The Draft – Part Four: PF’s

I’ve professed my love for Kyrie Irving, spoken of my admiration for Alec Burks and admitted my man crush on Derrick Williams – now its time for one of the two remaining spots left to cover in this years draft, the power forward spot. Almost every mock draft you come across has Enes Kanter – dude that didn’t get to play for Kentucky season just gone – going as the first Power Forward to be taken. That’s where I’m in the dark, I’m not up on the European prospects as such, there’s only so much you can judge off clips here and articles there. Add that to the fact the Brendan won’t pay for me to travel across the whole of Europe, and it’s pretty hard to gauge just how good these lads will be. I’m not Jonathan Givony or Chad Ford here. I’ll give my take on some of them at the end, but like the small forward spot I’ll be ranking the players I’ve seen this year at the college level.

The power forward spot for us over the last year, on paper at least, was pretty impressive. We had the old guard with Antawn Jamison, the young upstart in JJ Hickson, rookie Samardo Samuels and later in the year fellow first year player Luke Harangody. Not a bad rotation, but when you factor in injuries (Jamison and Varejao) and Samuels and Hickson having to spell time at the five, the rotation got a little thinner. We had glimpses of JJ’s incredibly high ceiling, but also too many showings of JJ being the young, still maturing power forward that he is but we didn’t need him to be. If all things fall in line accordingly to begin next season, one would have to assume that JJ will start as our power forward – but not all things fall in line, and we might not get Kyrie Irving and take Derrick Williams, resulting in Tawn shifting to the four and JJ coming off the bench, which would make us real good, but that’s a different article. For now, let’s focus in on our topic today, the top five (in my opinion) Power Forwards up for grabs this summer.

1) Tristan Thompson, Texas. I was kinda shocked he stayed in the draft; I genuinely though he’d return (along with Joseph) to play with Myck Kabongo and be a top five team. Luckily for us however, he has stayed in, thus strengthening this draft and making our two lottery picks even better. Thompson has a really high upside, defensively anyways. He can lock you down – look at his effort against Derrick Williams in the tournament – and has a nose for a rebound. He’s an explosive leaper, has great hands when he gets near the ball and has a hunger that is essential to compete. The kid had 10 double-doubles (including 6 in his last 9 games) in his rookie season. In the Big 12. Just saying. He does however come with some flaws. He can’t make free throws, seems to lose interest in games if it’s not going his way, he’s not as strong as you’d like and he’s a terrible jump shooter. But he’s intriguing due to the fact he’s so fast defensively, he’s long, he has good post moves and positional sense and he still has some surface scratching to undergo before we see the finished product. He’ll go top ten, and should be worth a look.

2) Marcus Morris, Kansas. He’s as NBA ready as they come, whether its down to the fact he’s spent three years at an elite program, the fact he’s a bullish competitor or it could be that he’ll be twenty two by the time the season starts. Some scouts have expressed concerns over his age and whether he’ll actually get that much better, but he won’t be drafted under the premise that he’ll morph into a franchise guy. He will however, come in from day one and play minutes and play well. He can shoot, he can post you up and he’ll beat you off the dribble if you’re flat footed when he faces you up. He isn’t the greatest athlete nor does he rebound at a particularly high rate, but such is his pedigree and success at such a big time program that some team will take him in the lottery. And be very happy five months down the line.

3) Tobias Harris, Tennessee. This guy is gonna make some GM look real smart in about three years time. Trust me, this kid is going to be a serious baller, sooner rather than later. Even if it is later, he’ll still be what, 23? At 18, and playing on a Tennessee team that had sorts of turmoil surrounding it, Harris averaged 15 points and 7 rebounds and looked a cut above the rest. He seems so mature on the court, and has a very polished game already. He can handle the ball very well for a guy his size, which will allow him to draw his man away from the paint to the high post and take him off the dribble. He might not be tall enough to play the four or quick enough to play the three (in an ideal world) but talent overrides a lot of things, and this kid has that in abundance. I’m not sure if he’ll crack the lottery, but if he slips below 20 I’ll be shocked.

4) Trey Thompkins, Georgia. He’s skilled. Very skilled. He’s very Dirk Nowitzki/Channing Frye like in the way he plays his game, as in he’s better outside rather than in with a very good skill level for someone his size. (I didn’t compare Dirk to Frye there, just using it as a mixture really) He’s not a great athlete by any means, but you’ll be amazed at what this kid can do with the basketball. He’s going to be a serious shooter, and will create space because of the fact his man will need to be tight to him at all times or risk seeing him light it up. I don’t know will he crack the top twenty (I’ve seen him as high as 13, as low as 30) but he’s ready. He’ll give you productivity from the get go, and could be a steal.

5) JuJuan Johnson, Purdue. I have a rule regarding senior prospects and evaluating them as such. It states that if said player has had a consistently productive collegiate career while possessing one very good skill, he’ll make a living in the NBA. Johnson does that. Johnson’s college stats have looked like this over the four years;

07-08: 5 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block 65% FT
08-09: 13 points, 6 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 73% FT
09-10: 16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, 72% FT
10-11: 21 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, 81% FT

He’ll maybe find it hard to play much minutes his rookie season, but I think he’ll find a team somewhere. He’s just been too goof at such a high level fro too long to be ignored. I genuinely hope he lands with a team that needs length, and a combative body off the bench.

Notable Omissions

Markieff Morris, Kansas.
Kenneth Faried, Morehead State.
Justin Harper, Richmond.
Jon Leuer, Wisconsin.

International Prospects

Donatas Motiejunas – A very strong shooter, supremely talented, high ceiling with an expansive offensive game. Has great size.

Bismack Biyombo
– Only man to ever have a triple double at the Nike Hoop Summit. Is just a freak athlete, has 7’7” wingspan and can rebound like nobodies business. Won’t give you much offensively outside our putbacks or running the floor, but he’s got serious upside

Nikola Mirotic
– Silky smooth bigman with a nice shooting touch, plays a nice role on a European power also.

A quick note on the power forwards out there that didn’t declare this year, yes I’m talking about you Jared Sullinger. Count yourself in also John Henson. Sullinger is a beast and I’m sure Buckeye fans (not mentioning names Kirk) are ecstatic he’s coming back for another run at a national title. However, I don’t know how much higher his stock can get – unless he increases his numbers and wins a National Title. Which definitely could happen. John Henson is a freak, he’s multi functional but yet to find a real niche or show that one defining talent. He’s got upside, but he needs bulk. Returning to UNC to compete for a Title was a great call, though I’d have taken him in the lottery this year if truth be told. I think he’ll benefit from one (maybe two) more year under Roy Williams, but he needs to polish off the rough edges before a team will seriously look at him as a top 8 pick.

Contact me on Twitter @DOL17.