Ranking The Greatest Small Forwards in NBA History
Welcome back to the "Greatest Ever" series as we continue with a list featuring the top Small Forwards of all time
These players are the most versatile because they do a little bit of everything that your team needs from scoring to defending
The first great small forward was Paul Arizin who first made an impact, then the likes of Baylor, Hondo, Erving, Bird, Pippen, and James continued their domination in their franchises
Some of these players are regarded and debated as some of the 10 biggest legends that the NBA has seen and some are considered as Greatest Of All Time...
Here are the best Small Forwards in NBA History !!
10. James Worthy
Regarded as one of the game's best finishers and greatest small forwards of all time, James Worthy was a legend
Worthy had an amazing skill set. He was known for his one handed swoops at the rim, speed,dunks and clutch factor especially during the post season. He was good in areas as rebounding, defense and versatility
He was drafted No. 1 in 1982 after winning the Final Four Most Outstanding Player award and the NCAA Title.
However, he played his best in the postseason where in the 1988 Finals in Game 7, he recorded his career performance with a stunning triple double against the Detroit Pistons with 36 points,16 rebounds and 10 assists!
He earned the Finals MVP honors and the nickname "Big Game" because he always delivered in the clutch!
He has tailed 16,320 points(17,6),4,708 rebounds(5,1) and dished out 2,791 assists(3,0).
His resume: Basketball Hall of Fame (2003); NBA champion (1985, '87, '88); NBA Finals MVP (1988); All-NBA Third Team (1990, '91); All-Rookie Team (1983); Seven-time NBA All-Star (1986-92); One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).
9. Adrian Dantley
One of the most prolific players and biggest offensive forces in NBA History, Adrian Dantley ranks among the top small forwards
Dantley was a strong presence on the court. He was a smooth shooter from outside, explosive on the drive with an amazing,quick first step. He was terrific at rebounding
His field goal percentage (54,0) is the league's best for any non big man. He also led the NBA twice in scoring (30,7 and 30,6) and in total points too (2452,2418) and had four straight seasons averaging at least 30 per game
He played in one Finals with the Detroit Pistons against the Los Angeles Lakers in 1988 but his team fell in seven games so he didn't capture a title
He has tailed 23,177 points(24,3),grabbing 5,455 rebounds(5,7),dishing out 2,830 assists(3,0).
Honors: All-NBA Second Team (1981, '84); NBA Rookie of the Year (1977); Comeback Player of the Year (1984); Six-time NBA All-Star (1980, '81, '82, '84, '85, '86); Olympic gold medalist (1976).
8. LeBron James
One of the best active players in the NBA as of now, LeBron James is now more hated then loved.
He's one of the most athletic players in the history of the game. He has a body of a power forward, speed of a point guard and skills of a point forward which makes him a serious match up problem
He's one of the biggest triple double threats of all time who has so far recorded 28 triple doubles in the regular season and four triple doubles in the postseason.
Hopefully Pat Riley will recognize the fact that he could use his skills and athleticism in the post to develop a nice post game and be a mismatch in
dozens of ways.
So far in his career he has averaged 15,251 points (27,8), dished out 3,810 assists (7,0) and grabbed 3,861 rebounds and has achieved:
Career highlights and awards
* 2× NBA Most Valuable Player (2009–2010)
* NBA Rookie of the Year (2004)
* 6× NBA All-Star (2005–2010)
* NBA Scoring Champion (2008)
* 4× All-NBA First Team (2006, 2008–2010)
* 2× All-NBA Second Team (2005, 2007)
* 2× All-Defensive First Team (2009–2010)
* NBA All-Rookie First Team (2004)
* 2× NBA All-Star Game MVP (2006, 2008)
* Naismith Prep Player of the Year (2003)
James has decided to join the Heat and is now perhaps the most hated player in the NBA.
Anyways, when it's all said and done with his basketball career, he will be at or at the near top of the list and will be regarded as one of the greatest of all time!
7. Dominique Wilkins
One of the best dunkers of all time,Dominique Wilkins was regarded as one of the greatest small forwards in the NBA History
He wasn't called "Human Highlight Film" for nothing. In the mid 80's he was spectacular scorer, powerful finisher at the rim with nice all around game
who made was one of the most exciting ever.
For his ability to throw it down in style (just like in the picture), he participated in five Slam Dunk Competitions, earning two Dunk Titles and his match up with Jordan was interesting to watch.
He has recorded 26,668 points (24.8),grabbed 7,169 rebounds (6.7) and dished out 2,667 assists (2,5).His resume
Honors: Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2006); All-NBA First Team (1986); All-NBA Second Team (1987, '88, '91, '93); All-NBA Third Team (1989, '94); All-NBA Rookie Team (1983); Nine-time NBA All-Star (1986-94); Slam Dunk champ (1985, '90).
6. Rick Barry
One of the most prolific players and biggest offensive forces, regarded as the most purest small forward, Rick Barry ranks among the all time greats.
He's the only player ever to lead the NBA, NCAA and ABA in scoring. Aside of his ability to score, in his skill set he was pure shooter, he could get to the line and was nice defender thanks to his IQ.
Props to Barry for leading the Golden State Warriors to a championship against the highly competitive teams of the 70's without any Hall Of Fame caliber player along side him.
He led the NBA in dozens of categories such as: scoring (35,6), steals(2,9), free throw percentage (88.8, 90.2 , 92.4 , 94,7 and 93,5).
He will be forever remembered for his way of shooting free throws where he has the second best percentage of all time.
He has recorded 18,395 points (23.2),dished out 4,017 assists (5,1) and grabbed 5,168 rebounds (6,5). These are his NBA stats only. He has scored 25 000 points in his entire NBA/ABA career.
Honors: Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1987); NBA champion (1975); NBA Finals MVP (1975); All-NBA First Team (1966, '67, '74, '75, '76); All-NBA Second Team (1973); Rookie of the Year (1966); Eight-time NBA All-Star; All-Star MVP (1967); One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).
ABA Honors: ABA champion (1969); All-ABA First Team (1969, '70, '71, '72); Four-time ABA All-Star.
5. Scottie Pippen
One of the league's greatest defenders, top forwards, and overall best players of all time, Scottie Pippen ranks among the near top.
He's the most versatile defender in the history of the NBA who could defend anything from a PG-PF thanks to his footwork and hands. He was also great play maker and a good scorer.
He teamed up with Michael Jordan and formed one of the most powerful duos on both ends of the court and helped the Chicago Bulls win six championship rings
The Bulls never needed a point guard because Pippen was their play maker and distributed it to everyone. He and Grant Hill revolutionized the "point forward" spot and made it easy for the likes of LeBron, Odom, Hedo and so on.
He has recorded 18,940 points(16,1), grabbed 7,494 rebounds and dished out 6,135 assists (5,2). He's also top 5 in total steals (2,307) and holds records for most steals and assists for any forward during the playoffs.
Did I forgot to mention the fact that he's the all time leader in steals during the post season? I have...
Honors: Six-time NBA champion (1991-93, 1996-98); Three-time All-NBA First Team (1994-96); All-NBA Second Team (1992, 1997); Eight-time All-Defensive First Team (1992-99); 1994 NBA All-Star MVP; Seven-time All-Star (1990, '92-97); One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996); Two-time Olympic gold medalist (1992, '96).
One of the most finest all around small forwards, John Havlicek is one of the best players in the league's history.
He was a terrific offensive player, a smart defender who was excellent at handling the ball and a great decision maker. He started from as a sixth man but was even more productive as a starter.
His versatility made him the finest all around player according to Sports Illustrated. He and Russell formed one of the best duos of all time in the 60's when they won lots of championship rings.
Of course, in the later part of his career, Havlicek led the youthful 70's Celtics team to another success! He was known for his clutch performances in big games and no one in the history of the NBA made better baseline plays then the almost tireless Hondo.
In 1,270 regular-season games he scored 26,395 points and averaged 20.8 points to rank as the Celtics' all-time leading scorer and top scorer in NBA history. He also grabbed 8,007 rebounds, recorded 6,114 assists, and played on eight Boston championship teams
He appeared in 13 consecutive NBA All-Star Games, earned 11 selections to the All-NBA First or Second Team and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First or Second Team eight times.
Honors: Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1984); NBA champion (1963, '64, '65, '66, '68, '69, '74, '76); NBA Finals MVP (1974); All-NBA First Team (1971-74); All-NBA Second Team (1964, '66, '68, '69, '70, '75, '76); All-Defensive First Team (1972-76); All-Defensive Second Team (1969-71); 13-time All-Star; One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).
3. Julius Erving
One of the greatest small forwards and players in NBA History, Julius Erving was a brilliant ambassador of basketball.
He was a wizard and did moves that no one else has ever seen before and ranks at the near top of all time. He was given the nicknames: The Doctor and Dr J.
Erving was the league's most fantastic finisher at the rim and was excellent in other areas such as rebounding, defense etc. He had big hands which made his dunk attempts nearly impossible to block.
He was also the first one to ever dunk from the free throw line and won the first Dunk Contest that was held by the ABA. He made an impact and made the NBA popular.
He recorded 18,364 points (22,0), grabbed 5,601 rebounds (6,7) and dished out 3,224 assists(3,9).
Honors: Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1993); NBA champion (1983); NBA MVP (1981); All-NBA First Team (1978, '80, '81, '82, '83); All-NBA Second Team (1977, '84); 11-time All-Star (1977-87); All-Star MVP (1977, '83); J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award (1983); One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).
2. Elgin Baylor
Widely regarded as one of the greatest small forwards and best players in the NBA History, Elgin Baylor is a legend and was the first one to score in some tough ways.
He had dozens of ways to score and shoot near the basket, had incredible strength and was capable of posting up like Bill Russell, pass like Magic Johnson and dribble with the best point guards in the league.
To add to that, he was a fantastic defender. That was Baylor's playing style that made him one of the most dominate ever.
He averaged fantastic 27.4 points per game in his career, had near 30 points and 17 rebounds in his first 7 years and fantastic career averages to prove how great he was.
But in his career, he didn't have a title so that's the biggest reason why he's often left out of the discussion of the best players of all time.
His impact on the Lakers was memorable and any true fan of this legendary franchise should show respect. When healthy, he led his team in rebounding and scoring!
Elgin was also known for posting 61 points and 22 rebounds in a NBA Finals game which is an all time great performance!
He recorded 23,149 points (27,4), grabbed 11,463 rebounds (13,5) and dished out 3,650 assists (4,3).
Here are his accomplishments:
Honors: Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1977); All-NBA First Team (1959, '60, '61, '62, '63, '64, '65, '67, '68, '69); Rookie of the Year (1959); 11-time NBA All-Star; All-Star co-MVP (1959)
1. Larry Bird
Regarded as one of the best players in the NBA History, Larry Bird could be argued as the Greatest Of All Time too.
He has the highest basketball IQ and is the biggest trash talker, greatest sharp shooter and one of the most complete players of all time who used his brain to be a force in rebounding, passing, defense etc.
He's the best clutch performer in the league's history thanks to his triple double performances in the years when he won his only 3 titles with the Boston Celtics, where he's one of the biggest legends ever.
He made his teammates better and is arguable the most fearless shooter in the playoffs, especially during the last seconds of the game. He has proven that against classy defensive teams.
He has tailed 21,791 points (24.3),grabbed 8,974 rebounds (10.0) and dished out 5,695 assists (6.3).
Honors: Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1998); NBA champion (1981, '84, '86); NBA Finals MVP (1984, '86); NBA MVP (1984, '85, '86); Nine-time All-NBA First Team (1980-88); All-NBA Second Team (1990); All-Defensive Second Team (1982, '83, '84); NBA Rookie of the Year (1980); One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996); Olympic gold medalist (1992).
He might be the most unique player of all time...