It's no longer a valid one, as James has become the superior player in just about every conceivable category. There's no doubt that Jordan was the most valuable player for the Chicago Bulls throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, but Pippen certainly played a huge role in the two three-peats. As good as Bob Dandridge was on both ends of the court during his prime in the 1970s, that peak portion of his playing days was rather short-lived, and it still didn't allow him to function as the key player on his Milwaukee Bucks teams. James was an able ball-handler who could take the ball coast-to-coast. James Worthy, “Big Game James,” was an All-Star small forward who spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers. We're interested in how the legends of the small forward position compare to one another, from Cliff Hagan's excellence for the St. Louis Hawks in the 1950s all the way through those winning MVPs in today's NBA landscape. Granted, that was a particularly strong portion of NBA history for the Eastern Conference, as it was Larry Bird's Boston Celtics and Isiah Thomas' Detroit Pistons that kept knocking them out. Don't let his lackluster performance in Northeast Ohio tell you otherwise. Durant is becoming a quality defender, he already shines on the boards and he plays like an above-average distributor. In the NCAA Final game in 1982, Worthy scored 28 points on 13 of 17 shooting (and had a key steal at the end of the game) to lead North Carolina to the championship. An LMVP can go to a player on the best team in the league, but it can also be handed to a player who was essentially a one-man wrecking crew on one of the bottom-feeders. Using his defensive prowess and knack for scoring, Wilkes still carved out a fantastic career for himself, particularly when he was playing with the Los Angeles Lakers. Get the latest Hall of Fame basketball player news and be notified when new player profiles and posts are added to the site. James was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 1982-83. Teams: St. Louis Hawks, Dallas Chaparrals (ABA), Career Per-Game Stats: 18.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists, Ultimate Season: 24.8 points, 10.9 rebounds, 4.9 assists, Career Advanced Stats: 19.5 PER, .507 TS%, 75.1 WS, 0.166 WS/48, 0.043 MVP Shares, Performance Metrics: 1448.1 PP, 566.46 AS, 180.35 CC, 18.03 CC/Season, 0 LMVPs, 0.167 LMVP Shares. Be content with a top-10 ranking for now, but don't expect him to stop moving up the leaderboard any time soon, so long as his recurring foot issue doesn't hold him back. They don't take playing time into consideration, nor do they factor in team and league context. Not only did he decline quickly, largely due to nagging injuries, but he also got a late start. The strength of the team doesn't matter, save for the Career Contributions calculation. It's hard for a player to rise much higher when he was literally never "the man" on his team, but Worthy's career was stellar nonetheless. That's how he's been able to rack up the No. Cunningham would go on to enjoy a fine coaching career, excel in the broadcast booth and help bring the Miami Heat into the NBA as an expansion team. James Worthy was a member of the renowned NBA team 1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers who played at the Small Forward or Power Forward position. He was an adept scorer, knocking in some mid-range jumpers and using his athleticism to finish plenty of plays around the rim. : 26.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 2.1 steals, 1.0 blocks, That came in 2008-09, when he was No. Julius Erving spent the first five years of his professional career playing for the Virginia Squires and New York Nets in the league that would eventually merge with the NBA, winning three scoring titles, two championships and three MVPs. Is he a flawed player? That was a peak season for Schrempf, whose star never shone quite as bright as many of the players surrounding him throughout this article. Remarkably durable, Twyman averaged 21.06 Career Contributions per season. The only qualifier is that he must have played in at least 30 games during the season in question, thereby avoiding small-sample-size effects. Bird's 21.19 Career Contributions per season pale in comparison to James' 31.93, and the league's current No. Cunningham would never play again. 22 all time. So not only does he have the No. He never sought attention, like the time he met NBA All-Star Allan Houston. Career Per-Game Stats: 22.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists, Ultimate Season: 26.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, Career Advanced Stats: 19.7 PER, .506 TS%, 108.8 WS, 0.183 WS/48, 0.495 MVP Shares, Performance Metrics: 838.88 PP, 337.06 AS, 288.6 CC, 28.86 CC/Season, 2 LMVPs, 2.25 LMVP Shares. Additionally, this small forward is another player who's hurt by the sheer existence of the ABA. During the 1960-61 season, his third in the league, he even managed to average 5.1 dimes per game, which is more impressive than you might think. But above all else, he was a stellar defender, a man who made the All-Defensive squad eight times during his storied career. He often finished the break with his trademark one-handed swooping dunk, but he also showed a variety of effective moves in the post. He has earned all his wealth from his successful career in American college and … Sadly, he was quite hesitant to expend any energy on the less glamorous end, saving it instead for his offensive exploits. Height: 6'9" (206cm) | Weight: 225lbs (101kg), Ranks #116 out of 641 Classic NBA Players. Rarely at full strength, he labored away as a role player for much of the rest of his career, only occasionally showing flashes of that first-ballot Hall of Fame upside. Even with the extra workload created by Team USA ventures and constantly deep playoff runs, he's been unbelievably durable. Plus, English achieved such a feat in efficient fashion. But then ankle injuries derailed everything. 41 among the 47 small forwards who were analyzed when compiling these rankings, and his null Advancement Shares put him in the same place. His offensive unselfishness was valuable by itself, but it was invaluable when paired with his ability to serve as a lockdown defender, switching onto pretty much any player for short bursts. But he's played only 542 games heading into the 2014-15 season. The way he performed in the clutch during the most important games was what earned him the nickname, “Big Game James.”. Team-leading win-share producers were sorted by Career Contributions, then they were handed LMVP shares according to their finish on that leaderboard. The position is in great hands with LeBron James and Kevin Durant both excelling whenever they step onto the court. Nonetheless, there are a few things holding this high-release shooter back from a spot within the top 10 small forwards of all time. Success! He's also been a great rebounder throughout his career, boasting a total rebounding percentage that ranks him No. He actually has more LMVP Shares than both Steve Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire combined, even though he never received the credit that was due to him during his run-and-gun days in the desert. This is about more than those few standouts who still suit up in the Association. 2 mark at the small forward position, only 14 players at the 3 have racked up more career win shares and just one is earning a higher number per 48 minutes. Bird does have more rings and a higher Advancement Shares score, but that and rebounding are the only areas in which he's been superior. Wilkins will always be remembered as an unquestioned superstar, but many portions of his career ring a bit hollow. That means his points per game could come from his rookie year, while his rebounds per game could be drawn from a season five years down the road. The reason is that early portion of his career that came with the Jazz, when he racked up win shares despite playing for largely overmatched teams. A ball-stopping small forward who never played much defense, Adrian Dantley was far from being a perfect player throughout his NBA career. And when you take his longevity out of the equation, Marion's 18.54 Career Contributions per season still rank him No. None of that counts here, though. Teams: Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs, Orlando Magic, Career Per-Game Stats: 24.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.6 blocks, Ultimate Season: 30.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.1 blocks, Career Advanced Stats: 21.6 PER, .536 TS%, 112 ORtg, 108 DRtg, 117.5 WS, 0.148 WS/48, 0.849 MVP Shares, Performance Metrics: 943.6 PP, 0 AS, 279.79 CC, 18.65 CC/Season, 0 LMVPs, 0.593 LMVP Shares. Career Per-Game Stats: 20.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.3 blocks, Ultimate Season: 28.9 points, 9.0 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.4 blocks, Career Advanced Stats: 17.5 PER, .492 TS%, 101 ORtg, 99 DRtg, 131.7 WS, 0.136 WS/48, 0.217 MVP Shares, Performance Metrics: 3140.72 PP, 1796.74 AS, 277.26 CC, 17.33 CC/Season, 0 LMVPs, 1.025 LMVP Shares. But the prominence of metrics and advanced statistics doesn't mean context can be thrown out the window, either. James Worthy: Los Angeles Lakers (1982-1994) Position. Career Per-Game Stats: 24.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.8 blocks, Ultimate Season: 29.9 points, 11.0 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.2 blocks, Career Advanced Stats: 23.5 PER, .564 TS%, 115 ORtg, 101 DRtg, 145.8 WS, 0.203 WS/48, 5.693 MVP Shares, Performance Metrics: 3580.12 PP, 979.67 AS, 275.43 CC, 21.19 CC/Season, 0 LMVPs, 1.843 LMVP Shares. bb. Sure, but who isn't? Bird racked up titles while playing alongside Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, and he was routinely the most valuable player on his Boston Celtics teams. 7 after averaging 20.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. And though he never finished higher than second in the LMVP standings, narrowly losing out to Elgin Baylor during that high-scoring season, he finished his career with 1.033 LMVP Shares, putting him well within the top 10 at his position. Teams: Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, Career Per-Game Stats: 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.8 blocks, Ultimate Season: 22.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 2.9 steals, 1.2 blocks, Career Advanced Stats: 18.6 PER, .536 TS%, 108 ORtg, 102 DRtg, 125.1 WS, 0.146 WS/48, 0.716 MVP Shares, Performance Metrics: 3111.68 PP, 1397.51 AS, 254.39 CC, 14.96 CC/Season, 0 LMVPs, 0.263 LMVP Shares. The position is in great hands with LeBron James and Kevin Durant both excelling whenever they step onto the court. He was a scorer who just happened to see the court so well he had no trouble racking up the dimes, as evidenced by his 23.2 points per game, which makes him the No. One of the best athletes in the league, he could score from all areas of the court, pull down rebounds like a center and dish out the rock to whoever was open. Due to his exploits, he entered the NBA in 1976 as a 26-year-old who had already logged 455 games between the regular season and the deep playoff runs. James Ager Worthy was born on February 27, 1961, the youngest son of Ervin and Gladys Worthy. Over the course of his 10-season career—two years of basketball were sacrificed when he served with the U.S. Marine Corps—Arizin racked up 28.86 Career Contributions per season, a mark that leaves him trailing only three of the featured small forwards in these rankings, none of whom we've gotten to yet. However, the 2013-14 campaign with the New York Knicks was the first time his season ended after the 82nd game, and even in that year, he was absolutely fantastic. His 14.96 Career Contributions per season are by no means an elite mark, but context has to be factored in, as he was playing on some of the greatest teams of all time and surrounded by talent. Larry Bird deserves to be considered a basketball legend, a statement that remains true even if numbers are completely taken out of the equation. After averaging 17.5 points per game during his rookie season with the Atlanta Hawks and then 21.6 as a sophomore, he'd reel off 10 consecutive seasons in which he produced at least 25 points during the typical contest.
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