Top 5 NBA Players at Small Forward Position

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5. Rudy Gay, Memphis Grizzlies

Since entering the league in 2006, Rudy Gay has fallen victim to the burden of high expectations. Many believe Gay to be an underachiever and have rightfully questioned his motor on the court.

Considering the Connecticut alum has averaged 19.5 points and 6.0 rebounds since 2008, the results simply don’t support that theory.

Rudy Gay has been an elite scorer and all-around contributor since overcoming the rookie learning curve. His effort, however, does not always appear to be consistent as Gay has been known to take a night off from a mental standpoint.

One has to imagine that, with the proper motivation and mindset, all of that could change. Rudy Gay could make it as high as number two on this list if that were the case, as his skill and durability suggest franchise player status.

Something he has not yet justified with the Memphis Grizzlies.

The truth of the matter is, Gay beat out Andre Iguodala for this spot due to his skill advantage on offense. His defensive ability is strong enough to compete with Iguodala’s elite play, which suggests that Gay could reach that very level as soon as this season.

At 25, the time may be running out for Rudy Gay to become the superstar he’s expected to be. If all he is now is good enough for the fifth spot at his position, however, it may not be Gay that must change.

It’s the expectations.

4. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics

Arguably the most underrated player in the NBA, Paul Pierce has continued to build on a Hall of Fame career with outstanding poise, balance and knowhow when the game is on the line. For every 2012 Eastern Confernece Finals, there’s another 2008 NBA Finals to counter that.

For those in need of a reminder, Paul Pierce won Finals MVP that year as he took home an elusive NBA championship.

Throughout the duration of his career, Pierce has been an elite scorer with under-appreciated ball handling and facilitating abilities. Such was on display when Rajon Rondo went down with an injury early in the 2012 regular season.

Pierce responded by averaging 7.1 assists per game as he helped the Boston Celtics right the ship after a disappointing opening month of basketball.

This has been Paul Pierce’s lost identity throughout his illustrious 14-year career. No matter what it is that the Boston Celtics need him to do, Pierce finds a way to get the job done. He’s also found a way to be LeBron James’s biggest rival, despite lacking the mobility and youth James has had throughout the entirety of their joined time in the league.

Paul Pierce will go down as a great scorer, and rightfully so. His career average of 22.0 points-per-game ranks in the top 30 in NBA history. His 22,591 career points have him ranked No. 25 all-time, with a top 20 berth just 1,166 points away.

What we should learn before it’s too late, however, is that Paul Pierce is one of the most well-rounded players of our great generation. An active legend.

3. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

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Carmelo Anthony has been one of the game’s elite scorers since he first entered the league, averaging 21.0 points per game as a rookie in 2004. Since then, ‘Melo has raised his career scoring average to 24.7 per contest and garnered consideration as a legitimate franchise player.

Unfortunately, Anthony falls to the third spot on this list by virtue of the fact that he’s never once made the NBA Finals. In fact, the Syracuse product has lost in the first round of the postseason during eight separate campaigns.

Nevertheless, Anthony remains one of the top 15 players in the game. The fact that ‘Melo has begun to display a full-fledged effort on defense points to an improvement in placement on that list.

The New York Knicks’ star has made a living as a one-way player. Under head coach Mike Woodson, however, Carmelo Anthony has begun to offer an equal effort on D. The result has been outstanding team play and shocking efficiency from ‘Melo on a previously ignored end of the floor.

As long as he continues to balance his attention between both ends of the floor, Carmelo Anthony may just escape the first round of the NBA Playoffs. As a result, ‘Melo may even move up on this list accordingly.

If nothing else, remember Carmelo Anthony as the one of the most clutch players in NBA history.

2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

Kevin Durant may not have an MVP award in his trophy case, but he now has three consecutive scoring titles and an Olympic Gold Medal. Considering Durant is just 23-years-old, it’s safe to say that the sky is the limit for the 6’9″ small forward.

Although loyalists would contest Derrick Rose is more deserving of this label, Kevin Durant has ended the debate in many minds. Slightly behind LeBron James, Kevin Durant is the second-best player in the world.

Durant made the leap in 2012, leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to an NBA Finals appearance. On their way to the title series, the Thunder took out the three biggest names in the Western Conference; the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs. The teams who had won four of the previous five NBA titles and appeared in every NBA Finals series since the Utah Jazz made it in 1998.

The reign of dominance was ended by the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder were led by Kevin Durant.

From his final minute heroics to his extraordinary improvements on defense, Durant was absolutely phenomenal. He finished with postseason averages of 28.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks per game.

He also scored greater than 20 points in every game he played. Durant only dropped below 25 points in three of those 20 appearances.

This came on the heels of a regular season that saw KD average 28.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. To put it simply, these are the numbers that we should expect from the “Durantula” moving forward.

If not, expect them to improve. An MVP award and NBA title appear to be in Kevin Durant’s not-so-distant future.

1. LeBron James, Miami Heat

LeBron James is the best player on the planet. If he were to be listed any lower than first at his position, this would be an example of highway robbery.

James’s development as a leader has led to an exaggeration of his abilities in other areas, such as his jump shooting which remains inconsistent. This does not mean LeBron is not the most dangerous force in the game, however, as he is legitimately unstoppable off of the dribble and is a sure thing to finish in traffic.

He’s also an outstanding passer and, arguably, the best all-around defender in the NBA.

To put it simply, LeBron James is the Magic Johnson of this era. He’s virtually untouchable and through all of the criticism, has emerged as the most impenetrable force in sports. Proof would be ‘Bron’s past year that has included an NBA Championship, Olympic Gold Medal and both the regular season and NBA Finals MVP awards.

Love him or hate him, there’s only one way to evaluate LeBron James’ play on the court. “LBJ6″ is the best small forward in the game and the best player in the world.

Top nba players at small forward position1 Top 5 NBA Players at Small Forward Position

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