Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Power Forwards to watch in the 2014 NCAA Tournament

We annually examine the prospects in the NCAA Tournament that NBA teams should be paying the most attention to. Specifically, we analyze a player's production per minute, and ability to defend. Here are the best all-around Power Forwards as we view it...

Chris Walker - Florida 6'10" 220 Freshman ...Walker barely plays on a Gator team featuring Senior Patric Young, but make no mistake, Walker, not Young, is the player NBA scouts have their eyes on most. Walker is a long, athletic, NBA athlete that can finish in transition with the best. He made his NCAA debut in early February and he has only played 69 total minutes this season. However, he was a 2013 McDonald's All-American, and his physical tools are obvious. He was ranked as the 12th best overall player in the Class of 2013 by ESPN. ...In a small sample size of minutes as a Gator, his defensive rating is 84.3 - which is incredible. 

Brice Johnson scores.
Brice Johnson - North Carolina 6'9" 210 Sophomore. ...Johnson is a scoring forward with NBA athleticism. He has a reputation for not being a great defender. However, his Defensive Rating of 91.8 is far from poor. It is actually in the upper-third of DEFRTG's relative to his position. ...Among all 2014 NCAA Tournament PF's in our database, Johnson ranks as the best in efficiency per-minute. ...Johnson has a thin frame that is, at this stage, more suited for the Small Forward position. However, the three-ball is not a part of Johnson's game at all (zero attempts from beyond the arc in two seasons). 

Montrezl Harrell - Louisville 6'8" 235 Sophomore. ...Harrell is all hustle, and heart. He is not the most skilled player, but he makes up for that with his determined efforts. He is a tremendous offensive rebounder. ...Harrell ranks as the second best Power Forward in the 2014 NCAA Tournament in "Defensive Rating". Harrell led the newly formed American Athletic Conference in field goal percentage this season, shooting 61%. On the flip side, Harrell is a terrible free throw shooter at 48%, and he turns it over more than he assists it. 

Jarnell Stokes - Tennessee 6'8" 250 Junior. ...Stokes averages 14.7 points, and 10.3 rebounds per game. He is a physical presence that enjoys contact in the paint. He has improved his scoring and rebounding in each of his three seasons at Tennessee. Stokes has the ability to get good position due to his strength. He can score with his back to the basket in the low post. He is a good offensive rebounder, and he gets to the free throw line often - converting at 61%, something he will have to improve. 

Dawson = TOUGH
Branden Dawson - Michigan State 6'6" 220 Junior. ...Dawson is an under-sized power forward that averages 10.4 points, and 8.3 rebounds. He is explosive, and powerful. He is shooting 56% FG (career) but struggles at the foul line (57% FT). …Dawson is good on the offensive glass, ranking fourth in the Big Ten this season.

Julius Randle - Kentucky 6'9" 248 Freshman. ...Randle is the second rated Power Forward among 2014 NCAA Tournament PF's in efficiency per-minute. He is a scoring BIG with good footwork, and a knack for getting buckets. He has a soft touch. Randle shoots 70% FT. ...However, he rates low among his peers in "defensive rating". The one area of his D that is strong is defensive rebounding. He led the SEC in total def. rebs. …It's easy to see the low post offensive skills that Randle possesses. He needs to tighten up his decision making and be better than nearly two turnovers for every one assist. 

Juvonte Reddic - VCU 6'9" 250 Senior. Reddic is a possible second round pick in my opinion due to his high-energy game. He led the Atlantic 10 in offensive rebounding this season. Reddic gained 30 lbs. from his freshman to Senior season. 

Sam Dower - Gonzaga 6'9" 243 Senior. Dower led the West Coast Conference in True Shooting Percentage this season. He has a great, soft touch for a big man. Dower is a career 80% free throw shooter. He averaged 15 points and seven rebounds per game this season. 

Aaron Gordon - Arizona 6'9" 212 Freshman. ...Gordon is an NBA athlete, and he defends at a high level. He is tremendous in the open-court not only as a finisher but also as a decision maker. Gordon is a rare Power Forward that has more assists than turnovers. He does have at least one major hole in his game though. Gordon is a putrid 43% free throw shooter. 

Dwayne Evans - St. Louis 6'6" 230 Senior. ...Evans gets 14 points and six rebounds per game while playing lock down defense as an under-sized forward. He ranked fourth in Defensive Rating in the A-10 this season. He has improved as a free throw shooter to 75% this season. 

Shawn Long - Louisiana Lafayette 6'9" 245 Sophomore. ...Long led the Sun Belt Conference in total rebounds, total blocked shots, Defensive Rating and field goal percentage this season. He averages 18 points and ten rebounds per game. 

Cameron Ridley - Texas 6'10" 230 Sophomore. ...Ridley has shown improvement as a sophomore. He more than doubled his scoring per game, while improving dramatically overall offensively. Ridley led the Big 12 in total offensive rebounds.

Shaq Goodwin - Memphis 6'9" 242 Sophomore. ...Goodwin averages 11.8 points, and 6.6 rebounds per game. He is a solid defender that was fourth in blocked shots per game in the AAC. 

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