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19.0k voters

The Best Small Forwards of All Time

Updated July 13, 2020 128.3k votes 19.0k voters 221.7k views135 items

List RulesOnly NBA players who played small forward for most of their career

Who are the best small forwards of all time? A small forward serves a critical role in any basketball game, whether NCAA or pro, but this list is primarily concerned with the top small forwards in the NBA. Fans of the game know how important the small forward is: he is often one of the main scorers on the team. The small forward is also versatile, able to fill many roles for a team. Which small forward deserves the title of the best ever? That's for you to decide, with your votes. You can also add any small forwards who are missing from this list, and rerank it any way you want.

When it comes to deciding the best small forwards in the NBA, well, arguments might ensue. Everyone has a favorite -- whether it's LeBron James and his incredible size, strength and versatility, Larry Bird and his extraordinary shooting abilities or a modern era shooter with amazing shooting ability like Kevin Durant. Arguments can be made that virtually any one of the players listed here could be the best ever; certainly they are all among the top NBA players of all time, too.

If you're up for more voting, check out these lists of the greatest power forwards and the greatest shooting guards in NBA history, too. These are the top 10 small forwards in the NBA.
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  • Larry Bird1
    7,012
    2,371

    Larry Bird

    Boston Celtics

    PositionSmall forward

    Age64

    BirthplaceWest Baden Springs, French Lick Township, Indiana, United States of America

    Number33

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  • LeBron James2
    8,615
    3,345

    LeBron James

    Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat

    PositionPower forward

    Age36

    BirthplaceAkron, Ohio, United States of America

    Number23

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  • Kevin Durant3
    5,012
    2,153

    Kevin Durant

    Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder

    PositionSmall forward

    Age32

    BirthplaceWashington, D.C., United States of America

    Number35

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  • Kawhi Leonard4
    2,825
    880

    Kawhi Leonard

    Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs

    PositionSmall forward

    Age29

    BirthplaceRiverside, California

    Number2

    More Kawhi Leonard 

    #43 of 227 The Greatest Offensive Players in NBA History#2 of 294 The Top 100+ NBA Players Today

  • Scottie Pippen5
    4,081
    2,011

    Scottie Pippen

    Chicago Bulls, Portland Trail Blazers

    PositionSmall forward

    Age55

    BirthplaceHamburg, Arkansas, United States of America

    Number33

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    #462 of 583 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time#2 of 73 The Greatest Chicago Bulls of All Time

  • Tracy McGrady6
    2,090
    1,212

    Tracy McGrady

    Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic

    PositionShooting guard, Small forward

    Age41

    BirthplaceBartow, Florida, United States of America

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  • Rick Barry7
    1,527
    1,110

    Rick Barry

    New York Nets, Houston Rockets

    PositionSmall forward

    Age76

    BirthplaceElizabeth, New Jersey, United States of America

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    #1 of 24 The Best Small Forwards of the 70s#6 of 52 The Best NBA Free-Throw Shooters Ever

  • Paul Pierce8
    2,326
    1,838

    Paul Pierce

    Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics

    PositionSmall forward

    Age43

    BirthplaceOakland, California, United States of America

    Number34

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  • John Havlicek9
    1,649
    1,312

    John Havlicek

    Boston Celtics

    PositionSmall forward

    Age80

    BirthplaceMartins Ferry, Ohio, United States of America

    Number17

    More John Havlicek 

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  • Charles Barkley10
    1,513
    536

    Charles Barkley

    Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets

    PositionPower forward

    Age57

    BirthplaceLeeds, Alabama, United States of America

    Number34

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  • Vince Carter11
    1,880
    1,305

    Vince Carter

    Sacramento Kings, Memphis Grizzlies

    PositionShooting guard, Small forward

    Age43

    BirthplaceDaytona Beach, Florida, United States of America

    Number25

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  • Giannis Antetokounmpo12
    861
    415

    Giannis Antetokounmpo

    Milwaukee Bucks

    PositionPower forward

    Age26

    BirthplaceAthens, Greece

    Number34

    More Giannis Antetokounmpo 

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  • Paul Arizin13
    900
    489

    Paul Arizin

    Philadelphia Warriors

    AgeDec. at 78 (1928-2006)

    BirthplacePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania

    More Paul Arizin 

    #5 of 22 The Best NBA Point Guards of the 60s#3 of 23 The Best Small Forwards of the 60s

  • Dominique Wilkins14
    2,436
    2,249

    Dominique Wilkins

    Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics

    PositionSmall forward

    Age60

    BirthplaceParis, France

    More Dominique Wilkins 

    #2 of 53 The Best NBA Players Who Played Overseas#4 of 22 The Best Small Forwards of the 90s

  • Toni Kukoč15
    391
    152

    Toni Kukoč

    Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers

    PositionSmall forward

    Age52

    BirthplaceSplit, Croatia, Yugoslavia

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  • James Worthy16
    1,967
    1,864

    James Worthy

    Los Angeles Lakers

    PositionSmall forward

    Age58

    BirthplaceGastonia, North Carolina, United States of America

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  • Elgin Baylor17
    2,356
    2,373

    Elgin Baylor

    Los Angeles Lakers

    PositionSmall forward

    Age85

    BirthplaceWashington, D.C., United States of America

    More Elgin Baylor 

    #179 of 256 The Top NBA Players Of All Time#12 of 55 The Best No. 1 Overall NBA Draft Picks of All Time, Ranked

  • Clyde Drexler18
    1,146
    1,040

    Clyde Drexler

    Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets

    PositionShooting guard

    Age58

    BirthplaceNew Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America

    More Clyde Drexler 

    #21 of 32 The Best NBA Shooting Guards of the 90s#3 of 26 The Best NBA Shooting Guards of the 80s

  • Paul George19
    1,406
    1,370

    Paul George

    Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers

    PositionShooting guard, Small forward

    Age30

    BirthplacePalmdale, California

    Number24

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  • Carmelo Anthony20
    1,789
    1,837

    Carmelo Anthony

    Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks

    PositionSmall forward, Forward

    Age36

    BirthplaceRed Hook, New York City, New York, United States of America

    Number7

    More Carmelo Anthony 

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  • Michael Jordan21
    822
    737

    Michael Jordan

    Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards

    PositionShooting guard

    Age57

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, United States of America

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  • Jimmy Butler22
    124
    28

    Jimmy Butler

    Miami Heat

    PositionSmall forward

    Age31

    BirthplaceHouston, Texas

    Number21

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  • Luka Dončić23
    121
    67

    Luka Dončić

    Dallas Mavericks

    PositionSmall forward

    Number11

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  • Gordon Hayward24
    296
    265

    Gordon Hayward

    Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics

    PositionSmall forward

    Age30

    BirthplaceIndianapolis, Indiana

    Number20

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  • Anthony Davis25
    276
    203

    Anthony Davis

    New Orleans Pelicans

    PositionPower forward, Center

    Age27

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois

    Number3

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