2012 NBA Draft: Ranking The Power Forwards
Senior NBA Writer & College Basketball Editor
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With the point guard, shooting guard and small forward rankings already released it’s time now to take a look at the power forwards as we quickly approach draft day. We’ve known basically since January that Anthony Davis would be the first power forward selected and the top overall selection. By no means will he be the only impact four man drafted, though. The four spot, at least on the outset, appears to be the deepest in the draft by a long shot. As we’ve done with every other position, here’s a look at the top five along with the rest of the field.
The Top Five
Anthony Davis (Kentucky, Fr.) – 6’10, 222 lbs.
The fact that Davis is hands down the unanimous top overall selection in a draft class as talented and deep as this one says a lot about who he is as a prospect. He truly is a unique player, unlike any we’ve seen in quite some time. It’s rare to be able to dominate a game like Davis does without having a single play ran for him. He’s going to be a dream to play with and someone who is going to greatly speed up the New Orleans Hornets’ rebuilding process.
Where Davis is going to have to improve is with his strength, especially in his lower body and core. He’ll also have to continue developing his offensive game, which wasn’t featured very much at Kentucky due to all of the incredible weapons they had.
Within a year or two’s time, Davis should be a top five power forward in the league and a viable contender for the Defensive Player of the Year award. In the meantime he should be good for right around a double-double with a couple of blocks a game.
Thomas Robinson (Kansas, Jr.) – 6’9, 244 lbs.
If you didn’t know Robinson and his story, he could come off as a little bit cocky and overconfident. But, once you find out more about him and his body of work, you’re more likely to think that he’s too humble. Robinson did it all in college, maximizing his limited minutes as a reserve and dominating the nation when becoming a team leader.
What’s going to serve Robinson really well at the next level is his energy and motor. He brings it every second he steps out on the court. Combine that with his strength, athleticism and underrated skill set and you have all the makings for a future All-Star.
The Charlotte Bobcats would be taking a big risk in passing on Robinson because there’s a great chance he could end up clearly being the second best player in this draft class. He’s as good of a consolation prize as you can ask for after missing out on Davis.
Jared Sullinger (Ohio State, So.) – 6’9, 268 lbs.
From the looks of it, getting red flagged for back issues is going to cause Sullinger to slip on draft night. How far is the question right now. In the past we’ve seen highly-regarded players tumble greatly because of a red flag that never ended up being a serious problem. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Sullinger add his name to that list at all.
Whatever problems there may be with his back, it hasn’t kept him from being the most dominant low post presence in the country the last two years. It’s easy to get caught up in who Sullinger isn’t and what he doesn’t do well. When it comes down to it, though, the man simply produces.
With his strength, skill and understanding of how to play in the post, there’s no doubt that Sullinger is going to be a solid big man. He may not be the star he was at Ohio State, but he will undoubtedly be able to provide toughness and stability. He’ll help teams win ball games without a doubt. The Golden State Warriors should think about him long and hard at seven.
Terrence Jones (Kentucky, So.) – 6’9, 252 lbs.
At the predraft combine in Chicago Jones was doing his best to sell himself as a small forward. His argument, which is valid, was that he didn’t get the chance to fully show everything he could do at Kentucky. He was asked to defend, rebound and let the offense come to him. He did just that and the results from a team perspective were obviously stellar.
Jones only showed flashes of being able to play on the perimeter full-time, though. Whatever team invests in him will likely be bringing him in as a four. That is probably going to be where he plays the bulk of his career. He doesn’t appear to have the ball handling skills or a reliable enough jumper to play primarily at the three. At the four he’ll still be able to venture outside of the paint as he desires anyway.
Jones’ upside may be a little undersold at this point. It’s easy to forget that he’s just a sophomore. Had he been asked to do more he likely would have had the kind of statistical improvements NBA teams were hoping to see. His draft range is pretty wide right now, but it’s hard to imagine him getting past the Philadelphia 76ers.
Perry Jones (Baylor, So.) – 6’11, 235 lbs.
It’s not shocking at all to see Jones’ stock is such a state of uncertainty because he’s the kind of player who you can fall in love with and out of love with before an entire half is played. At first glance, he’s jaw-dropping because he’s so skilled and versatile at 6’11. He really could do everything on the basketball court, if he wanted.
The problem is, often it doesn’t look like he wants to. As typical during this time of year, a lot of blame is being put on Baylor’s coaching staff, but effort is on the individual and at times Jones played without it.
He’s as hard of a player to project as any who has come across in the last decade. The amount of money he’s going to be making could be the motivation and reward he needed to unleash the inner beast that many believe he has. Or, we could be saying the same things about Jones in three years that we are now no matter the money or situation. He’s a real gamble. Nobody fits the high-risk, high-reward billing more than him.
The Rest Of The Field
Royce White (Iowa State, So.) – 6’8, 261 lbs.: Talent wise a top five player at his position. Nobody did more for his team in every area than White did. Questions off the court have held his stock back at times, but he could end up being one of the great value selections if he lasts to the 20s as expected.
Arnett Moultrie (Mississippi State, Jr.) – 6’11, 233 lbs.: Garnered serious consideration for being top five. Extremely smooth and versatile. Can really stretch the defense with his ability to hit jump shots out on the perimeter. Thrived in a tough situation this year at Mississippi State.
John Henson (North Carolina, Jr.) – 6’10, 216 lbs.: Defensive oriented with a wingspan that causes trouble for the entire offense, not just his man. Uses both hands well around the basket. There are a lot of concerns about his lack of strength and ability to add the weight he needs to.
JaMychal Green (Alabama, Sr.) – 6’9, 217 lbs.: Long and athletic with an improved jump shot. Had a strong showing at the Portsmouth Invitational, which helped make up for some underwhelming stretches at Alabama. Has some questions off the court.
Drew Gordon (New Mexico, Sr.) – 6’9, 239 lbs.: Strong, steady big man who has the game of a traditional power forward. Character issues are not as big of a deal as they were made out to be in issues stemming from days at UCLA.
Kevin Jones (West Virginia, Sr.) – 6’7, 251 lbs.: A little undersized, but a true inside-outside threat with a motor that never stops. Constantly improved throughout college.
Andrew Nicholson (St. Bonaventure’s, Sr.) – 6’9, 234 lbs.: Has received as much positive feedback throughout this process as anyone in the draft. A strong, intelligent big man who is capable of scoring in a variety of ways now.
Mike Scott (Virginia, Sr.) – 6’9, 241 lbs.: A skilled scorer who knows how to use his strength on both ends of the court. Gets to the free throw line regularly and connects. Little on the small side. Has some health issues from the past that teams have looked into heavily.
John Shurna (Northwestern, Sr.) – 6’9, 220 lbs.: Often overlooked after a strong career that few can match. One of the best shooters in the draft regardless of position. Ability to provide serviceable defense and rebounding will make or break his career.
Mitchell Watt (Buffalo, Sr.) – 6’10, 225 lbs.: Rumored to have a second round promise after taking a huge step forward developmentally this past season. Is very efficient with a nice jump shot that now has extended range. Very athletic.
Furkan Aldemir (Turkey) – 6’9, 220 lbs.: A terrific rebounder who has been improving rapidly as of late. Needs a lot of work offensively. Locked up contractually overseas for the next three years.
Ricardo Ratliffe (Missouri, Sr.) – 6’8, 240 lbs.: Slightly undersized but makes up for it with his strength and efficiency. Shot 69 percent from the field as a senior. Plays within himself.
Herb Pope (Seton Hall, Sr.) – 6’8, 236 lbs.: Inspiring player who bounced back from serious heart problems to finish his collegiate career impressively. Described as someone who steps up to the occasion when the lights are on.
Yancy Gates (Cincinnati, Sr.) – 6’9, 260 lbs.: Strong low post presence who can be difficult to stop when he’s determined. Didn’t improve as expected in college, but was solid throughout.
Eric Griffin (Campbell, Sr.) – 6’8, 190 lbs.: Drastically undersized in terms of strength but is one of the best athletes in the class. Has the ability to score on the block. Rarely takes bad shots.
Quincy Acy (Baylor, Sr.) – 6’7, 235 lbs.: Extremely athletic with a knack for making highlight-reel worthy plays. A blue-collar big man who is working on developing a reliable jump shot.
Tornike Shengelia (Georgia) – 6’9, 228 lbs.: Plays as hard as anyone in this draft class. Unlikely to look to come stateside for a couple of years at the earliest. A hustle player who lacks polish.
Steve Tchiengnag (Vanderbilt, Sr.) – 6’9, 240 lbs.: Always overshadowed by other future pros at Vanderbilt, but a real diamond in the rough who can be a solid glue guy at the next level. Has an NBA ready body and underrated skill set.