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Tuesday, 8 January 2013

NBA: Top 10 Small Forwards


Below is a highly subjective list indicating the 10 best small forwards in the league:
(Stats GP, MPG, FG%, 3P%, FT%, RPG, APG, BPG, SPG, TOPG, PPG)

#1 LeBron James – Miami Heat

2012/13: 30, 38.4, 54.4, 41.4, 72.7, 8.6, 7.1, 1.6, 0.9, 2.9, 26.5 
Career: 717, 39.8, 48.6, 33.4, 74.6, 7.2, 6.9, 1, 0.8, 3.3, 27.6

LeBron is simply the best player in basketball, and he has been for the past four or five years. He continues to add moves to his impressive arsenal. There’s been absolutely no drop off in James’ play, he flirts with a triple-double on a nightly basis. He impacts the game on both ends, he can guard one through five, and he’s finally figured out how to close out games. There are not enough superlatives to fully linguistically appreciate his game.

#2 Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder

2012/13: 31, 39.8, 51.7, 42.4, 90.3, 7.9, 4.1, 1.5, 1.3, 3.4, 28.4 
Career: 411, 38.2, 47.1, 36.8, 88, 6.7, 2.9, 1.2, 1, 3.2, 26.4

At almost seven-foot tall Durant can shoot over any defender, a skill which he frequently employs in the fourth quarter, draining in-your-face buzzer-beating threes. His handle is ridiculous. He must be the only player his size who can legitimately cross-over a defender, at the top of the paint, and within two strides be dunking the ball. Durant has already won back-to-back-to-back scoring titles and there’s no reason to believe that he’s not going to win many more. He’s LeBron’s closest rival for best player in the league, and his Thunder team are perhaps the Heat's biggest obstacle in their quest to retain their Championship.

#3 Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks
2012/13: 26, 36.5, 47.7, 43.4, 82.7, 6.3, 2, 1, 0.5, 3.1, 28.9 
Career: 7179, 36.2, 45.7, 33.2, 80.6, 6.3, 3.1, 1.1, 0.5, 3, 24.8

Anthony is at home in New York. He may have forced himself out of Denver, and a few people out of New York along the way, but this year Carmelo has performed at an MVP-calibre level. Anthony has more scoring tools available to him than anyone else in the league; he makes getting points look effortless. This year he has begun to lead his team and play like a franchise player, diving for loose balls, blocking shots and generally playing like a man with a point to prove.



#4 Josh Smith – Atlanta Hawks
2012/13: 28, 34.6, 44.7, 38, 53.6, 8.3, 3.7, 1.4, 2.3, 2.9, 16.9 
Career: 628, 34, 46.4, 28.4, 66.5, 8, 3.1, 1.3, 2.2, 2.5, 15.2

Josh Smith is a beast; he typifies the new breed of forwards who can play both positions and thrive equally well whether he’s facing up or has his back to the basket. Smith is quick enough and strong enough to overpower threes and glide by fours. Yet, he often falls in love with the jumper – frustrating fans every time he jacks up a three. Smith is moving towards free agency, so let's hope he can finally take his talents and convert them into a prolonged session of All-Star-level play.

#5 Nicolas Batum – Portland Trail Blazers
2012/13: 20, 38.2, 41.7, 34.6, 86.8, 5.6, 4.4, 1.5, 1.2, 2.6, 16.2 
Career: 285, 27.5, 45.3, 36.7, 84.2, 4.1, 1.6, 0.9, 0.7, 1.1, 10.9

Batum got paid big in the offseason, we’re talking $10 million+ a year for the next four or five years, effectively forcing the Blazers to extend the Frenchman's playing time. This has proved beneficial for both parties as Batum has showcased his dynamic ability on both ends of the floor. Earlier this season, Batum became one of only a handful of players to have recorded a 5-5-5-5-5 game, recording five or more stats in at least five categories – points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks - in a single game. It will be exciting to watch the young shooting guard grow, alongside LeMarcus Aldridge and rookie sensation Damian Lillard.

#6 Luol Deng – Chicago Bulls
2012/13: 30, 40.3, 43.2, 30.5, 81.7, 7, 2.8, 1, 0.3, 2.3, 17.7 
Career: 569, 35.7, 46.3, 33.4, 76.8, 6.4, 2.4, 1, 0.6, 1.8, 16.1

You have to respect Luol Deng. He plays a ridiculous amount of minutes, through a variety of injuries, and gets on with it without too many complaints. Deng is a huge reason behind the Chicago Bulls' incredible defence. Luol is tasked with guarding the opposition's leading scorer. The Brit has also developed an effective offensive game, which was displayed to full effect during the Olympics.

#7 Rudy Gay – Memphis Grizzlies
2012/13: 28, 36.4, 41, 32.3, 79.3, 5.8, 2.6, 1.5, 0.8, 2.3, 18 
Career: 465, 36.2, 45.3, 34.5, 77.2, 5.7, 2, 1.3, 0.9, 2.3, 17.9

Gay is super athletic and extremely talented, getting to the rim and throwing the ball down with ease. Yet, the Memphis star has struggled with his jumper of late and his ineffective shot has hampered his production. Gay possesses all the skills but for whatever reason it feels like the small forward has never fulfilled his potential. 

#8 Paul Pierce – Boston Celtics
2012/13: 31, 33.8, 43.1, 38.5, 81.9, 5.4, 3.7, 1.5, 0.3, 2.5, 19.8 
Career: 1056, 36.8, 44.7, 37, 80.8, 6, 3.8, 1.5, 0.6, 2.9, 22

Paul Pierce continues to do what Paul Pierce does: score, rebound and assist. Before LeBron, Pierce set the standard for do-it-all small forwards. The Celtics veteran may not be able to play as many minutes, but he’s still finding ways to be effective. Just ask the Cavaliers who he torched for forty.

#9 Andre Iguodala - Denver Nuggets
2012/13: 36, 34.9, 44.8, 33.1, 62.7, 5.7, 4.5, 1.3, 0.6, 2.8, 14 
Career: 651, 37.6, 46, 33.1, 73.3, 5.8, 4.8, 1.7, 0.5, 2.4, 15.2

Iguodala is yet another athletic wing who is tasked with locking down the opposition's most dangerous offensive threat. Iguodala is the perfect glue guy who can do a little bit of everything. Not known for one outstanding skill, Iguodala's most notable asset is his ability to run the floor in an up-tempo system. It's therefore surprising that he has somewhat struggled to find his feet this year in Denver. Nevertheless the gold medal winner is still producing at a high level and will only improve as he adapts to the altitude. 

#10a Evan Turner – Philadelphia 76ers
2012/13: 33, 36.4, 43.9, 42.6, 75.8, 6.7, 4.2, 1, 0.3, 2.5, 14.5 
Career: 176, 26.8, 43.7, 33.1, 75, 5.1, 2.7, 0.7, 0.3, 1.5, 9.4

Turner and bust are words that have never been too far apart, as until this year the former second pick in the draft has largely disappointed. Like many others on the list, Turner has all the skills: big frame, ball-handling skills, rebounds well and can pass the ball. With Andre Iguodala out of the picture, Turner has excelled. There are many who could have made the list here, but Turner's production in my fantasy team secured him the 10th spot.

#10b Danny Granger – Indiana Pacers
2012/13: N/A
Career: 510, 33.2, 43.8, 38.4, 84.7, 5.2, 2, 1, 0.9, 2, 18.2

A player's stock never rises higher than it does when he is on the sidelines. Granger has always been tagged with the 'good but not great' tag. Yet, this year, in his absence Indiana have found out just how influential Granger is to the team. Without his scoring and general glue guy fundamentals the Pacers have faltered offensively, and honestly the team are difficult to watch. 

PG - SG - SF - PF - C

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