On today’s episode of the Locked On Mavericks Podcast, Isaac and I rank every starting small forward in the NBA. These rankings are our opinion of how SFs will stack up next season. We did not include salary or age (to a degree) into our rankings.
The names in bold are the ones where we have agreement.
Harrison Barnes found himself in a favorable spot on both our lists (#8 & #9) without much room to rise up. That top group of Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, and Gordon Hayward (in any order) is tough to crack. Those are 7 of the 15 best players in the world. Carmelo Anthony is in an odd and uninspiring position in New York even with Phil Jackson gone. He doesn’t have much incentive to play well for that team this season and he’s been the same exactly player for his entire time there anyway. Barnes is in his second season as somewhat of a number one option and a core piece of a franchise. Barnes may not have a contract year coming up or a player on the depth chart threatening his minutes but motivation has never been something he has lacked. For this next season I’ll take Barnes for all 82 games, for one quarter I’d still take Melo.
Placing Giannis ahead of Leonard was tough but it’s more a testament to the Greek Freak’s trajectory than Leonard’s play. Those four are probably the best players in the game—save Stephen Curry or Russell Westbrook. Giannis’ physical tools are somehow yet to be fully realized and he has still yet to turn 23. After a Giannis sized step forward last season I expect more of the same. Will this be the year he finally adds a shot to his game? If it is, I’ll gloat in Isaac’s face until Giannis completes his Kobe Challenge.
After Barnes, Melo, Danilo Gallinari, and Otto Porter this positional group is an absolute crap shoot. Players 12-20 could honestly go in any order next season. Not because they’re all terrible (we’ll get there) but there’s a lot of variance considering next season. Brandon Ingram, Robert Covington, Justise Winslow, and even Taurean Prince could all have breakout years and rise up these rankings.
Towards the bottom there’s a familiar name still hanging around, Chandler Parsons. If Parsons was guaranteed 70-82 healthy games then he would probably rank around 10-11 but that’s not even close to happening. Even if he does play the majority of the year, what does tearing a meniscus do to a player’s confidence? Especially in the other knee, not in the knee he has already had two operations on.
Then, at the very bottom, #30 belongs to a team that literally has no one to pencil into the spot. The Pelicans have E’Twaun Moore whom I assume will fill the role on opening night but odds are someone from the outside will get a chance. Honestly, I hope it’s DeShawn Stevenson who claims he’s ready for an NBA call.
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(We just can’t let the Warriors win more things…)