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2012 NBA Draft Preview: Top 10 Small Forwards

Mon, 10/03/2011 - 7:32pm

The small forweard position is loaded this year with a number of top overall pick candidates and great depth.

1. James McAdoo, North Carolina

James McAdoo  / Photo: Icon SMIJames McAdoo / Photo: Icon SMIMcAdoo has a natural feel for the game that warms my heart. Perhaps that comes from the fact that his uncle is Hall of Famer Bill McAdoo, whose game epitomized the old school emphasis on post angles, pivots, and interior ball movement. He has both a throwback feel combined with new school "hybrid versatility". James is a more gifted athlete than his Uncle and makes the game look incredibly easy with elite level length, fluidity, leaping ability and talent. His game is “rock solid:” as he has a high basketball IQ and his arsenal is built around a mature mastery of post play.

His talent allows him to dominate without trying very hard so it will be up to him to develop the intensity and consistent desire to stand out against similarly freakish athletes at the NBA level. McAdoo was a very productive high school senior who averaged 23.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.2 spg, and 1.2 bpg for Norfolk High School in Virginia.

McAdoo’s primary weakness is that he is a bit in between positions as there are questions whether he can truly handle playing on the perimeter and whether he possesses the size and strength to truly be an elite PF. But we see him as a "good tweener" with the talent to make it at either forward position. It will be up to him to figure out which position he was truly meant to play.

2. Harrison Barnes, North Carolina

The practice battles between McAdoo and Barnes have to be a sight to behold. Barnes has proven to be one of those players whose performance increases when game situation intensify. Barnes unexpectedly opted to stay in school for a second year and develop his game. The move was not unwise however; NBA teams would have picked him on talent alone but Barnes’ freshman year was inconsistent as he adapted to the stiff learning curve of the college game. The first half of his season was mediocre at best but Barnes lit up in the second half and flourished in the tournament, jumping right back into potential top overall pick discussions.

Barnes is a smooth two way player who is rapidly developing into a future star. He is 6’8”, athletic, and long and he uses his physical attributes to get his shot off against tough opponents and play stinging, opportunistic defense. He also has great court vision and has shown coaches and talent evaluators his impressive basketball IQ by developing excellent midrange playmaking ability and adding cuts and angles to his game. He is also improving his long range shot and ball-handling capabilities.

The knock on Barnes has always been that he may lack the “killer instinct” that drives superstar swingmen like Kobe Bryant. He is too much of “nice guy” in the eyes of some scouts. But if his clutch tournament outbursts are any indication, that killer instinct may actually be there after all.

3. Quincy Miller, Baylor

Miller has the best offensive arsenal of any forward in the 2012 draft. He can break oppoents down off the dribble with tremendous height and length, which has drawn some comparisons to Kevin Durant. He has standout physical attributes with a high basketball IQ and exceptional ability to score almost at will.

However, Miller needs to bulk up and add stamina to become a top NBA prospect. He also needs to tweak his shot some as his low release point will make it difficult to get shots against elite level athletes. He's coming off an ACL injury which puts his status in question. And some feel he will need a second year in college to truly get back to form physically. But, if he can embrace playing defense and adding strength, Miller has All Star potential.

4. Michael Kidd Gilchrist, Kentucky

Gilchrist has been viewed as an NBA star in the making since his early high school years. He was the top prospect in his class for a number of years before being reigned in and even surpassed by a few his classmates. Nonetheless, he has dealt well with the pressure and continues to impress NBA scouts. He is a true swingman in the best sense of the word: his 6’7” size allows him to switch from the power forward to small forward positions at will. Gilchrist, who reminds some of Gerald Wallace, is an elite athlete whose wingspan and athleticism outclass most other players at his position. He also has an impressive motor and demonstrates a commitment to both individual and team defense, which suggests that he is motivated to excel at both ends of the floor in the NBA.

The only serious flaw in Gilchrist’s game right now is his weak perimeter play. His passing is average at best and his shooting ability extends only to midrange. To excel as an NBA wing, he will need to add both three point range and off the dribble shooting to his offensive arsenal.

5. Terrence Jones, Kentucky

Jones will look to build on a promising freshman season in which he started out looking like a top 5 pick but tapered off late in the season. His deficiencies became apparent and he ultimately opted to pull out of the draft as he was projected by scouts as a probable mid to late first round pick. He's a unique talent with intrigue but will struggle to stand out having to share touches with incoming freshmen Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

6. Kris Joseph, Syracuse

Joseph is one of my personal favorites at the small forward position. He is a true “hustle” player with a great motor and a penchant for giving his all on every play. Joseph is also an excellent athlete and leaper and has worked extremely hard to develop a midrange jumper to complement his inside game. The form on his shot is actually very good and he just needs to embrace the role of being team leader and superstar as the talent is there.

He still needs to work on his shooting consistency and use of court angles but he has slowly but steadily improved in each of his three college season and could become an impact player if he continues to diversify his game.

7. Andre Roberson, Colorado

Sort of a college version of the Matrix (Shawn Marion), Roberson is one of the most interesting swingmen in the nation. He flew under the radar on a national level but showed flashes of great potential. He is an absolutely jaw dropping physical specimen who is sure to be featured on a number of highlight dunks this year. He has surprising ball-handling ability for a SF with deft use of a crossover, which comes from the fact that he played guard in high school until he quietly grew into a 6’7” classic swingman’s body.

He likes angles, cuts, and crashing the basket. Most importantly, Roberson has a nose for rebounds as he had the most rebounds ever by a Colorado freshman. However, while Roberson is a jack of all trades with a high talent level, he must round out his skills, namely becoming a better scorer from the perimeter. If he can raise parts of his game to elite levels, which is certainly a possible ceiling for his rebounding, he could become an elite prospect for the 2013 draft.

LeBryan Nash / Photo: Icon SMILeBryan Nash / Photo: Icon SMI8. LeBryan Nash, Oklahoma State

Nash could be the second coming of Ron Artest….personality quirks included. He already has a rugged, physical NBA-ready body. He is willing to use his freakish athleticism to get past opponents in the mid-court area, utilize his strength to back them down in the post, or penetrate and attack the basket with ferocity and explosive leaping ability.

However, while he boasts the physical tools of a lottery pick, Nash’s maturity issues are troublesome. He takes plays off and, while he appears to love defensive play, he does not always apply himself on that end of the court; which if he's ever going to live up to the Artest comparisons, needs to change in a drastic way. But, if he can use his college time to mature and show scouts that he will give his all on every play, he could become a standout talent similar to the eccentric Artest.

9. CJ Leslie, North Carolina State

Leslie has some of the sharpest positive and negative aspects to his game of any prospect in the 2012 draft class. He was originally regarded as a potential lottery pick for 2011. Scouts drool over his incredible athleticism, leaping, and finishing ability at the rim. Leslie also playus with a high motor and with his emerging perimeter game, that gives scouts hope that his play on the offensive end might improve this year.

Of course, “improve” is a relative term and, in Leslie’s case, it would be hard for his offensive game to do anything else. He could not find himself a defined position and struggled offensively as a tweener 4, which prevented him from having an offensive impact for the Wolfpack. However, his defense and versatility remain impressive so, if he can develop a solid offensive arsenal, he will intrigue many NBA teams.

10. Adonis Thomas, Memphis

Thomas is one of the most intriguing athletes in the freshman class with strength, off the charts leaping ability and a great motor. This has made him an extremely productive player. He averaged 21.8 ppg, 11.2 rpg, and 1.4 bpg as a senior at Melrose High School in Tennessee while simultaneously serving as the team’s defensive anchor.

However, Thomas’ shot is a major question mark. While the form looks solid, he has yet to develop consistency and confidence in it. His play emphasizes above the rim dunks and rebounding. He'll need to develop a midrange game and overall shooting to elevate his stock to where it should be.

Honorable Mention: Pape Amadou 6-8 195 SF/PF (Senegal) 1993, Olu Ashaolu 6-6 230 SF Louisiana Tech Sr., Laurence Bowers 6-8 220 SF Missouri Sr., Bradford Burgess 6-7 220 SF VCU Sr., Linos Chrysikopoulos 6-8 216 SF Aris (Greece) 1992, Cameron Clark 6-6 184 SF Oklahoma So., Chris Czerapowicz 6-7 200 SF Davidson Fr., Olek Czyz 6-7 200 SF Nevada Sr., DeAndre Daniels 6-8 210 SF UConn Fr., Branden Dawson 6-6 210 SF Michigan State Fr.,, CJ Fair 6-7 200 SF Syracuse Fr., Draymond Green 6-6 230 SF/PF Michigan St. Sr., Rodney Hood 6-7 180 SF Arkansas Fr., Robbie Hummel 6-7 208 SF Purdue Sr., Orlando Johnson 6-6 230 SF UCSB Sr., Kevin Jones 6-7 210 SF West Virginia Sr., Sergey Kasarev 6-7 180 SG/SF BC Triumph (Russia) 1993, Jean Charles Livio 6-8 205 SF/PF France 1993, [Player: Tony Mitchell 6-6 210 SF Alabama Jr., [Player: Tony Mitchell 6-9 215 SF North Texas Fr., Travis McKie 6-6 205 SF Wake Forest So., Alex Murphy 6-8 205 SF Duke Fr., Kostas Popanikolaou 6-7 230 SF Panathinaikos (Greece) 1990, Kevin Parrom 6-6 205 SF Arizona Jr., LaQuinton Ross 6-8 217 SF Ohio St. Fr., Roscoe Smith 6-8 204 SF UConn So., Tony Snell 6-7 195 SF New Mexico Fr., Jeffrey Taylor 6-7 220 SF Vanderbilt Sr., DeShaun Thomas 6-7 221 SF Ohio State So., Okaro White 6-7 180 SF Florida St. Fr., Rodney Williams 6-7 210 SF Minnesota Jr., Kyle Wiltjer 6-9 221 SF/PF Kentucky Fr., Wesley Witherspoon 6-7 185 SG/SF Memphis Sr., Tomislav Zubcic 6-11 225 SF/PF Croatia 1990

omphalos
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I disagree with McAdoo being

I disagree with McAdoo being the 1st overall SF prospect, his reliance on the post-game will give him trouble in the NBA where he'll face bigger bodies who can defend him better in that area. Unless he demonstrates the ability to play at an NBA level on the perimeter I wouldn't rate him above Barnes, who is the prototypical SF and more than capable of hitting clutch buckets time after time.

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^ I very much agree. McAdoo

^ I very much agree. McAdoo is a solid top-5 prospect but I don't like that he's ahead of Barnes. After a legit point took over at UNC Barnes turned into a 20 ppg scoring machine and is also a great defender. He's 6-8 and his only real weakness - ball-handling - reportedly proved immensely over the summer. With the lack of quality young wings in the league Barnes in my mind will be extremely hard to pass on, assuming the Wolves aren't picking first again :)

I understand McAdoo is strong, super athletic and can shoot, but when he people realize how he's in between positions and only plays 25 mins a game at most (with Barnes, Henson and Zeller all guaranteed 30 mins, and a loaded backcourt), I can't see him going ahead of Barnes, the rare POY candidate that has even greater upside. I actually think he will stay for his sophomore year.

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1 more thing about McAdoo...

I believe his unlce's name is BOB McAdoo....not BILL McAdoo.

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It's crazy...

Man, it's crazy how the top 2 Small Forwards are going to be playing for the same team. Damn. But then again, I'm just going to guess that James McAdoo thought Harrison Barnes was going to be a one and done.

phonyreal98
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Tell me again Harrison Barnes

Tell me again Harrison Barnes doesn't have a killer instinct.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TT5lYu_NiU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9QD-18ad9s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AJFWX-yLgY

I dare you.

Also, I'm pretty sure that James McAdoo committed several months before Harrison Barnes.

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Barnes v Mac

Right now it is Barnes as the better player now in 4 years I could see McAdoo being a better player. McAdoo has all the better athletic/physical gifts , he is longer , more athletic , a better shooter than people think , and has more inside/outside versatility. Now Barnes is more polished on the perimeter and more NBA ready now but , it is very debatable on who is better in a few years. McAdoo is every bit as good or better than Derrick Williams , Antawn Jamison , and other guys that were very good college players and pros that were combo forwards and at this point in his devlopment in comparison. If McAdoo transitions to the SF defensively and offensively completely he will be the better player because all the physical tools you can't teach are there along with intangibles. I love guys that come into the college level like McAdoo and especially on the team he is on because , he is the type of player that can produce at a high level and he can do it within the flow of the team , you don't have to run sets for him to be effective. Watch old Bob McAdoo footage James and Bob both move similarly on the court and their releases/form on their jumpers are extremely similar. James is a little more bouncy and has a better frame for adding muscle and being able to bang inside. Right now I see McAdoo as a bigger version of Shawn Marion with a better jumper and slightly higher ceiling , then Barnes as a slightly better version of Rudy gay.

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Barnes v Mac

nm

uknation
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Also agree. Actually James

Also agree. Actually James shouldn't be above

Kidd-Gilchrist

Q.Miller

Nash or Barnes as a SF. He has a very good post game and has a good stand still jumper but doesn't handle the ball to even be a college Sf at this point. Just another case of a player getting that extra boost because of what they did in the after season open gym all star games

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UK fan of course

Barnes you can make a very fair argument for and maybe Miller over McAdoo but , Gilchrist is your inner homer coming out especially since how much Gilchrist is lacking in his shooting ability and is not an exceptional scorer at all and last time I checked the most important facet to basketball is putting the ball in the hoop and McAdoo is better now or projects to be better for sure over everyone you mentioned except for Barnes and maybe Miller. The LeBryan Nash comment almost made me spit my drink all over my computer because of how ridiculous it was. We are not talking about HS rankings Mr. Fanboy Jock Sniffer we are talking about NBA projections , they are two different things.

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If i had to choose who's

If i had to choose who's better small forward prospect right now..I'll have to say its Barnes..I'm the type of person thats goes with the proven candidate...Barnes was rated the top pick,at the start of last season..But he was a major disappointment early on,then got his groove by mid-season..

But i agree the writer that McAdoo will be the better player in a year or 2..I believe even though McAdoo will see limited minutes at UNC this season..If both he and Barnes were NBA Rookies,McAdoo will have the better rookie year....He has a better handle than Barnes...I see alot of James Worthy in his game...

But if Barnes can continue to work on the little things,he could challenge Drummond for being the 1st pick...

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I Like Quincey Miller's game

I Like Quincey Miller's game and his HUGE Confidence..LOL...

When your on the floor,you're suppose to think you're the best player out there..But at times,he seems more interested in style points than working to improve his game...After he scores a basket.he's looking for the camera..You cant do that playing in a competitive league like the Big 12....

Baylor's Frontline is extremely talented,but also very inconsistent.....Their coach have his work cut out for him..If he can find a reliable point guard and get the frontline guys all on the same page..Baylor could be dangerous...

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How is Kidd not an

How is Kidd not an exceptional scorer? He put up more ppg than McAdoo in H.S basketball and is a SF. McAdoo is a tweener who doesn't have range on his jumper yet either ( you must just be going by the All star games because in real game's his range is not far at all and he does his work down low). I think wayyyyy to many people look at the end of the year open gym allstar games and get confused about a players game (ala D.Favors). James is a 4 who is trying to transition to a 3. He is not a SF.

I'm still confused with why you think Gilly isn't a exceptional scorer when he drops buckets constantly. How do you think he team was ranked number one in the nation for most of the year and why he is ranked higher than James at the end of the year. Clear indication is how he was ranked higher in the mock drafts before James did well in the All star games (where no one plays defense and its just up and down). That shows you right there how flawed rankings get after the regular season ends. After that everyone thinks James is a small forward just like they thought Favors could play Sf and be Beasley

James better handles than Barnes...man ya'll are really drinking the allstar game kool aid. how about the people of this site talk about how much he struggled trying to handle the ball in real games. Very skilled on the post but never was considered a small forward

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You are drinking some damn

You are drinking some damn big blue cult juice if you think high school stats matter so much for NBA or even college projections. Gilchrist is not a good shooter , it's a fact! He is an exceptional defender and a very good athlete , also he is an above average passer for a SF. Scoring in HS is irrellevant especially since any guys on this list likely out manned people due to great physical gifts to score. If Barnes struggled scoring as a freshmen , you actually think Gilchrist is going to not have any issues off the bat? Also I like how you think all star games against at least other elite level talent in these players age group is less credible than you coming with freaking HS stats where the competition in most instances is sub par. Lots of guys dominate in HS and they end up playing over seas , so your HS stat line point is possibly the most ridiculous. But hey since you like HS stats so much , McAdoo shot 44 percent from 3pt land as a senior while it's unanimous among scouts that Gilchrist is a poor 3 point shooter. I have seen both play 8-10 times over the last 18 months and McAdoo is a better shooter. Now McAdoo is strictly a good set shooter from 3 and will need to learn to shoot the 3 ball off the dribble but , considering he is good in the mid range off the dribble shooting , the 3 ball off the dribble will come eventually. Also Gilchrist right now is as much of a tweener as McAdoo if not more , so acting like he is something he is not offensively right now is just showing how clearly bias you are to UK.

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Oh yeah , you do realize

Oh yeah , you do realize Gilchrist played for St. Pats right? They have 5 or 6 D-1 prospects if not high end D-1 prospects pretty much every year and had them while he was at St. Pats so it was not like Gilchrist was playing at some po-dunk hometown HS in a small town somewhere. St. Pats is a basketball factory.

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All in favor of Barnes over

All in favor of Barnes over McAdoo thumbs up.

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