Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Small Forwards to watch in the 2014 NCAA Tournament

Annually we 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 Small Forwards as we view it...

Big time prospect, Jabari Parker
Jabari Parker - Duke. 6'8" 241 Freshman ...Parker is a special talent that projects as an NBA All-Star someday. He led the ACC in rebounds per game as a freshman (8.8 rpg.), and finished second in the ACC in points per game (17.8 ppg).  …He shoots 74% from the free throw line, and he hits 37% of his three point attempts. ...Parker was a starter on high school teams that won four consecutive Illinois state championships. ...The one hole in Parker's game is his decision making. He has close to two turnovers for every one assist. ...The 2013 McDonald's All-American is the son of former NBA player Sonny Parker.  

Mike Moser - Oregon. 6'8" 230 Senior. ...Moser has bounced around a bit. He started his NCAA career at UCLA before transferring to UNLV. He now balls for Oregon. …Moser is an NBA athlete that plays with reckless abandon. He has improved his deep shooting this season (now a 37% 3-pt. shooter). ...Moser is a good defensive rebounder, and he has the skill to start a fast break on the dribble. His shot selection can be sketchy but Moser's overall natural talent shines through more often than not. ...Moser is a career 76% free throw shooter. 

Cleanthony Early - Wichita St. 6'8" 215 Senior. ...Early averages 15.8 points, and 5.9 rebounds per game as a key cog on the undefeated Shockers. We rank Early as the fifth best defender among small forwards in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. He led the Missouri Valley Conference in Defensive Rating. ...Early is solid in many areas. He raised his three point shooting percentage to 36% this season. He shoots 82% (career) from the foul line. 

Hollis-Jefferson slams
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson - Arizona. 6'7" 215 Freshman. ...Hollis-Jefferson is an elite defender. His Defensive rating of 88.8 ranks him number one among 2014 NCAA Tournament small forwards. …Hollis-Jefferson has a positive assist-to-turnover ratio but he struggles as a perimeter shooter (he hit only two 3-pt shots all season). 

Nick King - Memphis. 6'7" 220 Freshman.  ...The jury is still out on Nick King. He was a five-star recruit but he only plays 11 minutes per game as a freshman on a talent-laden Memphis team. King's overall efficiency is on an early path that projects well for his future. He shoots 52% FG, and has a nose for the ball on the offensive glass. ...He is worth keeping an eye on. 

Doug McDermott - Creighton. 6'8" 225 Senior. ...McDermott is perhaps the most hyped player in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. He is a skilled offensive forward that has a knack for making shots. …McDermott can stretch the floor with his accurate shooting. He hit a ridiculous 45% of his three point attempts this season in the Big East. He shoots 84% (career) from the free throw line. ...McDermott ranks in the lowest 25% of small forwards in the Tourney at Defensive Rating. He also has more turnovers than assists. 

Andrew Wiggins - Kansas. 6'8" 197 Freshman. ...Wiggins is an NBA athlete that can be an explosive scorer at the wing position. The son of former NBA player Mitchell Wiggins averages 17.4 points, and 6.4 rebounds per game. He is a 77% free throw shooter. Efficient wings are hard to come by, and Wiggins projects as potential "top half-dozen" small forward down the line. …But in no way, do I believe Wiggins is a potential LeBron/Durant, or even Carmelo Anthony type talent.   …Wiggins has more turnovers than assists, and his defensive rating is in the lower-third of all SF's in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Can he improve? Absolutely. He surely will. I'm simply saying that his reputation is blown out of proportion.

Alex Poythress - Kentucky. 6'8" 213 Sophomore. ...Poythress is an NBA athlete with a high ceiling. He is a strong 6'8" 239 lbs. but he is quick enough to take defenders off the dribble on the wing. In the low post, he overpowers smaller wing players. Poythress shoots 35% from beyond the college arc (career) but he does not shoot a high volume of deep shots. He's only playing 18 minutes per game this season, and consistency has been an issue for him. He may wind up being more of a Power Forward than a Small Forward. 

Sam Dekker - Wisconsin. 6'7" 220 Sophomore. ...Dekker is more athletic than he looks. He has deep range on his jumper and he has a toughness about him that coaches will love. He averages 12 points and six rebounds per game, and he has a positive assist-to-turnover ratio (something I love to see in a wing player). Dekker is shooting 36% (career) from beyond the college arc. He shoots 68% FT. Defensively, he ranks in the upper-half of all SF's in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.  

LaQuinton Ross - Ohio St. 6'8" 220 Junior. ...Ross averages 15.4 points, and 6.1 rebounds per game. He has worked to become a more reliable three point shooter (37% career 3-pt.). ...He is a top-tier defender (Defensive rating of 94.2). 

Warren is silly good on offense
T.J. Warren - North Carolina State. 6'8" 233 Sophomore. ...The 2013-14 ACC Player of the Year is a personal favorite prospect. He averages 24.8 points, and 7.1 rebounds per game this season. Warren has an easy way about his game that allows him to score points in bunches. His defense is a work in progress, and it will have to improve for him to be taken seriously by NBA coaches. We listed him as a SF but in the NBA he may be even more valuable as a shooting guard. ...The holes in his game are: below average free throw percentage (66% FT), and he has more turnovers than assists. 

Josh Huestis - Stanford. 6'7" 230 Senior. ...Huestis averages 11.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. He is more of a FOUR offensively but we think he CAN guard SF's and he has improved his perimeter shooting and decision making, which are necessary traits of a small forward. He rebounds well, and he is an above average defender. ...Huestis was an iron-man this season, averaging 35 minutes per game. 

Taylor Braun - North Dakota St. 6'7" 210 Senior. ...Braun averages 18.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. He is an exceptionally accurate shooter even while being the focus of opposing defenses. He shoots 42% (career) from beyond the college arc. Braun also gets to the foul line with regularity, hitting 78% FT. 

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