This offseason we’re breaking down the top 10 greatest at each position, and for this edition we’ll be focusing in on the league’s best ever small forwards.
Before we start I want to be clear that I count ABA and BAA/NBL accomplishments because those leagues merged into the NBA.
6’9 Cavs, Heat, Lakers (#3 Overall on Jordan’s Rankings)
4x Champion, 4x Finals MVP, 4x MVP, 18x All-Star 18x All NBA, 6x All-Defense, Scoring Title, Assist Title, ROY, 75th Anniversary Team
LeBron should have 1 more MVP (Rose), and a DPOY (Gasol), but voters kept that from happening. He also could have had another ring if D-Wade didn’t freeze him out in 2011 (Thank you, Wade, one of the few nice things this Mavs fan will say about him). Still, LeBron has 4 rings (which is one more than the number of times MJ quit basketball) and had more All NBAs than anyone else.
His overall statistical brilliance is hard to match, and his finals performances (the 2011 freeze-out aside) are incredible.
No one can do the things LeBron can. His biggest thing is his durability.
6’9 Hall of Fame, Boston (#7 Overall on Jordan’s Rankings)
3x Champion, 2x FMVP, 3x MVP, 12x All-Star, 10x All NBA, 3x All-Defense, ROY, 4x FT% Title, 50th Anniversary Team, 75th Anniversary Team.
Larry Legend was a fantastic player.
First off, I want to address the morons who say Bird couldn’t play in today’s NBA. Look, if Luka Doncic is an All-NBA player The Hick From French Lick would be MVP.
Bird was the single greatest basketball mind to ever play the sport. He was a chess grandmaster manipulating the defense and his own teammates into the perfect positions for him to control the game. He knew when to kill the momentum of a game with a dagger 3, how to fake even the greatest players with a pass or a pump fake, and how to out-hustle anyone on the court at any moment.
Bird was a fantastic leader, and probably the best all-around player ever.
The only thing keeping Bird lower on this list is how short his career was.
6’7 Hall of Fame, Squires, Nets, Sixers. (#8 Overall on Jordan’s Rankings)
3x Champion, 4x MVP, 16x All-Star, 12x All NBA/ABA, All Defense, 3x Scoring Title, ABA All-Time Team, 50th Anniversary Team, 75th Anniversary Team.
Dr. J saved the ABA, and in doing so he saved the NBA. While Kareem was the better player the writers and Kareem hated each other. The writers loved Doc.
As impressive as his stats are, I have a few ‘what ifs’ to go over. 1- The Doctor agrees to go straight to the NBA and pairs with Kareem, Oscar, and Dandridge to make a dynasty. 2- The NBA, and more accurately, the Hawks and Bucks come to an agreement allowing him to pair with Bellamy, Bridges, Hudson, and Pistol in actual games, not just the amazing pre-season spectacular that happened.
3- the Knicks don’t do the dumbest thing ever and accept the Nets offer of waiving the fee they would get for the Nets would have for joining the NBA in exchange for The Claw’s contract pairing him with Frazier, Monroe, Haywood, Reed. 4- the Squires don’t blow up a team of Charlie Scott, George Gervin, and Baby Hawk, therefore, making the NBA when the leagues merged.
6’10 Thunder, Warriors (Nets) (#22 Overall on Jordan’s Rankings)
2x Champion, 2x FMVP, MVP, 11x All-Star, 9x All NBA, ROY, 4x Scoring Title, 75th Anniversary Team.
The Slim Reaper is probably the greatest single offensive player in NBA history. His size, shooting, passing, and length make him unstoppable. His defense is underrated, and he probably deserved at least one All defensive team if not more.
KD is known for leaving more champion-competing teams than actors leave marriages. He’s even forcing his way out of a team that let him pick all the teammates and the coaches and he still isn’t happy.
KD is this generation’s Rick Barry, and his horrible ability to get in his own way is going to drop him all time. Yet, you can’t tell the story of the NBA without one of the greatest players of all time.
6’5 Hall of Fame, Celtics (#23 Overall on Jordan’s Rankings)
8x Champion, Finals MVP, 12x All-Star, 11x All NBA, 8x All-Defense, 35th Anniversary Team, 50th Anniversary Team, 75th Anniversary Team.
Hondo had more stamina than most players do in a lifetime. He just kept going and never, ever slowed down. The all-time best scorer for Boston had actually been a 3 sport athlete in high school. In fact, the Browns drafted him even though he didn’t play football in college— having given up his QB career to focus on Baseball, Basketball, and his studies— which is the most ‘Browns’ thing I’ve ever read. Hondo actually reported to the browns camp and was the last cut from the team, something the city of Boston probably should be extremely grateful for.
The slowly aging Celtics needed John to come off the bench and provide a spark for Sharman, Ramsey, and Jones on the wing. He filled this role, even being second on the team in minutes until he became the starter and slowly began to improve into a starter, then a star, then the best player on the Celtics who were still winning titles.