Hezonja is an interesting new player, especially because he’s one of a very few players I think of as a “pure 3.” One of the major unwritten (as far as I know) stories of the last decade in basketball is the gradual disappearance of the pure wing player due to an unforeseeable confluence of events: the emergence of nominal small forwards like LeBron and Durant, whose physical gifts overpower the type of player I’d think of as a small forward, and the increasing popularity of small ball, which is pushing a lot of people who would normally be considered small forwards into a power-forward position.
In many ways, small forward seems like the most important position on the team, with an improbably large number of stars who play the position: LeBron, Durant, Kawhi, Melo, Paul George, Gordon Hayward, Giannis, and probable future stars like Andrew Wiggins and Justise Winslow. Google half those guys’ names, though, and you’ll find thousands of articles about how they need to move from the 3 to the 4 because it’s their “natural position” or “the way the game’s evolving.”
But when you get beyond those guys, you find a few players who play like large guards with limited range (Andre Iguodala, DeMarre Carroll, Jae Crowder) and a bunch of players who are basically power forwards playing down a position because their team has too many bigs (Danilo Gallinari, Rudy Gay, Al-Farouq Aminu). And really, considering that any small forward in the NBA is going to have to play several of those 6 guys I mentioned above if they’re going to make a run at a title, it makes sense that they’re going big! You can’t send Quincy Pondexter to guard LeBron and act like you’ve got a chance of winning the game. So you get a few transcendent stars playing down a position, because they’re stars and get to do what they want, other teams respond by putting big guys at those positions, and the types of players we think of as traditional small forwards are gradually squeezed out of the game. They’re jacks-of-all-trades in a league that increasingly doesn’t want anyone who doesn’t have a wingspan of over 7 feet or a 3-point percentage of over 40%.