NBA 2K24: Best Small Forwards, Ranked

Highlights

  • Small forwards are versatile players who contribute on both offense and defense, but their impact is influenced by the rest of the team.
  • Khris Middleton, Brandon Ingram, and Zach LaVine are among the top small forwards in the NBA, known for their offensive skills and ability to stretch the defense.
  • Kawhi Leonard, Jayson Tatum, Jimmy Butler, and LeBron James are elite small forwards who excel on both ends of the court, but injuries have impacted their performance in recent seasons.

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Small forwards can be an assortment of things for an NBA roster. These players tend to be a jack of all trades, capable of being effective on offense and defense. Ultimately, how much impact a small forward has on a game largely depends on the other players on the team.

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Currently, the top small forwards in the NBA lean more toward the offensive side of things but they are still plus defenders. With NBA 2K24 out in the wild, we take a look at the best small forwards in the game and how they provide value on the court.

8 Khris Middleton – 85

Khris Middleton mid-range shot

Khris Middleton was a major contributor to the Milwaukee Bucks ousting the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals a few seasons ago but hasn’t been the same player since. Much is due to lingering knee injuries but also the natural decline with age.

When healthy, Middleton can be that second scorer behind Giannis Antetokounmpo to propel the Bucks. He’s an excellent mid-range shooter (A+) and can stretch defenses out to the three-point line (A). Middleton utilizes his 6’11 wingspan to lockdown the perimeter (A) but can also hold his own down low (B). He’s not the best rebounder (C+) but Middleton makes up for it by being a plus-individual defender.

7 Brandon Ingram – 85

Brandon Ingram layup

Since Brandon Ingram was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans in 2019, he’s been a 20-plus point scorer for the team each season. He’s elevated his offensive game to be an acceptable first-option, though Ingram still has areas to improve.

As a sharpshooting shot creator, Ingram mainly delivers from the mid-range and three-point line (A) but can score very well from under the basket (B+). Although Ingram typically looks to score first, he does have a high playmaking (A-) rating and is able to find open teammates for better opportunities.

6 Zach LaVine – 86

Zach LaVine layup

The Chicago Bulls hoped a trio of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic would create some noise in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, the Bulls are arguably even further away from contending than they were a few years ago.

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But as an individual talent, LaVine can still be an effective scorer as a floor-spacing slasher. He drives to the hoop effortlessly (A) and can make it rain from beyond the arc (A). LaVine isn’t the greatest perimeter defender (B-) but if the team has a better point-of-attack defender then he can hide on defense. LaVine is still barely entering the prime of his career at 28 years old, so there’s still hope he can take his game to the next level.

5 Lauri Markkanen – 86

Lauri Markkenan shooting three-pointer

The cost the Cleveland Cavaliers had to pay for Donovan Mitchell was small forward Lauri Markkanen. While Markkanen had failed to capture the hearts of Chicago fans with the Bulls, he was fairly effective on the Cavaliers. However, Markkanen’s time in Cleveland was short-lived but he’s found a great spot to thrive in with the Utah Jazz.

With the Jazz, Markkanen averaged a career-high in points (25.6) and rebounds (8.6) as a three-level scorer. Even at seven feet tall, Markkanen is a highly effective three-point shooter (A-) and can score easily underneath the basket (A+). He’s a better interior defender (B-) than on the perimeter (C+) but he’s a solid rebounder (B) and will only continue to get better on both ends of the court.

4 Kawhi Leonard – 94

Kawhi Leonard shooting three-pointer

If Kawhi Leonard had been just a bit more healthy throughout his career, he might’ve been regarded as one of the best players in NBA history. The 32-year-old is a two-way walking bucket with perfect ratings in every offensive category. Although he didn’t want to be traded to the Toronto Raptors in 2019, he managed to win an unlikely championship with the team.

Leonard hasn’t had much playoff success with the Los Angeles Clippers but he’s a phenomenal talent. On the defensive end of the court, he’s an excellent interior (A-) and perimeter (A+) defender. Asking for Leonard to be perfectly healthy might be asking for too much but the idea of a healthy Leonard certainly puts the fear in the rest of the league.

3 Jayson Tatum – 95

Jayson Tatum shooting three-pointer

Over the past few seasons, Jayson Tatum has emerged in the discussion of the top overall players in the NBA. While he essentially disappeared in the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors two years ago, he remains a dynamic offensive talent for the Boston Celtics.

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For the first time in his career, Tatum averaged over 30 points per game last season and much of it is thanks to his three-point shooting (A+). He’s also capable of scoring with ease inside (A) and from mid-range (A-), and when you factor in his top-tier perimeter (A+) and interior (A) defense, makes him a two-way walking bucket. If Tatum continues to improve, he’ll become a yearly MVP candidate and a top forward in the league.

2 Jimmy Butler – 95

Jimmy Butler shooting mid-range

For the second time since 2020, Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat reached the NBA Finals. However, for the second time since 2020, Butler and the Heat failed to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy after being eliminated by the Denver Nuggets.

Butler is an interesting player, as it seems he gets better the further into the season he gets. He’s a tremendous inside scorer (A+) and can handle the ball well as a two-way three-level point forward. He’s a stellar perimeter (A+) and interior (A-) defender and is a tough veteran player you want leading your team.

1 LeBron James – 96

LeBron James shooting three-pointer

While the days of LeBron James being the king of the NBA are over, the 38-year-old still reigns supreme over the small forward position. James and the Los Angeles Lakers made a surprising trip to the Western Conference Finals but fell to the eventual champions Denver Nuggets and time is running out for James to capture one more NBA title.

Speaking of time running out, Father Time has finally caught up with James as the superstar suffered several injuries in the last couple of seasons. When healthy, James can still channel his otherworldly talent by attacking the rim (A+) and pulling up from mid-range (B+) and three-point land (B-). He remains an outstanding playmaker (A+) and rebounder (B+), making him the best small forward in NBA 2K24.

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