10 Best Small Forwards in Basketball History

The 10 best small forwards in basketball history are basketball's chameleons. They are the mortar that holds a team together on the floor. The small forward is the most versatile of the players on the court. He can bang and rebound when needed, similar to a power forward. Small forwards are also known for handling the passing loads of a point guard while carrying the scoring load of a shooting guard. Many times, a quick small forward is used as a defensive specialist. The best small forwards epitomize what it means to be what their respective teams needed when the teams needed them.

  1. James Worthy. "Big Game James," as he was known, was the perfect complement to Magic Johnson's "Showtime" Lakers and one of the best small forwards ever. Magic liked to push the ball, and Worthy liked to run. Magic and Worthy connected for some of the most awesome plays in the history of transition basketball. He finished his twelve year career averaging 17.6 points, 1.1 steals, five rebounds and three assists a game.
  2. Bernard King. This 6' 7" forward was a scoring machine. No matter what team he played for (five over his fourteen-year career) he brought with him his immense scoring talents. Virtually unstoppable on the offensive end of the floor, this guy put up 22.5 points a game for his career. It wasn't all he was good for. He also averaged six rebounds and three assists a contest, making him one of the best small forwards in basketball history.
  3. Rick Barry. Barry was an assassin on offense. His scoring range stretched from the basket to well past the three-point stripe (shooting 45% from the floor and 33% from long range). You couldn't foul him because he hit 90% of his free throws. He was the offense for his teams and most certainly one of the best small forwards to play the game.
  4. Dominique Wilkins. "The Human Highlight Film" was a scoring machine (24.3 points a game for his career). He scored the majority of his points around the basket. Many NBA players became victims of his thunderous throw-downs. He pulled down nearly seven rebounds a contest and had 642 blocks in his career, showing he enjoyed mixing it up with the big boys.
  5. John Havlicek. Though his scoring was a rather impressive 20.8 points a game for his career, Havlicek is known as one of the best small forwards for his keen defensive eye. The definition of an all-around player, he'd hurt you defensively then come down the floor and score on you. He was a key member of that Celtics franchise that won a boatload of championships.
  6. Oscar Robertson. Listed as a point guard, the "Big O" was 6' 5" and 220 pounds. He averaged a triple-double for an entire season, showing his versatility. For his career he averaged 7.5 rebounds, 9.5 assists and 26 points a game, making him one of the best players ever in the game. If he would've played small forward, he would've been one of the best small forwards.
  7. Julius Erving. He's the Godfather of the high-flying scorers in todays game. He'd kill you defensively, then come down and score. He was also a hell of a passer. His career stats were 3,224 assists, 5,601 rebounds, 1,508 steals and 18,364 points.
  8. Larry Bird. The legend. He was the most clutch small forward ever. When the Celtics needed a score or a steal, they got it. He filled the gaps. He averaged ten rebounds and over six assists a game and was one of the most prolific scorers ever (24.3 ppg).
  9. Scottie Pippen. The most versatile of the versatile. He could score when needed, rebound, pass, block shots and lock you down on defense. He handled the ball like a guard and could score at will. Michael Jordan needed him to bring six championships to Chicago.
  10. Lebron James. This guy's so versatile that he's changed positions from point guard to shooting guard to small forward without losing a step. The prototype "new age" all-around player, James is the most dominant basketball player in the NBA today. He's excellent at every aspect of the game.


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