There’s nothing more important than diversity when it comes to Small Forwards. Whether it’s a superstar like LeBron James or a versatile contributor like Antawn Jamison, having multiple skills is a must for the three-man. Similar to their skill-sets, kicks for a small forward have to handle a multitude of tasks. They must be lightweight and responsive like a guard's sneaker, but also durable and cushioned enough to complement what a big man needs. The prefect shoe for a three caters to the needs of every position wit subtly, because that’s what the perfect swingman does. It’s not easy, but these are the kicks that get the job done.
No. 5 - Air Jordan Super.Fly
Key Technical Feature: Hyperfuse, Lunarlon Midsole, Flex Grooved Sole
Weight: 13.2 oz.
The Air Jordan Super.Fly was designed to let players take flight (and land) comfortably. That function will undoubtedly be on display this season by newly acquired test pilots, Blake Griffin and Russell Westbrook. But a shoe constructed well enough to benefit Flight Ambassadors from both ends of the spectrum certainly work for a player who has to handle tasks of both a big and a guard. Equipped with a Lunarlon forefront backed by the Nike Zoom Air heel, comfort is what stands out most about these kicks.
No. 4 - adidas Ghost II
Key Technical Feature: SprintWeb, Torsion System
Weight: 13.5 oz.
Josh Smith is everything you could ask for in a small forward from an athletic aspect. He runs the floor with long strides, has a gargantuan wingspan and has leapt over people for the fun of it. adidas SprintWeb tech fills the need for Mid-Range Shawty to get up and down the court quickly and under much needed security, while the Torsion system provides just the right amount of traction to establish a good base to bounce from.
No. 3 – Under Armour Charge BB
Key Technical Feature: Articulated heel, Micro G foam,
Weight: 13.8 oz.
The strongest newcomer to the basketball shoe game, Under Armour decided to carve out a niche by thinking function over fashion. Boot, snow shoe, what mountain climbers from the year 2022 might be wearing? All those may be initial thoughts on the Charge’s when you see them, but they hit a need of every player once you put them on. The fit is secure, the traction is there and stability when making lateral movements can fit Kemba, Brandon or anyone else UA outfits them with this season. So why do they make the third spot? Despite the Micro G foam feel (which does work), the synthetic upper creates a duality in the shoe that is both secure and stiff and takes a few games to be broken in. Shouldn't be an issue if you play in the shoes for a few weeks, but it is something that UA will need to fix if they make a second edition.
No. 2 - Nike LeBron IX
Key Technical Feature: Flywire, Fuse Tech
Weight: 15 oz.
King James is the most complete player the NBA has ever seen, which is great for him and a challenge for Nike. Each year, the designers of the LeBron shoe series has to figure out how to make a sneaker that perfectly fits the need of every position on the floor. He’s strong, he’s fast, he can fly, can make stops on the dime, play in the paint; there’s just so many factors to consider. The IX’s strongest point is durability. Much like its most notable wearer, the shoes give off an indestructible feeling on the court (think Foamposites), but with that, they lack mobility and at times feel heavy (again, Foamposites). If you’re a three that likes to play in the 15-foot-and in range, this is the shoe for you. If not, you may want to consider no. 1 on our list.
No. 1 – Nike Zoom KD IV
Key Technical Feature:
Weight: 12.3 oz
Kevin Durant beat out LeBron for two things last season: Scoring title and best signature shoe. The KD IV can be worn by multiple positions and has the best blend of comfort, flexibility, breathability and durability on the market in the last year. The traction works well for players who want to face up, attack or establish pivots on the post. Plus, the Adaptive Foot Strap helps keep the foot secure during all facets of the game. The KD V, which is available now on Nike iD, should hit on points where this version lacked, but the KD IV is the best sneaker right now for a small forward.