Commentary

LeBron still leads Durant, Melo

Even after Finals disappointment, James tops rankings of league's best small forwards

Updated: July 28, 2011, 8:34 AM ET
By Chris Palmer | ESPN The Magazine
LeBron James and Kevin Durant Getty ImagesLeBron is the best player in the NBA, but KD just about has the scoring title on lockdown.

We're officially in the dog days of the lockout. Negotiations between the players and owners have stalled, and seemingly every day there's talk of another star jumping overseas. But not even the lockout is cause to stop evaluating the best players in the game and seeing how they stack up against their peers based on talent, skill and productivity. This week, I'll be ranking the top five players at each position and breaking down what makes them so special. Each day, I'll look at a different position, starting with point guards and finishing with centers. Today, we'll look at small forwards. We're tossing out postseason awards and career accomplishments and just finding out who's the best of the best.

POINT GUARDS | SHOOTING GUARDS | SMALL FORWARDS


1. LeBron James, Miami Heat

[+] EnlargeLeBron James
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty ImagesAll Finals criticism aside, there's no better player in the NBA than LeBron.

James is simply the game's best player and on his way to being considered the best small forward of all time. He's the most versatile player to come along in this era, possessing nearly every physical tool and mental attribute that can be desired in a basketball player. Although James is fresh off a series in which he was lambasted for his lack of aggression and apparent indecision, it doesn't change the fact that he's the best player on the planet.

Chris Palmer

ESPN the Magazine