippen is in the Hall of Fame. He is a seven-time All-Star, 10-time All-Defensive team player, 1994-95 steals champ, seven-time All-NBA and 1994-95 All-Star MVP.
2. Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant was always a star player but just like LeBron James, he wasn’t able to get that elusive title. He changed that when he went to the Golden State Warriors and won two titles. Now Durant is one of the greatest small forwards of all time. Durant calls himself the easy money sniper and he is just that from anywhere on the court. He probably has the smoothest stroke in NBA history. The Slim Reaper can hit anywhere on the court. He has the best pull up jumper in the league and he can pull up from three and shoot it right in your face. KD is probably going to be the number one scorer of all-time in terms of total points. The injury he suffered may slow him down though. His third season in the league in 2009-10 he averaged 30.1 points per game. Also, has been one of the most consistent players in the league. For his career, he is averaging 27.0 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. The Durantuala is a four-time scoring champ, 10-time All-Star, two-time NBA champion, nine-time All-NBA, two-time All-Star MVP, two-time Finals MVP, 2013-14 MVP and 2007-08 Rookie of the Year.
1. LeBron James
Finally, number one. Arguably the greatest player ever is LeBron James. James is one of the most consistent players the NBA has ever seen. His all-around talent has seen no force that can match it. For his career, he is averaging 27.2 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game and 7.2 assists per game. On offense, he is known not for his ability to score but his ability to make everybody else better. He is a great team player and puts the goals of his team before his. His 2007 NBA Finals team with the Cleveland Cavaliers is probably one of the worst finals teams ever. You can throw the 2018 Finals team along with that. He has been able to do so much with so little because he knows how to bring the best out of players around him. King James is like a second coach that is out on the floor. He was almost the Finals MVP in 2015 when Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love went down even though his team lost. Then the next year he was able to beat a 73 win team in the Finals which is probably his greatest accomplishment. James has been able to conquer (his nickname is the little emperor) all of his obstacles and he is the greatest small forward of all time.
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