If you were to compare basketball positions to boxing weight classes, there’s no question that the small forwards are the heavyweights in the game. In boxing, typically the heavyweights are the most popular/best fighters. At the state the game is at right now, the small forwards are the best players.
While all other positions are definitive, small forward is not. A guard is a guard and a big man is a big man, but a small forward can be both. There aren’t many specialty players at this position. Guards can be scorers or distributors. Bigs can be scorers, rebounders, or defensive specialists. But small forwards can be all three rolled into one. That’s why they’re heavyweights of basketball.
No other position requires you to have size combined with skill and athleticism. Chances are, at any other position you can have at least one of those traits and be a pretty good player. At small forward it’s necessary for you to have all three.
That’s why it’s such a unique position and that’s why it’s home to the three best basketball players in the world. Over the years, those three guys have set the standard for the position. That’s why it’s become so important for small forwards to have a mix of size, skills and athleticism in today’s game. Some guys have a better mix than others, and that’s what sets the greats apart from the rest of the bunch.
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10. CHANDLER PARSONS: 15.5 ppg, 3.5 apg, 5.3 rpg
Who would’ve expected that Chandler Parsons would be a top-10 scorer at his position in his second year in the league? Not many, that’s for sure. At Florida, Parsons played more of an inside game. He never really showcased his complete skill-set as a Gator because of the system Billy Donovan had him playing in. So when the time came for Parsons to get drafted, nobody knew his true capabilities. He was selected 38th overall in the draft, but now folks can finally see that he really should’ve been a lottery pick.
Parsons took his game to a new level this season. With the addition of James Harden, the Rockets adopted a new playing style and it’s a system tailor-made for Parsons’ abilities. His specialties as a player are his spot-up shooting and his ability to play in transition. With Harden creating, he can spot up for open looks all day long and the speed the Rockets play at is right up his ally as well. If Parsons continues to improve at the rate he is now, he could be an All-Star next season. Just look at what Paul George was able to do three years in.
9. DANILO GALLINARI: 16.2 ppg, 2.5 apg, 5.2 rpg
After Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari is the most important player for the Denver Nuggets. Although the Nuggets were still a pretty good team after losing him to an ACL injury, his absence was definitely felt, especially in the first-round series against Golden State. Gallinari’s 16.2 points a night was good enough for second-best on the Nuggets behind only Lawson. His size at the position, as well as his shooting ability, has made him a special player. Even though Gallinari isn’t the most athletic player at the small forward position, his combination of size and skill makes up for it. Gallinari is 6-10 and has range out to 30 feet. All he has to improve on is his athleticism and his ballhandling ability and he could be an All-Star very soon.