Kevin Durant put up one of the all-time greatest performances in NBA Playoffs history last week in Game 5 against the Milwaukee Bucks. Durant led the Brooklyn Nets to victory as he scored 49 points, pulled down 17 rebounds, and dished out 10 assists. Where does “KD” rank among the greatest small forwards in NBA history? Here’s a closer look at the top four players to ever play the small forward position.
- Scottie Pippen
Michael Jordan’s top wingman had to make this list. Pippen played 17 seasons in the NBA and made seven All-Star teams. He also helped the Bulls win six NBA titles during their 1990’s dynasty.
Pippen was one of the game’s rare talents that could truly do it all on both ends of the floor. Bulls coach Phil Jackson said that Pippen could guard any position on the floor and often referred to him as a “one-man wrecking crew”. Pippen made the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. Not bad for a kid from a small town in Central Arkansas!
- Kevin Durant
“KD” makes the list here at number three for his insane athleticism. As we saw in Game 5 against the Bucks, when Durant is on, he is almost impossible to stop. Durant is only 32-years old, but he’s already won two championship rings (both with the Warriors).
What’s special about Durant is that he has the height of a center (6-10) but has the shooting ability of a point guard. The former Texas Longhorn ranks 5th on the NBA’s all-time list for points per game (27.0). Durant could add a couple more titles to his resume before he retires and waits for his Hall of Fame induction.
- Larry Bird
“Larry Legend” was one of the game’s all-time greats. Bird led the Celtics to three NBA titles during the 1980’s. He spent all 13 of his NBA seasons with the Celtics and was one of the best pure shooters of his era.
Bird won three MVP awards, was selected to the All-Star team 12 times, and was world class at talking plenty of trash and getting into his opponents’ heads. Bird was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998. Bird also had a tremendous coaching career in the NBA as he compiled an overall record of 147-67 with the Indiana Pacers.
- LeBron James
“King James” is the best small forward in NBA history and a four-time NBA champion. James has led three different teams to world titles (Cavs, Heat, and Lakers). The 36-year old has played 18 NBA seasons and shows no signs of slowing down.
James has made 17 All-Star teams in a row and has won 4 MVP awards! He ranks third on the all-time list for points scored with 35,367 (Basketball-Reference.com). Many folks will argue that Jordan is the greatest basketball player who ever lived, but you can make a good case that James is right up there with him.