Sports
18.9k voters

The Best Small Forwards of All Time

Updated July 13, 2020 131.7k votes 18.9k voters 220.8k 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.
Photo:
...more
  • 1
    Larry Bird
    7,243
    2,395

    Larry Bird

    Boston Celtics

    PositionSmall forward, Power forward

    Age63

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

    More Larry Bird 

    #158 of 198 Celebrities Who Should Run for President#34 of 105 The Most Influential Contemporary Americans

  • 2
    LeBron James
    8,874
    3,455

    LeBron James

    Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat

    PositionSmall forward, Power forward

    Age35

    BirthplaceAkron, Ohio, United States of America

    Number23

    More LeBron James 

    The Best LeBron 15 Colorways, Ranked#249 of 269 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World

  • 3
    Kevin Durant
    5,151
    2,226

    Kevin Durant

    Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder

    PositionSmall forward

    Age31

    BirthplaceWashington, D.C., United States of America

    Number35

    More Kevin Durant 

    The Best KD 10 Colorways, RankedThe Coolest Kevin Durant Signature Shoes, Ranked

  • 4
    Kawhi Leonard
    2,886
    871

    Kawhi Leonard

    Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs

    PositionShooting guard, Small forward

    Age28

    BirthplaceRiverside, California

    Number2

  • 5
    Scottie Pippen
    4,199
    2,071

    Scottie Pippen

    Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets

    PositionSmall forward

    Age54

    BirthplaceUSA, Hamburg, Arkansas

  • 6
    Tracy McGrady
    2,153
    1,220

    Tracy McGrady

    Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic

    PositionShooting guard, Small forward

    Age40

    BirthplaceUSA, Florida, Bartow

  • 7
    Rick Barry
    1,572
    1,124

    Rick Barry

    New York Nets, Houston Rockets

    PositionSmall forward

    Age75

    BirthplaceElizabeth, New Jersey, United States of America

  • 8
    Paul Pierce
    2,391
    1,874

    Paul Pierce

    Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics

    PositionSmall forward

    Age42

    BirthplaceOakland, California, United States of America

    Number34

    More Paul Pierce 

    #6 of 133 The Best Boston Celtics of All Time#3 of 49 The Greatest Kansas Jayhawks Basketball Players of All Time

  • 9
    Vince Carter
    1,936
    1,330

    Vince Carter

    Sacramento Kings, Memphis Grizzlies

    PositionShooting guard, Small forward

    Age42

    BirthplaceDaytona Beach, Florida, United States of America

    Number25

  • 10
    John Havlicek
    1,685
    1,350

    John Havlicek

    Boston Celtics

    Age79

    BirthplaceMartins Ferry, Ohio

    More John Havlicek 

    #108 of 150 Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative#26 of 175 The Greatest Shooting Guards in NBA History

  • 11
    Charles Barkley
    1,536
    533

    Charles Barkley

    Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers

    PositionSmall forward, Power forward

    Age56

    BirthplaceLeeds, Alabama, United States of America

  • 12
    Giannis Antetokounmpo
    867
    406

    Giannis Antetokounmpo

    Milwaukee Bucks

    PositionSmall forward, Point forward

    Age26

    BirthplaceAthens, Greece

    Number34

  • 13
    Toni Kukoč
    391
    134

    Toni Kukoč

    Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers

    PositionSmall forward

    Age52

    BirthplaceSplit, Croatia, Yugoslavia

  • 14
    Paul Arizin
    900
    481

    Paul Arizin

    Philadelphia Warriors

    AgeDec. at 78 (1928-2006)

    BirthplacePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania

    More Paul Arizin 

    #13 of 213 The Best White Players in NBA History#24 of 227 The Greatest Offensive Players in NBA History

  • 15
    Dominique Wilkins
    2,510
    2,321

    Dominique Wilkins

    Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics

    PositionSmall forward

    Age59

    BirthplaceParis, France

  • 16
    James Worthy
    2,017
    1,910

    James Worthy

    Los Angeles Lakers

    PositionSmall forward

    Age58

    BirthplaceGastonia, North Carolina, United States of America

  • 17
    Clyde Drexler
    1,177
    1,048

    Clyde Drexler

    Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets

    PositionShooting guard, Small forward

    Age57

    BirthplaceNew Orleans, Louisiana, USA

  • 18
    Elgin Baylor
    2,429
    2,460

    Elgin Baylor

    Los Angeles Lakers

    PositionSmall forward

    Age85

    BirthplaceWashington, D.C., United States of America

    More Elgin Baylor 

    #13 of 161 The Best NBA Players With No Championship Rings#12 of 55 The Best No. 1 Overall NBA Draft Picks of All Time, Ranked

  • 19
    Paul George
    1,450
    1,383

    Paul George

    Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers

    PositionShooting guard, Small forward

    Age29

    BirthplacePalmdale, California

    Number24

  • 20
    Carmelo Anthony
    1,839
    1,884

    Carmelo Anthony

    Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks

    PositionSmall forward, Forward

    Age35

    BirthplaceNew York City, Red Hook, USA, New York

    Number7

  • 21
    Michael Jordan
    846
    738

    Michael Jordan

    Washington Wizards, Chicago Bulls

    PositionShooting guard, Small forward

    Age56

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, United States of America

    More Michael Jordan 

    Wild Stories And Rumors About Michael JordanThe Forgotten Michael Jordan '90s Cartoon ProStars Was Even Weirder Than Space Jam

  • 22
    Jimmy Butler
    120
    23

    Jimmy Butler

    Miami Heat

    PositionSmall forward

    Age30

    BirthplaceHouston, Texas

    Number21

  • 23
    Luka Dončić
    117
    57

    Luka Dončić

    Dallas Mavericks

    PositionGuard, Small forward

    Number11

    More Luka Dončić 

    #76 of 769 The Top NBA Players Of All Time#5 of 102 The Most Likable Players In The NBA Today

  • 24
    Gordon Hayward
    307
    267

    Gordon Hayward

    Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics

    PositionSmall forward

    Age29

    BirthplaceIndianapolis, Indiana

    Number20

  • 25
    Anthony Davis
    287
    198

    Anthony Davis

    New Orleans Pelicans

    PositionPower forward, Center

    Age26

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois

    Number3