The small forward position in the NBA today, is a very deep one. There are a bunch of really good players to choose from even though one of the best (Carmelo Anthony) played all of last season as a power forward. So many in fact, that a few of the best, up and coming young stars just fall short. Gordon Hayward, Evan Turner and Kawhi Leonard are very talented players who are just beginning to find their footing and will be on this list in the years to come.
10. Andrei Kirilenko- even after a year away from the NBA and a new city, Kirilenko proved that he could still play the game at a very high level. Now if he would just learn that he can’t shoot the three his game would be that much better. As a member of the injury riddled Timberwolves, Kirilenko averaged 12.4 points a game on only 8.8 field goal attempts a game. When you add in the fact that he averaged 5.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 steals and a block a night you can see why “AK” makes the top ten.
9. Danilo Gallinari- Gallinari needs to improve his shot selection and distribute the ball more when he returns to the Nuggets line up but Gallinari’s game doesn’t have any other holes. He has a nice touch from distance and can get to the rim at well. Gallinari is also a really good on ball defender. Danilo averaged 16.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and almost a steal a game last season before getting hurt and missing the playoffs. His absence may have proved how valuable Gallinari is, as the Nuggets lost in the first round after winning 57 games in the regular season.
8. Chandler Parsons- Parsons doesn’t get much love nationally but he had a breakout season in 2012-13, playing next to James Harden and Jeremy Lin. With his vastly improved shooting percentages, Parsons made it very hard to double team his Rockets teammates. That will be huge this year with the addition of Dwight Howard to the Houston line up. Parsons averaged 15.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and a steal a game.
7. Nicolas Batum- on the offensive end of the floor, Batum sometimes forces shots, which is why his shooting percentage has gone down four years in a row. What helped make up for his shooting deficiency last season was his ability to improve his passing game. Batum more than tripled his career high in assists per game, averaging 4.9 dimes a night. When you throw in the 14.3 points as well as 5.6 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks an night you see why Batum is so important to the Blazers’ success.
6. Luol Deng- Deng is another player who makes this list, despite the fact that he not a good outside shooter. Even without a great outside touch, Deng can still score the ball quite effectively as evidenced by his 16.5 points a game last season. Deng is also a solid rebounder and passer, averaging 6.3 boards to go along with 3 assists a night.
5. Rudy Gay- in my opinion, Gay was the reason why the Memphis Grizzles got swept in the Western Conference Finals last year. Tayshaun Prince is a fine player but when you trade away your best shot maker it drastically changes your offense. The Spurs just doubled the paint because they knew Memphis didn’t have a consistent outside scorer. Even though Gay got traded mid-season and had to learn a new offense on the fly he still averaged 18.2 points to go along with 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.5 steals a game.
4. Paul George- It will be very interesting to see how George fares this season with the return of Danny Granger to the Pacers line up. With Granger sidelined all but 5 games last season, George became the focal point of the Indiana Offense and made the led the Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals. As a first time All-Star, George averaged 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.8 steals a game.
3. Paul Pierce- Pierce would have surely ended his career as the Celtics all-time leading scorer had he not been traded to the New Jersey Nets this off season. Pierce still has plenty left in the tank to make another playoff push in New Jersey but will not be the focal point of the offensive like he had been in Boston for the last decade. Even though Pierce is in the twilight of his career, he still put up very impressive numbers in 2012-13 averaging 18.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.1 steals a game.
2. Kevin Durant- if Durant played any other position he would be the best in the league but since he is a small forward, the man who is always second place, lands there again on this list. Kevin Durant is ridiculously skilled in all facets of the game but where he really excels is shooting the rock. Durant finished last season as a 50, 40 and 90 guy. That’s wildly impressive when you consider how much Durant shoots the ball. Durant finished last season as the second leading scorer in the league averaging 28.1 points to go along with 7.9 rebounds. 4.6 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks a game.
1. Lebron James- James won his fourth MVP trophy in five years while leading the Miami Heat to their second straight NBA title. James was named All-NBA first team for the sixth consecutive season to go along with his fifth straight year making All-Defensive first team. Add to that, his second straight Finals MVP and there is no doubt who the best small forward in the game is today. Lebron finished 2012-13 averaging 26.8 points on 56.5 percent shooting to go along with 8 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.7 steals a game.