NBA Free Agents 2011: Teams in Need of an Upgrade at Small Forward

Kelly Scaletta@@KellyScalettaFeatured ColumnistDecember 1, 2011

NBA Free Agents 2011: Teams in Need of an Upgrade at Small Forward

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    The small forward is an instrumental part of the NBA lineup. He is normally the most versatile player on the team, with the ability to move with or without the ball, rebound, pass and handle the ball. He needs height and strength.

    He is the one player on the team that is most required to be well-rounded and at least good at everything. 

    Many of the top players in the NBA right now are small forwards: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Andre Iguodala to name a few.  

    There are some teams that are deficient in this area. There is also a number of very good small forwards that are available either through free agency or through trade.

    Some of these players include Iguodala, Andrei Kirilenko and Caron Butler. These five teams would find it in their best interest to land one of those players.  

New Orleans Hornets

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    Last year, Trevor Ariza averaged just 11.0 points, 2.2 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game.

    The Hornets were 22nd in the NBA in net production from the small forward position and they didn't do anything to help themselves there in the draft. 

    On top of that, they might not have Chris Paul this year to make players look better than they actually are.

    The Hornets are going to be in dire need of a playmaker from the 3, and Ariza is not it. 

Los Angeles Lakers

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    The basketball player formerly known as Ron Artest, Metta World Peace was unproductive last year, and that's the generous way of putting it.

    World Peace just scored just 8.5 points and had only 2.1 assists per game last year. While he's still an elite defender, he just isn't productive enough to warrant his spot. 

    He's been rumored to be an amnesty candidate for the Lakers and they should be able to find someone that can do more than he did.

    As Kobe Bryant gets older, it becomes more important for the Lakers to have someone who can take some of the offensive pressure of him. 

Toronto Raptors

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    Quick! Raise your hand if you know the starting small forward for the Toronto Raptors.

    If you answered Linas Kleiza you are correct. Now, to be fair, it's hard to say exactly who it is because the Raptors were swapping starters at the position all year. 

    James Johnson, Sonny Weems and Julian Wright all took shots at the position. Johnson finished the season, but Yahoo! has Kleiza listed as the starter in the depth chart right now. So, who really knows. 

    But doesn't that make the point? If you have four starters, it's pretty clear you don't have any.

    The Raptors need an upgrade. 

Los Angeles Clippers

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    The current starting small forward for the Clippers is Ryan Gomes. Gomes averages 7.2 points per game and 3.3 rebounds. Shudder. That's really pretty horrible. 

    When you consider some of the young talent on this team, if you added a small forward with some experience you would have a downright frightening team. Considering the cap space they have, they can do it too. 

    If you factor in the chances of them landing Dwight Howard, which, depending on who and what they offer, are pretty reasonable, you can have a downright championship potential team. The small forward might be the only hole on this team in a week, or it might not be a hole. 

    One great fill-in here would be Andrei Kirilenko, who has a lot of experience. He has a glue-man mentality and is tremendously versatile. 

New Jersey Nets

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    Stephen Graham is the starting small forward for the Nets. He is so obscure there are only three pictures of him in Getty Images, the image provider for Bleacher Report. That's him getting on dunked on by Joakim Noah, staring up at him. 

    That might say everything you need to know about him. The Nets were dead last in the NBA in production from the small forward position last year. Graham averaged just 3.4 points and 2.1 rebounds last year. The Nets were horrible at that spot. 

    Fortunately they have the cap money to spend and an owner who is willing to spend it. One thing you can be assured of is that they will upgrade the position before the season starts.