Who are the top 10 small forwards in the league?

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Who are the top 10 small forwards in the league?

Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010
11:53 AM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

A historic summer for the NBA has passed and for the Bulls, while they didn't acquire quite the star power many expected andor hoped for, optimism runs high, both within the organization and throughout the team's fan base. With the offseason coming to an end, the time to fully delve into the upcoming NBA season is here. Instead of a traditional season preview, issues both throughout the league and in Chicago will be probed daily here on CSNChicago.com up until the squad officially convenes for training camp toward the end of September.

8. Who are the top 10 small forwards in the league?

1. LeBron James, Miami Heat (2009-10 averages: 29.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 8.6 assists, 1.6 steals, 50.3 field-goal percentage, 33.3 three-point percentage in 76 games): Even if his scoring numbers slightly decrease, don't be shocked if "King James" averages a triple-double as a Magic Johnson-Oscar Robertson hybrid in his new place of residence and confirms his status as the NBA's best player in retaliation for the continued backlash he's endured.

2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder (2009-10 averages: 30.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.4 steals, 47.6 field-goal percentage, 36.5 three-point percentage in 82 games): Still 21, Durant might not be quite ready to take over the crown as the league's top dog, but his exploits in the World Championships demonstrate he's the game's best pure scorer and the Thunder could be prepared to take the next step.

3. Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets (2009-10 averages: 28.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.3 steals, 45.8 field-goal percentage, 31.6 three-point percentage in 69 games): A byproduct of Anthony's statuses as an upcoming free agent and reported relocation desires will be increased scrutiny and a judgment on whether he's fit to lead a team to the promised land -- regardless of what city he's in.

4. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics (2009-10 averages: 18.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.2 steals, 47.2 field-goal percentage, 41.4 three-point percentage in 71 games): Pierce is no longer dominant on a nightly basis, but "The Truth" still capable of taking over individual games and serving as the front man for an aging Boston band's last few tours.

5. Gerald Wallace, Charlotte Bobcats (2009-10 averages: 18.2 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.5 steals, 48.4 field-goal percentage, 37.1 three-point percentage in 76 games): Never the prettiest player, under the tutelage of Larry Brown, the relentless Wallace has rounded out his game, upgraded his perception around the league and led the Bobcats to their first-ever postseason appearance.

6. Danny Granger, Indiana Pacers (2009-10 averages: 24.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 steals, 42.8 field-goal percentage, 36.1 three-point percentage in 62 games): Considered to be on the cusp of elite the season before last, a disappointing campaign put the onus on Granger to improve -- defense and shot selection, in particular -- especially after a humbling national-team experience.

7. Rudy Gay, Memphis Grizzlies (2009-10 averages: 19.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.5 steals, 46.6 field-goal percentage, 32.7 three-point percentage in 80 games): Armed with a hefty contract extension that raised eyebrows around the league, Gay, coming off a productive summer with USA Basketball, will be expected to take his game -- and team -- to the next level.

8. Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls (2009-10 averages: 17.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.9 steals, 46.6 field-goal percentage, 38.6 three-point percentage in 70 games): Taking more of a background role on a team capable of taking things a step or two further in the postseason might actually help Deng receive much-deserved credit for his quiet and polished game.

9. Caron Butler, Dallas Mavericks (2009-10 averages: 16.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.6 steals, 42.8 field-goal percentage, 29.0 three-point percentage in 74 games): Adjusting to the Mavericks after years of immense freedom in Washington has been a process, but he's still one of the more versatile and dangerous players at his position.

10. Corey Maggette, Milwaukee Bucks (2009-10 averages: 19.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.7 steals, 51.6 field-goal percentage, 26.0 three-point percentage in 70 games): Maggette is one of the league's top gunners, but perhaps the prospect of playing for the Bucks, who have the potential to make a deep playoff run, persuades him to be more team-oriented, while still contributing his scoring prowess.

Next 10 (in alphabetical order):

Ron Artest, Los Angeles Lakers: Artest is no longer the all-around threat he was last decade, but his toughness, lockdown defense, timeliness in the clutch and ability to blend into the team concepts are major reasons the Lakers won the title.
Trevor Ariza, New Orleans Hornets: Ariza wasn't exactly a great fit in Houston, but playing alongside Chris Paul should afford him plenty of easy opportunities to succeed, as his athleticism and defense are attributes the Hornets have long desired.
Wilson Chandler, New York Knicks: Although Chandler often flies under the radar, his athleticism, slashing style and high motor have earned him respect in the Big Apple.
Danilo Gallinari, New York Knicks: While the young Italian needs to round out his game, his uncanny combination of size, deep range and deceiving toughness will continue to be a centerpiece of the Knicks' attempted resurgence.
Richard Jefferson, San Antonio Spurs: Hopefully Jefferson's abysmal debut with the Spurs will be a distant memory with the opportunity to fully adjust and the security of a surprising contract extension.
Andrei Kirilenko, Utah Jazz: The versatile Kirilenko will be forced to produce like the "AK-47" of old if Utah is expected to remain among the West's elite following a summer of player turnover.
Tayshaun Prince, Detroit Pistons: After an injury-riddled season, Prince should return to a semblance of his old form on a more consistent basis, but whether or not he finishes the season in Detroit is a different story.
Hedo Turkoglu, Phoenix Suns: Playing in the freedom of Phoenix's offense -- and with Steve Nash -- should enable Turkoglu to bounce back from a disaster of a season in Toronto.
Terrence Williams, New Jersey Nets: Williams, who started his rookie campaign slow and ended it strong, may actually playing both backcourt positions, but his versatility and athleticism could allow for more favorable mismatches at the three.
Thaddeus Young, Philadelphia 76ers: Despite regressing a bit last season, Young has all the tools to thrive in a new system -- and his natural position -- under new Sixers coach Doug Collins.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

New teammates, new changes put Jimmy Butler at ease

New teammates, new changes put Jimmy Butler at ease

The earrings were gleaming from Jimmy Butler’s ears, as he was his usual-disarming self with a playful smile and wink during his question-and-answer session with the Chicago media.

At a point, he took a deep breath as he looked around the Advocate Center with some of his new teammates walking around, some of whom had to carry nameplates because they weren’t recognizable faces in this new setting.

And because new faces are in town, it means two things: some faces left town and for Butler’s sake, the new ones will only know him as “Jimmy Butler, All-Star”, not the guy who was a late first-round pick, not the player who couldn’t get off the bench.

Butler didn’t bring up his comfort level, but when asked, he didn’t deny things appear to be a bit easier this time around.

“Does it make me feel more comfortable? I mean, to an extent, yeah, because then you can never say how you may have think that I’ve changed,” Butler said.

Butler’s ascension rubbed some the wrong way last season, and it’s been spoken about ad nauseam, whether it was true or not. But the moment of honesty wasn’t so much a shot at Derrick Rose or Joakim Noah, who departed for the Knicks in various forms; however it was an admission to his level of security, one that perhaps can lead to a more peaceful existence with all the core pieces.

The one way he’s always lead and will always speak to, is by example and work ethic. It’s one that turned him into an All-Star and Olympian.

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“I think everybody that’s on this roster now just knows how hard that I’ve worked to get to this spot that I’m at,” Butler said. “They’ve seen it. They’ve witnessed it. All they’ve been around for me is this point of my career. I don’t know if it sounds bad. But I think that all these guys look at, ‘If Jimmy works like that and if I work like that, I’ll be in the same position that he’s in.’ I’ll be more than happy to let you have that position because I think hard work can get you anywhere that you want to get to.”

So with that, Butler volunteered himself to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg, to be the sacrificial lamb of wrath if need be. Easy to say if he doesn’t actually believe Hoiberg is capable of going from nice guy to madman at a moment’s notice but Butler laid it out for the record.

“I told Fred, ‘As much as you can, use me as an example. I want you to really get on my tail about every little thing.’,” Butler said. “Because if Doug or Tony or whoever it may be is watching coach talk to me like that, it’s going to be like, ‘If he can talk to Jimmy like that, I know he’s going to come at me a certain way.’ That’s what I try to remind him every day. I think he’s ready for that. I’m a player. I’m coachable like everybody else. I want that. I need that.”

The additions of Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo add championship receipts to a locker room that needs it, considering the Bulls want to play their young pieces. Wade and Rondo, the Bulls privately believe, will help Butler deal with everything that comes with a new role of leadership — and by proxy, Butler’s relationship and expectations of Hoiberg.

“He was put in a position last year he wasn't familiar with and I think we'll see growth from it,” Bulls general manager Gar Forman said. “The great thing about Jimmy is you know he comes in each and every day and gives 100 percent. He gets better every year and I think we'll continue to see that growth in his game and him as a person. I think that experience with USA basketball was real positive for him.”

Whether the trio lives up to the “Three Alphas” nickname remains to be seen, but after having a locker room with too many low-pitched voices, perhaps the change in pace — any change in pace — will be a welcome one for Butler.

“The Alpha thing, I think we’ll be just fine. Everybody is going to have something to say,” he said. “As long as everybody is listening and is willing to take some criticism if you’re doing something wrong, just like if you’re doing something right I’m going to tell you, there’s good and bad in everything you do. At the end of the day, as long as we win games, it won’t matter.”

Bulls' Jimmy Butler wants tough coaching from Fred Hoiberg this season

Bulls' Jimmy Butler wants tough coaching from Fred Hoiberg this season

 

Much was made of the Jimmy Butler-Fred Hoiberg dynamic last year.

As the duo head into Year 2 together with a very different Bulls roster, Jimmy Butler was very clear about one thing he wants out of his coach this season.

“I told Fred, ‘As much as you can, use me as an example,’” Butler said during the team’s media day on Monday. “I want you to really get on my tail about every little thing because if Doug (McDermott) or Tony (Snell) or whoever it may be, if watching coach talk to me like that he’s going to be like ‘If he can talk to Jimmy like that I know he’s going to come at me a certain way.’ So that’s what I try to remind him everyday. I think he’s ready for that. I’m a player. I’m coachable like everybody else, but I want that. I need that.”

Butler’s show of confidence in his coach didn’t stop at his belief that Hoiberg could follow through on Butler’s desire to be coached hard. The All-Star believes Hoiberg has improved as a coach heading into his second year on the job.

“It was his first year last year and I think he studied himself and us and the way we were up and down in so many areas of the game last year,” Butler said. “He’s trying to correct it. That’s just like anybody going into the offseason. He didn’t just not work. He studied and got better at what he needed to get better at. I think he’s ready moving forward.”