Where does Lebron James rank on the all-time list of forwards?

There are so many great players in the history of the NBA. Lebron James is praised as being a generational star in the modern game. We can argue and dissect him from his great numbers and production to the rings he won. We watch game winners, buckets scored, playoff wins, and of course – championships won. How to choose who is the best of the best? Players stats do not solely matter – the opinions of fans do not matter, they choose whoever is “in” and the flavor of the week. But where does “The Chosen One” sit in the tops of players who played his position over history?

The Small Forward position, also known as the 3, generally are scorers and also rebounders.
Let’s take a look at some of the best that have played – and where LBJ lands in the all time category.

We can start with “The Big Ticket”
Kevin Garnett
Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets
17.8 PPG / 10.0 RPG / 3.7 APG / 49.7 FG% / 27.5 3FG% / 78.9 FT%
With a gritty style – Kevin Garnett was a sight to watch, he had a smooth and underrated jumpshot and was a beast on the boards with 9 seasons of 10+ including 4 seasons leading the NBA. Garnett had a deadly accurate mid-range J – and a nice back to the basket game to score down low. He could swat shots and was a true defensive issue on the other side, with 12 seasons with 1.4+ and for many years he didn’t really have a great supporting cast until he hit 31, when he signed with Boston. 

Karl Malone
Utah Jazz, LA Lakers
25.0 PPG / 10.1 RPG / 3.6 APG / 51.6 FG% / 27.4 3FG% / 74.2 FT%
A huge player at 6-10 and 260 – he had a smooth 10-15′ foot shot that I think was under appreciated because of his size and ability to destroy the rim vs opponents. “The Mailman” was a good shooter, the Jazz were always competitive in his 18 seasons playing there – including getting to the NBA finals twice. His massive presence made defenders pause when he attacked the basket, he brought hesitancy and doubt when driving. But, he never won that elusive ring – which in today’s “Ring Obsession” mindset he would be slammed on by fans for not winning one. But, as someone who watched him play, he was a sight to behold.

Kevin Durant
Seattle Supersonics, OKC Thunder, Golden State Warriors, Brooklyn Nets
27.1 PPG / 7.1 RPG / 4.1 APG / 49.3 FG% / 38.2 3FG% / 88.2 FT%
An incredibly talented player, his lanky and thin build makes him appear to slink through defenses at times, and his feathery shot is lethal, he is a true weapon with his shooting touch. He can knock down the outside shot with great accuracy – and he has the size to slide to the rim and get buckets there too. Durant has a nose for scoring that very few in NBA history have had – he is a natural scorer with the ability to easily drop 50 any night he feels like it. While Durant showed he can step up and be the dominant player for his team – his decision to join up with a 72 win team seems to always lurking on his shoulders as the ultimate “if you can’t beat ’em – join ’em” player.

Dirk Nowitzki
Dallas Mavericks
20.7 PPG / 7.5 RPG / 2.4 APG / 47.1 FG% / 38.0 3FG% / 87.9 FT%
Dirk was the real deal – the German player was a legend and architecture of pure shooting excellence with the easy ability to lead his team and score from anywhere. At 7-0, Nowitzki made teams completely change their defensive style. Before him, there was no player in the “bigs” category who was able to stick jumpers from 26′ out. Dirk’s championship came in historic and iconic fashion against the LeBron James “super team” – where Dirk’s Mavs were huge underdogs.

Tim Duncan
San Antonio Spurs
19.0 PPG / 10.8 RPG / 3.0 APG / 50.6 FG% / 17.9 3FG% / 69.6 FT%
The “Big Fundamental” was a quiet player and the ultimate team player – with 9 seasons of 20ppg and 10rpg – Duncan was consistently personified. He wasn’t splashed all over TV, he didn’t have the big interviews – he just went out and played ball, won lots of games, won lots of titles. Winning 5 championships in his 18 year career, making the playoffs every single season he played, they were a problem for almost 2 decades, with Tim. Duncan was never exciting, he was not a guy who made people gasp with spectacular highlights – the 6-10 forward simply got it done, every time on the court.

Lebron James
Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, LA Lakers
27.0 PPG / 7.4 RPG / 7.4 APG / 50.4 FG% / 34.5 3FG% / 73.4 FT%
“The Chosen One” has been the face of the NBA for the last 15 years. James has shown up across televisions for years with huge games and carries a strong personality that either is loved or hated. Lebron has been amazing with his outstanding all around game and vicious dunks. James is the ultimate weapon – and in reality is a bona fide true playmaker. With the scary ability to score all over the court – I feel his best asset is his ability to get good shots for his teammates. Lebron is better playing the SF position, than just about anyone ever. His passing is some of the best I have ever watched – and has such an incredible body at 6-8 and 250 in his prime, there was nobody who wanted to body him up. His explosiveness to take off was always a threat – and as he got himself a nice shooting touch he became the weapon we know him as today.

Larry Bird
Boston Celtics
24.3 PPG / 10.0 RPG / 6.3 APG / 49.6 FG% / 37.6 3FG% / 88.6 FT%
“Larry Legend” was a myth and a true legend in every sense of the word. With a game that made defenders shake their heads in confusion – he was an awful tough cover. He had a lethal shot from all angles, a nasty clutch gene, a wicked trash talker, and incredible basketball IQ – he was always 3 minutes ahead in the game. Bird had the ability to make a difficult play look like it was simple. When Larry went to Boston – they went from a 29 win team to a steady 60+ win team for the next 6 out of 7 years played. He was a guy who made the team better the second he stepped onto the Garden floor. Lighting up the NBA for 12 seasons – Larry Bird was a true master on the court – if it wasn’t for nagging ugly injuries it would have been nice to see what he could have accomplished with another 5-6 years.

We should all recognize the greatness of great players – many have issues with Lebron James – for many reasons. Whether it’s the sour tasting remnants of “The Decision” or the oversaturation of his brand. Pick whoever you prefer, but the truth is everyone on the list is worth the admiration and respect. People tend to get hooked on a certain player they just like or someone they grew up with – and it usually is hard to break off them.

Is Larry Bird or is LeBron the best?
Or is it Duncan or Dirk?
You decide for yourself.

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