We have just about reached the midway point of the NBA season and what better way to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of a player than dropping our definitive list of the the top-5 NBA small forwards in the league. The NBA writers here at Sports Unbiased were asked to provide their list of the top small forwards in the NBA – here’s our definitive list ranked five through one.
#5. Andre Iguodala: (5th place votes, 2 out of 5)
Tyler Triplett: Andre Igoudala is one of the most underrated players in the league in my opinion. He’s not a superstar like everyone else on this list but he does all of the little things your team needs to win. Iguodala is a good defender and rebounds well for his position. Not to mention he can handle the ball and use his freakish athleticism to finish over the top. If you add on his ability to pass the ball, he’s a triple double threat every time he walks on the court.
Jr. Williams: Iguodala plays like a modern day version of Scottie Pippen but without the luxury of playing alongside Michael Jordan. Iguodala performs all the intangibles on the court, he can score, defend, pass, and rebound; all the qualities you need in a player who can help you win an NBA title. As Tim Snyder mentioned in an earlier article, Iguodala is the ultimate “glue guy,” while his current numbers won’t show his true effectiveness, the Golden State Warriors are a better team when he steps on the court. I only wish he would increase his scoring to at least 15-16 ppg.
#4 Carmelo Anthony (4th place votes, 3 out of 5)
Tyler Triplett: Anthony is one of the best pure scorers in the league. He has a quick release and can get his shot off before the defense has a chance to get a hand in his face. He also knows how to use his big body to bully smaller defenders and finish inside. Carmelo is not the best defender, but he’s doing a lot for a struggling Knicks team and is averaging a career high nine rebounds this season.
Tim Snyder: Last season, the Knicks were winning impressively and everyone was on the Carmelo Anthony bandwagon. However, Melo’s team has been horrible this year. Every night, the Knicks look like a group of individuals that are only a team in name. Most of this can be attributed to Carmelo’s lack of leadership and isolation style of play, a problem that has plagued his entire 11 year career. He is undoubtedly one of the premier scorers in the league, but that may be the only thing his career is remembered for if he never figures out how to win and make his teammates better.
Blaine Hunkins: Anthony is arguably the best scorer in the league, but he is labeled as a “ball hog,” which is kind of true. New York is currently 17-27, which is good for 10th seed in the Eastern Conference. When you have role players like Iman Shumpert, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler, and fail to have close to a .500 record, you’ve got to think it’s Carmelo’s fault. However, Melo needs more consistent players to play with and JR Smith isn’t going to cut it. If Melo wants to win a championship, expect him to leave the Knicks for a contender.
Jr. Williams: Melo would have been higher on my list of this were a season ago where he caught the “sharing means caring” basketball bug. Even with his 62 point performance against the Charlotte Bobcats in Madison Square Garden, I can’t say that I was overly impressed. I would absolutely agree that he is indeed one of the top-3 scorers in the league, unfortunately his lackluster defense and inability to lead his team beyond the realm of scoring in abundance will continue to plague the NY Knicks. Overall, Melo is one of the best one-on-one players in the NBA and he will continue to rank among the top small forwards for the next two to three NBA seasons, but what else is new.
Alexander Brooks: The way Durant has been scoring, Melo hasn’t gotten the credit he fully deserves this season. He is almost averaging a double-double with 27 points and nine rebounds a game. He just put up 62 in a game, but more impressively, he had no turnovers that game. The knock on Melo is he doesn’t pass, he doesn’t play defense, and turns over the ball. He is working on cutting down his turnovers but hasn’t worked too much on the other two aspects of his game, that’s why he isn’t the best small foward in the game right now.
#3 Paul George (3rd place votes, 3 out of 5)
Tyler Triplett: This season Paul George has boosted himself into the superstar conversation. He’s a two-way player who often is tasked with guarding the best player on the opposing team while still being responsible for handling the scoring load for the Pacers. George is averaging a career high 23.5 points per game and his Pacers are looking to lock up the number 1 seed in the east with a 34-9 record so far this year.
Tim Snyder: Paul George’s game is a mixture of Tracy McGrady’s scoring ability and Scottie Pippen’s defense. This rare skill-set has helped him to catapult the Pacers to the number one seed in the East and make everyone believe that Indiana has a legitimate chance to win the title. Early in the season, I was a big advocate for his MVP consideration, but the talents of Durant and LeBron have just become too much. I think that George’s ceiling is all-time great high, but it may take a couple of more years for him to reach it. Of course, I may be singing a different tune if the Pacers take down the Heat later this year.
Blaine Hunkins: George is only 23 years old and ranks among the best scorers in the league (8th at 23.5 PPG). After taking the Heat to Game 7, George made a name for himself. He has the size of a power forward (6’9″), the long arms that resemble a center (7’0″ wingspan), and the intangibles that resemble LeBron James, George is an all-around player. He also has a knack for high-flying dunks, something that excites Pacers fans every night. George will pass Carmelo in a couple years because he is willing to share the ball and do anything to help his team win.
Jr. Williams: Paul George is an amazing talent who has yet to reach his full NBA potential, still he has managed to be among the top scorers and perimeter defenders in the league. Here’s a guy who knows how to lead his team on both ends of the court, but his most significant test will occur during the 2014 NBA Playoffs. Will he raise his game to the next level or will he dwindle into obscurity, casing the Indiana Pacers an early playoffs exit?
Alexander Brooks: George isn’t putting up those huge numbers like Durant, Melo, or Lebron but he is having a solid year. His Pacers are first in the East two and a half games above the Heat and 11 games ahead of the third place Hawks. George is averaging 23 points, six rebound, and three assist. Leading the way for the best in the league Pacers to continue their hot season. He is having a great year, it just happens to be during the year of small forwards.