The small forward position is one of the toughest to make any real determinations with just using a strict numerical comparison. The role is so varied at the college level that it’s hard to say where players will end up position-wise in the NBA. Also, some guys on this list played more of an undersized 4 in college due to team personnel. Still, on an individual basis, you can look to the past two drafts to see some players who were in similar situations in college.
Here are links to all of the draft comparisons:
|Kelly Oubre, Jr.||6’7||200||19||17.6||44.4||35.8||55.5||5.0||2.2||1.5||44.4|
|Andrew Wiggins (2014)||6’8||200||19||20.8||44.8||34.1||56.3||7.1||1.4||1.9||53.8|
|Jabari Parker (2014)||6’8||235||19||25.0||47.3||35.8||55.8||11.4||1.4||1.5||42.8|
|Doug McDermott (2014)||6’8||225||22||31.6||52.6||44.9||64.4||8.3||0.3||1.9||32.9|
|T.J. Warren (2014)||6’8||233||20||28.1||52.5||26.7||57.4||8.1||2.0||1.3||34.7|
|Rodney Hood (2014)||6’8||215||21||19.5||46.4||42.0||59.0||4.8||0.9||2.6||32.8|
|Kyle Anderson (2014)||6’9||230||20||17.6||48.0||48.3||56.6||10.5||2.1||7.8||49.3|
|K.J. McDaniels (2014)||6’6||200||21||20.3||45.9||30.4||56.6||8.4||1.4||1.9||40.2|
|Jerami Grant (2014)||6’8||210||20||15.4||49.6||0.0||54.7||8.6||1.0||1.8||66.4|
|Otto Porter (2013)||6’8||205||19||18.3||48.0||42.2||59.0||8.5||2.1||3.1||44.9|
|Shabazz Muhammad (2013)||6’6||225||20||23.2||44.3||37.7||52.8||6.8||0.9||1.1||39.5|
|Solomon Hill (2013)||6’7||220||22||16.2||45.8||39.0||57.9||6.5||1.4||3.3||35.9|
|Reggie Bullock (2013)||6’7||205||22||17.7||48.3||43.6||62.5||8.2||1.6||3.7||20.5|
|Andre Roberson (2013)||6’7||210||21||13.0||48.0||32.8||52.4||13.4||2.6||1.7||34.1|
As I mentioned, this is a very diverse group, and certain skill sets will often dictate the player’s role and/or position when they get to the NBA. Size will also play some part in that, with guys on the smaller end like Justise Winslow and Stanley Johnson likely to play some time at the shooting guard position. In general, with positions becoming more fluid at the NBA level, there is a chance that many of these guys will play multiple roles as pros.
Similarly, because many of these players’ roles were so different in college, there is a wide range seen in the scoring and shooting numbers. Last year, four players averaged at least 20 points per 40 minutes; this year there are none, with Stanley Johnson the closest at 19.4. The biggest difference is that 2014 was stacked with players who were primary scoring options on their teams. This year, all six players were either non-primary options or on teams where there were multiple offensive options, such as Duke or Arizona.
Along with different roles, the players at this position also varied in the types of scorers they are. Guys like Doug McDermott, though he could have almost been considered a stretch 4 in Creighton’s offense, Rodney Hood and Reggie Bullock were primarily perimeter shooters, while players like TJ Warren, KJ McDaniels and Solomon Hill brought a more balanced offensive attack. This year’s class isn’t strong as perimeter shooters; only one, Justise Winslow, topped 40 percent from three-point range, and that was on just a little over 2 attempts per game. Stanley Johnson and Kelly Oubre are further along as shooters than the remaining members of the class, while Sam Dekker has shown some improvement.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Montrezl Harrell are not long-range shooters, and neither is very good as mid-range shooters either. Their strength is attacking the basket, using their athleticism, and in Harrell’s case, strength, to score at the basket, and/or draw fouls. Both are similar to 2014 second round pick Jerami Grant, as they are not very skilled yet as offensive players, but rely on physical ability to score. Also, they are two of just four players, Grant and Andrew Wiggins being the others, who have a free throw rate over 50 percent. Drawing that many fouls is usually indicative of driving to the basket. In contrast, many of the perimeter shooters I noted earlier are below a 35 percent free throw rate.
While this class doesn’t have an Andrew Wiggins or a Jabari Parker-type offensive player, they are a young group who will likely improve over time. Johnson, Winslow and Oubre, all have shown somewhat balanced offense as freshmen.
With such a versatile group, I wanted to look at some other areas other than scoring to see where they contributed as college players. As expected, rebounding numbers were all over the place, due to differing roles, defenses and abilities, as well as some being more of a factor on the offensive glass. Other than Oubre, this class as a whole showed some strong rebounding ability for their size, with Harrell and Hollis-Jefferson again leading the way.
The assist numbers were generally as expected, with a few exceptions. Kyle Anderson is a unique talent, and can’t be judged with the rest of the group, having played as a point guard in college. From the rest of the group, the class from two years ago had some good passers, with Otto Porter, Solomon Hill and Reggie Bullock all averaging over 3 assists per 40 minutes. No one in this year’s group hit three assists per 40 minutes, though Justise Winslow just missed at 2.9. Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson also averaged over 2 per 40 minutes. This does bode well for Johnson and Winslow as they are the two smallest players in this group, and could see themselves playing in the backcourt as pros.
Johnson also makes an impact on the defensive end, averaging over 2 steals per 40 minutes, joined in that range by Oubre. Steals alone aren’t a clear indicator of defensive ability, Hollis-Jefferson was one of the best college defenders the past two seasons and he didn’t match Oubre and Johnson’s numbers, but they can give reason to see what they do to generate those numbers. On the flip side, Sam Dekker is only one of three players in this group to average less than one steal per 40 minutes, Shabazz Muhammad and Doug McDermott being the others. Again, the number alone doesn’t say if Dekker is a poor defender, he isn’t, but it is worth seeing why he generates so few steals.
From a numbers view, this is a solid class who contributes in many ways. Looking at where their individual strengths lie may help in being able to see what kind of role would be the best fit for them going forward.