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The Best NBA Players of All Time - Small Forwards

Small forward... the position has produced Hall of Famers and legends, players whose exploits are still being talked about today. Here's the best of the best.
Published on January 18, 2024

The Best NBA Players of All Time
larry bird

As we continue our series on the Best NBA Players of All Time, we turn our attention to the small forwards. The position has produced Hall of Famers and absolute legends, players whose exploits are still being talked about today.

Best NBA Players of All Time – Small Forwards

  • Dominique Wilkins (1074 GP, 24.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.5 APG)
    Wilkins, known as the “Human Highlight Reel,” thrilled crowds with his electrifying dunks as a dynamic, high-flying player. Wilkins was a nine-time All-Star, a seven-time All-NBA Team member, and a two-time Slam Dunk Contest champion. In addition, he was the winner of the NBA scoring title in 1986 and earned a spot on the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.
  • Elgin Baylor (846 GP, 27.4 PPG, 13.5 RPG, 4.3 APG)
    Baylor was a legendary small forward who played for the Lakers from 1958 to 1971. A member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team, Baylor was a pioneer of the hanging jump shot and known for his aerial showmanship.
  • John Havlicek (1270 GP, 20.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.8 APG)
    Havlicek spent 16 years with the Celtics, and was a key part of eight championships in that span. In fact, he was a 13-time All-Star, a four-time All-NBA First Team member, and a five-time NBA All-Defensive First Team member.
  • Julius Erving (1243 GP, 24.2 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 4.2 APG)
    Erving was one of the most exciting players to ever grace an NBA (and ABA!) court. Erving won three championships, four Most Valuable Player awards, and three scoring titles in his ABA/NBA career. In fact, in 16 seasons as a player none of his teams ever missed the postseason.
  • Kevin Durant (1019 GP, 27.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 4.4 APG) *
    Durant has won two NBA championships, an MVP award, and four scoring titles (so far) in his career. He is a versatile scorer who can connect from anywhere on the court and create his own shot. Additionally, he has excellent passing, rebounding, and defending skills and was named by the NBA to its 75th Anniversary Team.

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Best Small Forwards of All Time (cont’)

  • Larry Bird (897 GP, 24.3 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 6.3 APG)
    Bird led the Celtics to three NBA championships and won three consecutive MVP awards. Also, Bird was a 12-time All-Star, a two-time Finals MVP, and a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. In fact, many credit Bird (along with Magic Johnson) with “saving” the NBA in the 80s and elevating its mass appeal.
  • LeBron James (1458 GP, 27.1 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 7.3 APG) *
    James, the NBA’s leading all-time scorer, is widely regarded as the best NBA players of all time. Additionally, he has won four NBA championships, four MVP awards, and four Finals MVP awards with three different teams. As a result
  • Paul Pierce (1343 GP, 19.7 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.5 APG)
    Pierce played 19 seasons in the NBA, mostly with the Boston Celtics. He won an NBA championship and a Finals MVP award with the Celtics in 2008. In addition, he was a 10-time All-Star and a four-time All-NBA team member.
  • Rick Barry (1020 GP, 24.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 4.9 APG)
    Barry was a superstar who played in the NBA and the ABA. He won an NBA championship, a Finals MVP award with the Golden State Warriors in 1975, and an ABA championship with the Oakland Oaks in 1969. Also, he was a 12-time All-Star, a four-time scoring champion, and a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.
  • Scottie Pippen (1178 GP, 16.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.2 APG)
    Pippen won six NBA championships in 17 seasons with the Chicago Bulls. Also, he was a seven-time All-Star, a three-time All-NBA First Team member, and an eight-time All-Defensive First Team member. Additionally, he was named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team in 2021 and is one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.