The small forward position in the NBA is a little bit tricky to judge at the moment. There are many players with the size to be considered a 3, but play as a point guard or as a power forward. In this list, we will give you the five best small forwards in the current NBA.
LeBron James and Jayson Tatum, for example, were listed last season (by Basketball Reference) as a point guard and a power forward respectively. Still, the position they have played most often during their career is the small forward, so do not be surprised if you see them on this list.
NBA Power Rankings: Top 5 small forwards in the league right now
The small forward position is one of the most important in today's NBA action, because it is full of players who can really control their team's offence and are versatile defenders. In this edition of the NBA Power Rankings, we will discuss the top 5 small forwards in the league right now.
#5 Jayson Tatum
The Boston Celtics truly have a gem in Jayson Tatum. The third overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Tatum blossomed into a superstar last season for the Celtics, averaging 23.4 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists per game (all career-highs) on 45 percent shooting.
The 22-year-old also became a first-time NBA All-Star as his usage rate was increased during the 2019-20 season.
In the 2020 NBA Playoffs, Tatum led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals. He averaged 26 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists per game on a league-leading 40.6 minutes per game.
#4 Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler has usually flown under the radar, although is well-respected around the league and by the media for his mentality. His game has not always been the first thing many would say when judging his position in the NBA, as he is known more for his intensity and tough personality.
The 2020 NBA Playoffs changed how lots of people saw Butler, and he certainly deserves praise for his game.
His numbers will not always be flashy, but he is a great all-round forward. Butler averaged 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists per game for the Miami Heat in the 2019-20 season.
In the Playoffs, he led the team to the NBA Finals, where they lost in six games to LeBron James and the mighty 2020 LA Lakers. In the Finals, he averaged 26 points, 10 assists, and 8 rebounds per game on 55 percent shooting.
Butler had two incredible games (Games 3 and 5). These included a 40-point triple-double in Game 3 as he became only the third player in history to achieve it in the Finals (after Jerry West and LeBron James).
#3 Kawhi Leonard
Though Kawhi Leonard and the LA Clippers are coming off of a horrible defeat in the 2020 NBA Playoffs against the Denver Nuggets, the 29-year-old remains one of the top players in the league and certainly a top-3 athlete at his position.
Leonard, even though he load managed a lot during the regular season, was essential for the LA Clippers in the regular season, and even in the Playoffs before the team's meltdown in the last three games against the Nuggets.
Leonard is a two-time NBA champion and two-time Finals MVP with two different teams. He is also a four-time All-Star and a two-time Defensive Player of the Year award winner. And his current performances remain at the level of his resume.
Leonard averaged 27 points (career-high), 7 rebounds, and 5 assists (career-high) per game in the 2019-20 season. In the Playoffs, his numbers went up to 28 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists per game, but the LA Clippers - and Leonard - were a disappointment.
#2 Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant did not play a single minute of the unique 2019-20 NBA season, but there are no doubts about what level he will be at when he returns next year.
Now a Brooklyn Nets player, Durant remains a top-2 SF in the game (many would even call him the best player on the current NBA).
Durant is expected to have a career year once the next season begins, and that is what he and his team need if they are going to be a factor in the Eastern Conference.
Durant has a career average of 27 points per game, which is the sixth-highest in NBA history. He is also a regular-season MVP, two-time NBA Finals MVP, 10-time All-Star and four-time NBA scoring champion.
#1 LeBron James
What else can we say about LeBron James' greatness? Well, you can say he is the best point guard in the current NBA, and you can also say he is the best small forward should he play at the position.
But the bottom line is this - he is the best player on the planet and is arguably the greatest of all time.
James achieved his fourth NBA Championship by guiding the LA Lakers to their 17th NBA title, and he won another NBA Finals MVP (his fourth with a third different team - NBA record) at age 35.
In his 17th NBA season, James averaged 25 points per game and led the league in assists to push the Lakers to the first seed in the West. James averaged 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists during the NBA Playoffs, shooting 56 percent from the field and returning to his place as the king of the league after missing the 2019 playoffs.