The Golden State Warriors have seen many players pass through the small forward position since the team’s inception in 1946, but these five players are the best of the best in franchise history:
5. Antawn Jamison
The North Carolina product didn’t achieve much winning in a Warriors uniform, but he was undeniably a problem for other forwards due to his dynamic shooting ability.
Jamison started his career as a 6-foot-8 small forward, traded for his very own college teammate Vince Carter during the 1998 NBA Draft. The Warriors had the No. 5 pick and traded up to No. 4 to get Jamison.
That turned out to be a huge mistake, but it didn’t make Jamison’s first few years any less impressive. The Louisiana native had a slow start in his rookie year during a lockout-shortened 1998-99 season but soon bloomed into a go-to scorer.
Jamison averaged 20.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game throughout his five seasons in Golden State.
His most memorable moment was a 51-point duel against a prime Kobe Bryant, which helped the Warriors to a classic victory against the favored Los Angeles Lakers. Jamison had scored 51 points the previous game in a loss to the Seattle SuperSonics.
4. Chris Mullin
One of the most beloved personalities in Warriors lore. Mullin was drafted as a 6-foot-6 shooting guard with a deft touch and decent defensive skills.
He transitioned into the small forward position in his third season and played at that slot for the rest of his career.
During a five-year stretch (1989-1993), Mullin posted averages of 25.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.9 steals per game while shooting 52.3% from the field and 87.1% from the foul line.
Mullin was part of the Run TMC trio, complementing a barrelling Mitch Richmond and a helter-skelter Tim Hardaway in one of the most fun eras of Warriors basketball.
The Brooklyn native didn’t win any rings with the franchise but made the All-NBA First Team in 1992, Second Team in 1989 and 1991, and Third Team in 1990. Mullin also got the All-Star nod for the aforementioned five straight seasons (1989-1993).
3. Rick Barry
Perhaps the most polarizing player in this list. Barry had two different stints with the Warriors after some disputes with ownership regarding his contract.
After spending his first two seasons with the San Francisco Warriors, he played the next four seasons for three different teams in the ABA, ultimately returning to the Warriors in 1972. A less-mobile version of the previously-athletic Barry played a more perimeter-oriented game, helping the Warriors to the 1975 NBA title.
His inspired play in the 1975 NBA Finals helped the Warriors take down the heavily-favored Washington Bullets in sweeping fashion. He was named the 1975 Finals MVP and remains one of the staples in Warriors lore to this day.
The godfather of the granny-style free throw spent eight seasons with Golden State during his combined two stints. Barry was the 1966 Rookie of the Year, a five-time All-NBA First Team selection, eight-time All-Star, and one of the members of the NBA’s Top 50 players. He averaged 25.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.4 steals through 642 games with the franchise.
2. Paul Arizin
Known as “The Pitcher” or Pitchin’ Paul; Arizin was not only the first Warriors legend, but he was the first true NBA superstar — averaging 22.8 points and 8.6 rebounds in 713 games with the franchise.
A 6-foot-4 small forward, Arizin was the top selection of the 1950 NBA Draft as a territorial pick by the Philadelphia Warriors, as well as the first pick ever in league history.
While the game was still green in the early ’50s, Arizin godfather what we now know as the jump shot, a window motion that allows the shooting arm to release the ball freely without disrupting vision.
Arizin played all of his 10 years with the Warriors, forced to take a temporary hiatus after his second season to comply with his military service with the Marine Corps.
He was a three-time All-NBA First Team selection, a 10-time All-Star, and one of the select few to be chosen as the NBA’s Top 50 players in 1996 for the league’s 50th anniversary. Arizin helped the Warriors lift their first-ever NBA championship trophy in 1956 (Warriors won 1946-47 BAA title before the league became the NBA). His jersey is the first of many hanging in the rafters of Chase Center today.
1. Kevin Durant
As fate would have it, Durant’s short three-year stint to make him the only star-level small forward to win two titles with the Warriors, doing so in dominant fashion in 2017 and 2018.
Durant had a slew of accolades before joining the Warriors in 2016, but the titles had eluded them until then. During his brief time in the Bay Area, KD averaged 25.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game.
Durant took his play to another level in the playoffs, playing an integral part in back-to-back championship runs. He averaged 35.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.6 blocks in his first NBA Finals with Golden State, earning him the Finals MVP trophy.
He would do so again the next season, posting 28.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 0.8 steals, and 2.3 blocks per game in a sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
KD’s venture with Golden State is still fresh wounds, but the monster-like numbers and the sheer amount of victories he was able to muster with a star-laden roster in such a short window makes him without a doubt the greatest small forward to don a Warriors uniform.