Ranking the NBA's Top 5 Small Forwards of 2013-14 Season
The star-studded small forward spot features the top two players in the league and another top-10 player. These rankings won't offer many surprises. However, we can take the opportunity to appreciate greatness.
Let's take a look at the top five shooting guards of the upcoming 2013-14 season.
5. Paul Pierce (Brooklyn Nets)
The Celtic legend will be donning black and white in 2013-14.
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2012-13 Reg. Season Stats: 18.6 PPG, 4.8 APG, 6.3 RPG, 19.14 PER
Paul Pierce will be 36 years old by the start of the 2013-14 season, but he can still play the game at a high level.
Pierce's style has never been reliant on athleticism, so he has been able to age gracefully in the game. He uses an array of head/pump fakes and the step-back to create space between he and the defender.
When Rajon Rondo went down with a torn ACL last season, Pierce took on more playmaking responsibility for the Boston Celtics, recording a couple of triple-doubles along the way.
Playing alongside Deron Williams and Brook Lopez on the Brooklyn Nets should take a lot of pressure off Pierce, allowing him more freedom to do what he's been doing for the past 15 seasons in the league.
4. Paul George (Indiana Pacers)
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2012-13 Reg. Season Stats: 17.4 PPG, 4.1 APG, 7.6 RPG, 16.84 PER
The maturation process of Paul George accelerated in 2012-13, particularly in the playoffs. Simply put, George became a star for the Indiana Pacers. He did a bit of everything in the postseason, averaging 19.2 points, 5.1 assists and 7.4 rebounds.
George has the trust of the organization and his teammates, and he will come into this season with great confidence. Expect him to build on a great 2012-13 and make a big leap.
3. Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
2012-13 Reg. Season Stats: 28.7 PPG, 2.6 APG, 6.9 RPG, 24.83 PER
Carmelo Anthony is one of the three best scorers in the NBA. His toughness and versatility in scoring the basketball is unmatched. Anthony's 28.7 points per game were enough to win him the scoring title.
The New York Knicks struggled to score the basketball, leaving the bulk of the scoring load on the shoulders of No. 7. He routinely poured in the buckets and showed up in big moments. If you looked close enough, you may have also noticed a slight improvement in Anthony's defense.
Expect "Melo" to turn out a season similar to his output in 2012-13—good enough to hang on to his top-three ranking.
2. Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
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2012-13 Reg. Season Stats: 28.1 PPG, 4.6 APG, 7.9 RPG, 28.35 PER
Unfortunately for Kevin Durant, he plays the same position as LeBron James. Durant was uber-efficient for the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012-13, joining the 50-40-90 club. That's an amazing feat for a player with so much offensive responsibility.
Durant also made some strides in terms of passing, upping his average by one over the 2011-2012 season. With Russell Westbrook going down during the postseason, he dished out 6.3 assists.
Durant won't surpass LeBron as the top player in the league, but he will continue to firmly lock down the No. 2 spot.
1. LeBron James (Miami Heat)
LeBron James is hoping to mimic the success of 2012-13.
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2012-13 Reg. Season Stats: 26.8 PPG, 7.3 APG, 8.0 RPG, 31.67 PER
It's no surprise that the best player on the planet lands No. 1 on this list. LeBron James has utterly dominated the basketball world over the last two seasons, nabbing back-to-back MVP awards for both the regular season and NBA Finals.
While the league features a few do-it-all competitors, no other player scores, rebounds, passes and defends on the level of LeBron.
The really scary thing is that LeBron can still improve. He's been working on improving his post game this summer. If he masters that, another MVP/Finals MVP season for the Miami Heat star may not be out of the realm of possibility.