Where Does Kawhi Leonard Rank Amongst Small Forwards
By Michael Rehome
Apr 2, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) defends against Toronto Raptors forward James Johnson (3) during the first quarter at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George are at the top of a list of small forwards that could easily contain 15 other players.
Three of the five players listed above possibly are the best not only in their position but in all of the NBA. The forward position has grown and changed the game in the NBA over the years. There is no question there are players that could easily slip in to the group listed. You can’t go wrong inserting other players that I did not list. There is a lot of talent at this position.
James to me is a power forward, but is listed as a small forward. In fact he plays out of his position more often than not. There is no question that most of the teams best players are at the small forward position and are looked upon in taking games over in the final minutes. They are looked at in taking the final shot, making the defensive play.
The players that I have listed above are whom I feel are the best at their position. You have the names, but the question is, who will be number one?
Next: No. 5 Ranked Small Forward
Apr 8, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) shoots against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony: The heart and soul of the Knicks, Anthony has not had much support since joining the Knicks during the 2010-11 season. Rather than putting the team on his back this past season, he rather dedicated himself to being a more all-around player, and ended with career highs in rebounds and assists. The Knicks this offseason have made noise in their recent signings to finally get Anthony the help he had always been wanting.
Anthony is coming off a season where he saw his scoring dip a few points but still managed to average 21.8 in 72 games.
With his knees on the decline at the age of 32, his good days are well-behind him. He will still bring the veteran leadership to a Knicks team that has pieces in place to maybe make some noise in the Eastern Conference.
Next: No. 4 Ranked Small Forward
May 1, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) takes a shot during warmups prior to playing Toronto Raptors in game seven of the first round of the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Indiana Pacers Paul George: After a year washed out by the horrific injury (tibia crack), George came back and posted career-best numbers across the board. He proved that during his rehab time that he was working on getting back to the player he was once he sustained the injury. He’s still a great defender, shooter and playmaker, a star that can be used to build a team around. He’s already been the centerpiece of a Conference Finals team. George is listed as a guard but has been doing double duty at the small forward position as well.
George is coming off of a season where he averaged 23.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game. His scoring averaged went up during the playoffs as well. In seven games, he averaged 27.3 points while shooting 45 percent from the field.
Next: No. 3 Ranked Small Forward
Jul 7, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Kevin Durant poses for a photo with his jersey during a press conference after signing with the Golden State Warriors at the Warriors Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Golden State Warriors Kevin Durant: He maybe the most hated man in Oklahoma City after making his decision to join the Golden State Warriors, but there is no question that Durant is a big-time player. After spending nine years with the franchise, Durant has proven to be a lethal scorer and defender. Expectations have never been higher for KD after his signing with the Warriors. Anything but a championship at this point will be a failure, and believe Thunder fans are hoping for the failure to happen. Durant is in his athletic peak, and with the team around him we could see an all-time efficient season.
He is coming off of a season with the Thunder where he averaged 28.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 5 assists and 1.2 blocks per game. Just like his counterparts in Anthony and George, Durant is also with the USA Mens National Team preparing for the Olympics in Rio.
Next: No. 2 Ranked Small Forward
May 8, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts after a play against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter in game four of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs Kawhi Leonard: Where do we start with Leonard. He is the best wing defender the NBA has seen in years. Last year he turned his game up on the offensive end and was one of the best three-point shooters in the league. Leonard stepped up in a big way as his play did not disappoint fans as he was named to his first All-Star game as a starter. Leonard helped lead San Antonio to an historic regular season winning 67 games and helping them reach the playoffs for the 19th consecutive year.
The five year pro out of San Diego State has seen his scoring output improve each year. During the 2015-16 season, he set a career high in scoring with an average of 21.2 per game. He is one of hte most all-around players in the league today. He puts his own stamp on games whether it is on the scoring end, rebounding or on the defensive end.
He’s only 25, and has shown that hard work in the off season has paid off. Leonard pulled his name from Team USA as the arrival of his first child is expected during the time he would be in camp with the team.
Next: No. 1 Ranked Small Forward
Jun 19, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) and head coach Tyronn Lue celebrate on the podium after beating the Golden State Warriors in game seven of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James: He returned home with one mission, win a championship for the city of Cleveland. He did just that. James is a special talent, there is no denying it. For a player his size and strength what he can do on the floor is amazing. He is an exceptional passer and is that type of player that can change the course of a game in a blink of an eye.
He helped lead his Cavaliers team over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. Feeling that his team was on the brink of elimination being down 3-1 to the Warriors, James took over and willed his way through the Warriors over the next three games to defeat a team in which many were already giving the title to. Winning 73 games during the regular season is a feat in itself.
In his 13 year career, James is averaging just under 28 points per game (27.2). In nine seasons with the Cavaliers he is averaging 27.3 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists per game.