The small forward position in this year’s NBA Draft is consisted of a fairly diverse group that can help a team’s depth. The upper tier of SF prospects is likely to be gone by the end of the first round, but there are a fair number of developing young prospects that will be available in the second round. You can find toughness, athleticism, defense, scoring and all-around play from this group of players. It all becomes a matter of need and preference for a team. Here is a revised look and some thoughts on the “SwishScout.com Small Forward Position Rankings.”
Note: On every player, you can click their name or country to take you to a more detailed profile for an extensive scouting report and highlights on the respective prospect.
A late-bloomer in terms of becoming an NBA prospect, Holiday emerged his senior year as a guy who could be a shooter/defender on the perimeter in the league. He has good size, length, and athleticism for the position, but the real reason he could get a chance is because of his on-ball defensive play. His lateral quickness is great, that seven-foot wingspan enhances his play, and his defensive instincts are great. A much improved shooter who can knock down the open three as well, but whether or not he gets drafted will be the big question.
The Croatian star is very much under the radar lately as a draft prospect, and in the second round he could be a steal. He’s a sort of a ‘Euro-Jimmer’ with fearless shot selection, dead eye 3-point shooter with range, and craftiness that can help him score from anywhere on the floor. Bojan has NBA size, length and build, but while his athleticism is maybe a tier below ideal, it is deceiving. He’s a Swiss army knife on offense who can flat out score and do it within the team game, but is defensively limited and contract issues could keep him out of the league for awhile.
At 6’10”, Parsons is a mismatch of the perimeter for just about any defender at any level, but he doesn’t have the game to really take advantage of it. Made a name at Florida with his all-around play, fundamental game and clutch shot making, but don’t see how it helps him excel in the league. He’s versatile and skilled, but there are a number of issues with his game that could hinder his development and impact in the league. He’s very turnover prone, inconsistent and streaky for a "shooter," and doesn’t have a true position really. Intriguing player, but needs the right fit to have a chance in the league.
Butler had a breakout summer in the Portsmouth Invitational and helped boost his stock at least into the early-mid second round. He’s an excellent defender and blue collar player who gives everything he has and understands his role on the team. He’s a prototypical NBA SF who does just about everything well, but no one thing at a high level. He adds nice depth and D to a team’s rotation, and while he’s not the most attractive prospect, he’s a good find in the second round in terms of value he can bring.
Bertans is a youngster with undeniable NBA potential as a shooter with great size and athleticism. He’s a deadly perimeter shooter with great 6’10” size who can knock down the NBA three with ease thanks to a fundamentally sound shooting stroke. However, he’s an extremely raw player who forces shots, needs to fill out his body, improve his all-around play and learn how to play within the team game. Great upside, but is a few years away from reaching it and becoming a routine contributor in the NBA game.
A player who left the NCAA way too soon hoping to be drafted on pure potential, Richmond is an unpolished offensive player with a lot to learn. He’s a great athlete with a prototypical NBA body and explosive athleticism, but his basketball IQ and feel for the game need to progress a great deal before he’s ready to step in for a team. His biggest contributions immediately lie on the defensive end with his lateral quickness and intensity, but the rest of his game is a major work in progress.
The NCAA veteran and beloved Duke Blue Devil is looking to take his game to the next level, but that’s tough when a lot of the basketball community seems to think his game has peaked. Singler is a versatile player who competed out of his natural position at Duke and excelled at it, but after he was moved to the SF as a senior, really struggled to adjust and be effective. He has a nice shooting stroke from midrange, a solid all-around game, and a great competitor who does all the little things to help his team win, but questions abound on the next level regarding strength, athleticism, defense and effectiveness.
Mirotic is an intelligent Euro-player with a fundamental game and great size for his position. Had a great showing in the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit, putting his 3-point shooting stroke, passing abilityand defensive play on display. He’s an excellent perimeter player who doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective and operates well within the team game. He’s expected to remain overseas for a few more seasons before he comes over to the NBA, but could be a legit player in a few years if he continues to progress.
Was a little surprised to see Honeycutt throw his name in the draft as one of the first few players to enter, as he is about a year away, but he has the upside and all-around game to intrigue a team. Stepped up his offensive aggressiveness this past season, refined his perimeter shooting and improved as an increasingly tough defender. Still has a long ways to go in filling out his frame, cutting down on turnovers and attacking the rim with his athleticism, but he is progressing nicely.
Harris was a blue chip recruit just a year ago, and now he’s a potential lottery pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. The talented freshman stepped in and made his presence felt immediately by scoring, draining 3’s, crashing the boards and hustling on D. He will have to improve a few facets of his game, noteably shooting consistency, strength and athleticism. Tobias is a hard worker who has the look and basketball IQ of a solid pro at his position for many years to come.
You could consider him a PF, but Marcus is a perimeter-oriented player who made it pretty clear during the NBA combine he wants to be considered a SF in the NBA. He’s a skilled player with NBA size, strength and a strong motor that makes him effective at nearly any spot he plays. Has an excellent feel for the game and has routinely gotten better, earning the Big XII Player of the Year accolade in 2010-11. Has a great inside-out game with the ability to play on the perimeter or in the post if needed, and can thrive in the league with his style of play.
Probably the best pure scorer available in this draft, Hamilton can light up the D with his ability to create his own shot and knock it down. He is an outstanding 6’9” forward who has great athleticism, shooting touch and scoring prowess. Reminiscent game to former NBA scoring mercenary Ricky Davis in terms of scoring ability and reckless shot selection, but he can fill it up. Does a great job crashing the boards as well and showed some intensity on the defensive end as well as a sophomore. Plays a little selfish and reckless at times, but he’s an offensively skilled player who can bolster a team's offense if they need a productive scorer in the mix.
Chris Singleton (Florida State)
The best pure defender in the draft, Singleton is a playmaker on D with his crazy length, athleticism, motor and defensive instincts. He was a lockdown player at FSU who held whoever he was guarding in check offensively, and was a big help D guy for his teammates' blown assignments. His offensive game has caught up to his D, but he has a much-improved jumper that could make him a spot-up shooting threat for a pure defender like James Posey was in the NBA. The value of Chris’ game is in his D, but he still has fair upside and potential on the offensive end with his athleticism and intelligence.
A big reason for SDSU’s success in the NCAA regular season and tournament, Leonard was an absolute star for the Aztecs with his high basketball IQ, superb ball handling and "magnetic"rebounding with those huge hands. Kawhi has an outstanding motor that compliments his strong build and athleticism crashing the boards, making him a dominant rebounder in the NCAA and should make him a monster on the boards in the league for a SF. His shooting accuracy and mechanics have improved greatly, but still has a ways to go and may never be ideal with those huge mitts he has. Proved himself as an elite NCAA player with upside to boot, which should make him a great NBA player in the mold of a Gerald Wallace or Wilson Chandler at forward.
D-Will is as tough as they come this year, as the Arizona standout killed the Pac-10 and NCAA with his relentless play on both ends of the floor. He has a mature inside-out game that allows him to back down and outmaneuver the D to finish at the rack, or face up and knock down the jumper. Lacked great range and 3-point accuracy as a freshman, but turned that around in a hurry as a sophomore, hitting an incredible 56.8 percent from 3-point range. He’s a physical "banger" with great athleticism who can board up at a high level with his great length, athleticism and strength. Probably led the nation this past season in "game saving blocked shots" to win the game for his team in the clutch, the mark of a big-time player. Many think he should get consideration for the top pick in the draft, but the question that lingers is does he have the perimeter skill to excel at the SF spot, or the size and ability to "bang" against bigger players in the post. Nonetheless, the team that gets Williams is going to be very happy with a great competitor who understands how to play and win.
For other positional slideshow rankings on the 2011 NBA Draft, please check out: