Nine of the past ten NBA Finals MVP winners have come from the small forward position. The importance of the small forward comes through their ability to be physically imposing like a big man but with the finesse of a guard.
The role of the small forward today varies between systems, though the two most evident ones are ball-dominant forwards like LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard, or the three-and-D prototype, where the molds of Khris Middleton and Jayson Tatum stand out.
Despite the importance of the role, many NBA teams still have a hole to fill in the three-position. With that being said, here are the seven best teams that you can choose to become a dominant small forward in the NBA.
1. Memphis Grizzlies
The Tennessee team is one of the most intriguing in the Western Conference today. The Grizzlies are in playoff contention again after only having a two-year rebuild, thanks to Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Brandon Clarke. Dillon Brooks is a serviceable three-and-D forward in the starting lineup, but their playoff series versus the Utah Jazz shows that there is room for improvement in that position.
This Grizzlies team has the dynamism and versatility of a young NBA team that can score points at will, which holds true in 2K22. A forward who has the length to stop the league’s best forwards while hitting threes at a consistent rate is a need for the team if they want to be serious contenders.
A Mikal Bridges or an O.G. Anunoby type of a prospect will be perfect for Grizzlies to add size, with the needed defensive anchor in the frontcourt. Whoever can fill the three-position in the starting lineup also has the possibility of forming a big-three with the talent that the Grizzlies have in the guard and center positions already.
2. Brooklyn Nets
An NBA Championship contender ends up in the second position of teams who need a small forward. Coach Steve Nash likes to run Kevin Durant at the power forward spot while James Harden fills the shooting guard position, so a need arises at small forward.
Someone who can be a defensive stopper while having a reliable spot-up jumper will become a crucial piece in the Nets’ quest for a championship in 2K22. They already have many playmakers – hence shooters will be the only concern for Brooklyn.
If the Nets can find a player with a combination of the three-point shooting of Joe Harris and the perimeter defense of Otto Porter Jr., they’ll be set. It’d be a bonus if they can land one on a minimum deal so that they have room to wiggle while filling out the other positions.
3. Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers are in the “make-or-break” season of their process. They have three disappointing playoff runs under their belt without any Finals appearances to show for their efforts. Tobias Harris is the perfect mold for the Sixers, but Doc Rivers deploys him at the four-position.
An optimal small forward for the Philly team will be one that fits the game of Joel Embiid and possibly the trade replacement of Ben Simmons if things stand. Having a serviceable shot-creator from the three-position was their black hole during their playoff matchup versus the Atlanta Hawks; hence this is a need that Daryl Morey will want to find.
A small forward in the mold of a Michael Porter Jr. with perimeter defense will be perfect for the Sixers’ system in NBA 2K22. They can retain the length in the starting lineup while adding an extra scorer who fits well with the prime years of Joel Embiid.
4. Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors have been a shell of themselves since their championship run in 2019. Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry have moved on, while Pascal Siakam needs a co-star to put the Raptors back into playoff contention.
Norman Powell and O.G. Anunoby have tried to fill the shoes of the Finals MVP that left, but the gap between a superstar and an up-and-comer has been just too wide for them to overcome. An All-Star level small forward is needed by the Raptors, one who can create his own shot while having the ability to distribute the ball.
Toronto is usually not an attractive free agency spot. So, building talent through the draft will be their best bet in getting to the top again. They need to find a small forward who has the skill set of 2019 Kawhi Leonard, so be sure to build your player with outside scoring, athleticism, and defending at the fore.
5. Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks are in an intriguing position where they will need to land a dominant small forward who complements the game of their star guard, Luka Dončić. They have recently tried out a combination of small forwards like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Josh Richardson, only to fall in the first round twice.
The prime years of Dončić came early, so Mark Cuban will need to surround him with talent if they are to keep the Slovenian happy. Having a superstar forward will be one of the top priorities of the front office as having another consistent scorer, and a defensive stopper is needed to make deeper playoff runs in the Western Conference.
The rumors of them contacting Kawhi Leonard in free agency make sense as he is the perfect mold for a Jason Kidd-ran offense. An extra 20-plus points per game scorer with a defensive presence would pair well with the resident superstar, so perhaps that’s what you can aim to achieve in NBA 2K22.
6. San Antonio Spurs
The Texan team is undergoing its first rebuild of this century. The Spurs could use help in all positions, but with the departure of DeMar DeRozan, there’s now a hole in the starting small forward position.
Keldon Johnson had a promising Olympic gold medal run in Tokyo; however, Gregg Popovich plays him at the four. Whoever can fill in the small forward position will have many touches and room to experiment as the Spurs transition their system to cater to the modern NBA. As such, it could be easy to level up as an SF for San Antonio.
A dominant forward who has the scoring ability to take over games could be a great option for this Spurs team. Having great playmaking skills is a hallmark of successful Spurs teams of the past, so this will be part of the criteria for your build. A player in the mold of Brandon Ingram or Andrew Wiggins would be perfect for this young team.
7. Sacramento Kings
The Kings have not experienced a playoff run since 2005 – the longest active drought in the NBA. The franchise could use a reboot, but their backcourt has shown promise with De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield emerging as top talents. Richaun Holmes has been a pleasant surprise at center, but the question marks remain for both forward positions on this roster.
The franchise has not seen a star small forward since the time of Peja Stojaković and Rudy Gay. Harrison Barnes is a serviceable player in the NBA, but the front office would easily make way for a superstar forward if they land one.
Sacramento is not your usual free agency destination, so building the team via trade or the draft would be the optimal scenario. A Kelly Oubre Jr. or a Kyle Kuzma prototype with a more consistent shooting package will fit the bill for the Californian team.
Playing small forward in the modern NBA is one of the hardest positions to adjust to. The three-role is one of the most top-heavy positions, and finding the balance between offense and defense is a challenge for most young forwards.
Specializing in one aspect of your game as a forward will give you an advantage, earning you minutes along the way. Once you earn more game time, adding more aspects to your game will only help you to become a superstar SF in NBA 2K22, with the teams above being prime landing spots to get you the chances required.
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