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The Best Small Forwards of All Time

Updated July 13, 2020 131.1k votes 18.8k voters 220.5k 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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  • 1
    Larry Bird is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    7,225
    2,380

    Larry Bird

    Boston Celtics

    PositionSmall forward, Power forward

    Age63

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

  • 2
    LeBron James is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    8,840
    3,449

    LeBron James

    Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat

    PositionSmall forward, Power forward

    Age35

    BirthplaceAkron, Ohio, United States of America

    Number23

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  • 3
    Kevin Durant is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    5,141
    2,217

    Kevin Durant

    Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder

    PositionSmall forward

    Age31

    BirthplaceWashington, D.C., United States of America

    Number35

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  • 4
    Kawhi Leonard is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    2,882
    857

    Kawhi Leonard

    Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs

    PositionShooting guard, Small forward

    Age28

    BirthplaceRiverside, California

    Number2

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  • 5
    Scottie Pippen is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    4,185
    2,066

    Scottie Pippen

    Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets

    PositionSmall forward

    Age54

    BirthplaceUSA, Hamburg, Arkansas

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  • 6
    Tracy McGrady is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    2,147
    1,211

    Tracy McGrady

    Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic

    PositionShooting guard, Small forward

    Age40

    BirthplaceUSA, Florida, Bartow

  • 7
    Rick Barry is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    1,560
    1,123

    Rick Barry

    New York Nets, Houston Rockets

    PositionSmall forward

    Age75

    BirthplaceElizabeth, New Jersey, United States of America

  • 8
    Vince Carter is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    1,929
    1,327

    Vince Carter

    Sacramento Kings, Memphis Grizzlies

    PositionShooting guard, Small forward

    Age42

    BirthplaceDaytona Beach, Florida, United States of America

    Number25

  • 9
    Charles Barkley is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    1,530
    528

    Charles Barkley

    Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers

    PositionSmall forward, Power forward

    Age56

    BirthplaceLeeds, Alabama, United States of America

  • 10
    Paul Pierce is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    2,381
    1,872

    Paul Pierce

    Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics

    PositionSmall forward

    Age42

    BirthplaceOakland, California, United States of America

    Number34

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  • 11
    John Havlicek is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    1,675
    1,350

    John Havlicek

    Boston Celtics

    Age79

    BirthplaceMartins Ferry, Ohio

  • 12
    Giannis Antetokounmpo is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    863
    400

    Giannis Antetokounmpo

    Milwaukee Bucks

    PositionSmall forward, Point forward

    Age26

    BirthplaceAthens, Greece

    Number34

  • 13
    Toni Kukoč is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    389
    125

    Toni Kukoč

    Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers

    PositionSmall forward

    Age52

    BirthplaceSplit, Croatia, Yugoslavia

  • 14
    Paul Arizin is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    898
    478

    Paul Arizin

    Philadelphia Warriors

    AgeDec. at 78 (1928-2006)

    BirthplacePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania

  • 15
    Dominique Wilkins is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    2,499
    2,319

    Dominique Wilkins

    Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics

    PositionSmall forward

    Age59

    BirthplaceParis, France

  • 16
    James Worthy is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    2,010
    1,909

    James Worthy

    Los Angeles Lakers

    PositionSmall forward

    Age58

    BirthplaceGastonia, North Carolina, United States of America

  • 17
    Clyde Drexler is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    1,173
    1,044

    Clyde Drexler

    Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets

    PositionShooting guard, Small forward

    Age57

    BirthplaceNew Orleans, Louisiana, USA

  • 18
    Elgin Baylor is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    2,413
    2,458

    Elgin Baylor

    Los Angeles Lakers

    PositionSmall forward

    Age85

    BirthplaceWashington, D.C., United States of America

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  • 19
    Paul George is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    1,450
    1,377

    Paul George

    Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers

    PositionShooting guard, Small forward

    Age29

    BirthplacePalmdale, California

    Number24

  • 20
    Carmelo Anthony is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    1,830
    1,881

    Carmelo Anthony

    Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks

    PositionSmall forward, Forward

    Age35

    BirthplaceNew York City, Red Hook, USA, New York

    Number7

  • 21
    Michael Jordan is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    841
    729

    Michael Jordan

    Washington Wizards, Chicago Bulls

    PositionShooting guard, Small forward

    Age56

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York

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  • 22
    Luka Dončić is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    117
    50

    Luka Dončić

    Dallas Mavericks

    PositionGuard, Small forward

    Number11

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  • 23
    Jimmy Butler is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    117
    19

    Jimmy Butler

    Miami Heat

    PositionSmall forward

    Age30

    BirthplaceHouston, Texas

    Number21

  • 24
    Anthony Davis is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    287
    189

    Anthony Davis

    New Orleans Pelicans

    PositionPower forward, Center

    Age26

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois

    Number3

  • 25
    Gordon Hayward is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Small Forwards of All Time
    306
    259

    Gordon Hayward

    Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics

    PositionSmall forward

    Age29

    BirthplaceIndianapolis, Indiana

    Number20

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