2015 NBA Draft: Analyzing the Top 5 small forwards


2015 NBA Draft: Analyzing the Top 5 small forwards

In the days leading up to the NBA Draft, College Basketball Talk's Scott Phillips and Bulls Talk contributor Mark Strotman are analyzing the top 5 players at each position.

Today the pair look at small forwards. Justise Winslow has separated himself from the rest of the pack, but past him there are four other players who all could be selected in front of each other. It's a difficult position to break down this year, but also an important one. With LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and others turning in dominating performances, finding a player who can either defend or score with the elite players at the position is a must for NBA front offices.

Here's a look at who Phillips and Strotman both rank in the top 5 of this year's shooting guard group.

Be sure to take a look back at their top 5 point guards analysistop 5 shooting guards analysis, and top 5 power forwards, too.

Scott Phillips

1. Justise Winslow, Duke: A power wing coming off of a great freshman season at Duke, Winslow shot 41 percent from the 3-point line and can also attack defenders off the dribble. The multi-positional Winslow is also a plus defender who can rebound and push the ball.

2. Stanley Johnson, Arizona: At 6-foot-7, 240 pounds, Stanley Johnson is a bruising wing who can operate some pick and roll and improved as a 3-point shooter. Johnson also has a 6-foot-11 wingspan and can defend multiple positions thanks to his size and quickness.

3. Kelly Oubre, Kansas: After an up-and-down season at Kansas, Oubre opted to go pro and he has the potential to be really good. A prototypical wing with a smooth jumper and 7-foor-2 wingspan, Oubre is cable of being a two-way wing if he puts in the work to be great.

4. Sam Dekker, Wisconsin: Sam Dekker played his best basketball of the season -- and finally at full health -- during March. He's a better athlete than people give him credit for and he can make plays at the rim. Is his perimeter shooting good enough for an NBA wing?

5. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona: A multi-positional defender who can rebound at his position with the best of them, Hollis-Jefferson is an athletic, high-motor guy who is best in the open floor. Hollis-Jefferson needs to work on his skill level on the offensive end to earn a bigger role.

Mark Strotman

1. Justise Winslow, Duke: What's not to like about the consensus top-5 pick? He's a potential franchise foundation with his ability to defend multiple positions and score in a variety of ways. He's got very few weaknesses and he's oozing with upside. In the right fit he very well could be the Rookie of the Year frontrunner.

2. Stanley Johnson, Arizona: Hes NBA-ready, touting a chiseled 6-foot-7 frame and a knack for scoring, leading the Wildcats with 17.6 points per game a year ago. He's got solid athleticism and quickness, which will help him as a versatile defender at the next level.

3. Sam Dekker, Wisconsin: Don't mistake Dekker for simply a shooter; he's going to be a versatile scorer at the next level, and if he finds some more consistency with his outside shot he's going to find a spot in an NBA rotation.

4. Kelly Oubre, Kansas: Oubre has the perfect build for an NBA small forward. He'll likely be a project in his first few seasons, but the potential is there for him to blossom into a real player.

5. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona: One of the best defenders in the class, Hollis-Jefferson can guard multiple positions and plays well around the rim. If he ever develops a jumper (a big if) he could be a solid rotation guy. Still, there's little risk in drafting him because he's going to defend and defend well.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: A sprained MCL and Trubisky's performance. vs the Pats


SportsTalk Live Podcast: A sprained MCL and Trubisky's performance. vs the Pats

David Haugh, Jordan Cornette, Shae Peppler join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00- Mark Schanowski joins SportsTalk Live to discuss Kris Dunn’s sprained MCL, Fred Hoiberg’s tough luck and Zach LaVine postgame criticisms of the coaching. Plus they’ll discuss another 0-3 team- LeBron’s Lakers.

20:00 – The panel discusses Mitchell Trubisky’s performance vs. the Patriots. Jordan makes the case that the media is giving the former No. 2 pick a pass.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast


Bulls bracing for a Kemba Walker onslaught


Bulls bracing for a Kemba Walker onslaught

Through the opening week of the NBA season, Hornets' All-Star point guard Kemba Walker and former Bull Niko Mirotic share the league scoring lead, averaging 33 points per game.

Bulls' fans have seen these hot stretches from Niko before, and chances are he'll start moving down to the mid to high-teens before long. But Walker is a big-time scorer who's quietly emerged as one of the most consistently productive point guards in a league loaded with stars at that position. He's averaged over 20 points and 5 assists in each of the last three seasons, making the Eastern Conference All-Star team twice.

Last season, Walker lit up the Bulls for 47 points in an overtime loss at the United Center in November, making some of the most difficult shots you can imagine to keep his team in the game. He seems to be as this best when facing the Bulls and you can bet Fred Hoiberg and his staff will pull out all the stops to try to slow him down, especially with defensive ace Kris Dunn out 4-6 weeks after suffering a sprained left MCL in his season debut on Monday.

The Hornets made some personnel changes since last season. The one-year experiment with Dwight Howard at center is over. Howard put up solid numbers for Charlotte a year ago, but didn't make much difference in the win-loss column, so he's moved on to Washington in his NBA odyssey. Cody Zeller is now the starting center, backed up by Bismack Biyombo and former Benet Academy and University of Wisconsin star Frank Kaminsky.

Charlotte tried to improve the athleticism on their roster by selecting Malik Monk and Miles Bridges in the first rounds of the last two drafts. Monk is getting more playing time this season, averaging 13.5 points in the Hornets' first four games. Bridges is averaging just under 16 minutes a game as a backup to starting forwards Marvin Williams and Nic Batum. Just like he did at Michigan State, Bridges is providing those highlight reel putback dunks, but it remains to be seen whether he'll develop a consistent enough outside shot to be a quality starter in the NBA.

The well-traveled Jeremy Lamb is now starting in the backcourt with Walker, and the Hornets brought in long-time Spurs' point guard Tony Parker to add some much needed experience and veteran savvy off the bench. Given the current state of the Eastern Conference (post-LeBron), it's not out of the question for this group to contend for one of the final playoff spots.

Here's what the Bulls need to do for a shot at their first win of the season. This also applies to the rematch in Charlotte on Friday.

1. CORRAL KEMBA. For whatever reason, seeing that Bulls' logo turns Walker into an almost unstoppable scoring machine. Walker is adept at working off his big men, either in straight pick and rolls or cutting through the post on give-and-go plays. He's one of the league's most creative scorers, and doesn't require much room to get his shot off. The Bulls' bigs will have to provide help on Walker whenever he comes off screens to keep him from taking over the game.

2. PUT THE BALL IN ZACH'S HANDS. Whether he's playing shooting guard or point guard, Zach LaVine needs to be the primary facilitator with Dunn sidelined. LaVine scored 34 points against Dallas Monday night on just 15 shots, which led to him questioning some of the offensive sets that were run in the 2nd half. LaVine told reporters on Tuesday that he smoothed things over with his head coach, explaining his comments were the result of the frustration he was feeling after a third-straight loss to open the season. Still, LaVine is on a major hot streak, joining Bulls' all-time greats Michael Jordan and Bob Love as the only players to start the year with three straight games scoring at least 30 points. The Bulls will need to ride that hot hand for as far as LaVine can carry them.

3. DEFEND THE 3-POINT LINE. You knew I would eventually get to this, right? Dallas made 15 of 47 3-point attempts on Monday after the Pistons knocked down 18 of 40 in a two-point win last Saturday. The Hornets have all kinds of capable 3-point shooters in Walker, Lamb, Monk, Batum and Williams (they're shooting .397 as a team on 3's), so guarding the arc will be crucial for the Bulls to have a chance at their first win.

Don’t forget you can catch Wednesday's game on NBC Sports Chicago and the new MyTeams by NBC sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 pm when Kendall Gill, Will Perdue and Kelly Crull join me for Bulls Pregame Live from the United Center Atrium. Neil Funk and Stacey King have the play-by-play call at 7 pm, then stay tuned after the final buzzer for Bulls Postgame Live and the always entertaining Bulls Outsiders.