Top 30 NBA small forwards — 3. Kawhi Leonard, Clippers
Kawhi Leonard was already dealing with persistent lower-body issues before a knee injury wiped out his entire 2021-22 season. There are valid concerns about just how good Leonard will be once he’s back in action. He’s on the wrong side of 30 and it would appear that Father Time is particularly infatuated with the two-time Finals MVP. That said, if anyone has earned the benefit of the doubt, it’s Leonard. He’s an absolute machine with very few discernible weaknesses.
Top 30 NBA small forwards — 2. LeBron James, Lakers
LeBron James is no longer the 82-game iron man he once was, but when healthy, there still isn’t anyone who can stuff the stat sheet like the King. He was near the top of the league in scoring and assists last season, putting one of the most incompetently built rosters in recent NBA history on his back every night. The Lakers were not built to accentuate LeBron’s unique skill set, and his co-star was out of the lineup even more frequently than him. And yet, the numbers are absurd. James would’ve been in the MVP conversation if the Lakers were even close to good.
Top 30 NBA small forwards — 1. Kevin Durant, Nets
Kevin Durant hangs on to the No. 1 spot, despite some real questions arising after Brooklyn’s swift first round exit. In the end, the Nets’ failures were not KD’s fault — Steve Nash coached poorly, Kyrie Irving missed over half the season for selfish reasons, and Ben Simmons never recovered in time for the playoffs. Durant has aged gracefully into his mid-30s, still possessing unrivaled scoring touch as the most skilled 7-footer we’ve ever seen. He has even improved his ancillary skills since arriving in Brooklyn.