2011 NBA Draft: Re-Evaluating the Top Power Forward Prospects
If a team is looking for a legit four in the first round of the draft, then they are in luck. The top 10 guys from this list could all end up going in the first round; it will just be a matter of fit and type of forward that they want. Both physical and finesse players can be found at the position this year, but the depth at the position really tapers after the first round. Here is a revised look and some thoughts on the “SwishScout.com Power 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.
11. Jamie Skeen (VCU)
Not only is Skeen a solid NBA prospect for a team’s second unit, he’s a proven winner who understands his role and plays to it at a high level. Skeen is the perfect high pick and roll guy for a team who can pop and knock down the open three from NBA range. Not a great athlete nor does he have a great post game, but he’s a gritty player who is willing to do the "dirty work" for a team in the paint. Has an excellent inside-out game with his touch around the basket and ability to hit the three off the catch and shoot.
10. Justin Harper (Richmond)
Harper isn’t a guy that I’m very high on, as he’s a finesse player who stretches the floor for your team and can hit perimeter jumpers, but is seemingly limited to just that. He’s a late bloomer and a one-year wonder at Richmond who had a breakout season shooting the rock, leading many to compare him to Channing Frye in the league. He’s a skilled player, but he lacks great strength, rebounding ability, not very explosive and lacks physicality, all things you would hope for from a post player. You can run him off ball screens, pick and rolls and have him spot up, but he won’t give you much more than shot making.
9. Jon Leuer (Wisconsin)
At 6’11”, Leuer gives you great size, length, shot making and rebounding for a big man. He’s another player who has more of a finesse game in terms of style and would excel as a second unit guy off the pick and pop. Despite being a good rebounder, he’s not a "banger" who is going to be able to battle for boards and position himself deep in the paint to give him a shot at the rebound. Nonetheless, what he does give you is a ‘stretch four’ who can knock down the NBA three and virtually any shot on the perimeter. NBA combine measurements gave his stock a slight boost, but appropriate, he goes in the late first-early second round.
8 .Trey Thompkins (Georgia)
Howard "Trey" Thompkins emerged last season as an NBA prospect after a solid 17 point, eight rebound season his sophomore year, but had his junior season hindered by injury. He has the prototypical build in terms of height, weight and length for a PF at 6’10”, 240 lbs. Thompson has a solid jumper that extends out to the three and does a good job battling inside with his strength and physicality. His post game is a work in progress, but he handles the ball well and can finish at a good rate around the basket. Has a game reminiscent of the Orlando Magic’s Ryan Anderson in terms of what he gives you in shot making, inside play and battling in the paint. Trey is an underrated defender as well who can body up and started to pick up his play at the end of the season, laying recovery issues from his injury to rest.
7. Jeremy Tyler (Japan)
Its very possible we might look back at this list and see that Tyler was the best player of this group. An immensely talented teenager who had his path to the NBA drastically altered after opting to go overseas, Tyler has puzzled many in the basketball world with his choice to go play across the world after his junior year in high school. Jeremy is a tremendous talent with NBA size, length, strength, athleticism, skill set and potential. Still very much developing and maturing on and off the court, JT could be a great pro once he puts it together and learns how to play. Also worth noting that his post game is budding and his jumper from 15 feet and in is silk, enticing a team to give him a look in the late first round.
6. JaJuan Johnson (Purdue)
For being an NCAA preseason All-American and the Big Ten player of the year, JaJuan Johnson certainly gets no love from scouts or Draft people in terms of attention or discussion. JaJuan is a very skilled big man with great athleticism, post moves, shooting stroke and defensive instincts. The lanky 6’10” forward has a slender shoulder base, which has held his weight in check at 220 lbs, but he makes up for it with that length and athleticism in the post. He’s a smart, aggressive player with a great basketball IQ who is NBA ready right now. Despite being an NCAA senior, I love his upside in the league, and think he could have a solid career as an NBA PF because of his mature skill set.
5. Markieff Morris (Kansas)
Markieff Morris (Kansas)
The "other" Morris twin made a name for himself as a junior at Kansas by putting up a respectable 13 points and eight rebounds manning the post. While not as skilled as his brother Marcus, he’s still a developing post player who has shown promise on the boards and on the defensive end. He has a fitting body to play in the paint and reminds me a lot of Marresse Speights in terms of style of play. Really hurt his stock against VCU in the elite eight, turning the ball over eight times in the loss for KU. Aside from that NCAA Tournament blemish, he’s a physical player with a great motor and upside that is still developing.
4. Kenneth Faried (Morehead State)
A beastly, relentless player who has a motor second to none in this draft. Faried ate up the boards his senior year, averaging 14.5 rebounds and using that strength, length, motor and athleticism to dominate the glass. He was also a defensive stud who used his instincts to and physical gifts to produce an impressive 1.9 steals and 2.3 blocks. Despite having asthma, Faried gives 100 percent effort nightly and produces with his talent, making him an NBA ready player in terms of rebounding and defense. He falls short on the offensive end with an undeveloped post game and lack of a reliable jumper, but you know what you’re getting from the mid-major standout, which is a high-level hustle guy.
3. Tristan Thompson (Texas)
Tristan is tremendous defender in the paint thanks to his superb leaping ability, 7’2” wingspan and strong motor. Had an outstanding performance in Texas’ opening NCAA Tournament game, holding Oakland star Keith Benson in check on his way to 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks. Thompson is a physical banger packed with potential and immediate playmaker on the boards and defensive end. He has a raw post game and no real perimeter game, but he’s still very young an developing. In the paint, he’s a post savvy player with the ball in his hands, displaying great patience and ball fakes to score around the basket. Thompson is an aggressive player who got to the free throw line over seven times per game as a freshman, but converted less than 50 percent of his attempts.
2. Donatas Motiejunas (Lithuania)
When I saw him in the 2009 Nike Hoop Summit, Motiejunas was a star who put up 21 points and eight rebounds in an upset victory over a USA team that featured John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. A very skilled big man in the mold of Andrea Bargnani, Donatas has great size at 7’0” and an inside-out game that will make him a force in the league. Shoots the ball very well from three-point distance, but can also play with his back to the basket in the post, flashing some impressive post play. He’s a great player with a strong basketball IQ and an NBA skill set for a forward, not to mention a tough matchup at his size and ability to get a shot up over just about anyone on the perimeter. A player who has received mixed reviews from scouts, but he has an impressive game at his age and plenty of room for improvement.
1. Jan Vesely (Czech Republic)
At 6’11”, Vesely has crazy size, length and athleticism that make him a specimen forward for the NBA. He’s an outstanding hustle guy who plays tremendous on ball defense, rebounds and makes plays. I like to think of him as an amped up Kyle Singler in terms of contributions and style of play. He’s more of a role player, but he does a number of things well to help his team win. With the ball in his hands, he’s an aggressor who loves to attack the rim and is fine-tuning his shot. Not super consistent from the free throw line or beyond the arc just yet, but has a fundamental shooting stroke that will find success with time and work invested in it.
Vesely is a highlights reel player who can get up with his explosive athleticism, and his long wingspan only helps exaggerate how unbelievable his dunks can be. Unfortunately, he’s not very refined with the ball yet on offense or playing in the post to take advantage of his great size. Jan isn’t the most physical or strong player either, but building about five pounds of solid muscle to his frame would address the issue by helping him handle contact. Probably never a star, but can contribute to a team and fill up the stat sheet like Andrei Kirilenko did for Utah Jazz in the mid-2000’s. Tough to pass up a player of his physical and athletic gifts in the early lottery.