The small forward position is one of the toughest to use a strict numerical comparison alone to make any real determinations. 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.
I’ll be looking at players who are potential first/early second round players at each position, with their numbers in areas that are relevant to their position, as well as first round picks from 2014 and 2015 at the same positions. The idea isn’t to draw clear-cut conclusions, but it is an interesting exercise to get familiar with this year’s class, and to help gather useful information to examine further.
|Stanley Johnson (2015)||6'6||225||18||19.4||44.6||37.1||55.1||9.1||2.1||2.3||45.6|
|Justise Winslow (2015)||6'6||225||19||17.3||48.6||41.8||57.2||8.9||1.8||2.9||43.8|
|Kelly Oubre, Jr. (2015)||6'7||200||19||17.6||44.4||35.8||55.5||5.0||2.2||1.5||44.4|
|Sam Dekker (2015)||6'9||230||21||17.9||52.5||33.1||60.5||7.1||0.7||1.6||27.8|
|Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (2015)||6'7||215||20||15.7||50.2||20.7||57.3||9.5||1.6||2.2||74.5|
|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|
As we usually see, this group of small forwards is very diverse, though, for the most part, they all have very good size. Only DeAndre’ Bembry is smaller than 6’7”, and a few of the players are pushing the 6’9” to 6’10” range. While it is tough to get a true sense just from the measurements, the builds on these player are also remarkably different, from the very thin Brandon Ingram to a very solidly built Jaylen Brown, and the styles of play do end up being somewhat linked to this.
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 season, none of the players taken averaged at least 20 points per 40 minutes, while this year, four of the seven players listed have done so, including Jared Uthoff’s near 25 points per 40 minutes. As expected, the reasons varied. Jake Layman, the lowest in the group at 15 points per 40 minutes, was usually a third or fourth option in the Maryland offense, while a player like Uthoff was Iowa’s one consistent scoring threat.
Along with different roles, the players at this position also varied in the types of scorers they are. As we’ve seen with players like Doug McDermott, Jabari Parker and Justise Winslow, a lot of these guys will move to the power forward position in their teams’ offenses. Also, there is a discrepancy between players who were primarily perimeter shooters versus those small forwards who like to attack the rim, though, as a whole, this group has a bit more balance. Ingram, for example, took about 40 percent of his total shots from three-point range, while Brown took just around 27 percent from the same distance, which also makes sense when you compare the two players’ shooting abilities. Dorian Finney-Smith played as a stretch 4 for Florida, taking almost half of his total shots from long-range. As a whole, it is a good class of shooters, with most players approaching the 40 percent range from behind the arc.
Brown and Bembry are not very good three-point shooters, and they rely on a more versatile game to get their points. Brown loves to attack the basket, also evident from his very good free throw rate. Bembry is most comfortable between the basket and the mid-range areas. Brown’s game is somewhat similar to where Stanley Johnson was last year pre-draft, though Johnson was a better shooter. Both like to use their strong builds to overpower players to the basket, a remnant of what they did as high school players.
Like last season, this class doesn’t have an Andrew Wiggins or a Jabari Parker-type offensive player, but they are a group who can provide experience and versatility as role players. Brown and Ingram are the only freshmen in this group, and both still have a lot of time to develop into the players they can become.
With such a versatile group, I wanted to look at some areas other than scoring to see where they contributed as college players. As usual, rebounding numbers were pretty varied, due to differing roles on both ends of the floor. Finney-Smith, who I mentioned played as a power forward for Florida, was also their main rebounder, averaging double-digits per 40 minutes. Uthoff was also another strong rebounder, even if he doesn’t have the build you’d expect for his abilities on the boards.
The assist numbers were on the higher end than in the past years, with Bembry’s near five assists per 40 minutes being the best number since Kyle Anderson a couple of years ago. Guys like Brown and Prince also showed good playmaking ability, especially with their skill attacking the defense off the dribble. Finney-Smith, Uthoff and Ingram, all more perimeter-based players, come in on the lower end of the scale, as expected.
Prince also makes an impact on the defensive end, averaging 1.7 steals per 40 minutes, though no one in this year’s class averages two or more steals. The rest of the class is fairly consistent across the board with their steal numbers, though Ingram, with a 7’4” wingspan, could see a much higher number once he learns how to really play defense.
From a pure numbers perspective, this is a solid class that 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.