Top 10 Best NBA Small Forwards of All TimeSmall forwards are the jack-of-all-trades in a basketball team. They can shoot, dribble, pass, and defend. They're the utility players who might not always get the spotlight, but they're often the glue holding a successful team together.
Determining who are the best small forwards isn't just about stats or championship rings, although those are significant factors, of course. This is about legacy, talent, versatility, and those electrifying moments that have fans jumping out of their seats. From the high-flying dunks to the buzzer-beaters, from the defensive stops to the epic playoff performances, these players embody the essence of the game.
Larry was a power forward, not a small forward. He led his team to back-to-back 60-win seasons without another All-Star on the team. He had to play great for the Cavs to win 120 games, and he was crucial for each and every win. Then he won back-to-back MVPs.
What the king all the way. Larry Bird is not even a small. He is the best scorer and passer on this list. He is also the youngest on this list. He is going to get that ring to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest.
He is better than Larry Bird in every way. People just don't want to admit it.
The hardest-working player of all time. The most clutch player... EVER! Even better than MJ. He once told Xavier McDaniel where he was going to take the last-second shot from beforehand, and it still didn't matter. Larry hit it in his face anyways. One word: "LEGEND."
The best small forward ever! Possibly the greatest all-around player ever, period. He has a 29-11 head-to-head record vs Jordan, and 9-0 in playoff games.
Larry Bird is not only the best small forward of all time but also the best overall player of all time! The guy was amazing!
Dr. J is the only player ever with 30,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 2,000 steals, and 2,000 blocks! Sixteen years, 16 All-Star games, 16 playoff appearances, 16 1,000-plus point seasons, 4-time MVP, 3 rings, 2 All-Star MVPs. Most admired, best showman, greatest in open court, greatest flyer/dunker EVER!
Kevin Durant is only in his fifth season, yet he's leading the NBA in scoring. He is still young and has many years ahead of him. Hands down, he is simply a scoring machine.
You can put anyone on him, and no one can stop him. He is also extremely versatile. Think about it: he's a 6'10" small forward but dribbles as skillfully as a point guard.
The funny thing is, we haven't seen half of what he's capable of. So, if you see LeBron as the king, sorry, because Durantula is taking his place on the throne!
Scottie Pippen is top 3 all-time, easy. I could argue him at #1. He's arguably the best all-around defensive player of all time (defense wins championships). He was a better scorer in his prime than his career stats show. He was a versatile player who could run an offense similar to a point guard. Arguably, he was the second-best player in the league for years and the All-Star MVP in Jordan's absence. Chuck Daly said Scottie was the second-best player on the original Dream Team. Scottie could defend any other player on this list.
I would go as far as to say Pippen is the most skilled and versatile small forward of all-time. He had an insane basketball IQ, point guard handles, and court vision at 6'8, and could run your offense. He scored in every way imaginable. He had a low/high post game with footwork and counters that most other small forwards (past and present) could only dream of.
He also had a great mid-range game with one of the best bank shots you'll ever see. He developed a three-point shot during the middle of his career and was deadly with the pull-up three. Most of all, he was a great slasher, could finish at the rim with either hand, and dunked over big men with a nastiness unrivaled.
And then we get to defense, where he was absolutely one of the best of all-time. Whatever there was to be done on defense, he did it: ball-hawking players full-court, playing passing lanes, and always being a league leader in steals. He was blocking shots - doing chasedown blocks when LeBron was in elementary school, no less - going all over the court, playing insane help defense, and taking charges on anyone. People look at stats too much and don't have a clue what this man was capable of. He's probably the most unique player I've seen.
Unfortunately, Elgin played in the days before every game was taped and then replayed endlessly. Elgin was the original prototype for today's small forward. He also had the highest season scoring average in the history of the NBA of anyone not named Wilt Chamberlain. Yes, that's correct. His best season average is higher than MJ's best, but Elgin did it in 1962, the same year Wilt averaged over 50. Nobody ever checks to see who came in "second" in scoring average.
Yeah, my dad loves you!
Should be around #6.
This dude was seriously close to being the best there ever was. Before his body started deteriorating in his prime, he was the most versatile player to ever play the game. There was literally nothing this man couldn't do. But he'll just have to settle for being the best that never was, and he has a good to fair chance of making it into the Hall of Fame eventually.