Who are the top 5 greatest Small Forwards in NBA history?
For those who have been watching the NBA for just a few years, you might have a different set of guys on this list.
KD is the best!
– Unknown Golden State Bandwagoner Since 2016
But if you know your NBA history, these guys will be definitely on top of your list.
So, without further ado. Here’s the list of the top 5 greatest Small Forwards in NBA history.
Greatest Small Forwards of All Time
5. Dominique Wilkins – Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs, Orlando Magic
Career Stats: 24.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.5 apg
You love to see some rim-rattling slamma jamma every once in a while?
Then you will definitely love this guy.
He earned the nickname “The Human Highlight Film” for some obvious reasons. He won the Slam Dunk Contest 2 times in his career.
He’s primarily known as a deadly scorer. Dominique can light up the scoreboard at will. He can dunk it down right in the face of any defender. (He used to dunk on the n
Why is he not the greatest, you say?
He didn’t win any championship rings with his 16 year stint with the NBA. His defensive stats is not something to brag about either.
But overall, Dominique Wilkins still deserves to be in this list with his dominance on his Atlanta days.
- 9× NBA All Star (1986–1994)
- All-NBA First Team (1986)
- 4× All-NBA Second Team (1987, 1988, 1991, 1993)
- 2× All-NBA Third Team (1989, 1994)
- NBA All-Rookie First Team (1983)
- NBA scoring champion (1986)
- 2× NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion (1985, 1990)
- 3× NBA Shooting Stars champion (2013–2015)
- No. 21 retired by Atlanta Hawks
4. John Havlicek – Boston Celtics
Career Stats: 20.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.8 apg
Also called as “Hondo”, this Celtic legend has one of the most successful careers in NBA history.
He belongs to the Boston Celtics team that won the finals 11 times in 13 seasons.
Up to this day, Hondo still holds the Celtics’ scoring record with 26,395 points.
He can play the forward and the guard position with ease because of his size and quickness.
His steal on the deciding game of the Eastern Conference finals is one of the most iconic moments in NBA history.
The Celtics are up by one with 5 seconds to go, then Bill Russell committed a silly turnover while inbounding the ball. Then Hondo comes to save the day by stealing the ball on which the commentator said “Havlicek stole the ball! It’s over! Johnny Havlicek stole the ball!”.
The rest is history.
- 8× NBA champion (1963–1966, 1968–1969, 1974, 1976)
- NBA Finals MVP (1974)
- 13× NBA All-Star (1966–1978)
- 4× All-NBA First Team (1971–1974)
- 7× All-NBA Second Team (1964, 1966, 1968–1970, 1975, 1976)
- 5× NBA All-Defensive First Team (1972–1976)
- 3× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1969–1971)
- NBA All-Rookie First Team (1963)
- No. 17 retired by the Boston Celtics
3. Julius Erving – Virginia Squires, New York Nets, Philadelphia 76ers
Career Stats: 24.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 4.2 apg
Also known as Dr. J, Julius Erving revolutionized the sport of Basketball in countless ways.
Instead of the typical drive-pass-shoot NBA playstyle, he adapted the ABA‘s flashy dunks and passes when the merger became complete.
The NBA have bought these following teams in the merger:
- Denver Nuggets
- San Antonio Spurs
- Indiana Pacers
- New York Nets (Brooklyn Nets today)
They also adapted the ABA’s three point line. Imagine Stephen Curry, Reggie Miller and Ray Allen without the three point line.
He is one of the most enjoyable players to watch in his era. Match him with Moses Malone, then you got yourself a recipe for an NBA championship ring.
- NBA champion (1983)
- 2× ABA champion (1974, 1976)
- 2× ABA Playoffs MVP (1974, 1976)
- NBA Most Valuable Player (1981)
- 3× ABA Most Valuable Player (1974–1976)
- 11× NBA All-Star (1977–1987)
- 5× ABA All-Star (1972–1976)
- 2× NBA All-Star Game MVP (1977, 1983)
- 5× All-NBA First Team (1978, 1980–1983)
- 2× All-NBA Second Team (1977, 1984)
- 4× All-ABA First Team (1973–1976)
- All-ABA Second Team (1972)
- ABA All-Defensive First Team (1976)
- ABA All-Rookie First Team (1972)
- ABA Slam Dunk Champion (1976)
- J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award (1983)
- No. 32 retired by Brooklyn Nets
- No. 6 retired by Philadelphia 76ers
This one is a little tough. I know some of you guys will probably think that I’m stupid or a hater. But okay, here it goes.
2. Larry Bird – Boston Celtics
Career Stats: 24.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 6.3 apg
This is very hard for me to take Larry Legend as the 2nd best SF of all time.
If he didn’t got injured in his later years, we are probably going to have a different conversation here.
His stat average decreased significantly on the years that he was injured.
But enough of that.
Larry Joe Bird, also known as “The Hick From French Lick“, is one of the best players that ever walked the face of the NBA.
Without his rivalry with Magic Johnson, there’s a slim chance that the NBA that we love to watch has been already gone sleeping with the fishes.
He is known for his deadly accurate shooting, flashy passes and Einstein-like basketball IQ.
Have you ever seen the bench of the opposing team cheer for a guy? Watch his 60 point game in Atlanta to see.
Do you want to see a guy score 25+ points just by using his left hand? Larry Bird did that too.
If you don’t believe that Larry Legend is a great shooter, just watch the three point shootouts that he have won, wearing a jacket while playing.
Trashtalking is also one of the primary arsenal of Larry Bird. How can you play your 100% if a guy that’s so freaking good starts to talk trash with you?
Just ask Julius Erving.
- 3× NBA champion (1981, 1984, 1986)
- 2× NBA Finals MVP (1984, 1986)
- 3× NBA Most Valuable Player (1984–1986)
- 12× NBA All-Star (1980–1988, 1990–1992)
- NBA All-Star Game MVP (1982)
- 9× All-NBA First Team (1980–1988)
- All-NBA Second Team (1990)
- 3× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1982–1984)
- NBA Rookie of the Year (1980)
- 3× NBA 3-Point Shootout champion (1986–1988)
- 2× 50–40–90 club (1987, 1988)
- AP Athlete of the Year (1986)
- No. 33 retired by Boston Celtics
Before we go down to the best, here are some names that are worth mentioning.
- Paul Pierce
- Elgin Baylor
- Scottie Pippen
- Kevin Durant
- Carmelo Anthony
- Chris Mullin
- David Thompson
- Bob Dandridge
- Rick Barry
- James Worthy
Now, the King of the Kings. (Literally)
1. Lebron James – Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat
Career Stats: 27.1ppg, 7.3 rpg, 7.0 apg
Here we go.
“You’re a LeBron D*ckrider for sure!”
“You don’t know nothing about basketball!”
No I’m not. In fact, I really hate the guy!
I hate it when the so-called Cleveland and Miami “fans” brag about their team, but when LBJ left the team, they freaking burn his jersey. Bandwagon fan logic.
I guess LeBron has that kind of charisma for the fans to love him no matter which team he goes.
Even if he went to the Shanghai Sharks, I’m sure fans will love him.
If you’re looking for your team to reach the playoffs or even the finals, this guy can definitely bring you to the promised land. Look at what he did to the Cavs last season. Quite an impressive achievement, really.
I put him on the top over Larry Legend because of these reasons:
- He has more finals appearances and Finals MVP awards than Bird.
- He is breaking NBA records everywhere he goes.
- He is the most dominant player for at least 5 years in his prime.
- He is more athletic and can defend anyone Man to Man.
I told you, if Larry Bird haven’t got those back problems in his later years, we are talking about a different story here.
His story is not yet complete. He has a minimum of 5 seasons left to play in my opinion.
Yes, his average might plummet a little bit. But with the achievements that he have earned in his entire career, that would be sufficient enough to make him the best SF in decades to come.
- 3× NBA champion (2012, 2013, 2016)
- 3× NBA Finals MVP (2012, 2013, 2016)
- 4× NBA Most Valuable Player (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013)
- 13× NBA All-Star (2005–2017)
- 2× NBA All-Star Game MVP (2006, 2008)
- 11× All-NBA First Team (2006, 2008–2017)
- 2× All-NBA Second Team (2005, 2007)
- 5× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2009–2013)
- NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2014)
- NBA Rookie of the Year (2004)
- NBA scoring champion (2008)
Do you agree with this list? Drop your comments below and I’ll see you next time!