NBA Draft Preview: Power Forwards
By Aran Smith
This draft buzz focuses on the top power forwards available for the draft.
1. Tyrus Thomas 6-8 217 PF LSU Fr. -- Tops the list based on potential. Thomas is a 3/4 energy forward with as much upside as anyone in this draft. The Bulls are rumored to be very high on him, but he had to cut a recent workout short due to a stomach ache. Will it cost him? Maybe. Thomas is expected to work out again for Chicago before the draft. That workout could determine his fate in the draft. Regardless, Thomas is one of the elite prospects available and though he may not challenge for the ROY award, he has a tremendous combination of innate intensity and athleticism.
2. Andrea Bargnani 6-11 240 PF Italy 1985 -- Bargnani's a possibility to go first to Toronto if they decide to hold onto the pick. He doesn't exactly fill a need for the team, but with the first pick, drafting the (perceived) top overall talent makes more sense than filling a need. There are a number of elements at play which could factor into whether Bryan Colangelo takes Bargnani first. First, Chris Bosh has agreed to sign a contract extension which means there is no mystery about his future with the team. Second, will a team offer enough to make trading away the first pick worthwhile? Third, Bargnani's Benetton Treviso team is currently playing in the Italian Championships. Bargnani has been playing very well through the first three games, the series is 2-1 in favor of Benetton, so his play over the remainder of the series will be big. And lastly, should Dirk Nowitzki lead Dallas past Miami to their first championship, taking a less visible International player with the first pick won't be as tough a sell to fans.
3. Shelden Williams 6-9 258 PF/C Duke Sr. -- Williams brings the versatility to defend centers as well as power forwards. His offensive game is a bit mechanical, but he has an effective post game that should make him a solid pro. The rumored Shelden to Atlanta deal appears legit after Williams cancelled workouts with other teams in the lottery, and numerous sources are saying this promise appears likely. While this is viewed as a safe pick, in reality it's a gutless pick. Shelden is not a top 5 prospect for this draft. He might be a top 5-10 player right now, but his potential is far lower than a number of players in the draft. And while Shelden will be very solid right away, he's a short term solution to a long term problem. He's not the difference maker that they need to help them become a contender.
4.Cedric Simmons 6-9 223 PF NC St. So. -- Ced lacks any real offensive game, however his tremendous length will make him a terrific defender and rebounder, and he shows enough shooting touch that he should be able to develop a consistent mid range and interior offensive game. Some of his productivity got diminished by the conservative NC State system. He showed flashes of tremendous potential with a developing hook shot and some scouts are higher on him than Patrick O'Bryant.
5. Josh Boone 6-10 237 PF UConn Jr. -- Boone had a miserable season after it appeared he was destined to become a lottery pick. He struggled with consistency, especially from the free throw line and it took a toll on his confidence. He retains some intrigue due to his size, speed and athleticism, however he lacks the touch on his shot to become a real offensive threat. Boone has no guarantee in the first round and it's possible he could slip, but it appears likely a team such as New York or Dallas will grab him if he isn't taken earlier in the first round.
6. Joel Freeland 6-11 225 PF England 1987 -- Cor blimey! Basketball talent in England? Freeland is the biggest sleeper in the draft. How big a sleeper? The NBA accidently left his name off the early entry list, and virtually every international scout that showed up for the Treviso camp was unfamiliar with him. Zzzzzzzzzzz. NBADraft.net scouted him in January, and he has been on the radar for the past 9 or so months. At 19 years of age, Freeland has quickly developed into one of the top overall European prospects. He's got an American style of game with excellent athleticism and aggressiveness. He's still a few years away from being able to contribute, due to experience, but could be taken similar to Ian Mahinmi, last year, as a player to keep stashed in Europe for a year or two before hopping the pond. With one of the biggest agents in the business, Arn Tellum, Look for Freeland to find a spot in the end of the first round, or the early second round at worst. Brilliant!
7. Kevin Pittsnogle 6-10 255 PF West Virginia Sr. -- Pittsnogle improved considerably in his senior season working hard in the off-season on his conditioning and diet and it made him a much more mobile bigman. He made a great decision to return to school, and had a great senior season. Pittsnogle opted not to play in Orlando after playing at the Chicago predraft camp a year before. He brings deadly outside shooting ability which will force bigmen to move out away from the basket. Look for Pittsnogle to go somewhere in the early second round with an outside chance at the end of the first.
8. Craig Smith 6-7 259 PF Boston College Sr. -- Smith was unable to play at the predraft camp due to a injured wrist, but he came in looking slimmer than he appeared during the season, which is a plus. He's a wide body with excellent basketball IQ and skills. Smith lacks great height, and his speed is below average, but he has deceptive athletic ability and will have a real shot to stick in the league.
9. Leon Powe 6-7 240 PF California So. -- Powe has had one of the roughest roads getting to where he is today. He lacks ideal size but has the heart of a champion and the willingness to battle that so many more talented players lack. Powe is seen as a mid second round pick, who should find a place on an NBA team with his hustle and tremendous motor. The knee injuries in his past are a concern, but Powe had a solid injury free season, and appears to be past the injury problems.
10. Eric Hicks 6-6 245 PF Cincinnati Sr. -- With a 7'1" wingspan, Hicks plays much bigger than his 6'6" height. Hicks has a warriors mentality and comes to play every night. His shoulders are rock solid and he's even added a consistent perimeter shot from the top of the key. Despite his lack of size, Hicks out-rebounds players bigger than himself with technique and desire. Look for Hicks to get taken in the mid to late second round and make a team in summer league with his hustle.
Kenny Adeleke 6-8 250 PF Hartford Sr. | James Augustine 6-9 227 PF Illinois Sr. | Brad Buckman 6-8 235 PF Texas Sr. | Terence Dials 6-9 253 PF Ohio St. Sr. | Torin Francis 6-10 247 PF Notre Dame Sr. | Taj Gray 6-8 235 PF Oklahoma Sr. | Matt Haryasz 6-10 230 PF Stanford Sr. | Alexander Johnson 6-9 230 PF FSU Jr. | Solomon Jones 6-10 230 PF/C South Florida Sr. | Marco Killingsworth 6-7 269 PF Ind. Sr. | Miguel Marriaga 6-9 200 PF Ven. 1984 | Pops Mensah-Bonsu 6-8 240 PF GW Sr. | Paul Millsap 6-7 258 PF Lou. Tech Jr. | Vladimir Veremeenko 6-10 235 PF Belarus 1984 | Yemi Nicholson 6-10 240 PF/C Denver Sr. | Justin Williams 6-8 211 PF Wyoming Sr.
I don't see how they can rate those last 4-5 guys higher than a player like Alexander Johnson... maybe Augustine, too.