Siegel's Take: NBA Draft Power Forwards

May 26th, 2007

Continuing this week's position analysis.. I present to you: the Power Forwards.

1) Brandan Wright - UNC - In lesser Drafts of recent memory, Wright would have been given serious #1 pick consideration. Now, its possible he could drop as low as 6 or 7. At pick #3, the Hawks will be scared from taking another young wing/forward, but they might regret it down the line. Wright's long arms simply get it done on the inside. Watching the NBA right now, there's so few legitimate guys who can catch the ball in the post area and score. The NBA's all jumpers, dunks, or lay ups. Wright, with added size and muscle, brings a skill set to the table that just about every NBA team outside of the Spurs needs right now.

2) Al Horford - Florida - There's two ways to look at Horford. He's a solid, but not spectacular player, who was able to put up numbers by being on such a stacked team. Or you see him as a guy who could have averaged 18-19 points and 12 boards a game if he was on a normal SEC squad. I see him as the latter. His 13 ppg and 9 rpg aren't that exciting. But he only played 28 mins a game, and was never force-fed the ball like other college stars. I see him maxing out as a 14 point, 8 rebound type player in the pros. That's better than most.

3) Yi Jianlian - Guangdong - I could sit here and BS about Jianlin.. but I really dont know what to expect here. Chad Ford has fallen in love in the past couple weeks, but that doesn't mean much. People will compare him to Yao for obvious reasons, but the comparison is false. He's more of the prototypical European power forward that we've seen often over the last decade. Which can work great, or work out disastrously. At worst he's another Nikoloz Tskitishvili, the 7-foot 240 pounder who was the 5th pick of the 2002 Draft. At best, who knows..

4) Joakim Noah - Florida - Remember when Noah was all the rage, a possible #1 pick? Now the average fan suddenly feels like Noah is overrated, a product of TV and the media. He's probably somewhere in the middle. Noah had a spotty, somewhat disappointing season, but what made him special before still persists. The intensity, the emotion, the good foot speed and shot-blocking abilities. The lack of strength/mass and offensive repertoire holds him back, but he also seems like one of the Draft's biggest locks. He's basically a glorified role player, but one that could be ready to play 25 mpg from day one.

5) Josh McRoberts - Duke - McRoberts is a weird talent. He was expected to be the man, yet it took him a year and half to finally score 20 points, and never got over 22 in his brief career. Instead of honing his inside game, Coach K gave McRoberts the freedom to play on the perimeter, even handling the ball at times. This enabled McRoberts to utilize his superb passing skills, but also exposed his weak jump shot. On defense, he played more often on the interior, doing a good job blocking shots and getting steals, but he's not a great one-on-one defender. Most of his blocks come from helping others out or catching guys driving to the hoop. Its hard to project McRoberts as a pro since he has such a unique skill-set. Unless he develops a jump shot or a more consistent post game (it seems like he missed a lot of easy shots down low), then its hard to see him being a consistent starter for the time being.

6) Glen Davis - LSU - Davis is always entertaining to watch. Even in high school, the big man had the quickest feet around. Weight has always been a problem, but just because he weighs less doesn't mean he'll play better. In fact, even though he was considered to be in better shape this past year, his production went down. His minutes per game went up 10%, but he also averaged a point a game less. Obviously, his lack of height is a problem, as are questions about his attitude, his rebounding ability, and ability to guard NBA post players. With McRoberts above, at least there's the potential of becoming an NBA starter, while Davis seems destined to be a role player off the bench.

7) Nick Fazekas - Nevada - Fazekas put up monster numbers throughout his 4-year college career. But this doesn't necessarily mean he'll be a great pro. He's got a great shooting stroke from 3, from the ft-line, and an improved post game, but he still doesn't give you enough down low. Offensively he plays more like a 3 at times, but doesnt have the foot speed to do so in the NBA. His lack of speed and defensive shortcomings make him a career bench player, and probably only a 10 to 15 minutes guy at best. Improved post play, both on offense and defense, could bump him up to 6th men status at best.

8) Jason Smith - Colorado State - I've seen Smith projected as high as the late lottery. But I'm not buying it. His numbers look great: 17 points, 10 boards, 2 blocks per game and a double-double machine the 2nd half of the season. But I don't think these will translate to the NBA. He was on a bad team and had more chances to score than most guys of his skill level (hence the high turnover rate), and his shot blocking skills just do not translate to the pros. With that said, Smith is a nice player, a surprisingly mobile 7-footer who can score down low and even hit the 15-20 foot jumper. But take away the numbers 7'0" and you'd be looking at an early second round talent.

9) Herbert Hill - Providence - Hill was a feel good story for the Friars, coming out of nowhere to average 18 ppg as a senior after never scoring over 9 the previous three years. Minute to minute, game to game, Hill was one of the most consistent performers in college basketball, never having bad games or taking too many bad shots. The main problem for Hill though is that he just doesn't do anything exceptional as far as the NBA is concerned. He's got decent size, decent athleticism, a decent interior offensive game, and perhaps above average shot blocking abilities. All this decency equates to a 2nd round pick.

10) Jermareo Davidson - Alabama - There's a lot to like about Davidson, but also some questions. For example, if you're a 6-10 power forward with no 3-point range.. how is it possible to only shoot 40% from the floor as a senior? The answer is that Davidson doesn't have the skill or size to play in the post, and often resorts to shooting low percentage jump shots. Physically, he's got great size and a good wingspan, but because of the aforementioned problems, he'd fare best in the NBA if he could convert to the small forward position. Like Hill above, Davidson is a second round talent. Unlike Hill, Davidson has some plus tools that project to serious NBA contributions, but he's also a bigger risk and could end up on a D-League roster near you.

Note - Tiago Splitter is listed under centers.

Summary: This is one of the deeper positions in the Draft, with four serious contenders for NBA starting jobs. Wright, Jianlin, and Horford could not only be starters, but fringe All-Star talents. McRoberts seems like more of a 6th-7th man, Fazekas and Smith are low-risk role players, while Hill and Davidson will be hanging on to make a roster.