Over the last decade, the Small Forwards have been pretty solid, there hasn’t been much change in the Top 10. At least in the upper half, you can count on 4-5 guys being in that top 5. As he approaches the end of his career, where does LeBron James rank?
How I Rank the Top 10?
First and foremost, I establish who is a small forward. Then I begin the analysis process which includes historical performance, skill, arsenal, health and availability, and near-future expectations.
Before diving into our top 10 small forward rankings of 2023, note that if a player is not on this list, he may be found in either our point guards or shooting guards list or in our upcoming power forward list.
Here are the top 10 NBA Small Forwards’ rankings
10. Michael Porter Jr. – Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets are coming off their first NBA Championship and Porter Jr was a big part of that. In his return to the court, MPJ looked like a future all-star. Last season he averaged 17.4 points and 5.5 rebounds while solidifying himself as a decent shooter with percentages of 48.7 FG/ 41.4 3P/ 80 FT.
9. Andrew Wiggins – Golden State Warriors
Wiggins has turned out to be a really solid player. He was the 2014-15 Rookie of the Year, but it wasn’t until the 2021-22 season that he would become an All-Star. Being alongside Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry has helped him improve his shooting. As we approach the start of the 2023-24 season, Wiggins might be one of the better 3-and-D players
8. Mikal Bridges – Brooklyn Nets
Playing alongside other NBA Stars might’ve held Mikal Bridges back from relinquishing his full potential. When the Suns traded Bridges for KD, he was averaging less than 20 points per game. With the Nets his average jumped almost 10 points. He had emerged as one if the league’s most efficient scorers while also continuing to play the high-caliber defense that he is known for.
7. DeMar DeRozan – Chicago Bulls
You could make the case for DeRozan to be in the Top 5. He’s still at the top of his game at 33-years-old. He’s been an All-Star in the last two years with Chicago. Whether or not the Bulls end up shopping him, the NBA’s new resting policy shouldn’t affect him wherever he plays. No matter where he plays, he should perform well enough to stay on the Top 10 Small Forwards list.
6. Khris Middleton – Milwaukee Bucks
With Giannis Antetokounmpo potentially on his way out, it could spell the end of the Bucks. Middleton however, has been a great addition. He could be one of the best 3-and-D players to ever play. Middleton only played 33 games last season, so we’ll see how he does this year.
5. Jimmy Butler – Miami Heat
You can say what you want about Jimmy Buckets. Yes, he once had to prove himself in a scrimmage against third-stringers. However, he’s past that. Butler served as a solid veteran who helped lead the Heat to the NBA Finals. He is a season removed from being an All-Star, but the 33-year-old somehow got better last season.
4. Kawhi Leonard – Los Angeles Clippers
You know that your team is solid when you have two of the NBA’s Top 20 players on your roster. Leonard has been on the Top 10 Small Forwards list for several seasons now. Leonard didn’t lose much after his ACL Injury.
The Clippers didn’t go to far in the playoffs last season. Can they rely on the 32-year-old to take them deep this season?
3. Kevin Durant – Phoenix Suns
The top three you could really put in any order. Durant is one of the purest scorers at the small forward position. Though, he hasn’t had much success in the playoffs since leaving Golden State.
The small sample size of Durant on the Suns that we got last year was incredible. As expected his numbers dropped with Devin Booker, Chris Paul and DeAndre Ayton all on the team. Now they’ve added Bradley Beal in place of Paul.
2. Jayson Tatum – Boston Celtics
Tatum is on his way to being one of the best small forwards in Celtics history. He wants to be as well. That being said I have him second.
The 25-year-old led the Celtics to the NBA Finals two years ago. With the addition of Kristaps Porzingis, they’ve made it clear they want to get back to the finals.
1. LeBron James – Los Angeles Lakers
What else is there to say? LBJ is the GOAT. He’s the all-time leading scorer in NBA history. He’s going to give us his all until he physically can’t. The closer we get, everyone’s dream of him playing with his son looks more like a reality.
Honorable Mention: OG Anunoby – Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors have definitely seen their fair share of Small Forwards over the years between DeMar DeRozan, Kawhi Leonard, Terrence Ross, Vince Carter and now the combination of Anunoby and Scottie Barnes.
Though, it took Anunoby some time to get as good as he is now… the 25-year-old looked like he could be a star for the Raptors for years to come. Not only did he impress on the offensive end of the floor, but he was the NBA Steals Champ and a 2022-23 NBA All-Defensive Team Member.
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