Allow me to begin by saying that the small forward position has always been played in a variety of ways. Havlicek and Barry shot sweet as sugar, Dr. J and 'Nique took to the skies, and Bird retains the top spot with his combination of stroke and size.
Then came your Pippens, your Hills, your Piereces, playing their sick all-around games. Now a new strain has emerged.
Long have I struggled to come up with a suitable moniker for the type of player I'm about to describe. They're athletic even more-so than their predecessors, but "hero" is kind of overdone; they absolutely stuff every corner of the stat sheet, but "stud" just isn't descriptive enough.
No, I need something more outlandish, suitable for the way these guys make jaws all over the world drop. How about the "Supa Flys?" Yeah, and it can be abbreviated "SF" to make things simple...
I guess I'll just settle for what first ran through my mind: an amalgam of the colloquial term "three" and an honest description of what these men are, "freaks."
This slide-show (or is that sideshow?) puts on display this emergent breed of what I will call "threaks." They are not only the do-alls and be-alls of the court, but they are easily the most electric bunch in today's L. They block shots despite relatively small size, the hound the ball as though they've got a bit of Gary Payton in them, and they out-rebound the giants, all from the spot traditionally labeled "small forward."
Here you will not find those with silky Js, like Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, or Luol Deng. Neither are all-purpose scorers like Richard Jefferson, Stephen Jackson, or Carmelo Anthony present.
No, this is the place for the guys who, when they were drafted, were said to be able to "jump out of the gym." Perhaps when they came into the pros their actual basketball fundamentals were still a bit raw, but now they are approaching the game like MMA fighters: They're capable of getting any job done with their unique set.
I think exactly what I mean will become more clear as you move on down the list. And so, in no particular order, here are these marvels of nature.