It’s the start to the NBA season, so you know what that means; I need to rank my top 100 players in the NBA just like I did last year. I began creating the rankings until I realized just how ridiculous it was that I was comparing guys like Lou Williams to guys like Clint Capela. How exactly do you fairly rank them? While they each play their role perfectly, it’s hard to determine whose role is more important to their team, so I scrapped the top 100.
Now, I will be ranking the top 10 at each position (I used Basketball-Reference to determine the positions). Tonight, on the third night of the season, I will rank the top 10 small forwards in the NBA based on my projections for the upcoming season. Tomorrow, I will rank the power forwards, and then the centers.
1. Lebron James – Los Angeles Lakers
We’ve been debating this for a couple of years now; Lebron or KD? Sure, Durant may have led his team to back to back championships over his rival, but that doesn’t change the fact that Lebron led his team to the championship for eight years in a row. That is the ultimate show of consistency, and I see no reason why he takes a big hit this season. For more information on Lebron, I wrote an article last season about comparing him to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
2. Kevin Durant – Golden State Warriors
If there were to be someone to challenge potentially the greatest player in NBA history, it’d have to be Kevin Durant. In my personal opinion, KD is the greatest scorer in NBA history, as it is literally impossible to defend him without a double team. Standing over seven feet tall while also shooting threes like no other, Durant is unstoppable.
3. Kawhi Leonard – Toronto Raptors
It’s no secret that I’m not a huge fan of Kawhi Leonard. In general, I believe his abilities are overrated. He played in a ridiculous defensive system in San Antonio that elevated his game on each side of the floor. After quitting on his team, he ends up in Toronto, and we won’t know how good he is until we watch. Nonetheless, he’s still a better bet for the MVP than any player after him in the league.
4. Gordon Hayward – Boston Celtics
What happened to Gordon Hayward last season was nothing short of a nightmare. In his first game with his new team reuniting with his former college coach, Hayward suffered one of the worse injuries we’ve seen in recent memory. Due to his lack of play last season, I can’t give you a definitive reason as to why he will have a bounce-back season; it’s just a gut feeling.
5. Paul George – Oklahoma City Thunder
Other than Hayward’s season, a season couldn’t have gotten much worse than that of Paul George. After arriving in Oklahoma City and setting the expectations at an all-time high, the Thunder disappointed, finishing with the fourth seed in the West. After the disappointing season, they disappointed once again the playoffs. While a lot of the blame falls on Westbrook’s shoulders, PG-13 appeared nonexistent at times during the playoffs. With a simplified roster in OKC, I see George with a huge bounce-back season this year.
6. Jayson Tatum – Boston Celtics
For a rookie, Jayson Tatum was one of the most all-around solid players of all-time. He simply does not have a weakness and getting the opportunity to play with four borderline all-stars and a slew of quality role players, makes him look even better.
7. Tobias Harris – Los Angeles Clippers
When a team chooses to form a franchise around one player, that player needs to find himself on the top-10 list at his position. The Los Angeles Clippers are completely buying in on Tobias Harris who had a breakout season last year. While nineteen points, six rebounds, and two assists aren’t enough for an all-star berth in the west, Harris is a solid start to a good young core for the Clippers.
8. Khris Middleton – Milwaukee Bucks
Khris Middleton broke out in last season’s playoffs. After playing through a solid season as Giannis Antetokounmpo’s number one supporting player, Middleton shot well over 50% from three in the Bucks’ playoff run. As a 3&D player, you can’t ask for much more than Khris Middleton.
9. Jaylen Brown – Boston Celtics
Not one, not two, but three Boston Celtics make it on the top-10 small forward lists. Nearly rounding out the list, Jaylen Brown is a perfect fit on the Celtics’ roster. He doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective offensively, he can guard shooting guards through power forwards and is the most athletic guy on the team. With an improving three-point shot, Brown is approaching superstardom.
10. Robert Covington – Philadelphia 76ers
I went back and forth between Robert Covington and Joe Ingles for awhile. They are very similar players on offense- elite three-point shooters who also are capable of making plays when given the chance. What puts Covington over the edge for me is his size and defensive versatility. Standing 6’9, Covington can guard any guy on the court, made apparent by his two steal, one block statline last year. While I may have said this a lot, Covington really is the perfect role player and could find a significant spot on any team around the NBA.