We continue our look at the greatest players for each position that have played for the Miami Heat. Yes, number one is untouchable. But this is a well-rounded group of forwards who have all had a significant impact on the Heat.
We’d love for you to read through and tell us what you think.
**These rankings are based on both longevity and impact. A player is not ineligible if they played for a short amount of time, but their impact must be high.**
Let’s take a look at the best small forwards to play for the Miami Heat.
#5 — Caron Butler
Butler had one of the best rookie seasons for a Heat player averaging 15.4 PPG in 2002-03. He was an exciting young player that played here two seasons before being a part of the package that brought Shaquille O’Neal to Miami.
Butler was an important part of the 2004 Playoff run that sparked a new era of playoff success for the Heat.
#4 — Jamal Mashburn
Mashburn spent 4 seasons in Miami, although only one of them was not hit by injury. He was an efficient scorer at 15.8 PPG in those years. And he was a part of the Heat from 1996-2000, in other words the golden Heat years of the 90’s. And although I’ll never forgive Mashburn for passing up a late clutch shot against the Knicks in the 2000 Game 7 to Clarence Weatherspoon...he was fun in Miami.
Mashburn brought a powerhouse game along with a scorer’s mentality. He was always the third fiddle to Hardaway and Mourning but that was a good role for him.
#3 — Jimmy Butler
Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch to put Jimmy Buckets at #3 when he’s only played 54 games for the Heat. But the impact he has made has been tremendous. Scoring 20 points a game and becoming an All-Star while leading the Heat back to relevancy has been incredible.
Butler also allows his teammates to succeed. He’s proven to be the culture man the Heat need. This season alone stands as one of the best from an all-around contribution stand point for a small forward.
#2 — Glen Rice
Glen Rice had an incredible career in Miami. For six seasons, he averaged 19.3 PPG and was a very reliable player. Rice was taken #4 overall in the 1989 NBA Draft and helped lead the Heat through their beginning years. Although he had some great years, he never made an All-Star Game in Miami, which is pretty surprising. In 1992, he was 10th in the league in scoring and helped lead the Heat to the NBA Playoffs.
In April of 1995, Rice dropped 56 points in a game against the Orlando Magic, a career-high. Rice was part of the trade right before the start of the 1995-96 season that brought Alonzo Mourning to Miami.
#1 — LeBron James
Who else did you expect to see here?
The King is the only player to win a NBA MVP Award in a Miami Heat jersey and he did it twice in 2012 and 2013, also both years he helped lead the Heat to two Championships. LeBron James played for the Heat for four years, taking them to four straight Finals and leading the team in scoring and assists each of those years.
His 2012-13 season was arguably one of the best seasons ever for a player. He had a PER of 31.59, and only Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain have had better seasons with the PER than that. James averaged 26.9 PPG with the Heat and will one day have his #6 jersey retired next to Wade and Bosh when he’s done playing.
But it sure would have been nice to see him here for longer considering the expectations that were here. LeBron has been playing at a league-best level since he left, and that’s hard to swallow sometimes.
Regardless, he’s easily the best small forward to every play for the Heat and it will probably be like that forever.
Let me know what you think of the list! What would you change? Did I leave someone out? We’d love to hear from you and get your perspective. Or at the very least, leave us your favorite memory of one of these guys!