CBN’s Top 10 Best Small Forwards in NBA History

These legendary players never failed to deliver for their teams.

With a well-rounded skill set and particularly strong scoring and defending abilities, small forwards take on a responsibility that is anything but “small”.

That’s why this week is all about the top small forwards in league history. Starting with #10 and moving up to the most notably and historically great, here are the top 10 best small forwards in the history of the NBA:

Dominique Wilkins

10. Dominique Wilkins

Known best for his dunking and diverse scoring, Dominique Wilkins was one powerful small forward. Averaging 26 points or more per game over a 10-year period - including overall career averages of 6.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, nine-time All-Star Wilkins earned a notable respect through playing at the levels of some of the greatest players the NBA has seen.

James Worthy

9. James Worthy

Playing solely for the Los Angeles Lakers from 1982-1994, “Big Game James” Worthy was a smooth operator on the court. With his exceptional speed and efficiency, Worthy could beat opponents down the floor easily - and with his 36 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists delivery in that unforgettable title-clinching Game 7, Worthy deservedly goes down in history as one of the best.

Rick Barry

8. Rick Barry

In 1967, Rick Barry led the NBA in scoring with the highest per-game points average ever (35.8) by a player who wasn’t named Wilt Chamberlain or Michael Jordan. With overall career averages of 23.2 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game, 5.1 assists per game and 2.0 steals per game, Barry was a standout player who always did whatever he could to win.

John Havlicek

7. John Havlicek

John Havlicek was consistently brilliant over the course of his career with the Boston Celtics spanning 1962-1978. In fact, Havlicek holds career records for games played and points scored with the league, with only a handful of other greats scoring more than he did. With averages like 20.8 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game and 4.8 assists per game, 13-time All-Star and small forward Havlicek was undeniably one of the greatest to ever do it.

Scottie Pippen

6. Scottie Pippen

Alongside teammate Michael Jordan who was considered as the Batman to his Robin, 10x All-Defensive Team maker Scottie Pippen perfected the art of using unselfishness to his advantage. With his notable defense and passing abilities, legendary sidekick Pippen is undeniably one of the best small forwards in franchise history.

Elgin Baylor

5. Elgin Baylor

At #5, 11-time All-Star Elgin Baylor is probably one of the most underrated rebounders and one of the greatest players to never snag an MVP award. Making the All-NBA selection 10 times, Baylor had incredible career averages of 27.4 points per game, 13.5 rebounds per game and 4.3 assists per game.

Kevin Durant

4. Kevin Durant

Winning the NBA Scoring Title four times and helping carry the Golden State Warriors to two championships, KD steals a spot at #4. An unstoppable player with unlimited range, Kevin Durant posts career averages of 27.3 points per game, 6.9 rebounds per game, 3.6 assists per game and shooting 49% overall alongside 38% from beyond the arc and 88% from the free-throw line.

Julius Erving

3. Julius Erving

At #3 on our Top 10 Greatest Small Forwards list is none other than the iconic Julius “Dr. J” Erving, who boasted career averages of 24.2 points per game, 8.5 rebounds per game and 4.2 assists per game. The 11-time All-Star Dr. J was a total force to be reckoned with both on his own and together with the team - and if you consider his ABA stats, Erving is an overall top-six scorer in basketball history.

Larry Bird

2. Larry Bird

As one of the NBA’s most proficient and effortless shooters of all time, Larry Bird boasted career averages of 24.3 points per game while shooting 50% overall, alongside 38% from beyond the arc and 89% from the charity stripe. With a vast array of skills, Bird also possessed an unmatched ability to predict the moves of his opponents and teammates and used this intuition to his advantage.

LeBron James

1. LeBron James

Finally, with the hottest ranking on our Top 10 Best Small Forwards in NBA History list, the legendary LeBron James takes the cake at #1. As a four-time MVP and with career averages like 27.3 points per game, 7.1 rebounds per game and 6.9 assists per game, we’d make a case that the powerful James is easily the greatest small forward in the league’s history.

So there you have it! We hope you enjoyed our list of the Top 10 Best Small Forwards in NBA History who are masters at doing a little bit of everything for their teams.