NBA Players

Top Ten Small Forwards Of All Time

By Swikriti Kandel / 17 July 2023 05:32 AM

Kevin In The Phoenix Uniform Posing With The Basketball Above His Arm On 17 February 2023
Source : instagram

Top ten small forwards of all time are 1. LeBron James 2. Larry Bird 3. Kevin Durant 4. Michael Jordan and 5. Julius Erving.

Scottie Pippen and Elgin Baylor can not be missed from the list. Small forwards are also known as three in a regular basketball game which consists of five players.

The position requires the athletes to score, defend, and rebound for the team. To fulfill their responsibilities, they have to be excellent at dribbling and passing. 

Small forwards also create open lanes to make scoring easy. They have to be lean, swift, and short in comparison to the power forwards and the center player.

However, the three players should be taller, large, and stronger than the point guards. They cover more ground and guard multiple positions in the arena.

Top 10 Small Forwards Of All Time

1. LeBron JamesLos Angeles Lakers
2. Larry BirdBoston Celtics
3. Kevin DurantPhoenix Suns
4. Sean ElliottSan Antonio Spurs
5. Julius ErvingPhiladelphia 76ers
6. Lauri MarkkanenUtah Jazz
7. Scottie PippenChicago Bulls
8. Michael JordanWashington Wizards
9. Elgin BaylorLos Angeles Lakers
10. Kelly Oubre JrCharlotte Hornets

LeBron James

Top small forwards in the NBA right now include LeBron James. He competes on behalf of the Los Angeles Lakers which he joined in 2018.

James began playing basketball in the 5th grade. He then represented the team of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. The athlete's skills led him to the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Cleveland Cavaliers chose him as the first overall pick in the 2003 draft. LeBron remained with the team until the 2009-10 season. Though he got offers from multiple franchises, he signed a deal with the Miami Heat. 

LeBron Competed In Drew League On 17 July 2022
Source : facebook

James then re-joined the Cavaliers before moving to the Lakers. He has secured four NBA Championships and two Olympic Gold Medals for Team USA so far.

The 38-year-old holds the record for the highest points in  NHL history. He has shown his interest in buying an NBA franchise in Las Vegas post-retirement.

Larry Bird

Best NBA Small Forwards of all time include Larry Bird. Bird has retired while he formerly served as a player, coach, and executive.

Larry spent all his NHL career representing Boston Celtics. He then played for the U.S. national team in the 1992 Olympics and earned a gold medal.

The 66-year-old ex-athlete served as a special assistant for the Celtics until 1997. He was hired as the coach of the Indiana Pacers. As the mentor, he led the team to several heights.

Larry's Picture Of Seating On The Stadium Shared By Indiana On 6 January 2022
Source : facebook

Bird became the President of the basketball operations in 2003. In 2012, he stepped down for a brief time before re-joining the Pacers.

Larry stepped aside from his presidential duties in 2017 but remained as an advisor. Moreover, he retired from his advisory post in July 2022.

Kevin Durant

Greatest small forwards of all time Kevin Durant plays for Phoenix Suns. He formerly competed for Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, and Seattle SuperSonics.

Durant started playing organized basketball in middle school. He was a part of the high school teams of National Christian Academy, Oak Hill Academy, and Montrose Christian School.

Durant About To Score For The Warriors During A Matchup
Source : twitter

The 6 feet 10 inches tall athlete playing varsity basketball at the University of Texas. He became the top second prospect and was drafted by Seattle in 2007.

In the past 15 years, Kevin has appeared in 986 NBA games. He has a record of average 7.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 27.3 points per game until now.

Durant is a two-time NBA champion and three-time Olympic gold medalist. Moreover, he has been named to NBA All-star 13 times.

Sean Elliott

Best small forwards of the 90s Sean Elliott played college basketball at the University of Arizona. Prior to that, he represented Cholla High School.

In 1989, Elliott was picked by San Antonio Spurs as the 3rd overall pick. He was associated with the Spurs and Detroit Pistons throughout his appearance in the NBA.

The now 55-year-old player became an NBA champion in 1999. He represented the national team of the USA in the FIBA World Championship of 1986 and secured gold.

Elliott Finally Graduated From Arizona In 2023 At 55 Years Old
Source : facebook

Sam recorded 10,544 points, 3,204 rebounds, and 1,897 assists in his 12 years of career. He retired in 2001, over a year after having a kidney transplant surgery.

Elliott was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018. Likewise, his number 32 jersey was retired by the Spurs and the Arizona Wildcats. 

Julius Erving

Top 5 small forwards of all time Julius Erving is 73 years old. Philadelphia 76ers, New York Nets, and Virginia Squires are the teams that he represented.

Erving moved from Long Island to New York at the age of 13. He then started playing basketball at the Roosevelt High School.

Standing at 6 feet 7 inches, he joined the University of Massachusetts in 1968 and played varsity basketball for 2 seasons. He was the 12th overall pick of the Milwaukee Bucks in 1972.

Erving Handed His Self-Titled Award To Rui Hachimura In 2019
Source : facebook

Julius was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the NYC Basketball Hall of Fame. He became a businessman and TV analyst post-retirement.

Erving held multiple executive positions and debuted in acting. He recently made a cameo appearance in the comedy-drama titled Hustle.

Lauri Markkanen

Lauri Markkanen ranks first in the tallest small forwards list with a towering height of 7 feet. He is associated with the Utah Jazz of the NBA.

Markkanen began his career with the HBA-Marsky in 2014. After two seasons, he came to the United States to play college basketball for Arizona Wildcats.

Lauri Running In The Arena During An NBA All-Star Game In 2023
Source : instagram

In 2017, Minnesota Timberwolves drafted Markkanen as the 7th overall pick. He kicked off his professional journey with the Chicago Bulls in 2017. 

The 26-year athlete then landed with the Cavaliers before being traded to the Jazz in 2022. He was named the NBA Most Improved Player for the 2022-23 season.

Markannen is one of the fastest players to reach the 100 three-pointers in the NBA. Likewise, he is the only player with 100 dunks and 200 threes in a season.

Scottie Pippen

Famous small forwards list comprises Scottie Pippen. He is a former athlete who competed in the National Basketball Association for 17 seasons.

Pippen is a graduate of Hamburg High School and the University of Central Arkansas. He was selected as the 5th overall pick by Seattle in the 1987 Draft.

The ex-athlete contributed to the team's six-time victory over the NBA championship title. Moreover, he earned a gold medal in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics.

Pippen Donning A Bulls Jersey And Dribbling A Basketball During A Game
Source : twitter

Scottie has set a record of 18,940 points, 7,494 rebounds, and 6,135 assists throughout his career. He was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame twice.

Pippen has made multiple TV appearances since 1996. He was recently featured in ESPN's docuseries The Last Dance and voiced a fictional character in American Dad.

Michael Jordan

Good small forwards include Michael Jordan in the first position. Other than being an athlete, Jordan is a philanthropist who has hosted multiple charity events.

Jordan became a college athlete for North Carolina after graduating from Ensley A. Laney High School.  For his outstanding portfolio, he was drafted by the Bulls in 1984.

Michael competed with the team from 1984 to 1993 and from 1995 to 1998. He considered retirement twice but he returned to play. The athlete represented Wizards from 2001 to 2003.

Michael Rocking His Athletic Build In The Bulls Jersey Holding A Basketball
Source : twitter

Jordan has contributed a lot to the organizations that ensure racial equality, healthcare, and the like. He has played in film and TV shows and authored multiple books.

As a businessman and investor, Michael has shares in the Charlotte Hornets and 23XI Racing of the NASCAR Cup Series. He also makes money from his signature shoe, Air Jordan.

Elgin Baylor

Most popular NBA forwards Elgin Baylor played for the Lakers his entire career. He was the first overall pick of the club during the 1958 NBA draft.

The Washington native began playing basketball at age 14. He played for the teams of Phelps A.C.E and Joel Elias Spingarn High School. The late athlete then represented the College of Idaho and Seattle.

Elgin Passed Away Due To Natural Causes At The Age Of 86
Source : twitter

Baylor made his debut in the league during the 1958-59 season. He was named the Most Valuable Player in the 1959 NBA All-Star Game.

Elgin rocked the 22-numbered jersey throughout his varsity and NBA matchups. His uniform was later retired by the Seattle as well as the Lakers.

After retirement, Baylor coached the New Orleans Jazz from 1974 to 1979. Later, he was the basketball operations head for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Kelly Oubre Jr

NBA small forwards 2023 list includes Kelly Oubre Jr. He is associated with the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA since 2021.

Oubre played organized basketball at George Bush High School. He then enrolled in a basketball program at Findlay Prep. The player then spent one season with the University of Kansas.

Oubre Jr In The Number 12 Hornets Jersey On 21 April 2022
Source : instagram

Drafted by Atlanta Hawks, Kelly made his debut in the league with the Wizards. He represented Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors respectively.

The 27-year-old forward has played 527 regular and 18 playoff games. He will become an unrestricted free agent for the 2023-24 season since his previous contract will expire.

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