With the summer of 2022 upon us, it’s time to rank the best NBA players at every position. Today, we tackle small forward — arguably the most top-heavy position in the league, with several outright superstars in the running for No. 1.
The Sixers are sadly not very talented on the wing: Danny Green and Matisse Thybulle have their charms, but neither is top-30 caliber. On the other hand, most contenders have two (even three) competent “small” forwards who impact both sides of the ball. You can read our mid-season rankings, which focused only on starters. This list encompasses the best small forwards in the league, period. Even if they come off the bench.
Let’s get the ball rolling…
Top 30 NBA small forwards — 30. Kelly Oubre Jr., Hornets
After his bumpy stint with Golden State, Kelly Oubre Jr. found a much more suitable home in Charlotte. He was one of the most productive bench players in the NBA last season, providing his trademark athleticism and shot-making on the wing. The Hornets play fast and free, and with half the attention to detail demanded by Steve Kerr and the Warriors coaching staff. Oubre is far from perfect — he has a tendency to get in his own way sometimes — but the natural talent and nightly upside is hard to deny.
Top 30 NBA small forwards — 29. Lauri Markkanen, Cavaliers
The Cavs moved Lauri Markkanen to the wing and embraced ‘Tall Ball’ in a very brave manner. It worked. Before injuries chipped away at Cleveland’s success, the Cavs looked like legitimate contenders. Markkanen has settled nicely into his NBA role, that of a borderline 7-footer who can splash home a high volume of 3s and move his feet capably on defense.
Top 30 NBA small forwards — 28. Luguentz Dort, Thunder
Behind OKC’s talented backcourt, Luguentz Dort has been the prize jewel of the Thunder rebuild so far. He went undrafted (somehow), and landed in the perfect spot — a team in need of his defensive toughness and leadership, but also a team willing to let Dort try and fail offensively. Dort has proven he can post 15-20 points a night with palatable efficiency, and he’s one of the best on-ball wing defenders in the association. It will be fascinating to see his game evolve as the Thunder add more talent and edge closer to contention.