NBA Draft 2011: Small Forwards

SF is the most difficult position to assess by far. This is mainly because the position offers a wide range of looks and responsibilities. I’ve zeroed in on some important numbers, though it isn’t like a player needs to hit every benchmark to be considered a strong or weak prospect. As analyst we just need to look at the entire package offered by any prospect and make a decision from there.

  • Scoring: At least 18 P40 is expected and the higher the better. For efficiency the number I look at is Adjusted FG pct. and being over .500 seems to be almost a necessity here, the higher the better. It’s never a bad thing if an ability to score from the outside is included.
  • Rebounding. This gets a little complicated. A SF prospect doesn’t need to be a great rebounder, but it doesn’t hurt.
  • Passing and defense. The number I look at with SFs is combined assists, steals and blocks per 40 minutes or ASB40. This numbers gives a good indication of a player’s versatility, which is a more valuable trait for SFs than any other position. Best that this number be over 5.0 and again, the higher the better. An A/TO that drifts below 0.5 too far is also a very bad thing.

The best SFs out there this year are mostly super role players. They’re prospects who do things like defense or passing very well, but are not very impressive scorers. Like a bunch of Luke Waltons and Renaldo Balkmans. Davis Bertans, a foreign player who looks like he’ll be drafted was not included, because I was unable to find stats on him.

Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA: He’s the prototype of the 2011 SF prospect. A good all-around player who is a long way from showing he has the offensive game necessary to make an impact. He has some very impressive numbers though. He’s probably the best passer in this group. He has averaged over 2.0 S40 and B40 in separate seasons. He has shown some promise offensively, but has a long way to go. As a low volume scorer his freshman year, he hit .536 on 2-pointers. That dropped to .438 as a soph when he took more shots and that isn’t a good sign. I have him at the top of this group based on upside. There isn’t a lot of potential greatness in this group. It is a long shot, but Honeycutt has a chance to be a pretty valuable player if he can add some offense to his game. That could also be said of Saunders, Parsons, Butler and James, but Honeycutt has an edge because he’s a couple of years younger and has no weaknesses other than his poor offensive game. Because he has flashed some potential as a 3-point shooter, he has the potential to become a Bruce Bowen type.

Jan Vesely, KK Partizan: I am not particularly adept in grading the foreign players. It’s a rare case that I’ve watched them play and the only tool I have is whatever stats I can find. Vesely has some pretty impressive numbers. His 2-point pct has been consistently good, often well over 60%. This is very impressive, though it would be more impressive if he scored at a higher rate. As a 3-point shooter he’s a little shaky, but has shown some promise. He seems fairly active defensively, as his blocks and steals numbers have always been decent. He also appears to be a decent passer. Even though he’s 6’11, he’s a poor rebounder even for a SF, so I couldn’t imagine him playing PF. He has some serious offensive potential, but still seems a long way off and at 6’11 240, I wonder about his quickness. 

Tobias Harris, Tennessee: There is some promise here. He posted a 20/10 per 40 in points and rebounds and that’s impressive for a freshman. The problem is his best skill is rebounding and that doesn’t make him a great SF prospect, just an undersized PF prospect. His other SF numbers are all below average at this point. Because he’s young and promising he shouldn’t slide too far past the lottery. But he needs to improve his passing, defense and scoring efficiency both inside and out before he’s ready to become a player who can help at the next level.

Damian Saunders, Duquense: One of my favorite players to follow. His non-scoring numbers have been phenomenal. Last year he was in the top ten nationally in rebounds and steals and 13th in blocks per game. The problem is he just isn’t much of an offensive player. He struggled with TOs last year when he upped his scoring. This year he went back to being the 2nd option on offense and was a little more steady, but basically proved he doesn’t have the offensive chops to make it in the league. Best thing I can say about his offense is that he has shown some promise as a 3-point shooter.

College players who don’t score both often and efficiently simply don’t have a good history of success no matter how incredible their other numbers are. If any player can be an exception to this, Saunders seems like a good candidate. He has the potential to be a dominant defender and the fact that he has flashed some ability to hit a trey should get him into round one.

Jordan Hamilton, Texas: He has promise as an offensive player, but needs to improve his efficiency. What I like about him is he seems to have little fear about firing the ball up there. He makes 3s at a pretty good clip too. His defense is below-average. Right now it is hard to picture him as anything other than a 3-point specialist in the pros and I’m not sure how that will work out if he doesn’t defend better. He does seem like the type who could become what Bill Simmons refers to as an irrational confidence player, for whatever that is worth.

Jereme Richmond, Illinois: His year at Illinois was something of a disaster and it is never good for a prospect to have such a thing on his resume. Still his per minute numbers are decent. Considering that he was a top 20 prospect coming in, he didn’t really get a chance to sparkle in college and his numbers do show some promise, Richmond stands out as a sleeper. There are worse strategies than drafting a raw, young talent and hoping he figures things out.

Jimmy Butler, Marquette: Butler seems like a very smart player. He’s a wildly efficient scorer who gets to the line a lot. He doesn’t commit many TOs. His defensive numbers are solid. The problem I have with him is there is no sign of dominance in his numbers. He has never scored higher than 18.0 P40, which is a modest, but important benchmark for any aspiring NBA SF. I like him a lot subjectively, but there’s nothing in his numbers to suggest that he’ll have anything other than a minor impact.

Kyle Singler, Duke: Singler checked in with his worst season statistically. This marks consecutive years of regressing as a prospect since coming off a very promising first couple of seasons. That isn’t a good thing, considering Singler started to play on the perimeter more as a junior and that’s where he’ll have to play as a pro. Taking the optimistic approach, during his four years at Duke Kyle Singler has shown some ability to score from both inside and out, pass well for a SF and put up decent defensive numbers. He just hasn’t done any of this all in the same season and the fact that his numbers have been going in the wrong direction is a bad sign.

Chandler Parsons, Florida: A good passer for a tall player and a decent rebounder. Defensively he’s kind of soft. The big problem, as it is for most of this group, is he just doesn’t score enough points. I just can’t see where a player like this will fit. His only real strength is passing and I can’t imagine that in itself would make him a useful player.

Delroy James, Rhode Island: I don’t see him mentioned much, but his numbers are pretty strong. He fits in well with this bunch in that he’s not a great scorer, but has solid numbers rebounding, defensively and passing. Worth a mention and a FA look.

Leave a Reply