NCAA: Top SF Prospects In 2013 NBA Draft
Senior NBA Writer & College Basketball Editor
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With point guards and shooting guards already in the books, small forwards are next up in our positional rankings. Small forwards are often jacks of all trades, possessing every skill set. This year’s crop of small forwards in college basketball features one player who is head and shoulders above the rest. The only two prospects who could come close to him play professionally overseas, but for now we are looking only at those who play in the NCAA.
Otto Porter (Georgetown, So.) – 6’8, 205 lbs.
There may not be a player in college basketball more important to his team’s success right now than Porter is to Georgetown. The sophomore has thrived in the leadership position for the Hoyas and has clearly established himself as the best small forward in the draft.
What jumps out about Porter is his complete game. He operates at a high efficiency level and can pretty much do whatever a coach asks of him. He may not be great at anything yet, but in a lot of scout’s eyes a prospect is better off being well-rounded than great in one area with glaring weaknesses in others. He has all of the physical attributes you could want in a prototypical small forward as well.
Growing at an impressive rate over the last year, it’s intriguing to think where Porter will be once he’s in a pro system and able to focus solely on improving as a basketball player day in and day out. Porter could really go high on draft night if a team in the top 10 with a hole at the three spot drafts based on need. Coming back is an option, but his stock really couldn’t be hotter right now so don’t expect to see him in a Hoyas jersey next year.
Glenn Robinson III (Michigan, Fr.) – 6’6, 210 lbs.
Son of former NBA player Glenn Robinson, Robinson III has firmly put himself in a position to follow his dad’s footsteps into the NBA. Robinson averages a modest 10 points and five rebounds a game. However, he plays on one of the most talented teams in the country in Michigan and is more of a role player than a featured option. If he was on a team he could call his own, we’d likely see far better production.
Robinson is definitely an NBA-caliber athlete, with the frame and length to go along with his quickness and explosiveness. He needs to fill out his frame a little bit, but few freshmen in the country don’t.
It’s going to be interesting to see if Robinson decides to enter the draft, where he’ll be judged largely off of his potential, or if he decides to stick around and embrace a bigger role next year with the Wolverines. As of right now, he’s a mid-first round pick. If he blew up as a sophomore, though, going top 10 in the 2014 NBA Draft is a legit possibility.
T.J. Warren (North Carolina State, Fr.) – 6’8, 233 lbs.
Much like Robinson, Warren is on a star-studded team where on most nights we don’t get to see him featured. He makes the most of his opportunities when they do come, though, shooting 60 percent from the field and 54 percent form deep while rarely turning it over.
Warren possesses the build of a NBA player and utilizes it very well with his back to the basket. He’s drawn comparisons to Paul Pierce, although it’s always a little unfair to compare freshmen to future Hall of Famers.
Warren’s potential is good enough to land him in the first round of this year’s draft. However, if he comes back we’re talking about someone who could really rise. Starring as a sophomore could get Warren into the top 10 of the 2014 draft, a range that does not appear to be reachable for him this season.
LeBryan Nash (Oklahoma State, So.) – 6’7, 230 lbs.
A man amongst boys even at the collegiate level, Nash has been viewed as a future pro since the time he was an underclassmen in high school. He has the size, strength and athleticism that most of the small forwards in today’s day and age in basketball possess.
What’s kept Nash from being a NBA player already, though, is that his basketball skills are still developing. While his physical gifts have helped him become a prominent prospect at an early stage, they also did him a disservice in a sense that they eliminated the need for him to really develop his ball-handling and shooting skills until now.
While Nash has gotten better in his transition from a standout athlete to a true basketball player, he still has a ways to go. That makes returning to Oklahoma State for his junior year a very plausible option, but now with the D-League playing a bigger role in the NBA’s development of younger players, Nash could justifiably leave early. There’s a big difference in the way your upside is perceived when you’re a sophomore compared to a junior, which may play a major factor in Nash’s decision.
Kyle Anderson (UCLA, Fr.) – 6’9, 235 lbs.
You won’t find a more positionless player in college basketball than Anderson. He’s most often referred to as a point forward, but when was the last time you heard a team say that’s what they’re looking for in the draft? When it comes down to it, you have to fit in at one of the traditional positions and right now small forward seems to be where Anderson belongs in terms of positional rankings.
That’s not say that he couldn’t end up being a power forward in time. One talent evaluator predicted that Anderson would have a career path similar to Boris Diaw, where he comes in known for his perimeter skills but eventually shifts down to the power forward spot because that’s where he was best suited.
Anderson would definitely be a matchup nightmare at the four for a lot of players. He’s a solid rebounder and could hold his own defensively with some added strength. His slow-paced style would also be less of an issue at the four than it would be the three.
His uniqueness aside, Anderson can simply play the game of basketball. It will take his future coach some adjusting to get used to, but he’s definitely a talent worth investing in.
The Next Five:
DeShaun Thomas (Ohio State, Jr.) – 6’7, 225 lbs.
An explosive scorer with a versatile skill set. Has to prove he can defend his position at the next level and that he can help in ways other than offensively.
Andre Roberson (Colorado, Jr.) – 6’7, 210 lbs.
An energy player who can really defend. Has the offensive game of a power forward, though, and the body of a small forward.
Doug McDermott (Creighton, Jr.) – 6’8, 225 lbs.
An offensive powerhouse who can score from all over the floor. Limited athletically, though, and looked at as a bit of a tweener.
Reggie Bullock (North Carolina, Jr.) – 6’7, 205 lbs.
A specialist who will help teams immediately with his three-point shooting. The fact that he’s a capable defender bodes very well for his draft stock.
Rodney Williams (Minnesota, Sr.) – 6’7, 205 lbs.
One of the best athletes in college basketball, but was never able to fully live up to his potential. Perimeter skills still have a long way to go.
Honorable Mentions: Solomon Hill (Arizona), Branden Dawson (Michigan State), Adonis Thomas (Memphis), C.J. Fair (Syracuse), James Southerland (Syracuse).Cast Your Vote: Click here and Tweet #players name and the hash tag #dunkuary