By Cody Williams @TheSizzle20 on March 12, 2014
The MVP race in the 2013-14 NBA season is pretty much a two-man race between LeBron James and Kevin Durant, both of whom happen to be small forwards in this league. You could argue that small forward is one of the most stacked positions in the league. With that in mind, here are the 10 best small forwards in the Association this season.
Andre Iguodala’s stat-line in his first season with the Warriors hasn’t been as impressive as many expected it to be. However, the veteran wing has been an enormous part in helping this Golden State team to re-establish their identity as one of the best defensive teams in the league. That alone earns him some recognition, from me at least.
Forgetting about how dreadful he was with the Raptors, Rudy Gay has been fantastic since being traded to the Sacramento Kings. While a big part of his improvement has simply been that his same bad shots are falling now, he has become a smarter scorer and is once again a quality asset, albeit on a bad team.
Kawhi Leonard just does so many things for the San Antonio Spurs. He’s their best and most versatile defender, but he can also provide them with a number of different looks offensively where he can effectively put points on the board. Had he not missed such a substantial amount of time due to injuries, he’s be in the top five without question.
It was assumed throughout NBA circles that Mike Dunleavy would be a fantastic addition to the Bulls this season and that’s definitely been the case this season. While the Bulls as a whole have been deficient from beyond-the-arc, Dunleavy has been the guiding force from beyond-the-arc. Throw in his smart, efficient play and solid defensive skills, and he’s definitely been one of the better players at the position this year.
After three or four years of pretty sub-par performance, I and many others though Trevor Ariza was done as an effective NBA player. He’s proven everyone wrong, though, coming up big with the Wizards in their run to the postseason. He’s been a dead-eye shooter from long-range, but has also had a bit of a renaissance on the defensive end as well. As surprising as it may be, Ariza is firmly in the best small forwards this season.
Chandler Parsons is sometimes the forgotten cog of the Houston Rockets, living in the shadows of Dwight Howard and James Harden. However, the forward has continued to grow and play a huge part in Houston’s free-flowing, three-point heavy offense. Parsons’ offensive versatility makes him a threat that keeps the Rockets’ potent offense clicking.
While Carmelo Anthony plays his fair share of minutes at power forward, that’s in small-ball lineups and he’s always going to be a small forward in my mind. This season has been a slew of hard times for the New York Knicks, but Melo has been the one redeeming quality of this team. If this team can make a late push for the postseason, it’s going to be on the shoulders of Anthony.
It looked like Paul George could win the MVP with how he began the 2013-14 NBA season. He’s fallen off since then, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been phenomenal. The Pacers star is still one of the most lethal defenders in the NBA and has taken tremendous strides in terms of his effectiveness on the offensive end of the floor. He still has a bit to go before he’s in the conversation with LeBron and Durant, but he’s a clear third right now.
Deciding between Durant and LeBron for MVP or the best small forward in the game right now is basically like flipping a coin. Both players have battled adversity this season with their fellow stars missing time and have thrived. Durant has not only been on a historical level with his scoring, but has also progressed as a playmaker and defender. He could easily be number one, but I’ve got him at two.
LeBron is still the best player in the league right now, even if he does lose out on MVP to Durant. This Heat team has quietly had some issues this season, but James has still led them to a position where they can make another Finals run. Moreover, he’s having a historically efficient offensive season in addition to being one of the most underappreciated defenders in the league. There’s just no one that affects a basketball game like LeBron.
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