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NBA Draft 2011: Ranking the Top 25 Forwards

Eric CaspersonCorrespondent IIJune 21, 2011

NBA Draft 2011: Ranking the Top 25 Forwards

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    TULSA, OK - MARCH 18:  Derrick Williams #23 of the Arizona Wildcats reacts to a play against the Memphis Tigers during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at BOK Center on March 18, 2011 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Tom Penning
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    The 2011 NBA Draft will begin next week with the Cleveland Cavaliers getting lucky in the lottery and grabbing the first pick.

    It looks as if PG Kyrie Irving will go at No. 1, but after that, a plethora of forwards will be taken off the board in what looks to be quite a deep draft class.

    Which forwards will go first? Well, let's take a look at the top 25 forwards in this year's draft class.

25. Jimmy Butler, F Marquette

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    CLEVELAND, OH - MARCH 18: Jimmy Butler #33 of the Marquette Golden Eagles dunks the ball against the Xavier Musketeers during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on March 18, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Phot
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Jimmy Butler will be a low-risk, high-reward guy in the second round of the draft. He has the potential to be a great role player. He does all the little things and has a solid offensive game.

    After Da'Sean Butler departed from the team last season, Butler took over as one of the main offensive threats. He finished Big East play averaging 16 and six.

24. Nikola Mirotic, F Montenegro

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    espn.com
    espn.com

    Nikola Mirotic has terrific potential and is one European player that not a lot of people are talking about. Due to contract concerns, he may slide out of the first round, in which case a player of his caliber would be a second-round steal.

    Mirotic has great size and a great offensive game out on the perimeter. He may be one of the best shooters, if not the best shooter on this list.

23. Rick Jackson, F Syracuse

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    CLEVELAND, OH - MARCH 20: Rick Jackson #00 of the Syracuse Orange handles the ball against the Marquette Golden Eagles during the third of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on March 20, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gr
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    In four years of college ball, we have not seen much improvement in Rick Jackson's game. He is a "what you see is what you get" kind of player.

    That does not mean that he cannot improve a little more at the next level. Jackson has the size and raw defensive talent to make it as a backup in the NBA.

22. Jon Leuer, F Wisconsin

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 24:  Jon Leuer #30 of the Wisconsin Badgers goes up for a shot over Andrew Smith #44 of the Butler Bulldogs during the Southeast regional of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at New Orleans Arena on March 24, 2011 in New Or
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    At 6'10", Jon Leuer can create mis-matches down low because of his perimeter game. However, can he play the four spot on the defensive end of the floor?

    Leuer might be better suited for the SF position, but again, we'll have to wait and see whether he can defend the more athletic threes in the league.

21. Kyle Singler, F Duke

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24:  Kyle Singler #12 of the Duke Blue Devils goes to the basket against Jamelle Horne #42 of the Arizona Wildcats during the west regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 24, 2011 in
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Kyle Singler is another guy that has probably reached his ceiling, having started four years at Duke. A decorated champion, Singler is a selfless player that can help a team in multiple ways.

    In the NBA, Singler could hurt a team due to his lack of athleticism. He will quickly become a liability on the defensive end.

20. Chandler Parsons, F Florida

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 26:  Chandler Parsons #25 of the Florida Gators shoots over Shelvin Mack #1 of the Butler Bulldogs during the Southeast regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at New Orleans Arena on March 26, 2011 in New Orlea
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    If he wanted to, Chandler Parsons could probably play all five positions. In the NBA, though, Parsons will be relegated to the SF and sometimes PF positions.

    Parsons has good size and is a very smart basketball player. He is a pass-first guy who will need to work on his scoring to make an impact at the next level.

19. JaJuan Johnson, F Purdue

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    INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 12:  Center JuJuan Johnson #25 of the Purdue Boilermakers goes up for a dunk against the Northwestern Wildcats during the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 12, 2010 in Indianapolis
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    JaJuan Johnson is an athletic freak. At 6'10", he can do some pretty athletic stuff with the basketball in his hands. At the Combine, he had the highest reach of any prospect at over 12 feet. Just throw the ball up in the vicinity of the basket and Johnson will take care of the rest.

    However, strength is a major concern for the Boilermaker.

18. Jordan Williams, F Maryland

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    GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 11:  Jordan Williams #20 of the Maryland Terrapins shoots against Mason Plumlee #5 of the Duke Blue Devils during the first half in the quarterfinals of the 2011 ACC men's basketball tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum on March 11
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Jordan Williams is a bit young, but he improved tremendously in his second season at Maryland. He increased his scoring and rebound averages by over seven points and three rebounds per game, respectively.

    Williams has good size, but can sometimes be out of shape. Being so young, he has yet to fill out.

17. Jeremy Tyler, F San Diego, CA

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    sportsagentblog.com
    sportsagentblog.com

    Jeremy Tyler has a huge upside if he can work on his attitude issues. His international career did not get off to a good start after he turned pro after graduating from high school. He quit his team in Israel and then played terribly in Japan.

    His sheer size and raw skills have Tyler pegged as a late-first or early-second round pick.

16. Davis Bertans, F Latvia

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    Davis Bertans, in one sentence, could be described as an athletic 6'10" swingman whose ability to catch and shoot the basketball is second to none.

    Picture a 6'10" Kyle Korver.

15. Justin Harper, F Richmond

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    SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 25:  Justin Harper #32 of the Richmond Spiders drives against the Kansas Jayhawks during the southwest regional of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Alamodome on March 25, 2011 in San Antonio, Texas. Kansas defeated
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Justin Harper is a versatile big man at 6'9", but he is a bit of a tweener because of his body weight. He is a terrific outside shooter with range out past the three-point line.

    If Harper can gain some weight, he's got potential. Dare I say he could potentially compare to Chris Bosh?

14. Trey Thompkins, F Georgia

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 18:  Trey Thompkins #33 of the Georgia Bulldogs dunks the ball while taking on the Washington Huskies during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 18, 2011 in Charlotte, Nor
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Trey Thompkins is an early entry selection into the draft. I would say his potential is limited because he is not a very fluid athlete, but he still possesses great size and skill to play the PF position in the NBA. He has a terrific shot and is a great defender.

13. Kenneth Faried, F Morehead State

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    DENVER, CO - MARCH 19:  Kenneth Faried #35 of the Morehead State Eagles dunks reacts after a play against the Richmond Spiders during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Pepsi Center on March 19, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Pho
    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    If you need help in the rebounding department, this is your guy. Kenneth Faried led the nation in rebounding with an eye-popping 14.5 rebounds per game as a senior at Morehead State.

12. Tobias Harris, F Tennessee

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 18:  Tobias Harris #12 of the Tennessee Volunteers lays the ball up in front of Stu Douglass #1 of the Michigan Wolverines in the first half during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Ar
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Tobias Harris had an up-and-down freshman season at Tennessee. He enters this year's draft mostly based on his raw talent and high potential.

    Harris is a do-everything kind of forward. He can defend, score, rebound, create... you name it.

11. Jordan Hamilton, F Texas

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 10:  Jordan Hamilton #3 of the Texas Longhorns drives with the ball against the Oklahoma Sooners during their quarterfinal game in the 2011 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 10, 2011 in Kansas
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Jordan Hamilton is one of the bigger scoring threats entering the draft. He also has one of the most criticized shot selections. Hamilton has all the talent in the world to start in the NBA, but he will first have to mature as a scorer and as a player.

10. Chris Singleton, F Florida State

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    SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 25:  Chris Singleton #31 of the Florida State Seminoles reacts during the southwest regional of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams at the Alamodome on March 25, 2011 in San Antonio, Tex
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Hands down, Chris Singleton is the best defender in this year's draft. He could become the next lock-down defender in the NBA. He also has some ability on the offensive side of the ball, which makes him very intriguing for teams picking in the mid-teens.

9. Markieff Morris, F Kansas

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    SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 27:  (L-R) Brady Morningstar #12 and Markieff Morris #21 of the Kansas Jayhawks react during the southwest regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams at the Alamodome on March
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Markieff Morris is the less versatile Morris twin. As a PF, Morris is very good on the defensive end. He is a great post defender and an outstanding rebounder. He has the perfect size to contribute off the bench.

8. Bismack Biyombo, F Congo

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    Bismack Biyombo may go in the top 10 this week. He is young, has raw talent, and has a very high ceiling. Teams may take a chance on this athletic big man who has shown off his skills so far overseas. If he develops an offensive game, he could become scary good.

7. Donatas Motiejunas, F Lithuania

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    Donatas Motiejunas is another European prospect with a balanced game. The left-hander is 7'0" and has the ability to play the three, four or five at the next level. At age 20, he still needs to fill out his frame. Currently, he weighs only 224 lbs. and lacks muscle.

6. Kawhi Leonard, F San Diego St.

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24:  Kawhi Leonard #15 of the San Diego State Aztecs goes to the hoop against Alex Oriakhi #34 of the Connecticut Huskies during the west regional semifinal of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 24,
    Harry How/Getty Images

    After only two seasons in school, Kawhi Leonard decided to turn pro, and it was probably a good idea. Leonard is almost certainly guaranteed a top 10 selection. He is a slasher-type SF who can play on both ends of the court. He has Gerald Wallace potential.

5. Marcus Morris, F Kansas

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    SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 25:  Marcus Morris #22 of the Kansas Jayhawks drives against Justin Harper #32 of the Richmond Spiders during the southwest regional of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Alamodome on March 25, 2011 in San Antonio, Te
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Marcus Morris is the more versatile twin and has the ability to play more on the perimeter. His ball-handling and athletic skills make him a threat both down low and on the outside. He doesn't excel in any particular skill but is a solid all-around player.

4. Tristan Thompson, F Texas

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    TULSA, OK - MARCH 20:  Derrick Williams #23 of the Arizona Wildcats goes up for a shot against Tristan Thompson #13 of the Texas Longhorns during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at BOK Center on March 20, 2011 in Tulsa, Oklaho
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Tristan Thompson did not have what you would call a "one-and-done" type of season in his only year at Texas. He struggled a bit, but his raw talent and skills put him among my top five forwards. He has an incredibly long wingspan which allows him to be a shot blocker at only 6'9".

3. Jan Vesely, F Czech Republic

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    Jan Vesely is the prime jewel of this year's European talent. He is unbelievably athletic, standing at 6'11". He can create all types of mis-matches due of his size and his ability to play different positions. Still, he will have to work on a more consistent jump shot.

2. Enes Kanter, F Kentucky

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    Enes Kanter never played one second of college basketball, but he is still rated as the second best PF in this year's draft. A sure-bet top five pick, Kanter is one of the most stable big men in the draft. He already has an NBA body and still has plenty of room to develop his skills at 19 years old.

1. Derrick Williams, F Arizona

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    TULSA, OK - MARCH 20:  Derrick Williams #23 of the Arizona Wildcats celebrates after defeating the Texas Longhorns 70-69 in the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at BOK Center on March 20, 2011 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Ronald
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Surprise, surprise. Derrick Williams lands on top as the best forward in this year's draft. Scouts are questioning what position he will actually be able to play in the NBA, as he may not be big enough for the four spot. If that is the case, Williams will have to work hard to improve his ball-handling skills as well as his perimeter game.

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