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Projecting top 10 SFs for 2014-15

LeBron James leads WARP-based ranking of NBA's top small forwards

Updated: August 20, 2014, 12:10 PM ET
By Bradford Doolittle | ESPN Insider

When it comes to classifying players by position, the guys who present the most trouble are the elite players such as Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.

What position does James play anyway? The past two seasons, he has spent the bulk of his time playing power forward in Miami, just as Carmelo has done in New York. Now, James and Anthony have slimmed down considerably to gear up for their respective new environments. James is headed back to Cleveland, where he joins a roster with plenty of traditional big men, while Anthony is prepping for his role in New York's new triangle offense. The guys you're used to defining as small forwards are indeed classified as small forwards, while we await the next evolutionary turn in NBA lineup usage.

Below we continue our NBA positional ranking according to forecast WARP, with the projected top 10 small forwards for the 2014-15 NBA season. (An explanation of the statistic can be found at the bottom of the page.)

PG | SG | SF | PF | C


James

1. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

Projected 2014-15 WARP: 20.0 | Win%: 75 percent

It takes more than one season to usurp the King. Last season, Durant led the NBA in WARP ahead of -- gasp -- James, who had finished first in each of the five previous seasons. James might have finished in the No. 2 slot, but it was the 10th straight season he has finished first or second. That, simply put, is amazing. His scoring efficiency and volume were right on target, but his rebounding, steals and blocks were all down. This shift was reflected in RPM, where he was as lofty as ever on offense (plus-8.7, his highest with the Heat), but dipped below average on defense (minus-0.8). It's the type of "off season" almost any player in history would kill to have.


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