No Shortage Of SF Talent
Julian Wright
Julian Wright
Scout National Basketball Columnist
Posted Jun 21, 2007


There will be quite a run on "small forwards" once David Stern starts shaking hands on the night of June 28. And, naturally, you know immediately who the No. 1 prospect at that position is, right? You'd better or you didn't pay attention to who was lighting things up in Austin last season.

What is the deepest position, in terms of potential lottery (Top 14) selections in the pool of candidates to chosen from during June 28’s NBA Draft?

 

I’m opting for the small forward (or “three”) slot.

 

That’s where the line begins with Kevin Durant and then continues – a few strides behind – with a tightly bunched group of prospects consisting of Jeff Green, Julian Wright, Corey Brewer, Al Thornton and Thaddeus Young.

 

And at least five other guys I’ve listed in this category could also land somewhere in the first round.

 

Here we go …

 

Kevin Durant (*6-9, 215, Fr., Texas)

WHAT’S TO LIKE: He has scored with near-ridiculous ease at every level he’s played and there really isn’t much reason – lack of upper-body strength included – to think he isn’t going to be one of the top scorers in the NBA fairly quickly. If he ever develops significant bulk and strength, it will be almost unfair to try to guard this guy straight up.

YOU HAVE TO WONDER: Did he spend any time at all hoisting iron in the Longhorns’ weight room while he resided in Austin?

FRANK SAYS: Assuming Rashard Lewis relocates, Durant will be launching shots at a rapid-fire pace from the minute he slips on a Seattle uniform.

WHERE HE GOES: Get used to a lot of rain and a lot of Starbucks stores, Kevin.

 

Jeff Green (*6-7 ¾, 222, Jr., Georgetown)

WHAT’S TO LIKE: He possesses the best combination of  “low post/perimeter” skills in this draft pool and often seems to “think” the game like a point guard. He’s strong and springy enough to slide into the “four” spot at times on the NBA level.

YOU HAVE TO WONDER: Is he truly as “unselfish” as it appeared at times at Georgetown? Or is a more accurate description “passive”?

FRANK SAYS: Like Nick Young, this is a player whose impact as a rookie will be such that a lot of people will exclaim, “Dang . . . I didn’t know he was that good!”

WHERE HE GOES: As early as No. 4 (Memphis) and no later than No. 7 (Minnesota).

 

Julian Wright (6-6 ½, 211, So., Kansas)

WHAT’S TO LIKE: His game oozes versatility – he’ll be an NBA option at all but the center spots. His handle and passing ability are better than a handful of point guards who will be selected on June 28.

YOU HAVE TO WONDER: Why, seemingly, hasn’t his jump shot improved since he burst onto the national camp/traveling team circuit as a member of the Nike-sponsored Illinois Warriors?

FRANK SAYS: A la Jeff Green, he shouldn’t be reticent about asserting his scoring ability when the occasion calls for it.

WHERE HE GOES: He, too, has to be a viable option for anyone selecting No. 4-down. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where he slips out of the lottery.

 

Corey Brewer (*6-6 ¾, 185, Jr., Florida)

WHAT’S TO LIKE: He was most dependable perimeter defender over the past two college seasons. Offensively, there weren’t many better slashers and his passing skills are underrated.

YOU HAVE TO WONDER: He hit a lot of critical jump shots during the Gators’ two national title runs but his 3-point percentage was still at 33 percent last season. And why hasn’t he gotten noticeably stronger during his stint in college?

FRANK SAYS: Some list him as a two guard but his jump shot’s consistency doesn’t merit that projection quite yet.

WHERE HE GOES: He doesn’t slip out of the lottery but he might not be selected as early is listed in some projections.

 

Al Thornton (*6-5 ¾, 221, Sr., Florida State)

WHAT’S TO LIKE: He put up big numbers on a consistent basis over his final two seasons against elite-level competition, usually overpowering and/or “out quicking” Atlantic Coast Conference defenders. In the “scout-speak”, he has an “NBA body”.

YOU HAVE TO WONDER: He had more than 3 ½ as many turnovers (87) as assists (24) last season and never had more than two assists in a game. Yikes!

FRANK SAYS: He’ll be one of the oldest – if not the oldest – rookies next season. He turns 24 years old on Dec. 7.

WHERE HE GOES: It will be no later than No. 15 (Detroit) and possibly as soon as No. 11 (Atlanta).

 

Thaddeus Young (*6-5 ¾, 210, Fr., Georgia Tech)

WHAT’S TO LIKE: The lefty’s jump shot is fluid and he an exceptional finisher in transition. His wingspan is more like that of a player three inches taller. And you’ve got to feel pretty good about the upside of a guy who’ll still be a teen-ager for another year – he just turned 19 today (June 21).

YOU HAVE TO WONDER: Could he have been a top six or seven selection a year from now if he had remained at Georgia Tech?

FRANK SAYS: He’s not nearly as polished as several of the other wing-types in the draft pool but his ceiling for stardom is a lot higher than most.

WHERE HE GOES: Lower (New Orleans or Clippers?) or later (Lakers?) teens in the first round.

 

Jared Dudley (*6-5 ¾, 219, Sr., Boston College)

WHAT’S TO LIKE: He’s been a highly productive player for four seasons and has the body, strength, maturity and competitiveness to earn a lot of immediate playing time if he lands with the right franchise. Like Jeff Green, he seems equally comfortably in the low post or 20 feet from the basket.

YOU HAVE TO WONDER: Is he quick enough to defend highly skilled scorers on the perimeter?

FRANK SAYS: He might be the best “role player” prospect in this draft.

WHERE HE GOES: There are a couple of spots (is San Antonio one of them?) in the latter part of the first round where he could land. But he certainly isn’t going to remain on the board for very much longer if he’s a second-round choice.

 

Wilson Chandler (6-8, 220, So., DePaul)

WHAT’S TO LIKE: He’s more “athlete” right now than being anything approaching a polished performer. But that athleticism, nose for the ball (he’s one of the best offensive rebounders in the draft pool) and ideal size intrigue at least a couple of teams enough that he could end up being selected in the first round.

YOU HAVE TO WONDER: Can his jump shot and ball-handling skills come around enough to enable him to become a full-time “three”?

FRANK SAYS: Does he tend to “coast” at times, as is the thinking of some who’ve scouted him?

WHERE HE GOES: Late in the first round.

 

Dominic McGuire (*6-7 ¾, 220, Jr., Fresno State)

WHAT’S TO LIKE: He’s got just enough skill, size and athletic ability to suggest that he’s capable of being a multi-position prospect, a la Julian Wright. He’s also one of the more underrated rebounders and shot blockers in the draft pool.

YOU HAVE TO WONDER: After intriguing so many talent evaluators during the season, why didn’t he excite many of those who watched him during the Pre-Draft Camp drills and games in Orlando?

FRANK SAYS: His stock seemingly took a tumble in Orlando but there are enough others still enamored of him so that he will still be in consideration by several teams late in the first round.

WHERE HE GOES: Early in the second round.

 

Marcus Williams (6-7, 210, So., Arizona)

WHAT’S TO LIKE: He’s got enough skill with the basketball (albeit, he’s almost exclusively all right-handed on drives) to tease evaluators with the notion that he could play some in the backcourt. He’s deceptively quick off the dribble and shoots it better in that fashion than he does spotting up or coming off screens.

YOU HAVE TO WONDER: After turning in such a promising freshman season why wasn’t he a more consistently standout performer in the Pac-10 as a sophomore?

FRANK SAYS: The notion of some that he was a “sure-fire” first-round selection had he departed Tucson as a freshman was misguided.

WHERE HE GOES: He’s not totally out of the first-round running as of yet but he is still more likely to hear his name called early in the second round.

 

OTHERS WHO WILL BE DRAFTED include (more likely in the early-to-late range in the second round): Reyshawn Terry (*6-6 ¾, 222, Sr., North Carolina); Alando Tucker (6-6, 210, Sr., Wisconsin); Demetris Nichols (*6-6 ¼, 211, Sr., Syracuse); Jao Gomes (6-7, 200, 22, Portugal); Sun Yue (*6-7 ¾, 212, 22, China).



 

Inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame in April, 2005, Frank Burlison is Scout.com’s national basketball expert and is also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at frank.burlison@presstelegram.com. Read more of Burlison’s pieces at www.frankhoops.com



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