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The 10 Greatest NBA Small Forwards Of The 1990s

The 10 Greatest NBA Small Forwards Of The 1990s

The 1990s was truly a golden age of basketball. There were dominant players at nearly every position. The point guard position was dominated by the likes of Magic Johnson, Isaiah Thomas, and John Stockton. Shooting Guards like Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler were among the best players in basketball. Power Forwards like Charles Barkley and Karl Malone won MVP awards. Centers like Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, and David Robinson were the elite of the elite. One exception to positional depth was small forward. Don’t get me wrong, some amazing basketball players held down the small forward position, but not a single small forward took home an MVP award during the decade. A player at every other position had been named an MVP in the 90s.

Before we move on to our 10 best small forwards of the 90s, I would like to hand out some honorable mentions. Jamal Mashburn was a super skilled player for Miami and Dallas, but his accolades are non-existent, and he falls just shy of a Top 10 ranking. Dan Majerle was only a small forward for 2 seasons as his primary position was shooting guard, so he does not qualify. James Worthy is another one who just didn’t have enough time spent in the 90s to qualify for our list. The same goes for the likes of Larry Bird, whose injuries hindered the end of his career and he only played two seasons in the 90s.

The small forwards of the 90s were immensely talented, and today we give you our Top 10 from the decade.

10. Sean Elliott

Sean Elliott

1990-91 to 1999-00 Accolades:

1x NBA Champion

2x All-Star

Whenever the term underrated is brought up, one of the first names that come to mind is Sean Elliott. He was the consummate teammate for the San Antonio Spurs, displaying unwavering willingness to play Robin to David Robinson’s Batman in the 90s. He could score from any area on the floor with pretty relative ease. For his career, he displayed .465/.375/.800 shooting splits and accumulated over 10,000 points.

During the 90s, Elliott was named to 2 All-Star teams and won 1 NBA Championship with the Spurs in 1999. His first All-Star season came in 1992-93, when he averaged 17.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.8 APG, and 1.0 SPG. His next appearance came after a brief stint in Detroit until he was promptly returned to San Antonio just one year later. In the 1995-96 season, Elliott returned to the Spurs to average 20.0 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.7 APG, and 0.9 SPG. Toward the end of his career, he was a solid contributor to a Spurs team that won the NBA Finals.

9. Glenn Robinson

Glenn Robinson

1990-91 to 1999-00 Accolades:

1x All-Star

Glenn Robinson was selected first overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1994 draft and immediately let his presence be known. He led all rookies in scoring with an average of 21.9 PPG. Robinson was an exceptional mid-range shooter who ended up being one of the most consistent scorers in the league during his time in Milwaukee. He thrived in the frontcourt alongside the likes of Vin Baker, Ray Allen, and Sam Cassell.

When speaking of his consistency, the numbers back up Robinson perfectly. In 5 out of his first 6 seasons in Milwaukee, Robinson was as consistent offensively as they come. In those 5 out of 6 seasons, he averaged at least 20.0 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 1.0 SPG. When he was finally named an All-Star in 1999-00, he averaged 20.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 1.0 SPG. In his days with Milwaukee during the 90s, Robinson was a member of two playoff teams who unfortunately had their season cut short in the first round each time.

8. Clifford Robinson

clifford robinson

1990-91 to 1999-00 Accolades:

1x Sixth Man Of The Year

Clifford Robinson is one of the best players in Portland Trail Blazers history. He was so skilled he became one of the first stretch forwards the NBA had seen. His skill, health, and longevity contributed to playoff berths for Portland every season he was there, including 2 trips to the Finals in 1990 and 1992. “Uncle Cliffy” wasn’t just loved for his game and playstyle but for his swagger on the floor that made him one of the most likable players of that era.

In 1992-93, Robinson was named Sixth Man Of The Year with averages of 19.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.2 SPG, and 2.2 BPG. He followed that performance up in 1994 with his first and only All-Star appearance of his career with averages of 20.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.4 SPG, and 1.4 BPG. Robinson was ahead of his time, having nailed 1,253 three-pointers in his carer on 35.6% shooting from deep for the entirety of his career. Robinson’s two-way play probably should have garnered more All-Star selections but regardless, he is still one of the best small forwards to play in the 90s.

7. Toni Kukoc

Toni Kukoc

1990-91 to 1999-00 Accolades:

3x NBA Champion

1x Sixth Man Of The Year

Toni Kukoc is most well-known for his unbelievable clutch abilities and willingness to be a facilitator in Phil Jackson’s triangle offense with the Chicago Bulls. Kukoc came to Chicago with the Bulls, wondering what direction they were headed given the untimely retirement of star Michael Jordan. Kukoc responded by hitting clutch shot after clutch shot for the Bulls and averaging 10.9 PPG and 3.4 APG off the bench.

In the 1995-96 season, Kukock was named the NBA’s Sixth Man Of The Year. He did so, averaging 13.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 3.5 APG off of the bench for the Bulls in Michael Jordan’s first season back in the lineup. There were many times when Kukoc stepped up for the Bulls in the absence of production from the team around him. The 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals are a prime example when he knocked down a game-winner in Game 3 after Scottie Pippen refused to take the floor. Another time was when he silenced Reggie Miller after Miller took a bow on Chicago’s home floor after hitting a shot with 2 seconds left. With ice in his veins like he had done so many times before, Kukoc nailed a game-winner with 0.8 seconds left to send Indiana home heartbroken.

6. Detlef Schrempf

Detlef Schrempf

1990-91 to 1999-00 Accolades:

2x Sixth Man Of The Year

3x All-Star

1x All-NBA Team Selection

Detlef Schrempf was a vital piece to both the Indiana Pacers and Seattle SuperSonics during the 1990s. With the Indiana Pacers, Schrempf was one of the league’s best players off of the bench, winning back-to-back Sith Man Of The Year awards in 1991 and 1992. In 1991, he averaged 16.1 PPG, 8.0 RPG, and 3.7 APG. In 1992 when he award for the second time, he averaged 17.3 PPG, 9.6 RPG, and 3.9 APG. The Pacers made Schrempf a full-time starter in 1993, to which he responded with an All-Star appearance.

When he moved on to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1994, he was immediately thrust into a starting role. He was a key piece next to Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, who earned a spot in the NBA Finals in 1996. Schrempf would be named an All-Star twice more in Seattle in 1995 and 1997. The 1994-95 season was his best in Seattle when he averaged 19.2 PPG and 6.2 RPG. For his career, Schrempf was a 49.1% shooter overall and a 38.4% shooter from three-point range.

5. Chris Mullin

Chris Mullin

1990-91 to 1999-00 Accolades:

3x All-Star

2x All-NBA Team Selection

As the NBA entered the 1990s, Golden State Warriors forward was in the meat of his prime. In 1991 and 1992, Mullin had back-to-back seasons of at least 25.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 3.0 APG. He was a true marksman of his generation who shot a career 38.4% from deep and 50.9% overall. Only Mullin and Drazen Petrovic shot that efficiently on at least 2.0 field goal attempts per game.

In his 13 seasons with the Golden State Warriors, Mullin averaged 20.1 PPG and 4.4 RPG despite a few years toward the tail end of his career when he wasn't nearly as productive as when the decade started. The most fun years of Mullin's career had to be when he teamed up with Mitch Richmond and Tim Hardaway to form the deadly trio “Run TMC”. Even though the trio lasted just a few seasons and lacked significant success, the basketball produced was beautiful at times. On an all-time scale, Mullin ranks 82nd in total points, 39th in free throw percentage, and 36th in three-point percentage.

4. Dominique Wilkins

Dominique Wilkins

1990-91 to 1999-00 Accolades:

4x All-Star

3x All-NBA Team Selection

By the time the 1990s rolled around, Dominique Wilkins was already 9 years into his NBA career. Despite being in the latter stages of his career, Wilkins was still one of the more prolific scorers in the NBA. Even though he was more known for his scoring prowess, as the Atlanta Hawks entered the 90s, they needed more all-around contributions from Wilkins, and he responded.

Wilkins began to haul in more rebounds and dish out more assists than he ever had from 1990 to 1994 while still maintaining a scoring average of 25.0 PPG or more. Wilkins left the Hawks in 1994 when he was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. In 25 games with the Clippers, Wilkins averaged 29.1 PPG and 7.0 RPG. Wilkins would go on to play just 3 more seasons, spending a season each in San Antonio, Boston, and Orlando. He was still productive in Boston, averaging 17.8 PPG and 18.2 PPG in 1 season with the Spurs. He would retire for good at the end of the 1999 season, ending one of the most underrated careers in NBA history.

3. Glen Rice

Glen Rice

1990-91 to 1999-00 Accolades:

3x All-Star

1x All-Star Game MVP

2x All-NBA Team Selection

Glen Rice is one of those players you look at from the 1990s, and you can’t help but wonder how he would look in 2022. Rice was an exceptional shooter and abundant scorer who thrived on the offensive side of the ball during the mid-late 90s with the Hornets and Heat. He was as versatile as they come scoring the ball and excelling at all three levels. He could create his shot from wherever you needed to but especially from three-point range and the mid-range. He could just as well put his back to the basket and back down defenders into a high-release fadeaway.

Rice began his career in South Beach with the Miami Heat, where he went from a young kid out of Michigan to a 22.0 PPG scorer in just 6 seasons. It was when he got to the Charlotte Hornets in 1996, though, that he became an All-Star and All-NBA talent. The peak of his career came in 1996 when he exploded for 26.8 PPG and led the league in three-point percentage at 47.0%. He earned an All-NBA 2nd Team Selection and was named to the All-NBA 3rd Team the following season as well. In his 3 seasons with the Hornets, Rice earned all three All-Star selections of his career and averaged 23.5 PPG on 46.9% shooting overall and 44.0 % from three.

2. Grant Hill

Grant Hill

1990-91 to 1999-00 Accolades:

5x All-Star

1x Rookie Of The Year

5x All-NBA Team Selection

When Grant Hill was drafted to the Detroit Pistons in 1994, he quickly ascended to stardom in the NBA ranks. He was named Rookie Of The Year in 1994-95, averaging 19.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.0 APG, and 1.8 SPG. It was clear from the outset that he was going to be special and that he was. Hill was destined to take the league from Michael Jordan after his retirement in 1998, and he was well on his way until a devastating knee injury changed the course of his career in 2001.

After his stellar rookie season, Hill would go on to be named to 3 consecutive All-Star Teams and 5 straight All-NBA Teams. His career peaked in the 199-00 season when he averaged 25.8 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 5.2 APG, and 1.4 SPG in 74 games played. He was well on his way to superstardom, and in many ways, he was already there. Just 4 games into the 2001 season, Hill suffered a knee injury that cut his production nearly in half and left NBA fans forever wondering what could have been.

1. Scottie Pippen

Scottie Pippen

1990-91 to 1999-00 Accolades:

6x NBA Champion

6x All-Star

1x All-Star Game MVP

7x All-NBA Team Selection

10x All-Defensive Team Selection

Those of us who watched 90s basketball know just how special Scottie Pippen was alongside Michael Jordan in the 1990s. He was the second-best player on the greatest dynasty in NBA history who captured 6 championships in the decade with two three-peats. Pippen was a true two-way point forward who was the best wind defender of his era. He could shut you down on defense no matter if you were a point guard, forward, and even sometimes centers. His defensive footwork, lengthy wingspan, and high basketball IQ made him one of the great defensive threats of the decade.

On offense, the show belonged to Michael Jordan, but Scottie did his part as well. He was a master facilitator who was quite deadly on the fast break as one and as a scorer/finisher. In 1994 and 1995, when Jordan briefly retired, Scottie averaged career-highs in points (22.0 PPG), rebounds, 8.7 RPG, and steals (2,9 SPG) which led the league in 1995. Without Jordan beside him, Pippen was able to lead the Bulls to within one game of the Eastern Conference Finals in 1994 while finishing 3rd in MVP voting. Scottie Pippen was so much more than just Michael Jordan’s No.2. He was a star in his own right and an easy choice for the best small forward of the 1990s. 


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