The modern day small forward has to be jack of all trades, and master of at least one.
Their position demands the ability to get to the rim and hit the jumper like a guard, all while being able to play inside on both ends like a forward. This makes the small forward arguably the most difficult position to play in today’s NBA.
Here’s are a look at the top 5 small forwards from the 2015-16′ season:
5.) Carmelo Anthony
Though no longer the 30-point scorer he was in 2013, Melo is still capable of producing very productive seasons.
He, to an extent, took a backseat to rookie pheonom Kristaps Porzingis last season, but still was able to average 22 points and 8 rebounds, all while only playing 35 minutes per game.
Anthony also took strides towards improving his previously laughable defense, holding opponents to 42% from the field in 2015-16′. He’ll have to continue to improve in these areas if the new-look Knicks want to make a serious playoff run next year.
Only a decline in production post-All Star break held back George from being in the MVP discussion, but that doesn’t take away from his fantastic season entirely.
He averaged a career high 24 points per game, and continued to be his usual disruptive self on the defensive end.
Adding Jeff Teague into the mix puts Indiana amongst the elite of the East, and he, along with Monta Ellis, will make up one of the most explosive backcourts in the game.
PG already has plenty of playoff experience under his belt, and if he can avoid another second half slump, Indiana can seriously challenge Cleveland for Eastern Conference supremacy.
#3.) Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi’s ascension to stardom has been unbelievable to watch, and it’s only just getting started.
His points per game increased to an impressive 21.2 this season, while only playing 33 minutes a night. He also took on more of a playmaker’s role, averaging a career high in assists.
And as good as he is on offense, he’s even better on defense.
He captured his second consecutive DPOY, and has shown all the on-court attributes that will one day land him the “best player in the league” title.
Tim Duncan’s retirement means that Kawhi will have to take the final step towards superstardom, and that’s becoming a leader both in the locker room and on the court
And as Duncan showed us for 19 seasons, the best leaders don’t always lead with their words, which is good news for the usually timid Kawhi.
At only 25 years old, Leonard has already accomplished more than some Hall-of-Famers, and is still hungry for more. The future is bright in San Antonio.
Durant’s decision to leave Oklahoma City has dominated the headlines as of late, and rightfully so. Durant is that good.
For the 8th consecutive season, KD averaged over 25 points, and only an epic chokejob prevented him from reaching another Finals.
Although he publicly expressed his belief that the Thunder were better off in a “share-the-wealth” system, he did flourish for many years in Oklahoma City’s iso-heavy offense.
Which makes this upcoming season in Golden State even more interesting. It’s doubtful that Durant will average his usual 30 in the bay area, but the real question is whether he can flourish in an offense that very rarely plays iso-ball, a scheme that Durant is so accustomed to.
Expect anything different?
LeBron has been the best small-forward in the league every season for the better part of a decade, and this season was no different.
It did seem, however, that we were beginning to take LeBron for granted, as his usual 26 point, 7 rebound, 7 assist season wasn’t grabbing its usual headlines.
But the postseason is where the legends truly make their mark, and the same reigns true with the King.
LeBron’s 2016 NBA Finals was arguably the best ever, as he led all players in every major category en route to Cleveland’s first ever championship.
31, and still finding new ways to influence games, expect James to top this list for the forseeable future.