Baller Mind Frame

NBA Season Preview: Top 10 Small Forwards

2014-15 NBA SEASON PREVIEW CONTENT LIST

Atlantic: Celtics | Nets | Knicks | 76ers | Raptors |Division Preview
Central: Bulls | Cavaliers | Pistons | Pacers | Bucks | Division Preview
Southeast: Hawks | Hornets | Heat | Magic | Wizards | Division Preview

Pacific: Warriors | Clippers | Lakers | Suns | Kings | Division Preview
Northwest: Nuggets | Timberwolves | Thunder | Trail Blazers | Jazz | Division Preview
Southwest: Mavericks | Rockets | Grizzlies | Pelicans | Spurs | Division Preview

Top 10 by Position: PG | SG | SF | PF | C
Top 10 Lists: Sixth Men | Sophomores | X-Factors | Rookies | Games to Watch | Comeback | Contenders | Breakouts

Articles: Assessing the Cavaliers Trio | Important Season for James Harden | Return of Paul George? | Trading Rajon Rondo | Are the Nuggets This Season’s Suns? | NBA’s Best Starting Five | NBA’s Worst Starting Five | Now or Never for Durant and Thunder After Injury

Fantasy Basketball: Top 10 PGs | Top 10 SGs | Top 10 SFs | Top 10 PFs | Top 10 Cs | Sleepers, Studs, and Sinkholes | Analyzing the Schedule | BMF Mock Draft | Cavs and Cav-Nots | Like A Bosh | Rajon Injury Impact

Media Day: Clippers | Hawks | Kings | Knicks | Magic | Mavericks | Nets

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

We’re going to take an in-depth look at one of the deepest positions in the NBA. See who the top 10 small forwards are going into the 2014-2015 NBA season.

10. Trevor Ariza, Houston Rockets
Last season was a contract year for Ariza and he did very well for the Washington Wizards. He shot the ball very well from three-point range and provided quality defense. He plans to fill the role vacated by Chandler Parsons in Houston. He’s going to have every opportunity to spread the floor being paired with James Harden and Dwight Howard.

9. Josh Smith, Detroit Pistons
Josh has a world of talent, unfortunately for him, he’s on the Pistons. When he’s not jacking up three-point shots (he only shoots 27.9 percent for his career) he is a nightmare for opposing players. He has the athleticism to get by his initial defender but also has the length and strength to finish over them. When he’s focused on doing damage inside and at mid-range he shows his true talent. Look for Stan Van Gundy to keep Josh Smith reined in and put up a season similar to those he had as an Atlanta Hawk.

8. Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors
To some, last season marked his demise as a top 10 small forward in the NBA. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Thrust into a new situation, with a new team, he actually got off to a hot start. After that, he was hampered with a little injury and from that point on Andre struggled for the majority of the season, trying to find a constant rhythm with the Golden State Warriors. He only averaged a little over nine points per game to go with four rebounds and four assists, pretty pedestrian numbers from someone like Iguodala. He’s still an elite defender, so look for Steve Kerr to put Iguodala in more situations that allow him to convert easy buckets in transition.

7. Nicolas Batum, Portland Trail Blazers
Nicolas Batum is one of the ultimate glue guys. He posts modest numbers as a starting small forward but he literally does everything. The only thing he hasn’t really figured out at this point is how to assert himself on the offensive end. Defensively he’s able to give opposing players fits, he rebounds the ball well for his position, and he’s improved his assists. If he were to improve his scoring he would definitely find himself higher on this list. He’s just an all-around baller.

6. Chandler Parsons, Dallas Mavericks
While in Houston, Chandler Parsons was a quality third option behind James Harden and Dwight Howard. So much so that the Dallas Mavericks gave him a three-year contract for $46 million. He shoots the ball well, rebounds, and will attack the basket. Look for Chandler Parsons to continue putting up numbers in Dallas as he fills the lane running with Monta Ellis and receives spot-up looks from Dirk Nowitzki.

5. Rudy Gay, Sacramento Kings
For all intents and purposes, we saw two distinctly different Rudy Gays last season. The Rudy Gay in Toronto was a shot-chucking, offensively inefficient nightmare. The Rudy Gay in Sacramento brought you 21 points per game to go along with three assists and five rebounds, while shooting 48 percent from the field. Like I said, night and day. Rudy Gay has always had the talent to be a high-quality player in this league. Sacramento may prove to finally be the perfect fit for Rudy Gay.

4. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
Fresh off a great NBA Finals performance that proved to be his coming out party, look for Kawhi Leonard to continue flying under the radar. He is still developing on the offensive end. With Tony Parker and Tim Duncan still rolling, Gregg Popovich has had the luxury of letting Kawhi develop at his own pace. Defensively, Leonard is already one of the best on-ball defenders in the league. He’s athletic, quick, rangy, and is incredibly active. Look for Kawhi to secure a spot on the Western Conference All-Star team this year.

3. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
While the Knicks collectively might not be good, Carmelo Anthony still goes out there and puts in serious work. He scores in a variety of ways—inside, outside, off the dribble, jab step, you name it he does it. Look for the triangle offense to move Carmelo all over the floor to take advantage of his offensive skill set. Expect Derek Fisher to ask more of Carmelo Anthony, especially on the defensive end of the floor. A huge season could be in store for Carmelo if the New York Knicks can rebound from last seasons’ poor play.

2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant put up a monster 2013-14 season that brought him his first MVP award. The 32 points per game Kevin Durant averaged secured him his fourth scoring title. He had to shoulder the burden of the load with Russell Westbrook missing significant time due to injury. At just 25 years of age, Kevin Durant is beginning to enter into the prime of his career and the numbers he’s going to put up are going to be scary. He still needs to improve on some things though: defensively he can improve, he’s continuing to grow as a facilitator, and you’d love to see him incorporate more scoring closer to the basket. All things considered, he’s inching closer and closer to supplanting LeBron James for the crown as the NBA’s top dog.

1. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Surprised? Didn’t think so. King James continues to reign supreme as the best player in the league. He’s still in the prime of his career and there’s nothing LeBron James can’t do. To some, Kevin Durant has the slight edge on offense but defensively there’s no contest. LeBron James is the most complete player in the NBA. The man has been putting up close to 27-7-7 for the bulk of his career, which is a feat in itself. Taking his talents back to Cleveland, look for LeBron to continue posting gaudy numbers, possibly secure a Defensive Player of the Year trophy, and maybe even a fifth MVP trophy.

Honorable Mention: Paul George, Indiana Pacers
One hundred percent healthy, Paul would come in at four. He’s still developing offensively but he definitely makes up for that on the defensive end of the floor. Paul is one of the best two-way players currently in our game. He’s continuing learning to make plays for others and learning how to take over late in games. When he gets back, expect the Pacers small forward to join the upper echelon of players at his position.

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