NBA Draft: Top 10 Small Forwards

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 9:07am

Rankings:
2019 Big Board: Top 100 Prospects
2019 Positional Rankings

2019 NBA Draft: Top 10 Point Guards
2019 NBA Draft: Top 10 Shooting Guards
2019 NBA Draft: Top 10 Power Forwards
2019 NBA Draft: Top 10 Centers

1. DeAndre Hunter, Virginia

DeAndre HunterDeAndre HunterDeAndre Hunter is the most NBA ready player at any position in this year's NBA draft. He projects to be a hard-nosed defender with range out to the three point line and a toughness that many of the players listed below him lack, at least at this point in time. Whichever team elects to draft him will be getting a player that can step in and contribute immediately without having to wait for his body and game to develop. However, that leads to his major downfall. Outside of Cam Johnson, Hunter may, in fact, have the least upside left to develop of any player on this list. He’s a safe pick, but while there’s little risk involved, it’s not very likely that Hunter develops into an all-star caliber player. It’s not impossible, but I wouldn’t bet on it happening. It’s far more likely he develops into a 3-and-D guy than a featured player. But in a draft with three potential superstars and then a big drop off, the team that ultimately drafts at 4, whether it be the Pelicans or a team that moves up for the pick, if they choose a player other than Hunter, that player will come with far greater risk.

2. Nassir Little, North Carolina

At this time last year, Little projected to be a likely top 5 pick and after a lackluster freshman campaign at North Carolina, is fighting to remain a top 10 pick. Little has the physical tools to be a force in the league. He’s 6-6, with a 7+ foot wingspan and weighs about 220. He can finish through contact, but still needs to further refine that part of his game. Little’s lack of a jumpshot could limit him at the NBA level as he shot under 27% from behind the college 3 point arc. He projects to be best as a driver and finisher, but must be willing to accept contact and react to rotating defenders. He has a tendency to make up his mind and drive without seeing what the defense is giving him. That’s part of the reason he struggled to get on the court for the Tar Heels. If he can get better at reading the floor instead of forcing the issue (and he showed progress in this area late in the year) then he could become a really good player at the next level.

3. Cameron Reddish, Duke

Cam Reddish could have been the featured man on almost any college campus last season. Instead, he joined Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett at Duke and ended up playing a smaller role but on a really good team. Ultimately, I would argue that Reddish has as much upside as anybody in this class at the position. He has the size and ball handling ability to take on secondary playmaking responsibilities for whatever squad picks him up on draft night. In addition to his ability to handle the ball and make decisions, he projects to be a very good shooter at the NBA level. At times he can be far too passive and can just float around the court. When engaged, Reddish is a top 4 player in this class. When not engaged, it’s possible to forget he’s even on the court. At 6-8, with a long frame, he projects as a possible starter right away. Reddish would likely benefit from being drafted to a bad team where he will be forced to take on a bigger role to keep him engaged. He has star power, but a questionable motor. His future will likely be dictated by his landing spot on draft night than anybody else on this list most likely. He's not a self starter, but if he gets with a coach or teammate that is assigned and willing to motivate him, he could end up realizing some of his vast potential.

4. Sekou Doumbouya, France

The 6-foot-9, 18-year-old Frenchman projects as the best long term international prospect in this year’s class. Doumbouya initially struggled to adjust to the competition level in France during his first three months of the season. In that span, he posted a horrid 0.57 assist to turnover ratio and made just 25 percent of his 3s. He also committed upwards of six fouls per 40 minutes. Then in December he began to flip the script, scoring 12 points in his next three games and looking much more comfortable. Doumbouya then suffered a thumb injury against Boulazac and required surgery to repair a ligament and missed just over a month of action. Since his return though, he has been much better over the last month and a half. In his last eight games, Doumbouya has seen his points per minute increase, his 3-point shooting volume and efficiency has increased, and generally he just looks much more comfortable with the speed of the game. He excels in transition and can make plays at the rim. In addition, he’s a good shooter in catch and shoot situations. When he struggles is when he has to mix the driving and shooting. His dribble pull up needs some work and he needs to work on creating his own offense as well as creating opportunities for others. Doumbouya is not NBA ready yet and may take another year or two to be a regular contributor in the league, but NBA executives are generally high on Doumbouya and consider him a likely lottery pick (in the 8-12 range).

5. KZ Okpala, Stanford

Okpala is a player that could just as easily play either wing spot. He is a player that can cause defenders a lot of problems with his mixture of size at 6-8, 210 and explosive athletic ability. He went from a non-shooter as a freshman at Stanford to a 36.8% three point shooter in his sophomore campaign. He can score the ball with efficiency and is also adept at rebounding and keeping the ball moving. Long story short, Okpala is a player that can come in from day one and get buckets, and do so at a high level. He has high level athleticism which allows him to not have to rely on scoring over players, but also by beating them off the bounce and using his superior body control to score inside. The only thing holding him back is the defensive side of the ball. He can get beat or lost on defense as he struggles to lock down quick players on the perimeter. He also has to prove that his sophomore shooting percentage is more indicative of his ability than his freshman numbers, and shooting only 67% from the free throw line may give teams pause on draft night when considering his shooting ability overall.

6. Matisse Thybulle, Washington

Thybulle is, without a doubt, the most gifted defensive player on this list. He’s a shooting guard / small forward hybrid and his NBA position will likely be dictated by who he shares the floor with. He was the best player on his Washington team last year, and it was all due to the fact that he is an extremely high level defender. Sure, he can hit some shots and he rebounds, but his defense is what will earn him a spot in the league. He should play a role very similar to Thabo Sefolosha in that he will likely get matched up with the best perimeter player on the opposing team and be a pest while his teammates do most of the heavy-lifting on offense. Last season he averaged 3.5 steals per game. While steals often aren’t a very good metric to use in order to determine a defender’s actual ability, in Thybulle’s case it shows his impact on the other team and their offense. Thybulle, despite being only about 6-6, also led the squad in blocks with 2.3 per game. At the NBA level, expect for him to be a defensive specialist and any offensive game he develops will be an added bonus.

7. Cameron Johnson, North Carolina

Johnson is the exact antithesis of Thybulle. Johnson has excellent size; at 6-8 he can shoot over defenders with relative ease. He shot over 40% from deep in his college career and 45.7% from three last season. He’s not a bad rebounder, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be a plus rebounder at the next level. Johnson’s shooting exploits make him draftable, but he’s not a very good defender and he is the definition of a what you see is what you get prospect. He was a 5th year senior last year, meaning he is older than most other prospects competing with him for draft position. Johnson would be more of a lock to be a first rounder if there weren't fears about his hips. He is going to be drafted with the expectation that he can be a lights out shooter that is just enough in the other facets of the game to be a plus player.

8. Louis King, Oregon

King is a player that can do it all on the court. He is a capable and dangerous scorer, can rebound the ball, is capable of moving the ball on offense, forces turnovers, and shoots the ball well. However, he lacks maturity and is as dependent on landing in the right situation as any player on this list. He's extremely inconsistent and you never know what you’ll get from him on a given night. He had as many games with fewer than 10 points as games with 19 or more. He can force the issue and rack up the turnovers at times, and doesn’t always get his teammates involved like he should. He had 10 games in which he didn’t record an assist and 11 more in which he only recorded 1. His size, 6-8, 195 pounds, should allow him to take advantage of some mismatches, but will need to bulk up and add strength to his frame so that he can avoid being pushed around by stronger players. He also needs to become more disciplined on offense as he can settle for jumpers when he should look to drive and get to the free throw line. He will likely get drafted in the 20-45 range based potential, but will spend spend some time in the G-League while he develops.

9. Kris Wilkes, UCLA

Wilkes has the athleticism, size, and natural skill to be an NBA caliber small forward. His game is far from refined, though. He can struggle with turnovers (12 games last season with 3 or more turnovers) and can be a streaky player. When he’s on, he’s very good, but when he struggles it can get very ugly. Some of his worst games came against lower level teams such as Saint Francis and Presbyterian. Games like those could very well worry NBA franchises knowing Wilkes will be going against the best of the best every night. However, on nights that he gets it going he can drop 20 points and make it look easy. He has a tendency to get out of control at times, but if an NBA team can rein him in, he could make a roster as soon as next season.

10. Oshea Brissett, Syracuse

Brissett is a product of the dreaded Syracuse zone which means he is a more difficult player to evaluate on the defensive side of the floor. He also will likely need more coaching in order to get up to speed at the NBA level on the defensive end. He lacks great shooting ability but has a lot of other attributes that could make him a successful wing in the league. He showed some proficiency in attacking the basket off the dribble and utilizes a lot of hesitation moves and has solid ball handling ability. He generally looked to attack the basket and get his defender in the air where he would dive into them and often draw fouls. His style of play will certainly need to be refined, and he's a bit of a project due to his shooting form and lack of efficiency. But in the right situation, he could become a solid player as the physical gifts, determination and toughness are in place. And he also has youth on his side to continue to improve.

Honorable Mention

Brian Bowen 6-7 200 SF Sydney Kings 1998, Zylan Cheatham 6-8 220 SF/PF Arizona St. Sr., Amir Coffey 6-7 205 SG/SF Minnesota Jr., Jarrey Foster 6-6 220 SF SMU Sr., Robert Franks 6-8 230 SF/PF Washington State Sr., Mustapha Heron 6-5 220 SG St. Johns Jr., Daulton Hommes 6-8 215 SF/PF USA Sr., Talen Horton Tucker 6-4 235 SG/SF Iowa St. Fr., DaQuan Jeffries 6-5 215 SF Tulsa Sr., VJ King 6-6 190 SF Louisville Jr., Vic Law 6-7 205 SF Northwestern Sr., Caleb Martin 6-6 200 SG/SF Nevada Sr., Cody Martin 6-6 190 SG Nevada Sr., Markis McDuffie 6-8 215 SF Wichita State Sr., Isaiah Roby 6-8 215 SF/PF Nebraska Jr., Marial Shayok 6-6 195 SG/SF Iowa St. Sr., Deividas Sirvydis 6-8 195 SF Lietuvos Rytas 2000

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