In today's current NBA rosters contain numerous players that can lineup at numerous positions due to the game becoming position-less in many ways. Despite the game and rosters changing and evolving over time, one position is constant in terms of delivering championship-caliber performances.
This position is, of course, small forward and in 2019 the NBA features at least 5 athletes who will likely go down as NBA Hall of Famers. In a list that will smart arguments and controversy, let's look at the NBA's Top 10 small forwards and rank them in the lead up to NBA 2K20.
10 RJ Barrett
Does RJ Barrett deserve to be on this list despite him not playing a single game in the NBA? Probably not, but adding a rookie to this list makes it a bit more interesting, and the reality of the matter is he's not far behind whoever would or should be considered the 10th best small forward in the NBA.
RJ Barrett may have lucked out in the end, because without Kevin Durant or another superstar the New York Knicks have low expectations in 2019. This leaves Barrett the opportunity to focus on getting better and adjusting to the NBA without all the noise.
9 Joe Ingles
Joe Ingles happens to be one of the NBA's best 3-point shooting small forwards and a key piece in a Utah Jazz roster reshaped and upgraded for a run at an NBA Championship in 2019. Ingles isn't the most athletic or jaw-dropping athlete you'll see on an NBA court, but he's consistent, reliable, and reportedly a fantastic teammate.
The Utah Jazz have won the lottery with Ingles as he's come in and provided great value to the organization and has also helped their emerging superstar shooting guard Donovan Mitchell along the way.
8 Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum is the potential guy on this list. He has the size and athleticism to really be a true force of nature for the Boston Celtics, but the 2018 season wasn't kind to him. Many people are chalking it up to the atmosphere and team demeanor that was in place largely due to the awkwardness Kyrie Irving brought to the Celtics locker room.
The upcoming 2019 season isn't necessarily a make-or-break season for Tatum, but he'll need to show that he's more than just potential. Kemba Walker could play a huge part in Tatum finally blossoming into the player everyone expects him to be.
7 Khris Middleton
Khris Middleton is fresh off the heels of signing a mega-extension to stay with the Milwaukee Bucks and help Giannis Antetokounmpo pursue a championship. With Antetokounmpo's contract ending in the next couple of years, their window together is shrinking fast.
Middleton's contract extension total was expected, but sports media at large feel he's a slightly above-average player who's now getting paid superstar money. The Bucks will see what he's made of if Antetokounmpo leaves in a few years and they're left with the prospect of building a team around the league's 7th best small forward.
6 Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler is a tough player for many different reasons. He's reported to be a tough guy to get along with, a tough competitor who's looking for others to be just as such, and a tough guy to rank in terms of what he means for his own team and the greater NBA.
Currently, he's going to be the only shining light in Miami with his second best player likely being the shooting phenom from Kentucky, Tyler Herro. Butler's a great player who can help a talented team win, but it's unclear if he can be "the guy" do what LeBron did in Cleveland without Kyrie Irving.
5 Paul George
Paul George, as of mid-2019 will likely be the starting shooting guard for the Los Angeles Clippers lining up between Patrick Beverly and Kawhi Leonard. George's defensive prowess and scoring ability have given him the versatility to play either the 2 or the 3 and this will be huge for the Clippers considering Leonard will likely miss games due to calculated rest.
George has always been considered the league's 2nd best 2-way player behind Leonard, but his injuries have prevented him from taking the next step. Maybe Los Angeles will be his true coming out party.
4 Giannis Antetokounmpo
Imagine being able to win an NBA MVP despite the fact that you lack a shot outside of 10 feet. Giannis Antetokounmpo did exactly that in 2019 and though he technically starts at the power forward position with the Milwaukee Bucks, he's pretty much their small forward for what he provides the team in terms of tempo of play and willingness to take control in big moments.
If or when Antetokounmpo develops an outside shot, he can quickly start building a case for the NBA's next face of the league.
3 Kevin Durant
It's hard to argue against the idea that Kevin Durant is the best all-around scorer in the NBA. His wingspan and length allow him to create his own shot at any point in the game from any area on the court. His achilles injury he suffered during the 2019 NBA Playoffs drastically affected NBA Free Agency and could potentially alter the rest of Durant's career.
The jury is waiting to see how and when Durant looks when he steps back on the court, but his resume makes it so he can't drop out of the Top 3 until proven otherwise.
2 Kawhi Leonard
With Kevin Durant's injury and winning an NBA Championship with the Toronto Raptors, Kawhi is easily one of the top players in the NBA. His glaring weakness is really his own body and how it will hold up during the course of an entire season.
People forget how special LeBron James is in terms of health especially when you consider the volume of playoff games he participated in. If Leonard and Paul George can capture a title in Los Angeles next year, then Leonard may be wearing the crown come 2020.
1 LeBron James
LeBron James suffered his first major injury during his entire 16-year career in 2018 and people were quick to write him off. Despite being surrounded by a terrible roster, James still managed to average 28 points, 8 assists, and 8 rebounds per game.
He's the classic case of consistent greatness being overlooked due to it becoming his own expected norm. James may have stepped back on the defensive end as of late, but there still isn't a better passer, shot-creator, or versatile player in the entire league. As it sits he's still at the top of the NBA.