The NBA: March 2014 Position Battle – The Top 5 Small Forwards Right Now


In this Position Battle post, we will focus on the top five small forwards at this point in the season. We will take into account just the players’ stats for the latest five games of their respective teams. This will, hopefully, give us a more current picture of each player’s production.

After his 61-point effort against the Bobcats, LBJ’s shooting has tapered off considerably, which means KD is back on top of the heap as the best swingman on the planet. Unexpectedly, this also means LeBron slides as far back as third on this list, with a surprising fellow becoming, currently, the second-best SF out there. And, no, Paul George, Josh Smith, and Chandler Parsons don’t even come close.

Note: All of the following stats are based on each player’s stats as computed by HoopsStats.com. They were taken on March 16, 2014 (Manila time).

A couple of new faces grace our list of top five SFs in the NBA.
(composite image by Enzo Flojo/Hoop Nut)


5. PJ Tucker (PHX) - 10.8ppg, 9.5rpg, 2.0apg, 2.8spg, .542 FG%, 19.3 EFF
Before the season started, I couldn’t care less about who PJ Tucker was, but right now he has been ultra-efficient for the Suns. In his last five games, he’s recorded three double-doubles, with him missing by just one rebound in the other two games. He plays just 35 minutes per game, too, which is fewer than the minutes of guys like Luol Deng and Chandler Parsons. I don’t know where Phoenix will be by season’s end – they’re still in the running for a postseason spot – and I don't know if I’ll ever really care about the PJ Tuckers of the NBA, but, man, I have to admit he’s playing damn well.
           

4. Nicolas Batum (POR) - 13.4ppg, 11.4rpg, 3.8apg, 1.8 triples per game, 19.6 EFF
Batum’s Blazers have won just three games this month and they’ve fallen down to fifth place in the West, but this is still one unit nobody can take lightly. Batum kinda reminds me of what Tayshaun Prince was for the 2004 Detroit Pistons – the dirty work small forward who didn’t put up monster numbers, but delivered when the team needed. Whereas LMA can be likened to Sheed and Lillard can be Portlan’ds Chauncey Billups, Batum, again, is like a right-handed Tayshaun.

Nicolas Batum (L) or Portland guards Tyreke Evans (R) of New Orleans.
(image by Scott Trelkheld/Getty Images)

3. LeBron James (MIA) - 19.8ppg, 7.0rpg, 7.2apg, 2.4spg, 1.0 triples per game, 21.4 EFF
I’m not dissin’ the self-styled King. The numbers don’t lie. He is not one of the top two small forwards right now in the NBA. After scoring 61 against Charlotte and shooting more than 60% from late February to early March, LBJ’s shooting has gone south. He has shot just 47/104 from the field since that 61-point game, with his average going down below the 20-point threshold. He has also turned the ball over 4.2 times in the last 5 Miami outings, which is the highest number of any SF in the league. Needless to say, he’s not exactly playing like the reigning MVP.


2. Tyreke Evans (NOP) - 21.3ppg, 5.3rpg, 7.3apg, 1.3spg, .536 FG%, .885 FT%, 25.5 EFF
Yes, that’s right. Tyreke Evans is the best small forward outside of Kevin Durant. Yes. Tyreke Evans. The guy who couldn’t follow up his ROY season with another great one in Sac-town before getting shipped to the Pelicans. He’s shooting really well from practically everywhere, and he’s finally playing like the all-around triple-threat we all thought he could be as early as the 2010-2011 season. I don’t see New Orlenas winning a lot of games even if Evans continues to play this well, but, hey, they’ve won 3 of their last 5, which is already above par.


1. Kevin Durant (OKC) - 34.8ppg, 7.0rpg, 5.4apg, 1.0bpg, .529 FG%, 3.2 triples per game, .410 3pt%, 33.0 EFF
Even with Russell Westbrook back in the lineup dominating possessions and taking a big share of the shots, KD hasn’t really missed a beat. He’s still dropping those threes, driving for those dunks, and pretty much taking everyone to school. And, check it out, he’s also blocking shots! He’s playing the kind of awesome two-way basketball that should make people really think twice before “automatically” voting for James as the MVP. And if the Thunder remain one of the top three teams in the NBA, then there’s practically no arguing KD’s being hailed as the best player this season.

Kevin Durant is the best small forward
on the planet right now.
(image by Alonzo Adams/AP)


Outside looking in:
Rudy Gay (SAC) - 18.4 EFF
Gordon Hayward (UTA) - 18.2 EFF
Kawhi Leonard (SAS) - 18.0 EFF



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