Basketball Forward Types

Basketball Forward

Out of all the basketball positions, forwards are typically considered to be the most versatile in terms of characteristics and responsibilities. Some of the greatest players to ever step foot on a court are forwards, including LeBron James and Larry Bird. Read on to learn more about the different types of forward positions, including their roles and responsibilities.

What Is a Forward in Basketball?

Forwards are one of the main positional groups in basketball. They are typically taller than both the guard positions but are shorter than centers. The two main forward positions on most teams are small forwards and power forwards. There are also point forwards, who share some characteristics with point guards, but are not an actual position.

What Are the Types of Forwards in Basketball?

There are four main types of forwards in basketball, which are:


A forward in basketball is the basic designation for all players in the forward positional group. A forward is one of five player positions on a basketball team, and the term “forward” typically refers to the small forward (SF) or the power forward (PF). Forwards are able to play both inside the paint and outside of it on offense, and should be aggressive and rebound-minded on defense.

Small Forward

Basketball Small Forward

The small forward is a well-rounded player, typically being skilled in all areas of the game. They’re athletic and taller than guards, allowing for quickness and aggressiveness on defense. Small forwards must be able to make shots from inside and outside of the paint and be able to drive towards the basket and create opportunities for their teammates. Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James are two examples of small forwards that have had immense success in the NBA.

Power Forward

Basketball Power Forward

The power forward is like a mix of the center and the small forward, being tall and built, but also being a diverse player capable of shooting from the inside and outside of the paint. They also typically excel in screen-setting and off-the-ball playmaking. Most power forwards are better at close range, but being a good three-pointer shooter as well can be a real asset. Defensively, they are in charge of boxing out the offense and getting rebounds for their team. Giannis Antetokounmpo or Breanna Stewart are good examples of great power forwards in professional basketball.

Point Forward

Basketball Point Forward

In basketball, point forward isn’t an official position, but it is a term commonly used to describe players at the forward position who play like point guards. A point forward is a forward player that brings the ball up the court, even though that role is typically reserved for a point guard. Point forwards are still expected to be the primary ball-handlers and distributors, as well as initiate the offense, just as a point guard typically would.

Point forwards are able to use their physicality to score in addition to dribbling and distributing. Whenever a point forward is being used, it probably means the team is also using a point guard that is adept at scoring, or a combo guard or shooting guard instead of a point guard. Having a point forward gives an offense more scoring options and allows a dominant forward to use isolation plays more easily.

The most obvious point forward example is LeBron James. Even since his first NBA game, James has been an avid ball handler and distributor, creating openings for teammates by threatening with his scoring prowess. Other historically significant point forwards include Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Ben Simmons.


How many forwards are on the court in basketball?

There are typically two forwards on the court at all times in basketball: the power forward and small forward. However, coaches may sometimes put more or less forwards on the floor in certain situations. For example, if the team is in need of rebounds, the coach may put three or four tall forwards on the floor at once.

What is the job of a basketball forward?

The forward has a number of key roles on the basketball court, specifically playing inside and outside the paint, making shots, getting rebounds, and setting screens. Forwards play close to the basket, and because of this, they tend to be taller than other players on the court, as greater height lends itself well to making layups, three-pointers, and defending shots.