For many years, talented small forwards have dominated the NBA. Not quite a true guard or big man, the small forward position is one in which players are expected to have well-rounded games. When teams want to go with a small lineup, the small-forward can shift to power-forward, and when teams want to go with a big lineup, the small forward can shift to shooting-guard. That is to say, versatility characterizes the small forward position.
There is perhaps no greater example of the small forward’s versatility than Scottie Pippen, who won six championships with the Jordan-led Bulls of the nineties. Of course, “Jordan-led” seems to be the operative word, but those Bulls teams could not have succeeded without Pippen’s unwavering presence, as he did a little bit of everything—scoring, rebounding, and defending—to help his team. Pippen possessed the length to influence games in the paint, but also the speed and agility to influence games on the perimeter.
A talented group of small forwards rule today’s NBA. Every year’s MVP race is full of well-deserving candidates from the small forward position. Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, and Lebron James immediately come to mind as the league’s best small-forwards. These players are invaluable to their teams, as they have excellent post, mid-range, and long-range games. And as the league gets smaller and quicker, small forwards will ironically play even bigger roles for their respective clubs.
This list looks at the NBA’s top 10 highest-paid small forwards this season. These players are among the highest-paid players in the NBA—and deservedly so.
10. Nicolas Batum – Portland Trail Blazers – $11,295,250 in 2013-14
A 6’8″ small-forward from France, Nicolas Batum is a pivotal player on a surprising Portland team this year. His numbers exemplify the versatility of the small forward position, as he is averaging 13.4 points, 5.7 assists, and 6.7 rebounds per game. Though his scoring numbers do not strike one as elite, he does enough to keep defenders honest, taking pressure away from both Damien Lillard and LeMarcus Aldridge. If Portland wants to advance deep in the playoffs, Batum will have to play well.