The small forward has become a pivotal player in today’s NBA. With so many high-scoring, ultra-athletic players at the 3-spot, it’s of the utmost importance that teams draft a good athlete or that player will be left in the dust on a nightly basis by guys like LeBron James and Vince Carter.
The position is absolutely stacked again this year, and some potential stars are flying just below the radar that could make teams at the end of the lottery very happy.
Here is how I rank the top players at small forward for the 2007 NBA Draft:
1. Kevin Durant, Texas-
Who cares if he can’t bench 185, Durant is a once-in-a-generation type of talent that will insantly make any team better. His 7’4 1/2 wingspan allows him to overcome his lack of strength.
What makes Durant so special is the fact that he has an abundance of moves that he use in whatever the situation calls for to score at a high rate. He is also is a top-notch rebounder for the position and his height at 6-10 will be too much for most other SF’s to handle.
2. Corey Brewer, Florida-
I considered putting a couple other guys with better offensive games here, but Brewer is more NBA-ready right now. It’s tough to predict if he’ll ever improve his offense enough to be an NBA star, but one thing’s for sure: this is kid an elite defender and could be one of the best in the NBA within a year or two.
He’s like a skinnier Scottie Pippen with a more raw offensive game. Brewer has tremendous quickness and explosiveness on offense and defense and can check the opposing team’s best perimeter player.
He plays the passing lanes and creates havoc for opposing offenses, and finishes on the break as well as anyone. He would be incredible in an up-tempo system but his defense allows him to play any style.
Simply put, Brewer is and should always be a winning basketball player, even though he might not put up great offensive numbers. He does all the little things to help a team win.
3. Thaddeus Young, Georgia Tech-
A little bit of a surprise here, but Young came out as a freshman and is still scratching the surface of his immense talent. He is a world-class athlete with a rapidly improving game who could be a great scorer someday.
His development level is similar to where Chris Bosh, antoher former Yellow Jacket, was when he came out of college. In other words, give him a season or so to get comfortable and he could really take off.
4. Al Thornton, Florida State-
A big, athletic forward and a great rebounder, he is a hybrid SF/PF with great athletic ability. His feel for the game is a bit below average and he needs to work a lot on his passing, but he could be an Al Harrington-type of player and a great defender at the next level.
He pretty much carried the Seminoles and helped them pull off some huge upsets in the tough ACC conference. If he only had more help, people would have seen just special he was in college. Should be a starter some day.
5. Jeff Green, Georgetown-
Perhaps this is a bit low for Green, but he lacks a couple of key skills to flourish in the NBA. First of all, he is not very good at driving to the basket and creating his own shot, which is a key attribute for a small forward to have.
Second of all, his jump shot still needs some work.
What Green does possess, however, is a strong, NBA-ready body and he ability to play tough defense. He will definitely be a contributor at the NBA level, however. He’s kind of a silent assassin-type who gets a lot of points on putbacks and needs a good point guard to set him up at this point.
Best of the rest:
Julian Wright, Kansas-
Another athletic specimen, Wright is very comfortable driving to the basket and can wow the crowd with his dunks and circus shots in traffic. But his jumper is flat-out awful right now and he needs to take better care of the ball and learn how to pass. Even so, he should eventually be a high-impact player for somebody. He has great size for the 3-spot at 6’8 225 so he can match up with the top players at the position.
Alando Tucker, Wisconsin-
An undersized but very athletic swingman who excels at finishing around the rim and hitting shots at awkward angles. He is too small to start but could be a good back-up change-of-pace player.
Reyshawn Terry, North Carolina-
Showed flashes of great ability but never quite lived up to his potentiall; he’s worth a late-first round flyer nonetheless.
Dominic McGuire, Fresno State-
A great raw athlete who can clean the boards and blocks a ton of shots as a 6’8 small forward. Needs a lot of work on offense but could be a good specialist some day.
Quinton Hosley, Fresno State-
Similar to McGuire but with a better jump shot and less size and shot-blocking ability. Another intriguing Bulldogs player who could use a lot of seasoning.