The stretch forward position isn't as much a novelty in the NBA as it is a necessity in today's league in order to form a winning team.
Gone are rugged centers that clogged the paint every possession in a grind-it-out game. Granted, there are still true centers like Andrew Bynum, Tim Duncan and to an extent, Dwight Howard. But teams now are working to space the floor and up the tempo in order to get open shots from three and create more lanes for players to slash through.
This list aims to categorize the top seven forwards in the league that can simultaneously shoot the ball while also pulling the opposing team's center or power forward away from the basket.
Most would connote that a stretch forward is a small forward trapped in a power forward's body, but there are other types as well. A big man that shoots well from mid-range and able to hit the occasional three also bodes well as a stretch player off the pick-and-pop or pick-and-roll off another player.
Because of that, the rankings left out players who play primarily with their backs to the basket like LaMarcus Aldridge,Pau Gasol and Carmelo Anthony, who functions better for his team as a power forward but is built like a small forward.
LeBron James didn't make the cut, and while he is the superior player to all of the listed, he isn't nearly the same deep threat.
This list gauges the quality of players who can shoot coming off pin downs or screens or act as the kickout option and safety valve on a pick-and-roll or baseline drive. We are looking strictly at the ability of the player on offense so defensive ability is marginalized to an extent.
Let's take a look.