Who Can Follow in Ben Simmons' Footsteps as the NBA's Next Point Forwards?

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterNovember 3, 2018

Who Can Follow in Ben Simmons' Footsteps as the NBA's Next Point Forwards?

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    Mark Sobhani/Getty Images

    Ben Simmons isn't the NBA's first point forward, but he's elevated the position, playing it at the highest level. Now there are others he's likely influencing.

    From the current rookie class to college basketball, high school and Israel, the NBA should be expecting the arrival of at least five more point forwards.

    They create mismatches and open shots for teammates with their unique ball skills for oversized wings or bigs.

    Between now and 2022, look for a rise in ball-handlers standing 6'6" and taller.

Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

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    Among the up-and-coming point forwards to follow Ben Simmons, Luka Doncic is next in line.

    He's already here, averaging 19.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists through his first seven NBA games.

    Despite numbers that suggest his scoring is ahead of his distributing, a key selling point of Doncic's potential has always been his facilitating. From Europe to Dallas, he's been interchangeable between point guard and either forward spot thanks to crafty ball-handling, passing skills and 6'7", 218-pound size.

    We'd be seeing more of Doncic running Dallas' offense if Dennis Smith Jr. didn't already have the job. Only six players have longer times of possession than Smith (6.1 minutes). Doncic is still averaging more potential assists (9.4 to Smith's 8.7), doing so in just over half as many minutes (3.6) working on the ball.

    He has an unteachable feel for manipulating defenses with hesitation and quick change of direction. Once he begins to get comfortable and start making reads, running a pick-and-roll for Doncic will be a safe way to create a high-percentage shot.

    His ability to grab a defensive rebound and start the break will also become a regular occurrence the way it has for Simmons.

    Through October, no issues have popped up about Doncic's transition from overseas to the NBA—only more confirmation that the EuroLeague MVP's game translates.

Cam Reddish, Duke Freshman

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    Playing alongside weapons RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish is in position to expand on and showcase his playmaking, a differentiating strength that drives point-forward potential. 

    He'll still enter scoring mode often at Duke, but it's the ability to pass and facilitate that could separate the 6'8", 218-pound Reddish. He totaled 14 assists through Duke's two exhibition games.

    With a fine handle and open-floor agility, Reddish should always have the green light to create an easy-basket opportunity in transition by initiating the break off a defensive rebound.

    In the half court as well, he'll spend time working as a setup man from the point, where he can use the dribble to penetrate and dish or use his vision to find cutters behind the defense.

    On-and-off concentration and shot selection have raised questions in the past. With so much offensive talent around him, this is a good chance for Reddish to embrace a different role and work on further strengthening his point-forward image.

Deni Avdija, Israel 2001

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    Draft-eligible in 2020, Deni Avdija is building a case as the next international star prospect to crash the NBA.

    He emerged as a "must-follow" early, particularly after averaging 15.3 points, 12.6 rebounds and 5.3 assists at the U16 European Championship in 2017. From there, scouts have been able to assess Avdija's standout versatility at the Albert Schweitzer Tournament, the NBPA Top 100 camp in Virginia and the U20 European Championship this summer, where the 17-year-old led Israel to a gold medal. 

    He's a 6'7" wing, but the ability to handle and pass off the dribble fuels playmaking ability and point-forward potential.

    Avdija threatens as a pick-and-roll facilitator and setup man on the move. He creates offense in a multitude of ways, though he's equally effective off the ball in scoring and shooting. 

    Playing alongside and against pros and former NBA players with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Avdija isn't full time yet, averaging just 10.2 minutes in the Israeli League. His development will still be monitored closely by scouts over the next two seasons, with 2019-2020 presumably the year when Avdija establishes a spot high on NBA draft boards.

Scottie Barnes, NSU University School 2001

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    USA basketball and NBA scouts are already tracking Scottie Barnes, the No. 4-ranked 2020 prospect, per 247Sports, and a participant at October's Men's Junior National Team minicamp.

    A poster boy for versatility fueled by 6'7" size, ball-handling skills and passing acumen, Barnes works as a forward who'll also bring the ball up and create. Even from the wing, he's an assist threat for his ability to use the dribble and read defenses.

    He won't be a team's primary initiator like Simmons, particularly given Barnes' motor and length around the basket. But his playmaking and vision come to life each game, helping to separate and distinguish him from others with similar body types.

    He's played four positions at the University School, which lost in last year's final of the GEICO Nationals to RJ Barrett and Montverde Academy. 

    Expected to create plenty of attention leading up to his draft-eligible year, Barnes figures to eventually be a top pick thanks to a unique mix of tools and face-up skill. He has offers from top schools, including Kentucky, Kansas, Florida, Oregon and Syracuse.

Jalen Johnson, Nicolet 2001

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    Already with offers from Duke, Kentucky, UCLA and others, Jalen Johnson has risen to the top among prospects in the NBA pipeline.

    The No. 5 high school junior pops with 6'8" size, exciting athleticism and playmaking that sets him apart.

    Johnson has a knack for and clear interest in facilitating, which he does by mixing ball-handling, vision and the willingness to look for teammates before his own shot. He's a terrific passer, whether it's in transition or over the top of a half-court defense. 

    Flashes of perimeter scoring and defense hint at a potential complete two-way player down the road. At this stage, for a prospect with his tools and mobility, it's the ability to create and dish that's earned Johnson both the point-forward label and hype.