Originally Published on April 8, 2012
The Los Angeles Lakers have seen some of the greatest small forwards in NBA history, and many of them were the first or second scoring option in the lineup. Small forwards are perhaps the most versatile players on the court and every championship team needs one in the playoffs.
These players can help space the court with their perimeter shooting and can also lockdown on the opponent’s best scorer. We have already dived into the top five point guards and shooting guards, and now its time to look at the top five small forwards.
5: Rick Fox
Although Rick Fox played for the Boston Celtics before coming to the Lakers, where he was a beloved figure for all Lakers fans. Fox was an intricate part of the Lakers’ three-peat in the 2000s and was a valuable perimeter shooter.
Fox also played the point at times and used his vision to find teammates for open shots. On top of that, Fox played strong defense on the opponents’ best players.
Rick Fox played seven seasons for the Lakers, and in that time he averaged 8.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. Although his numbers aren’t very flashy, his contributions to that dynasty were incredible.
4: Rudy LaRusso
Although not many Lakers fans know who Rudy LaRusso is or what he did for the franchise, his importance for the Lakers cannot be expressed enough.
LaRusso was one of the original stars of the Minneapolis team and was on the first Lakers roster when it moved to Los Angeles.
LaRusso spent eight of his first ten seasons in the NBA with the Lakers and went to three All-Star games as a member of the team. His career averages also speak volumes to what he did as a Laker.
While with the Lakers, he averaged 14.1 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists for the team.
As stated before, Rudy LaRusso is not a very popular name among Lakers fans, but he helped establish the world-class franchise the Lakers are now.
The Los Angeles Lakers acquired Jamal Wilkes in 1977 via free agency, and he helped the team win two NBA championships.
Wilkes played alongside Magic Johnson in Showtime and he often found himself on the perimeter knocking down shots.
Johnson could always trust Wilkes to knock down shots and his nickname ‘Smooth as Silk’ correctly described the flow with which he played.
Wilkes spent eight seasons with the Lakers and averaged 18.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists in that time. Wilkes was a reliable player for the coaching staff and was consistent with his patented perimeter jumper.
Wilkes was just recently named a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee for the Class of 2012, and the Lakers plan on retiring his number 52 next season.
2: James Worthy
‘Big Game James’ as he was called, was one of the main players during the Lakers’ magical runs in the 1980s. James Worthy worked alongside Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and together they formed one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history.
Worthy was a prolific scorer and one of, if not the number one target for Johnson. Worthy could score from nearly everywhere on the court and the coaching staff knew what it would get out of him on a daily basis.
Worthy was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the first overall pick in the 1982 NBA Draft, and he spent all 12 seasons with the Lakers.
As a member of the team, Worthy averaged 17.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.0 assists. He also won three titles with the Lakers and was named NBA Finals MVP for the 1988 Finals.
1: Elgin Baylor
It is hard to describe some of the things Elgin Baylor did on the floor and there is no doubt his skill-set was something the game had not seen yet. Although Baylor never won a title with the Lakers, he left a lasting impact on the franchise and the league.
Baylor was drafted by the Minneapolis Lakers with the first overall pick in the 1958 NBA Draft and he ended his career with the Lakers, who were then in Los Angeles. In his illustrious 14-year NBA career, Baylor averaged 27.4 points, 13.5 rebounds and 4.3 rebounds per game.
The things Baylor could do on the court were unprecedented and there may never be a small forward who will record the statistics he did.
In addition to his stellar stats, Baylor was an 11-time All-Star, 1959 Rookie of the Year, and was on the All-NBA First Team ten times.