LeBron James, Kevin Durant and the 10 Best Small Forwards in the NBA

Casey Womack@caseywomackCorrespondent INovember 16, 2010

LeBron James, Kevin Durant and the 10 Best Small Forwards in the NBA

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    With the 2010-2011 NBA season under way, it's time to get some ranking lists going.  

    The small forward position has become one of the biggest star-producing positions in the league.  Today, many of the elite players in the league are at the three. 

    LeBron James and Kevin Durant are in the upper tier at the position, and in the league.

    The topic of who has the upper hand between Durant and Carmelo Anthony will cause some debate. 

    Also, some might be surprised at Danny Granger's position. 

    Oh, just to warn you, Josh Smith isn't including in this list because he's technically a power forward.

    Let the discussion begin.

10. Caron Butler

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    Team: Dallas Mavericks

    The crafty vet still has a lot of skill left in him as one of the stand out players with the Mavericks.  He's always had a solid inside-out game. 

    His three point shooting has slowly dropped a bit, but still has kept a decent percentage. 

    Butler has always had solid defensive skills, using his athleticism to cover most small forwards in the league.

9. Trevor Ariza

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    Team: New Orleans Hornets

    One of the most athletic small forwards, Trevor Ariza has become lock down this season on defense. 

    His trey ball is actually underrated, and this could be the last year when he's just an average shooter—if he stays healthy. 

    This off-season when he actually stays with a team and knows the offense, he'll be able to relax and work on the basics.

    He lost some of his scoring numbers from a hip injury but is steadily starting to gain his stroke back. 

    He's relying mostly on his athleticism and defensive ability to keep him in the top 10.

8. Rudy Gay

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    Team: Memphis Grizzlies

    As one of the league's most electrifying players, Rudy Gay was a easy-in for this list.

    One of the best all around players and still a lot of room to grow.  At 23, Rudy Gay will surely be one of the elite in the next few years, as soon as he becomes more consistent with his mid-range and doesn't get frustrated when he misses a few in a row.

    Also, he's not too bad at dunking the ball either.

6. Andre Iguodala

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    Team: Philadelphia 76ers

    Speaking of dunking, this guy is arguably the best in the league. 

    How fun would it be to see him, Russell Westbrook, Rudy Gay and Dwight Howard go at it?

    It's hard to see how good he can be because of the talent around him, but he's one of the best small forwards with his strength and athleticism.

    If Evan Turner can turn into the player that he is capable of, it would help Iguodala relieve pressure.

6. Danny Granger

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    Team: Indiana Pacers

    As one of the league's best three point shooters, Danny Granger easily gets in the top 10.

    Granger is the star of the Pacers and has one of the best strokes in the league.  He has a lot of upside in him and is one of the best scorers. 

    Granger as a whole is still underrated, in my opinion.

5. Paul Pierce

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    Team: Boston Celtics

    One of the most popular players in the NBA, Paul Pierce makes the top five.

    He has proved people wrong his entire career and is one of the league's best all around players. 

    His championship and team mentality get him in the top five.  His kick while he shoots doesn't hurt.

    His defense is underrated and his leadership can't be overlooked.

    He'll be leading his team to the Eastern Conference finals again this year.

4. Gerald Wallace

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    Team: Charlotte Bobcats

    It's hard to believe Gerald Wallace has almost been in the league 10 years already.  He's one of the premier players.

    He's been dominating other squads on the defensive end.  Whether it's stealing the ball, blocking shots, or doing all the above and starting a nice break in transition. 

    He's a monster at getting to the rim and throwing it down for all 30 people in attendance in Charlotte to see.  Kidding.  The Bobcats are one of my favorite teams and it's because of Wallace.

    Wallace and Stephen Jackson will get the Bobcats in the playoffs with their abilities.  Although, that's if the Bobcats don't trade Jackson first.

3. Carmelo Anthony

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    Team: Denver Nuggets

    Carmelo is the third on my list because of his team's performance.  Also, he's no longer the number one guy in the league who can score the easiest.

    He's clearly one of the most physically dominant forces in the game.  Ever since the middle of last year, he's played with a new level of aggressiveness that's really taken him to the next level. 

    Plus, it's no question that 'Melo is a match-up nightmare for just about anybody.  Although, Carmelo is known to get a little frustrated when he goes up against elite defenders like Ron Artest.

    Still, 'Melo is one of the best in the league regardless of position and I hope he stays in Denver.

2. Kevin Durant

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    Team: Oklahoma City Thunder

    Kevin Durant's recent improvement on the defensive end bumped him up to number two.

    His mid-range jump-shot has become fantastic, especially right at the corner of the free throw line.  Plus, even though it may not look like it, he's improved his strength a lot.  He's been a lot more aggressive and has been able to post up players.

    He's the number one player in the league who can score the easiest. 

    He took the crown from Carmelo Anthony right around the playoffs last year.

1. LeBron James

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    Team: Miami Heat

    No surprise. 

    He's a rare physical specimen and takes games over by himself. 

    His unbelievable skill set of size, speed, and strength all make LeBron the best player in the world, in my opinion. 

    He's a monster at driving to the basket.  Plus, once he gets to full speed you probably won't see anyone get in front of him trying to take charge.

    Although, his jump-shot is pretty inconsistent. 

    Boston did an excellent job at not letting anyone get to the basket, forcing LeBron to shoot.  Still, he'll play make plays on the defensive side and uses his amazing court vision to keep his team in the game.

    Him and Dwayne Wade will carry this team into the Eastern Conference finals.

    I'm sorry Cleveland.