Continuing with our Nuggets core player rankings, we move to the small forward position. Last season on NBA TV’s The Association: Denver Nuggets George Karl was quoted saying, “Everybody says you’re gonna have three superstars on three or four teams. Well, I’m not sure Denver’s gonna be one of those teams. So why should we build on that philosophy? My philosophy is why don’t we get a top-10 player at every position and have a top-10 bench?”

Well, Andrew Feinstein, Jeff Morton, Colin Neilson, and I decided to take a look at the Nuggets core of Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, and JaVale McGee and see how the team is developing in terms of having top-10 players at each position. Click here for our point guard rankings, click here for our center rankings, and here for shooting guard.

It’s time to look at the Nuggets’ odd couple, Danilo Gallinari (no visible tattoos) and Wilson Chandler (keeping the inked up Nuggets alive).

Your Stiffs Crew will give you our rankings of the Nuggets core in regards to where they stack up with their NBA counterparts. We won’t be ranking every player at every position, just until we get to our Nuggets player(s) and a few guys after to give you a little perspective. You’ll also get our take as to why we have the player ranked where we do. To the small forwards …

NBA Small Forwards:

Andrew Nate Jeff Colin
1.) LeBron James LeBron James LeBron James LeBron James
2.) Kevin Durant Kevin Durant Kevin Durant Kevin Durant
3.) Carmelo Anthony Paul Pierce Carmelo Anthony Danny Granger
4.) Paul Pierce Carmelo Anthony Rudy Gay Paul Pierce
5.) Rudy Gay Luol Deng Paul Pierce Rudy Gay
6.) Josh Smith Danilo Gallinari Danny Granger Carmelo Anthony
7.) Danny Granger Rudy Gay Josh Smith Josh Smith
8.) Danilo Gallinari Danny Granger Danilo Gallinari Danilo Gallinari
9.) Gerald Wallace Nicolas Batum Gerald Wallace Gerald Wallace
10.) Nicolas Batum Gerald Wallace Nicolas Batum Nicolas Batum
11.) Antawn Jamison Wilson Chandler Antawn Jamison Antawn Jamison
12.) DeMar DeRozan Shawn Marion Wilson Chandler DeMar DeRozan
13.) Wilson Chandler Antawn Jamison DeMar DeRozan Wilson Chandler
14.) Michael Beasley Tayshaun Prince Michael Beasley Michael Beasley
15.) Paul George Jeff Green Paul George Paul George

Andrew’s Take: On just about anyone’s list, Gallo should be considered a Top 10 small forward whereas Chandler probably rounds out the Top 15. If Gallo can stay healthy and improve his offensive consistency, I could see him vaulting into the Top 5 right behind Pierce.

Nate’s Take: I don’t consider Josh Smith to be a small forward, at all. And it’s obvious my colleagues forgot about Luol Deng or they just hate him. When ranking Gallo so highly, I considered if I’d take either Granger or Gay for him in a straight up trade, I wouldn’t do it. Granger is 29 years-old and primarily a scorer and a jump shooter at that. Gay is only 26 years-old and still getting better, that’s a tougher call. I do believe that Gallo’s size and all-around ability gives him the nod. Gallo showed that he can battle defensively against LeBron James and his ability to run the show on offense makes him just on the cusp of being a truly elite NBA player (and he’s just 24 years-old!).

I also believe Chandler is knocking on the top-10’s door as he’s a highly skilled all-around player. The guys ranked behind Chandler are all advancing in age and Jeff Green has a lot to prove, coming off major heart surgery. Chandler’s defensive ability is behind Batum and Wallace just enough to keep him behind them for now, but he could jump if he has a return to his promising play on the court. Chandler has a lot to prove as his best basketball was last seen two seasons ago, but at 25 years-old he’s still a rising player.

Jeff’s Take: Removing obvious biases, just based on scoring ability you have to put Carmelo Anthony up at the third slot in the small forward rankings. Which leads me to so say that, outside of the top four or MAYBE five small forwards the supposed talent at the position isn’t as great as we’d like to think. Gallo is right at about eight considering he can do so much on the court, I’m not sure, however if he will be used exclusively as a SF this season. Once Chandler stops the fall-away-step-back-contested-17 foot-two-point-jumpers he will move up the rankings.

Colin’s Take: Hard to disagree with these rankings. I do feel that Danny Granger, Paul Pierce and Rudy Gay are better than Carmelo if evaluated based upon their team contributions. Granger is still getting better, Pierce is one of the clutchest players in the NBA and Gay reminds me a lot of Carmelo – when he first came into the NBA. Danilo’s getting better, but he’s still got a ways to go to crack the top 5 of the NBA. Let’s see a 20 point season average this year and you might move up, Gallo.

Nate ranked Gallo the highest at No. 6, while Andrew, Jeff, and Colin all slotted him in at No. 8 behind both Granger and Gay, who seem to be the new crop challenging for elite status at the small forward position. While the position really starts to thin out after the top-15, the best player in the NBA resides here (LeBron James) and it’s a very impressive list – no matter how you rank them. With Iguodala, the Nuggets have a very deep set of wing players and those guys will go a long way into determining how far the Nuggets will go next season.

Coming later today, our final list … power forwards! Stay tuned …

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