Top 30 NBA small forwards — 12. Scottie Barnes, Raptors
Scottie Barnes won Rookie of the Year despite several strong contenders atop the draft class. He earned it too, contributing across the board for a top-five seed. He’s an elite wing defender who can capably guard all five positions when called upon. On offense, he can toggle between small-ball four and backup point guard. His scoring made a sizable jump from college, with improved jump shot mechanics and the strength to absolutely demolish smaller defenders in the paint. He scores, he passes, he rebounds, he defends — Toronto has to be quite satisfied.
Top 30 NBA small forwards — 11. R.J. Barrett, Knicks
R.J. Barrett looked like a completely different player after the All-Star break. The former No. 3 pick has always had the physical gifts and talent. Now, he’s putting the pieces together. Few NBA wings are more difficult to contain driving downhill. Barrett’s speed and strength gives him the matchup advantage in most situations, while his improved 3-point shooting and elevated awareness makes him more than just a one-note scorer. Barrett’s flashes are stardom were plentiful down the stretch, and he could make another leap or two in the years to come.
Top 30 NBA small forwards — 10. Mikal Bridges, Suns
Mikal Bridges might be the best perimeter defender in the NBA — he’s right in the mix with Jrue Holiday, Marcus Smart, and Ben Simmons. At 6-foot-7, Bridges has the length to seal off passing lanes and the lateral quickness to glide over screens and stick with his man. Bridges clearly does his homework too, anticipating his man’s every move and often beating them to the spot. On offense, he’s a bankable 3-point shooter who is gradually adding more wrinkles to his game. He may never be an offensive star, but Bridges will be in the DPOY mix for the next decade.