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The Top 10 Small Forwards of All Time (*according to statistical +/-)

Posted by Neil Paine on March 19, 2009

This is a series we've been sporadically doing this month, and I figured today was as good a day as any to keep it going and check out the top 10 NBA/ABA small forwards since 1952 according to the “statistical plus-minus” method. To refresh everyone's memory, SPM is really just a linear regression formula that tries to predict adjusted plus-minus using just the conventional stats you’d find in the box score. It has its own biases like any boxscore metric, but I kinda like it, and it's pretty simple to use and understand -- the numbers that follow are estimation of a player's individual impact on his team's point differential per 100 possessions. So here’s what it has to say about the top 10 small forwards ever, in alphabetical order:

Rick Barry

Year Ag Tm Lg G Min P/40 TS% AS/40 OR/40 DR/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 PF/40 V.I. MPG SPM
1966 21 SFW N 80 2990 26.8 51.8 2.3 4.1 7.0 4.3 1.1 1.4 3.9 8.8 37.4 4.43
1967 22 SFW N 78 3175 33.6 53.1 3.4 3.2 5.4 4.8 1.3 0.9 3.1 10.0 40.7 8.49
1969 24 OAK A 35 1361 33.0 61.5 3.8 2.3 6.9 3.9 2.3 1.5 3.4 10.4 38.9 12.93
1970 25 WSA A 52 1849 29.8 58.2 3.7 2.7 4.8 3.8 2.4 1.0 3.6 9.4 35.6 7.65
1971 26 NYA A 59 2502 28.7 55.2 4.9 1.7 4.9 3.3 2.7 0.8 3.4 9.8 42.4 8.82
1972 27 NYA A 80 3616 27.9 55.0 3.6 1.7 5.0 2.9 2.4 0.7 2.9 8.8 45.2 7.14
1973 28 GSW N 82 3075 23.6 50.8 5.1 2.9 6.5 3.4 1.6 0.8 3.2 10.5 37.5 5.62
1974 29 GSW N 80 2918 27.3 51.5 6.6 1.4 5.9 4.4 2.3 0.5 3.6 10.9 36.5 6.68
1975 30 GSW N 80 3235 29.4 50.9 5.9 1.1 4.4 4.1 2.7 0.4 2.7 9.8 40.4 6.39
1976 31 GSW N 81 3122 21.2 48.3 6.2 0.9 5.3 3.4 2.5 0.3 2.7 9.3 38.5 3.10
1977 32 GSW N 79 2904 23.5 50.0 6.5 1.0 4.8 3.6 2.3 0.8 2.6 9.6 36.8 3.51
1978 33 GSW N 82 3024 25.3 50.9 5.9 1.0 5.0 3.0 2.1 0.6 2.5 9.7 36.9 4.64
1979 34 HOU N 80 2566 17.2 50.4 8.0 0.6 3.8 3.1 1.5 0.6 3.1 8.4 32.1 -0.40
1980 35 HOU N 72 1816 19.4 51.7 6.0 1.2 4.1 3.4 1.8 0.6 4.1 8.5 25.2 1.00

Elgin Baylor

Year Ag Tm Lg G Min P/40 TS% AS/40 OR/40 DR/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 PF/40 V.I. MPG SPM
1959 24 MNL N 70 2855 24.8 48.8 4.1 5.5 9.4 4.9 1.2 1.6 3.8 11.5 40.8 7.57
1960 25 MNL N 70 2873 29.8 48.9 3.5 6.5 10.0 4.9 1.3 1.6 3.4 12.0 41.0 10.37
1961 26 LAL N 73 3133 33.1 49.8 4.8 7.0 11.9 5.4 1.5 1.6 3.6 14.5 42.9 14.55
1962 27 LAL N 48 2129 35.2 49.2 4.3 6.6 10.5 5.3 1.5 1.5 3.0 13.7 44.4 13.51
1963 28 LAL N 80 3370 33.1 51.9 4.7 5.2 8.8 4.7 1.4 1.2 2.8 13.0 42.1 11.64
1964 29 LAL N 78 3164 26.2 48.7 4.6 4.4 8.0 4.5 1.2 1.1 3.1 11.4 40.6 5.28
1965 30 LAL N 74 3056 27.0 46.3 3.8 4.7 8.1 4.6 1.2 1.1 3.2 10.9 41.3 4.08
1966 31 LAL N 65 1975 22.0 45.6 4.6 4.6 8.1 4.1 1.2 1.2 3.2 10.8 30.4 1.75
1967 32 LAL N 70 2706 27.2 49.1 3.1 4.8 8.3 4.1 1.2 1.2 3.1 10.4 38.7 4.26
1968 33 LAL N 77 3029 26.9 50.5 4.8 4.6 8.0 4.4 1.3 1.2 3.1 11.8 39.3 5.87
1969 34 LAL N 76 3064 25.6 50.0 5.6 3.8 7.2 4.1 1.8 1.0 2.8 11.6 40.3 5.31
1970 35 LAL N 54 2213 24.2 53.7 5.5 3.5 7.0 3.1 1.8 0.8 2.5 11.1 41.0 6.64
1971 36 LAL N 2 57 13.9 46.2 1.4 2.1 5.6 2.1 0.7 1.4 4.2 5.3 28.5 -6.53
1972 37 LAL N 9 239 17.1 48.7 2.9 2.7 6.4 2.4 1.4 1.1 3.2 7.7 26.6 -1.45

Larry Bird

Year Ag Tm Lg G Min P/40 TS% AS/40 OR/40 DR/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 PF/40 V.I. MPG SPM
1980 23 BOS N 82 2955 23.7 53.8 5.0 2.9 8.6 3.6 1.9 0.7 3.8 11.1 36.0 6.23
1981 24 BOS N 82 3239 21.7 52.8 5.6 2.4 8.8 3.6 2.0 0.8 3.0 11.1 39.5 4.73
1982 25 BOS N 77 2923 24.0 55.7 6.1 2.7 8.7 3.5 1.9 0.9 3.3 11.8 38.0 8.51
1983 26 BOS N 79 2982 24.8 56.1 6.1 2.6 9.0 3.2 2.0 0.9 2.6 12.0 37.7 9.40
1984 27 BOS N 79 3028 25.6 55.2 7.0 2.4 8.3 3.2 1.9 0.9 2.6 12.4 38.3 9.85
1985 28 BOS N 80 3161 29.2 58.5 6.8 2.1 8.6 3.2 1.6 1.2 2.6 12.8 39.5 11.59
1986 29 BOS N 82 3113 27.4 58.0 7.2 2.5 8.0 3.4 2.2 0.7 2.4 12.7 38.0 11.35
1987 30 BOS N 74 3005 28.2 61.2 7.7 1.7 7.6 3.3 1.8 1.0 2.5 12.6 40.6 11.87
1988 31 BOS N 76 2965 31.2 60.8 6.4 1.5 8.2 2.9 1.7 0.8 2.2 12.4 39.0 11.87
1989 32 BOS N 6 189 25.2 51.6 6.3 0.2 7.8 2.4 1.3 1.1 3.9 10.8 31.5 4.25
1990 33 BOS N 75 2944 24.8 54.6 7.6 1.2 8.5 3.3 1.4 0.8 2.4 12.2 39.3 7.16
1991 34 BOS N 60 2277 20.3 53.0 7.5 0.9 8.0 3.3 1.9 1.0 2.1 11.1 38.0 5.40
1992 35 BOS N 45 1662 22.0 54.7 7.4 1.1 9.4 3.0 1.0 0.8 2.0 12.0 36.9 5.99

Adrian Dantley

Year Ag Tm Lg G Min P/40 TS% AS/40 OR/40 DR/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 PF/40 V.I. MPG SPM
1977 20 BUF N 77 2816 22.0 60.1 2.0 3.5 4.7 3.2 1.3 0.2 3.0 7.2 36.6 2.72
1978 21 TOT N 79 2933 23.1 59.5 3.5 3.6 4.8 3.1 1.6 0.3 3.2 8.7 37.3 6.00
1979 22 LAL N 60 1775 23.4 58.9 3.1 2.9 4.7 3.5 1.4 0.3 3.6 8.2 29.6 1.44
1980 23 UTA N 68 2674 30.1 63.5 3.0 2.9 5.3 3.7 1.5 0.2 3.3 9.0 39.3 5.34
1981 24 UTA N 80 3417 29.9 62.2 3.9 2.3 3.9 3.4 1.3 0.2 3.0 9.0 42.7 6.19
1982 25 UTA N 81 3222 29.6 63.1 3.9 2.8 3.4 3.6 1.1 0.2 3.0 9.0 39.8 6.16
1983 26 UTA N 22 887 29.3 66.1 4.5 2.5 3.6 3.5 0.9 0.0 2.7 9.3 40.3 6.95
1984 27 UTA N 79 2984 31.3 65.2 4.0 2.3 3.5 3.4 0.8 0.1 2.6 9.0 37.8 6.19
1985 28 UTA N 55 1971 28.8 60.7 3.7 2.9 3.4 3.4 1.1 0.2 2.6 8.8 35.8 5.78
1986 29 UTA N 76 2744 32.7 62.9 3.8 2.6 3.1 3.3 0.9 0.1 3.0 8.9 36.1 7.04
1987 30 DET N 81 2736 25.4 61.4 2.4 1.5 3.3 2.6 0.9 0.1 2.8 6.6 33.8 2.36
1988 31 DET N 69 2144 26.1 61.9 3.2 1.6 2.7 2.6 0.7 0.2 2.7 7.1 31.1 3.74
1989 32 TOT N 73 2422 24.3 58.1 3.0 2.0 3.5 2.8 0.7 0.2 3.2 7.4 33.2 1.63
1990 33 DAL N 45 1300 21.2 55.6 2.6 2.5 3.0 2.4 0.6 0.2 3.2 6.7 28.9 -0.72
1991 34 MIL N 10 126 18.4 46.4 2.9 2.6 1.6 1.9 1.6 0.0 2.6 6.1 12.6 -4.39

Julius Erving

Year Ag Tm Lg G Min P/40 TS% AS/40 OR/40 DR/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 PF/40 V.I. MPG SPM
1972 21 VIR A 84 3513 25.1 54.5 3.7 5.2 9.3 3.8 2.1 2.1 2.9 11.0 41.8 6.01
1973 22 VIR A 71 2993 29.0 54.7 3.8 3.4 7.7 4.2 2.8 2.0 2.5 10.7 42.2 8.20
1974 23 NYA A 84 3398 26.4 56.2 5.0 3.0 7.3 3.9 2.2 2.3 3.1 11.1 40.5 12.04
1975 24 NYA A 84 3402 27.5 56.5 5.4 3.3 7.4 3.5 2.2 1.8 3.0 11.7 40.5 12.63
1976 25 NYA A 84 3244 30.7 56.9 5.3 4.2 7.3 3.8 2.6 2.0 2.8 12.3 38.6 15.63
1977 26 PHI N 82 2940 23.7 55.3 4.1 2.6 6.7 4.0 2.1 1.5 3.4 9.7 35.9 5.84
1978 27 PHI N 74 2429 24.8 55.5 4.5 2.9 4.9 3.9 2.2 1.6 3.4 9.6 32.8 5.83
1979 28 PHI N 78 2802 25.5 53.8 5.1 2.8 5.2 4.5 1.9 1.4 2.9 10.1 35.9 4.84
1980 29 PHI N 78 2812 29.9 56.8 5.1 3.1 5.1 4.0 2.4 2.0 3.0 10.7 36.1 10.84
1981 30 PHI N 82 2874 27.6 57.2 5.0 3.3 5.7 3.6 2.4 2.0 3.2 10.7 35.0 11.13
1982 31 PHI N 81 2789 28.4 59.3 4.6 3.2 4.8 3.1 2.3 2.0 3.3 10.1 34.4 11.14
1983 32 PHI N 72 2421 25.6 56.6 4.4 2.9 5.3 3.2 1.9 2.2 3.3 9.7 33.6 9.31
1984 33 PHI N 77 2683 26.2 56.2 4.7 2.9 5.2 3.5 2.1 2.1 3.3 10.0 34.8 8.71
1985 34 PHI N 78 2535 25.0 54.6 3.7 2.7 3.9 3.3 2.2 1.7 3.2 8.5 32.5 5.08
1986 35 PHI N 74 2474 22.0 53.7 4.1 2.8 3.3 3.5 1.9 1.3 3.2 8.2 33.4 2.84
1987 36 PHI N 60 1918 21.7 52.7 4.1 2.5 3.2 3.4 1.6 2.0 3.0 8.0 32.0 1.58

John Havlicek

Year Ag Tm Lg G Min P/40 TS% AS/40 OR/40 DR/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 PF/40 V.I. MPG SPM
1963 22 BOS N 80 2200 19.8 47.9 3.1 3.5 5.8 3.5 1.3 1.4 3.3 8.3 27.5 0.86
1964 23 BOS N 80 2587 23.5 46.3 3.5 2.6 3.8 4.1 1.6 0.8 3.3 8.0 32.3 1.63
1965 24 BOS N 75 2169 24.5 44.1 3.5 2.8 3.8 4.2 1.6 0.7 3.6 8.3 28.9 0.53
1966 25 BOS N 71 2175 24.6 45.0 3.9 3.1 4.7 4.2 1.5 0.9 2.9 9.1 30.6 1.24
1967 26 BOS N 81 2602 26.8 50.0 4.3 3.1 5.2 4.5 1.4 1.0 3.3 9.8 32.1 3.52
1968 27 BOS N 82 2921 23.1 48.6 5.2 2.7 4.7 4.5 1.5 0.8 3.2 9.6 35.6 2.42
1969 28 BOS N 82 3174 22.4 45.9 5.6 2.5 4.7 3.8 2.0 0.6 3.1 9.6 38.7 2.71
1970 29 BOS N 81 3369 23.0 53.3 6.5 2.4 5.1 3.5 1.9 0.5 2.5 10.4 41.6 6.18
1971 30 BOS N 81 3678 24.6 51.3 6.4 2.6 5.1 3.4 2.0 0.5 2.1 10.6 45.4 6.29
1972 31 BOS N 82 3698 23.6 51.2 6.4 2.3 4.8 2.9 2.0 0.4 1.9 10.2 45.1 5.12
1973 32 BOS N 80 3367 22.2 50.2 6.2 2.1 4.5 3.1 1.7 0.4 2.3 9.7 42.1 4.06
1974 33 BOS N 76 3091 21.8 50.9 5.7 1.8 4.4 3.7 1.2 0.4 2.5 9.1 40.7 3.10
1975 34 BOS N 82 3132 19.8 50.5 5.4 1.9 4.2 3.2 1.4 0.2 2.9 8.7 38.2 2.46
1976 35 BOS N 76 2598 19.6 50.8 4.2 1.8 3.0 3.1 1.5 0.4 3.1 7.3 34.2 1.91
1977 36 BOS N 79 2913 19.0 49.5 5.4 1.5 3.7 3.2 1.1 0.2 2.8 8.1 36.9 0.88
1978 37 BOS N 82 2797 19.0 49.5 4.7 1.3 3.4 2.9 1.3 0.3 2.7 7.6 34.1 -0.56

Bobby Jones

Year Ag Tm Lg G Min P/40 TS% AS/40 OR/40 DR/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 PF/40 V.I. MPG SPM
1975 23 DNA A 84 2706 17.6 62.6 4.3 3.3 6.5 3.3 2.4 2.2 3.7 9.1 32.2 7.99
1976 24 DNA A 83 2845 16.7 59.7 4.5 3.3 7.4 3.1 2.3 2.5 3.4 9.3 34.3 7.04
1977 25 DEN N 82 2419 19.6 60.5 4.2 2.8 8.0 3.9 2.9 2.6 3.8 9.6 29.5 9.44
1978 26 DEN N 75 2440 17.5 61.6 4.1 2.6 7.6 3.1 2.2 2.0 3.6 9.0 32.5 6.73
1979 27 PHI N 80 2304 16.6 58.4 3.5 3.4 5.7 2.8 1.8 1.7 4.2 8.1 28.8 4.85
1980 28 PHI N 81 2125 19.8 59.0 2.7 2.9 5.6 2.7 1.9 2.2 4.2 7.7 26.2 4.92
1981 29 PHI N 81 2046 21.1 60.4 4.4 2.7 5.6 2.9 1.8 1.4 4.4 9.2 25.3 6.78
1982 30 PHI N 76 2181 20.1 62.0 3.5 2.0 5.2 2.7 1.8 2.1 3.9 8.0 28.7 5.28
1983 31 PHI N 74 1749 15.3 60.3 3.3 2.3 5.6 2.5 2.0 2.1 4.6 7.3 23.6 6.02
1984 32 PHI N 75 1761 14.3 58.9 4.3 2.1 5.3 2.3 2.5 2.4 4.6 7.7 23.5 7.24
1985 33 PHI N 80 1633 14.9 62.5 3.8 2.6 4.8 2.9 2.1 1.2 4.5 7.5 20.4 3.75
1986 34 PHI N 70 1519 13.2 61.2 3.4 1.3 3.2 2.4 1.3 1.3 4.3 5.9 21.7 0.76

Paul Pierce

Year Ag Tm Lg G Min P/40 TS% AS/40 OR/40 DR/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 PF/40 V.I. MPG SPM
1999 21 BOS N 48 1632 18.8 54.0 2.7 2.8 4.6 2.7 2.0 1.2 3.3 7.2 34.0 4.20
2000 22 BOS N 73 2583 21.7 55.0 3.4 1.3 4.8 2.7 2.3 0.9 3.6 7.6 35.4 5.01
2001 23 BOS N 82 3120 26.2 56.3 3.2 1.2 5.4 3.3 1.7 0.9 3.2 8.2 38.0 4.84
2002 24 BOS N 82 3302 25.5 57.0 3.1 1.0 5.8 2.9 1.8 1.0 2.8 8.1 40.3 6.19
2003 25 BOS N 79 3096 26.5 53.2 4.5 1.4 6.1 3.7 1.8 0.8 2.9 9.6 39.2 5.80
2004 26 BOS N 80 3099 22.9 51.7 5.1 0.9 5.7 3.8 1.6 0.6 2.9 9.1 38.7 3.33
2005 27 BOS N 82 2960 23.3 58.3 4.6 1.0 6.1 3.0 1.8 0.5 3.4 9.1 36.1 6.48
2006 28 BOS N 79 3084 27.0 58.2 4.8 1.0 5.8 3.5 1.4 0.4 2.8 9.5 39.0 6.56
2007 29 BOS N 47 1740 26.9 57.1 4.5 0.9 5.5 3.5 1.1 0.3 2.8 9.1 37.0 5.79
2008 30 BOS N 80 2874 22.2 59.9 5.1 0.7 5.1 3.1 1.4 0.5 2.8 8.7 35.9 5.38
2009 31 BOS N 68 2561 21.9 58.3 4.0 0.8 5.3 3.1 1.1 0.3 2.9 8.1 37.7 3.16

Scottie Pippen

Year Ag Tm Lg G Min P/40 TS% AS/40 OR/40 DR/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 PF/40 V.I. MPG SPM
1988 22 CHI N 79 1650 15.8 48.9 4.3 2.9 4.6 3.3 2.3 1.3 5.4 8.0 20.9 -0.03
1989 23 CHI N 73 2413 18.0 52.4 4.4 2.4 5.3 3.4 2.4 1.0 4.5 8.5 33.1 1.77
1990 24 CHI N 82 3148 17.4 52.8 5.7 1.9 5.1 3.6 2.7 1.3 3.8 8.9 38.4 2.38
1991 25 CHI N 82 3014 19.8 56.1 6.9 2.2 5.9 3.1 2.6 1.3 3.7 10.4 36.8 7.23
1992 26 CHI N 82 3164 22.3 55.5 7.4 2.4 5.8 3.3 2.0 1.2 3.1 11.0 38.6 7.14
1993 27 CHI N 81 3123 20.2 51.0 6.8 2.7 5.6 3.3 2.3 1.0 2.9 10.5 38.6 3.87
1994 28 CHI N 72 2759 23.8 54.4 6.0 2.6 6.8 3.5 3.2 0.9 3.4 11.1 38.3 10.48
1995 29 CHI N 79 3014 22.7 55.9 5.5 2.3 6.2 3.6 3.1 1.2 3.2 10.2 38.2 9.17
1996 30 CHI N 77 2825 21.4 55.1 6.5 2.2 4.9 3.0 1.9 0.8 2.8 9.9 36.7 7.04
1997 31 CHI N 82 3095 21.4 55.4 6.0 2.1 4.8 2.8 2.0 0.6 2.8 9.6 37.7 6.45
1998 32 CHI N 44 1652 20.7 53.3 6.2 1.3 4.3 2.7 1.9 1.1 2.8 9.0 37.5 6.42
1999 33 HOU N 50 2011 14.5 53.0 5.8 1.3 5.2 3.2 2.0 0.7 2.4 8.2 40.2 3.95
2000 34 POR N 82 2749 15.4 53.3 6.1 1.7 6.0 3.1 1.8 0.6 3.1 9.0 33.5 3.57
2001 35 POR N 64 2133 13.8 54.1 5.6 1.3 5.0 3.0 1.8 0.7 3.0 7.9 33.3 2.40
2002 36 POR N 62 1996 13.4 49.7 7.4 1.6 5.0 3.5 2.1 0.7 3.3 8.6 32.2 1.80
2003 37 POR N 64 1911 14.7 52.0 6.1 1.2 4.7 3.5 2.2 0.5 3.2 8.1 29.9 1.40
2004 38 CHI N 23 412 12.9 44.8 4.7 1.9 4.6 2.8 2.0 0.9 3.6 7.3 17.9 -0.17

Dominique Wilkins

Year Ag Tm Lg G Min P/40 TS% AS/40 OR/40 DR/40 TO/40 ST/40 BK/40 PF/40 V.I. MPG SPM
1983 23 ATL N 82 2697 22.2 52.4 2.0 3.5 3.9 2.8 1.3 1.0 3.2 6.9 32.9 0.13
1984 24 ATL N 81 2961 25.2 53.1 1.8 3.7 4.7 3.1 1.7 1.3 2.8 7.3 36.6 1.75
1985 25 ATL N 81 3023 30.0 51.4 2.7 3.1 4.5 3.0 1.8 0.7 2.3 8.5 37.3 5.20
1986 26 ATL N 78 3049 31.7 53.6 2.8 3.5 4.8 3.4 1.8 0.7 2.3 9.0 39.1 7.99
1987 27 ATL N 79 2969 32.0 54.3 3.6 2.9 4.0 3.0 1.6 0.7 2.1 9.3 37.6 9.59
1988 28 ATL N 78 2948 33.6 53.4 3.1 3.0 4.1 3.1 1.4 0.7 2.3 9.1 37.8 8.07
1989 29 ATL N 80 2997 28.7 52.8 2.9 3.5 4.1 2.5 1.6 0.7 1.9 8.5 37.5 4.81
1990 30 ATL N 80 2888 30.4 55.6 2.8 3.1 4.3 2.5 1.8 0.7 2.0 8.6 36.1 7.53
1991 31 ATL N 81 3078 27.1 55.5 3.4 3.4 6.1 2.6 1.6 0.8 2.0 9.6 38.0 6.97
1992 32 ATL N 42 1601 29.1 55.2 3.9 2.5 4.7 3.0 1.3 0.6 1.9 9.4 38.1 6.03
1993 33 ATL N 71 2647 31.8 57.0 3.4 2.8 4.4 2.8 1.0 0.4 1.7 9.2 37.3 7.27
1994 34 TOT N 74 2635 28.9 52.9 2.5 2.7 4.5 2.6 1.4 0.5 1.9 8.1 35.7 3.98
1995 35 BOS N 77 2423 22.3 51.9 2.7 2.6 4.0 2.8 1.0 0.2 2.1 7.3 31.5 -0.47
1997 37 SAS N 63 1945 24.3 51.7 2.5 3.6 4.9 2.9 0.8 0.7 2.1 8.1 30.9 0.93
1999 39 ORL N 27 252 21.3 44.5 2.5 4.8 6.5 3.7 0.6 0.2 3.0 8.5 9.3 -5.34

Just missed the cut: Billy Cunningham, Alex English, Grant Hill, Bailey Howell, LeBron James, Chris Mullin, Detlef Schrempf

Over/under-valued:Although LeBron James is on the verge of passing him for #10, it's probably a shock to see Bobby Jones in anybody's "All-Time Top 10 SFs" list. In his defense, though, Jones is a tremendously underrated player nowadays -- people have trouble remembering who he was, much less his vital role on the 1983 World Champion 76ers, or his 11 straight All-Defense nods (10 of which were 1st-team) from 1975 to 1985, or his 1983 Sixth Man of the Year award, or even his big-time intangibles like toughness & leadership. I'm not saying he's one of the top 10 3s ever (and seriously, King James is so close to passing him here that it will happen before the season is over), but admit it, it's cool to see the stats validate a guy whose career was based largely on defense and leadership, isn't it?

And he's pretty much the only guy people should have a problem with. The rest of the list reads like a who's who of great wings -- in fact, swap LeBron with Jones (did I mention this is about to happen anyway), and I dare say you've got the definitive "top small forwards" list (my apologies to Bernard King fans ahead of time).

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12 Responses to “The Top 10 Small Forwards of All Time (*according to statistical +/-)”

  1. JIM Says:

    THANKS THIS WAS VERY HELPFUL AFTER HAVING LETS SAY A MEETING OF THE MINDS ABOUT A FORWARD BEING 6-5 OR 6-6 200-210 LBS IN THE NBA. SOME PEOPLE JUST THINK THEY KNOW EVERYTHING, ESPECIALLY THOSE THAT NEVER PLAYED THE GAME.

  2. Neil Paine Says:

    Um... was that a diss or a compliment? Either way, I have no idea what you are talking about.

  3. Jason J Says:

    That is a great list. What exactly determines who gets in? Sum total SPM?

    Also did TMac not make the list or is he being considered an SG?

    Can't wait to see how the guards shake out! Have a feeling the SPMs for Oscar and Magic will be right through the roof.

  4. Neil Paine Says:

    I arbitrarily set the replacement level at -5.00, because that seems like the level at which players tend to drop out of the league. And since SPM theoretically measures a player’s individual contribution to point differential, I found value over replacement by adding 5 to his career SPM score, dividing by 48 (the # of minutes in a regulation game), and multiplying by career minutes.

    I debated over where to out T-Mac, but he feels like a guard (or at least that's where he was during his best years). I haven't calculated it for the guards yet, but just glancing at the SPM #'s, Magic and Oscar added like 11-12 points of efficiency differential to their teams at their peak, which is way off the charts (for reference's sake, that's like the difference between the Lakers and the Warriors this year). Then again, Jordan added that much on average over his whole career, including the Wizards years. At his peak, he added 18+ pts of differential, which would be like turning the Kings into the Celtics, Cavs, or Lakers. Just a guess, but I'd say MJ is going to own the whole thing.

  5. Jason J Says:

    gotcha. didn't understand how the minutes were being factored.

    MJ. Every time I look at a new metric, he owns it. Ridiculous!

  6. Luke Says:

    I felt really smart reading/analyzing this, until I got to JIM's comment... It was a little like shifting my brain all the way up to 4th gear and then slamming it into reverse. Thanks, JIM, you blew out the transmission on my brain.

  7. Paul Arizin Says:

    Hey! You forgot about me!

  8. sprtfrk Says:

    having seen both of their whole careers, i gotta think that MJ dragged "no tippin'" Pippen onto this list. Surprised that Worthy didn't crack the list too.

  9. penbeast Says:

    sort of shocked to see Nique on the list (which of course doesn't measure man defense . . . and still Bobby Jones made it!). I've always thought of him as a step behind his contemporaries like Bird, Dantley, King, Aquirre, and Marques Johnson because of his relatively limited outside shooting and bad defense plus his efficiency always seemed a level lower. He did play longer and more consistently at his peak level than any of the others . . . sort of like Iverson today . . . but i would have guessed statistical analysis would show him falling behind rather than staying in this company.

  10. Harold Says:

    Take another look Sprfrk. Pippen's two best years were the ones Jordan was gone. It looks to me like Pippen subjugated his game a little bit to accomodate Jordan. Pippen clearly could have done more if he didn't have to defer to Jordan. You don't win six championships dragging anybody.

  11. Ryan Says:

    You've really got to get on the Shooting Guards immediately, I'd do it myself by I'm slack.

  12. Sveinn Birkir Says:

    I don't get it. No James Worthy?