Small Forwards are often considered to be one of the most important positions in all 5 spots, albeit obviously all positions are crucial to have a successful NBA team, but due to their versatility and ability to run on fast breaks, shoot from distance or drive to the lane, they're always among the team’s leading scorers.
An effective small forward has to be a true scorer and rebounder, often as tall as the power forward or center but obviously way leaner, and if he’s also a good wing stopper and passer, you’ve got yourself a gem on your squad.
In spite of that, and undeterred by the fact that the small forward spot is perhaps the one most kids dream of playing, it’s difficulty makes the league be quite shorthanded when it comes to top-tier starting 3s, leaving some squads with subpar starters at the wings that more often than not translate to major struggles in the hardwood for the team as a whole.
Of course, not all small forwards can be LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Durant, but the fellows we’re about to mention sometimes make us wonder why they’re even in the league after being pretty many no-shows or liabilities throughout their career. So, here are the top 5 worst starting small forwards in the league.
5. Dante Cunningham
Dante Cunningham is a whole non factor on a New Orleans Pelicans team that craves spacing and shooting from beyond the arc alongside their monster twin towers of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis, and he provides absolutely nothing in either side of the hardwood when he’s suited up.
Cunningham is laterally slow and often gets caught in switches, so he’s a major defensive flaw that AD constantly has to make up for. Besides, being a career 31.8% shooter from beyond the arc isn’t truly helpful when opposing defenses constantly collapse the paint to prevent Davis and Cousins from scoring, as they can leave him wide open and they know he won’t connect.
4. Joe Ingles
Joe Ingles isn’t exactly bad, but he’s not an NBA caliber player, and especially not a man that should be starting for the Utah Jazz. Ingles is slow and unathletic and has no hops whatsoever, and he looks more like somebody’s dad suiting up in your local YMCA.
Yeah, Ingles can get hot from beyond the arc and is a streaky shooter on a team that also desperately needs that kind of spark, but he’s a very unidimensional player without much upside at age 30 after spending most of his career overseas in Australia and Europe. Through his career, he’s averaged roughly over 5 points with a couple of boards and dimes a game.
3. Moe Harkless
A good small forward should be capable of getting fouled a lot and visit the charity stripe quite often, but that’s definitely not Moe Harkless’ case. See, if you’re starting at the 3 and are a career 60% shooter from the line, it’s always better to wack the hell out of you than let you try to score.
Harkless isn’t much of a good stopper either albeit that was his introduction letter coming out of college, much as just being a decent threat in passing lanes. This season, he’s averaging under 6 points accompanied by 3.8 rebounds in 40% from the floor and an embarrassing 24.2 from three-point territory.
2. Stanley Johnson
During his NCAA days, Stanley Johnson was called the Stanimal and Showtime and coming as the 8th overall pick in the Draft, people expected a lot out of the Arizona product. Johnson was poised to become a two-way star and a key element in the Pistons’ rebuilding process after the team parted ways with Josh Smith, and it certainly looked like they’ve hit the jackpot with him after very impressive summer league and preseason showings.
So, apparently, Johnson’s problem doesn’t seem to be talent or skillset, but his mentality. Stan’s confidence is lost beyond repair and he’d be better off back in the G-League rather than starting to see if he can get his groove back. Thus far, the 21-year-old has posted career averages 6.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.5 helpers on 36% from the floor and 30% from deep, and he still has time to figure things out.
1. Paul Zipser
Zipser’s case is so sad that he’s come on and off the starting spot, and he seems like yet another major fluke in the NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls like Marquis Teague and Cameron Bairstow. Up to now, he’s shown absolutely nothing through a full NBA campaign and 7 starts this season at the 3. Paul‘s unable to put the ball in the floor, but he’s not a good spot up or catch and shoot scorer either, averaging 32.3% from the floor and only connecting on 23% of his attempts from three.
The German is quite unathletic and seems constantly lost on the defensive end of the hardwood, and he has absolutely no significant skill that could make people think he’s worthy of a roster spot. As yet, Zipser has left mediocre averages of 3.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in roughly over 17 minutes per game.