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Top SFs Of The Season

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Basketball fans we are back with another list and today, we ranked our top small forwards of the season. As always, be sure to give us a follow on Twitter, and thanks for the endless support!

 

Brandon Wentz- @Thebighonch

Honorable mentions to Paul George and Gordon Hayward. Hayward was my 7th place SF and I couldn’t justify placing him in my top five because I believe that Rudy Gobert is the best player in Utah right now, and I attribute Utah’s outstanding season to team growth around The Stiffle Tower.

As far as Paul George goes, it was really hard for me to choose between him and Jimmy Butler (spoiler alert, he’s my number five). What ultimately decided it was that Butler is a more skilled passer and defender than George.

5. Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls

23.8 ppg, 6.2 RPG, 5.6 APG, 1.9 SPG, .4 ppg

4. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors 

25.3 ppg, 8.2 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.6 bag

Durant is the only player on my list to play less than 71 games, and if he’d played more than 59 he would find himself higher on my list because a TS% of 65.1% on almost 17 shot attempts per game is outstanding. Also if his team wasn’t on a 13-game winning streak without him, that would help his case too.

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

23.1 ppg, 8.7 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.7 SPG, 1.9 BPG

I know, crazy numbers to have and yet still be so low; but the top two are each NBA champions, former and defending, and recipients of at least one Finals MVP. The Greek Freak is young, I think his ceiling is exponentially high considering this is just his fourth year in the league. If it weren’t for the fact that I believe in legacy, I would have him in second place.

2. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

25.7 ppg, 5.9 RPG, 3.6 APG, 1.8 SPG,

Leonard is taking the role of Spurs’ leader in stride now that The Big Fundamental has retired, and is averaging career-highs in points and assists per game. He also boasts a PER of 27.7 and has 13.3 Win Shares (third in the league behind James Harden and Rudy Gobert) this season. His talent along with the Spurs’ deep bench and orchestral style of play makes San Antonio a perennial title contender and that says something. Speaking of perennial title contenders…

1. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

26.3 ppg, 8.6 RPG, 8.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, .6 bpg

Six straight Finals appearances is not an easy feat to accomplish, and it takes a special talent to accomplish such. James is having one of the best years of his career, carrying Cleveland as they fight with Boston for the top seed in the East, and notching triple-doubles at an impressive rate for anyone not named Westbrook or Robertson. His Value Over Replacement is the best on this list at 7.1 and he’s boasting a 61.7% TS% and 41.3 Assist Percentage.

Even without representing the East in the last six NBA Finals, 26, 8, and 8 are still pretty damn good numbers.

 

Cale Michael- @XJustified

Small forward is by far the position that has the least argument for the number one spot. But what about two through five?

  1. Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz

In his contract year, Hair Gordon has put on a show for the fans in Utah and has his team slated for their first playoff appearance since 2012. His offensive game has taken a step up and his defense has improved too. He was named to his first All-Star game this season, something that I feel should have happened earlier.

He is the number one option on a team that could end up in the fourth seed in a loaded Western Conference and his team’s second option scoring wise is playing with one leg. Rudy Gobert has taken a step up on the offensive end of the floor in recent weeks, but Hayward is still left with the lion’s share.

  1. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors

Say it with me, everyone! I-N-J-U-R-I-E-S! That is why KD has fallen to the four spot and just barely edged out my man H20 for it. His injury left the Warriors vulnerable for all of a week and a half before they remembered that Steph, Klay, and Dray were still in the house. He was having a career season in efficiency and deserves a lot of credit for what he has done.

The only reason he is above Hayward on this list is solely on how far I think his team will go in the postseason. Don’t get me wrong, I have the Jazz slated as the upset team if they put it all together in post, but the Warriors seem to be the hand down favorite to win it all. If KD comes back at anywhere above 80 percent and Iggy continues to ball like he has been, I can see few roadblocks to the title for the new look Warriors.

  1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

In his fourth NBA season, the 22-year old has increased his averages in every important category while playing the exact same minutes. He was named to what everyone assumes to be his first of many All-Star games in the future for his work.

Season Points Rebounds Assists
’15-16 16.9 7.7 4.3
’16-17 23.1 8.7 5.4

He is the most likely candidate to win the Most Improved Player award and it probably won’t even be close. His play has helped the Bucks remain in playoff contention and should he add a jumper to his arsenal over the offseason, everyone better watch out.

  1. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

Not unlike the Greek Freak, the Klaw has had to take his game to another level for his team to succeed too. He has taken up the option of number one scorer on the Spurs and his playmaking has taken a large leap too. Should he focus on his assisting over break, we might see some crazy stats from the San Diego State alum.

While nowhere close to Kevin Durant on the offensive side, Leonard has been known for one thing above all else, his stifling defense. He can guard any position on the court and make life a living hell for his target. Want James Harden to sweat a little? Oh, hey Kawhi, you were so quiet we didn’t see you steal that ball. He is unlikely to three-peat Defensive Player of the Year this season, but he has quickly become one of the top five to ten players in the league and seems likely to hang around.

  1. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

The King reigns again, but for how long? Cleveland has looked vulnerable recently and even in the East, they could face some rough rounds come go-time. Everyone says they will flip a switch and be the team we all saw conquer the 3-1 lead last season, but I don’t see it. I am sure that I will be proven wrong once James makes it to his seventh straight finals, but until then seeing is believing.

His shooting percentages have been the highest of his career, barring free-throw shooting, and he is on the cusp of a triple-double average with how well he rebounds and assists. It isn’t crazy to think he will dominate the East and potentially whatever team comes out of the West, but eyes and ears open ladies and gents, we might see something interesting in the postseason.

 

Brian Sampson- @Brianball0

Small forward may be the most loaded position in the NBA. It has a great blend of players who are at the back end of their peak, in the middle of their peak, and only just beginning to hit their peak. This will be fun!

5. Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz

Hayward, who made his first All-Star appearance this season, is having a great season for the Jazz. When looking at Hayward’s stats it is important to categorize it by per 100 possessions due to the Jazz’ slow pace of play. If the playoffs were to start today the Jazz would have home-court advantage in the first round. Hayward is a player who can do a little bit of everything for his team. He can defend, handle the ball, shoot the ball. You name it.

4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks.

It pains me to put Antetokounmpo this far down the list. As a Bucks writer, I looked for any excuse I could to move him higher but was unable to find a legit one. At 22, Giannis is just barely scratching the surface of his potential and the NBA has never seen anything like him before. He is a near seven-footer who can handle the ball and move like a guard. His PER of 26.5 is just below the three guys ahead of him on this list. He affects the game in so many ways it’s impossible to keep track.

3. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

As I have mentioned before, I believe that we have all become numb to LeBron’s greatness. We have seen him continue to put up insane numbers and it no longer phases us. This year LeBron has a PER of 26.9, ranking third on this list. While that ranks sixth in the NBA this season, LeBron has had a higher PER nine times in his career. He is also averaging 8.2 rebounds and 8.4 assists per 36 minutes, one of only three players to do so this season.

2. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

Leonard is officially a bonafide superstar. He will shut down the opposing teams best player on one end and drop 25 points on the other. Leonard’s growth has been a beauty to watch. His PER of 27.6 is ever so slightly below Durant’s. Leonard is also averaging 27.5 points per 36 minutes which are most on this list. His steals percentage and turnover percentage are also better than anyone on this list. Leonard has been the main reason the Spurs haven’t missed a beat after Tim Ducan’s retirement.

1. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors.

Durant at the top of this list may surprise a lot of you. However, Durant has a higher PER, Win Shares per 48, True Shooting Percentage and Offensive and Defensive Rating than Leonard. If it wasn’t for Durant’s injury he would be in the thick of the MVP discussion. Even though Durant is surrounded by a great team in Golden State it hasn’t stopped him from displaying his great talent. As Draymond Green said, Durant wasn’t brought here to fit in, he was brought here to stand out.

 

Mohamed Bah-  @RAGEMO23

5. Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz

Oh, Gordon! First of all, I’m so glad the Jazz are now finally getting noticed for their success on the court. Also, the Jazz currently sits at the fifth seed out West and, more than likely will take on the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round. What made me put Hayward at the fifth spot is how much he has improved in more than a year. Career highs in points and rebounds, and also defending at a high level, WHILE PLAYING OUT WEST! Easy choice at the fifth spot

4. Giannis Antetekounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

I think I spelled his last name right, but it doesn’t matter because you know who I am talking about. The Greek Freek. He is also having career highs in points, rebound, and even assists. Standing at 6’11”, and having a wingspan of more than seven feet, Giannis is having a breakthrough year. The Bucks most recently clinched a playoff seed just last night due to the immense success of him throughout the season.

3. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors

I did not want to put KD this low due to the fact that he is playing with a loaded roster. But Brandon hit it on the head. His win shares and true shooting percentage won me over. I believe he is playing the best basketball of his career.

2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

My old friend. Here is the thing about LeBron I love the most before I dive in.

  1. He is averaging nine assists a game and for a player his size, that is quite impressive. His court vision is impressive and he clearly loves to get guys involved

Now, WHY IN THE WORLD ARE YOU ALWAYS RESTING????? Look I get why he does it, and quite frankly, I agree to a certain extent. There have been numerous times this season when he chose to rest for marquee games AND IT PISSED ME OFF. Explain to me why you, THE BEST PLAYER IN THE NBA, will sit road games in which you play once a season. Memphis. Clippers. ETC. If you want to rest, do it at home where your fans see you for 41 games.

1. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs have the second best record out West and sit behind the Warriors. But somehow for some reason, Kawhi Leonard hasnt been in MVP discussions. Maybe because he isnt getting triple doubles. Or scoring 35 every night. I dont know. But what I do know is that he is averaging a career high in scoring, 26 a game, and leading that franchise.

About Mohamed Bah

Mohamed Bah is a senior writer/editor at NBALEAD.

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