Throughout NBA history, the position of small forward has always been extremely competitive.
Stars like Elgin Baylor, John Havlicek and Jack Twyman overwhelmed during the early long stretches of the Affiliation, and that could really be the most vulnerable time for this specific spot in a conventional ball setup. In addition to Julius Erving, James Worthy, Dominique Wilkins, and Larry Bird’s success throughout the 1980s, the small forwards of that decade also excelled.
What about right now? The position is in extraordinary hands with LeBron James and Kevin Durant both succeeding at whatever point they step onto the court.
This is about more than just the few outstanding individuals who continue to participate in the Association. From Cliff Hagan’s achievements with the St. Louis Hawks in the 1950s to today’s NBA MVP winners, we are curious about how the legends of the small forward position compare to one another.
We don’t just care about the best peaks. It’s actually not necessary to focus on the longest professions. Instead, we want to know how strong a career as a whole is, mostly measured by numbers. Be that as it may, the conspicuousness of measurements and high level insights doesn’t mean setting can be tossed through the window, by the same token.
Here we will discuss The Greatest Small Forwards of the 1980s:
Years Played: 1976-87
Teams: Virginia Squires (ABA), New York Nets (ABA), Philadelphia 76ers
Career Per-Game Stats: 22.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.5 blocks
Ultimate Season: 26.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 2.2 steals, 1.8 blocks
Career Advanced Stats: 22.0 PER, .558 TS%, 111 ORtg, 101 DRtg, 106.2 WS, 0.178 WS/48, 1.407 MVP Shares
Performance Metrics: 2475.96 PP, 548.5 AS, 207.32 CC, 18.85 CC/Season, 0 LMVPs, 0.668 LMVP Shares
Here comes that pesky ABA again.
In the league that would eventually merge with the NBA, Julius Erving spent the first five years of his professional career playing for the New York Nets and Virginia Squires, winning three scoring titles, two championships, and three MVP awards. However, none of that matters here.
He joined the NBA in 1976 at the age of 26, having played 455 games between the regular season and deep playoff runs due to his accomplishments. He is essentially working from behind the eight ball in these rankings, but he still managed to play in the NBA for 11 years, during which time he remained remarkably healthy and was always productive.
Erving brought his high-flying and entertaining above-the-rim style to the Association before the final two NBA seasons, when he averaged at least 20 points per game. His soaring dunks, scoop shots from under the basket, and year-after-year athletic superiority contributed to the sport’s revolution and popularity.
Erving appeared in 836 NBA regular-season games despite the delayed start, and his stats are impressive across the board. Despite his lackluster defensive work overall, he was one of the best 3s at blocking shots.
Years Played: 1979-92
Teams: Boston Celtics
Career Per-Game Stats: 24.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.8 blocks
Ultimate Season: 29.9 points, 11.0 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.2 blocks
Career Advanced Stats: 23.5 PER, .564 TS%, 115 ORtg, 101 DRtg, 145.8 WS, 0.203 WS/48, 5.693 MVP Shares
Performance Metrics: 3580.12 PP, 979.67 AS, 275.43 CC, 21.19 CC/Season, 0 LMVPs, 1.843 LMVP Shares
Larry Bird should be viewed as a ball legend, an explanation that stays genuine regardless of whether numbers are totally removed from the situation. Stories about his performances in crucial situations have almost become myths, and his trash-talking exploits are virtually unrivaled in NBA history.
He fully deserved to be called “Larry Legend” because he called his own shots, predicted shooting contest victories, got opposing benches to cheer for him, or completely embarrassed overmatched opponents.
Obviously, the numbers are damn great as well.
Bird was the most valuable player on his Boston Celtics teams and won championships alongside Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. He is one of only eight small forwards on the right side of 20 who contribute 21.19 career contributions per season, and his 1.843 LMVP Shares rank him among the top four players at the position.
Sincerely, everything about Bird’s career is undeniably impressive, despite the fact that the back injuries that plagued him at the end of it were too much to handle. Even though he bravely endured the pain, he was clearly not the same player after the 1987–88 season, which limits his potential, legend or not.