August 20, 2010
As summer winds down and the day-to-day "news" falls flat, BDL will be ranking each NBA position, 1-through-30. Or, more accurately, 30-through-1. Here's an explanation.
In this post, we take on the small forwards, 30-through-21. Click the jump for the run.
Never heard of the guy? That's fine, though if he continues scoring at the rate we saw from him last season and during the summer league, this 30th ranking is going to look awfully silly in a year's time. He might be a product of Don Nelson's system, but even adjusted for pace, Williams' numbers last season (15 points and 4.6 rebounds in 32.6 minutes per game) fleshed out quite well. He turns 24 in September, he hit nearly half his shots from the field last season and the burly scorer hustles like mad. Though he played only 24 games last season in his rookie year, he's worth watching during 2010-11.
The wily veteran is all about intangibles at this point. Solid help defense, the nice entry pass that doesn't result in an assist, screen-setting in transition and the occasional interior finish. Grant's not hurting the Suns by playing big minutes, but there's a reason you'll see four Phoenix small forwards on this list alone, two of which were acquired this offseason.
He may have flown under your radar, but Bucks coach Scott Skiles loved what Delfino brought to the table last season. Two clichés in one opening sentence, nice.
Delfino can hit the corner three, get to the line occasionally (which, on the Bucks, is badly needed), play great defense and rebound the ball. He's an all-around athletic small forward who is in his prime. Other youngsters might topple him in the coming years, but for 2010-11, Delfino gets a mention.
He's such an exciting player that Casspi runs the risk of being overrated. Nevertheless, averaging about 15 points and 6.5 rebounds per 36 minutes is fine work for someone who didn't turn 22 until two months after his season ended. And with Casspi's athleticism and shooting (36.9 percent from long range, as he acclimated to the NBA line), he doesn't have to turn into the next Andres Nocioni(notes).
He just has to be the first Omri. /pounds heart with fist.
He adamantly refuses to drive the ball even when his up-fakes from behind the arc send a defender into the front row, but man can this guy defend. Not a lockdown Bruce Bowen(notes)-type, but enough of a staunch defender and shooter to earn a starting slot on a great team and a spot on this list. Pietrus' shot selection stinks, and he does have the skills to work toward becoming a better all-around player, but, for now, this is enough.
I still feel a bit odd ranking Dudley as a small forward, but between his shooting from long range (46 percent last season, 42 percent on the career) and terrible rebounding numbers (even for a small forward), I suppose Jared is best suited for this position. Dudley does a fine job defending wing players and he's sort of rounded into a modern-day Derrick McKey. Twitter account and all.
Battier's defense fell off last season, there's no denying that. But as it's been for years, if you isolate on Shane from possession to possession, on either end, it's a fascinating watch. He's the guy at work who takes a lesser of the two remaining donuts because he knows Steve from accounting is on his way up, and how much that chocolate cake donut would make Steve's day. He's the guy who grabs two carts along the way while returning his cart to the corral. He's the guy who signals early to let the driver at the intersection know it's OK to pull out ahead of him. He's just a considerate, thoughtful player that will no doubt find a way to make it work in Trevor Ariza's(notes) absence this season.
Hedo and the Toronto Raptors would like to forget last season, which is why we'll pretend it never happened and picture him in an Orlando uniform.
And, really, it hardly matters as if 2009-10 actually happened or not. Because while Turkoglu's drop-off wasn't really commensurate with the sort of play we'd seen from him in his career, his latter turn with Orlando was criminally overrated, and what we saw in Toronto last year (11 points, about nine combined rebounds/assists, 41 percent shooting, bad D) wasn't far off in Hedo's future anyway.
This seems like a bit of a jump, and in a way it is, I guess. Childress hasn't played in the NBA for the last two years, preferring to spend his time with a team in Greece. Before then, he was merely an above-average small forward for the Hawks and now he's playing on a Suns team that is loaded (clearly, according to this list) with small forwards. So why this high? Because he's an efficient, sturdy scorer who can hit threes on the break, he'll defend and rebound well, and he turned only 27 two months ago.
There are some nights where Williams will play much better than those who are listed ahead of him in these particular rankings, but overall he just doesn't stand out. Doesn't do anything spectacularly nor poorly, and is quite replaceable. Just right in the middle of everything, a Milford Man through and through. Appreciate his production, though. And his taciturn tone.
Enjoy your weekend. Thank you for reading.