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2013 NBA Small Forward Preview 

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Maybe it is the way the game has evolved or maybe it is just that these things typically run in cycles but the small forward position is blowing up. There are a lot of really good players at the position and a handful of great ones. I have ranked the top 15 heading into this upcoming NBA season.

15. Jeff Green (Bos)

With the injury to Rondo this is basically Jeff Green’s Celtics. It seems like only the name is a perfect fit. I hate to sound too down on him he should take a huge step forward this year as “the guy”, but is 27 and has spent five years in the league being hesitant. If you are Danny Ainge, having this be Jeff Green’s team, is exactly what you want.

14. Gordon Hayward (Utah)

I like this kid. He is just 23 years old and has raised his game in each of his first three seasons. Now he will have a full time starting role on a young up and coming team. The injury to Trey Burke will force him to run most of the offense and could lead to him getting up around 20 points a night with a handful of assists to the bigs.

13. Chandler Parsons (Hou)

This kid has one of the highest basketball IQ’s in the game, doesn’t make many mistakes and fills up a stat sheet. He can do it all and is still getting better. Now with Dwight Howard coming to town, there may be less shots, but they should be better shots. This kid will find ways to make plays. Look for a higher three point percentage as well as more assists, rebounds and better defense.

12. Tobias Harris (Orl)

This kid really came on late last year. After playing under 12 minutes a contest in 28 games with the Bucks last year, he averaged 4.9 points, 2 rebounds, and 0.3 blocks. After being traded to the Magic he earned himself some playing time. In his 27 games he averaged 36.1 minutes a night 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. He’s a 6’9 235lb load at the small forward position. Now he has a firm grasp on the starting role for this young Magic team that should grow together over the next few years.

11. Tyreke Evans (NO)

Evans has had quite a strange career. He burst onto the scene as a rookie point guard with the Kings and has moved all over the court since. Now he it would seem that he will be the Pelicans 6th man as a small forward. I really like that fit since I think he needs the ball in his hands. Surprisingly he is only 24 and can still become a good NBA player, once he gets that Sacramento stench completely off him.

10. Paul Pierce

I love Paul Pierce as much as anyone but his minutes and touches are going to suffer this year. However, look for him to hit the glass much more and for him to facilitate more on the offensive end when Deron Williams is on the bench.

9. Rudy Gay (Tor)

In 33 games after being traded to the Raptors Rudy played some of the best ball of his career. But he is what he is, a stat stuffer. He has made a living being an athlete with exceptional size. To me he just has not added much to his game and has not taken that next step like he should have. The Grizzlies did not seem to miss him much but this frisky Raptors lineup may be able to elevate him… or they may not miss him at all.

8. Nicolas Batum

Batum is ready for a breakout year. He has the size and athleticism to really break out of his shell. Not to mention young Damian Lillard getting him the ball where he wants it. The Blazers need another option on offense to step up and they need him to really fine tune his on ball defense. But his size makes him a matchup nightmare and a threat to block nearly any shot.

7. Luol Deng (Chi)

Luol is going to benefit the most from Derrick Rose returning. It takes a huge amount of pressure off of him to carry the offensive load so he can go back to focusing on his stout defense. He will get his 17 points a night, on a much better percentage, but now he can concentrate a lot of his energy on the opponents best man and those corner threes.

6. Andre Iguodala (GS)

What a good fit Iguodala is for this Warriors team. He is not going to be asked to carry the scoring load or hit the big shot. He is going to be asked to get out and run with the two best guards he has ever played with and he is going to be asked to guard the other teams best player. Those are the two things he was made for.

5. Josh Smith

The Pistons are going to have an interesting starting lineup and it begins and ends with this guy. He has to take the next step. Believe it or not he is only 27 years old and now, for the first time in his career, will be playing his pro bowl outside of his home state. He needs to be the adult in the room and really help these young kids mature a bit. But if they can get things clicking, the likes of Monroe and Drummond could really help Josh, provided he doesn’t just sit outside and bomb threes. If he can rise to the occasion as the veteran leader of this young but talented team, Josh could be in for a career year, and maybe some MVP votes.

4. Kawhi Leonard

I knew Tony Parker has suffered from Spurs Syndrome (when a player feels old but is quite a bit younger than you think) for his entire career but now it’s already impacted Kawhi. I would have guessed he is at least 26 however he didn’t even turn 22 until after the season ended. This kid is prime to take the next big step this year. This is about to become his team. The torch won’t be passed on this season, with Tony Parker still playing at such a high level, but this is the last offseason you will think of the Spurs without immediately thinking about Kawhi. This is the year he takes in all the advice from the vets on this team and from coach Pop and turns into a superstar and cracks this top 3.

3. Carmelo Anthony

What the hell is he doing? Is Carmelo really trying to derail this Knicks season before it gets underway? How can you start talking about free agency with the best team you have ever played with around you now? This guy is a total douchebag. I remember back when that show Punk’d was on and they pranked him. He just came off as a fake tough guy. He constantly has a bad attitude and has to be a nightmare to play with. I would rather play on the 2012-13 Lakers with Kobe and Dwight than spend one night on ‘Melo’s team. Regardless he is a scoring machine. His defense is amongst the most overrated things in sports but you can’t deny how good he is at putting the ball in the hoop.

2. Kevin Durant

I am not sure why but there seemed to be a lot of people trying to say Durant has passed Lebron as the best player in the game and I can’t help but think those are the same people that voted for Karl Malone to win the MVP trophy in 1999 (because they got bored with giving Jordan more hardware). He certainly has not earned that spot. He should within the next couple of years but it isn’t going to happen this year and it isn’t going to happen with perhaps the worst supporting cast he has had, especially with Westbrook out to start the year. Durant is going to have to take a step forward to really keep this Thunder in contention for a title but to actually win the title he is going to have to surpass Lebron this year, and that just isn’t going to happen.

1. Lebron James

Love him or hate him he is the best in the world. There is no arguing that. He is good enough to keep the Heat in contention for a title even if Wade and Bosh were to go down with injuries. He has the ability to notch a triple double without really breaking a sweat. He still needs to improve his shot but with his ability to get to the rim it’s more so to keep the defender on his toes than a necessity. Another monster year for Lebron is expected, anything less and the Heat don’t stand a chance.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

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