LeBron James is the best player in the NBA, but is he even the most dynamic offensive player at his position? Can Kevin Durant or Carmelo Anthony supplant him at the top of the small forward rankings?
What about the young studs like Paul George, Nicolas Batum and Danilo Gallinari? How far have the veterans like Paul Pierce and Vince Carter fallen, if at all?
These are just some of the many questions that total offense created (TOC) will help answer. This stat, developed by fellow Featured Columnist Kelly Scaletta and myself, measures how offensively dynamic each of these players has been during the 2012-13 season.
There are plenty of other offensive metrics, but they all have various biases and fail to account for at least some aspect of a player's performance. This one doesn't.
When you're reading this article—which begins with a two-slide explanation of total offense created that I would highly encourage you to go over carefully—keep in mind what the intention is here. We're measuring how dynamic a player is on offense.
This is not an overall ranking of small forwards. Defense is not accounted for in any way.
Instead, we're essentially looking at how effective players are at creating offense. This is about how offense is initiated, not finished. Here's where I get to turn to Kelly's cannonball metaphor:
To launch a cannonball you need to light the gunpowder, which creates an explosion and propels the cannonball forward. The cannonball then hits whatever you're aiming for and does damage.
On the one hand, the cannonball does the damage, but on the other hand, the force of it is generated by the explosion which propelled it. That's the "dynamic."
We're not denying the importance of the cannonball here by any stretch. Without the cannonball, the explosion is useless.
Some players are more "explosion" and some are more "cannonball." We're measuring the explosions here.
So, looking at passing, scoring and a number of other factors, which small forwards produce the biggest explosions?
A total of 47 have both played in at least 20 games this season and averaged at least 20 minutes per game.
Of those, 45 are ranked here. I couldn't include Tayshaun Prince or Rudy Gay because they've spent time on two teams, and I have no way to properly mesh their performances together. Unfortunately, they'll remain shrouded in mystery.
Note: All stats are current through Saturday, March 16 and come from the various pages of Hoopdata.com, NBA.com's stat resources and Basketball-Reference.com. You can find the point guard rankings, as well as the original version of this introduction, here. The shooting guard rankings can be found through this link.