NBA: Pre-Season Small Forward Rankings

Ryan Newell

Our third installment of our rankings highlights the NBA’s most dynamic position, small forwards. This group’s resume includes multiple former MVP’s, two finals MVP’s, and the reigning King of the NBA castle.

Also Receiving Votes: “The Swingman”

  • Wilson Chandler – Denver Nuggets
  • Lance Stephenson – Los Angeles Clippers

A season removed from a near all-star level campaign from Coney Island’s own Lance Stephenson, the former Cincinnati Bearcat looks to bounce back after a disappointing year with the Charlotte Hornets. Despite being a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands, Stephenson has a game more fit for the 1990’s; Stephenson’s ball dominant tendencies and lack of a shooting (a disastrous 17.1% from 3 in 2014-2015) don’t mesh with modern offenses and are redundant on LA’s bench units with Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford. However, if Lance can play his way into the starting lineup and flourish under the tutelage of Doc Rivers and Chris Paul, there is upside.

  • Jeff Green – Memphis Grizzlies
  • Rodney Hood – Utah Jazz


Tier #7: “The Shane Battier Division”This group offers limited upside for fantasy but provides a valuable array of intangible skills and defense. Most of these players have similar skillsets and interchangeable.

25.) Matt Barnes – Memphis Grizzlies

24.) Jae Crowder – Boston Celtics

23.) Al Farouq-Aminu – Portland Trail Blazers

22.) Stanley Johnson – Detroit Pistons


Tier #6: “3 & D 3’s”This group of small forwards will bring consistent defense on a game to game basis and quality 3 point shooting. A vital and increasingly more common component of NBA rosters.

21.) Robert Covington – Philadelphia 76ers

20.) Quincy Pondexter – New Orleans Pelicans

19.) Otto Porter – Washington Wizards\

18.) Harrison Barnes – Golden State Warriors

17.) Trevor Ariza – Houston Rockets

16.) Nic Batum – Charlotte Hornets

15.) PJ Tucker – Phoenix Suns

14.) Luol Deng – Miami Heat

The Miami Heat are a trendy pick as a sleeper in the East and have an intriguing starting lineup. With Chris Bosh healthy and a full offseason to mesh with new PG Goran Dragic, coach Erik Spoelstra is presented with a unique opportunity to fully utilize his offense and provide a boon to Deng. The former Bull is at his best when he isn’t playing nearly 40 minutes a game and being relied on as a 2nd option and should be able to put his 35% 3-point percentage from 2014-2015 to good use in a healthy Miami lineup.


Tier #5: “The Scoring Wings”This is a crafty group of high usage scorers who may have question marks over age, fit, and durability. Each offer great positional flexibility and could be playing on different teams by the end of the season.

13.) Joe Johnson – Brooklyn Nets

12.) Danilo Gallinari – Denver Nuggets

Golden State Warriors PF Draymond Green recently called Gallo one of the toughest players in the league to defend, mentioning him in the same breadth as Kevin Durant and LeBron James. While the Italian Stallion isn’t quite in their league of scorers, he brings a unique and shifty style of scoring and great positional flexibility to the table. Finally healthy after tearing his ACL in 2013, Gallinari put up over 40 points twice in his final 10 games of last season.

11.) Rudy Gay – Sacramento Kings


Tier #4: “2017 All-Stars”  – These young wing players bring a vast array of skills, athleticism, and potential. Expect most of this group to be borderline all-stars this season and upper echelon players by the next, producing many intriguing keeper candidates.

10.) DeMarre Carroll – Toronto Raptors

9.) Chandler Parsons – Dallas Mavericks

8.) Tobias Harris – Orlando Magic

7.) Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks

6.) Andrew Wiggins – Minnesota Timberwolves

The 20 year old reigning Rookie of the Year exploded in his final 13 games of last to the tune of 23.3 PPG, 3.5 APG, and 5.8 RPG on 45.1 FG%. Wiggins will benefit from a full offseason and the return of pass first PG maestro Ricky Rubio. Wiggins flashed an intriguing post game but needs to improve his 3-point shooting.

5.) Kawhi Leonard – San Antonio Spurs


Tier #3: “The Power Forwards”

4.) Carmelo Anthony – New York Knicks

3.) Paul George – Indiana Pacers

Neither of these players seem to have a position set in stone, as George is slotted to start at PF for the revamped Pacers (George has publicly spoken out against the decision and it remains to be seen how long this will stick). Melo’s skillset at this point seems to be more suited to the 4, where he is quicker than most and provides better floor spacing (40% from 3 in 2013). Both have injury question marks and Anthony may not be a Knick by season’s end.


Tier #2 “The Would-be Heir to the Throne”

2.) Kevin Durant – Oklahoma City Thunder

The Slim Reaper is back after an injury riddled 2014-2015 and would be the clear #1 at small forward if not for his foot injury. Durant has the potential to average near 30.0 PPG in former Florida Gator coach Billy Donovan’s innovative offensive system, however players with Jones’ Fractures have produced mixed results upon returning. A young guard named Michael Jordan suffered the injury his rookie year and went on to have a pretty nice career, but Brook Lopez took a long time to return to his pre-injury form. Worst case scenarios are Yao Ming and Roddy Beaubois, two players with different body types whose careers were basically over after the injury.

Here’s hoping that Durant returns to his 2013 MVP form, with a PER of 29.90 and averages of 32.0 PPG, 5.5 APG, and 7.4 RPG.


Tier #1: “The King”

1.) Lebron James – Cleveland Cavaliers

What is there to be said about LeBron James that hasn’t been stated ad-nauseam? The King is still the best player in the NBA, a multi-positional Swiss army knife whose physical skills may be the best we’ve ever seen. However, after nearly 43,000 minutes (not including the Olympics), the tread on the tires are beginning to show slightly.

On the downside of his prime, Lebron did not look like an MVP until after taking a two-week sabbatical last season, and his jump shooting percentages have declined since his 2012-2013 season. LeBron seems to be moving more towards a playmaking role in Cleveland, with his assists per 40 minutes jumping from 6.7 to 8.2 last season. James is the nominal PG for the Cavs and will have a sky-high usage rate until Irving comes back, whether that is in December or January.


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