Of any position, the small forwards probably have the least amount of depth and potential star power. The good part about this group is that they are very versatile and many of them could fit different teams in different ways. Some are slashers, some are shooters, but very few are good at both. There is a lot of potential, and in a few years we may look back at this as a strong group of players.
Editor’s Note: Top NBA Prospects – Point Guards | Shooting Guards
Here are the Top 5 small forwards:
1) Otto Porter, Sophomore, Georgetown – Porter is one of the more complete players, not only at his position, but in this draft class. On offense, he provides the ability to hit the jumper out to 3-point range, can play in the post and is very good on the offensive glass, and he is one of the better non-point guard passers in this year’s draft. While not a top-level athlete, Porter has a great understanding of the game allowing him to still make strong plays on both ends of the floor. There are some concerns whether Porter will be able to take players off the dribble from the perimeter, or guard quicker forwards out there, because of lack of foot speed.
2) Shabazz Muhammad, Freshman, UCLA – Muhammad came into the season as the most-hyped high school player in a few years, but for the most part failed to live up to that hype. Part of it was due to a limited skill set and part of it due to an ill fit in Ben Howland’s offense at UCLA. Heading to the NBA may give him a chance to better use what skills he does have. Muhammad has an NBA –ready body and is an explosive athlete. He is very strong around the basket, and he uses his strength well to post up weaker defenders. Entering last season, Muhammad wasn’t much of a perimeter shooter, but he is now able to knock down open jumpers if he has time to get set. While he improved as a defender last season, he still has a lot of work to do to guard NBA-level small forwards on the perimeter.
3) Reggie Bullock, Junior, North Carolina – Bullock was known mainly as a perimeter threat while at North Carolina, but he has the size and skill to look to get to the basket more often. Even if he chooses to stay on the perimeter, he has good size to get looks over defenders and legitimate NBA 3-point range. On defense, Bullock is strong as both an on and off-ball defender, and he has the ability to guard multiple positions. His ability to stretch the floor should get him a chance at consistent minutes early on next year for the right team.
4) Tony Snell, Junior, New Mexico – Snell is another player who spent most of his time on the perimeter in college, especially this past season, when almost half of his shots were 3-point attempts. However, Snell is a good ballhandler for his size and he can be very crafty attacking the basket. He is an underrated perimeter defender, and his length can be very disruptive in passing lanes. Snell’s biggest concern is going to be working on his strength to handle the physical nature of the NBA.
5) Sergey Karasev, Russia – Karasev is a skilled lefty who is much more comfortable playing on the perimeter. He has good shooting stroke and range, and he also does a good job seeing the court and making strong passes. Karasev is not as good going to the basket where his lack of strong ballhandling and finishing ability often leave him taking awkward shots. Defense is also a major concern for Karasev, as he seems to be lacking a lot of the basic defensive fundamentals he will need for the NBA, including moving laterally, positioning and stance. Still, at 19 with significant International experience, Karasev could make major strides quickly.
Five more to watch: Dario Saric, Croatia; Glen Rice, Jr., Rio Grande Valley (NBADL); Giannis Adetokunbo, Greece; Deshaun Thomas, Junior, Ohio State; James Ennis, Senior, Long Beach State;
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