2012 Draft Preview: SMALL FORWARDS

June 25, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft is rapidly approaching and final preparations and evaluations are being made in advance of Thursday’s event.

The Cavaliers – in search of wing players – will undoubtedly have an interest in players on the list of small forwards. One of the deepest positions in this year’s Draft, here’s a short-list of slashers and shooters and what scouts thought about them as the Draft draws nigh …

BarnesHarrison Barnes6-8, 228 – Born: May 30, 1992 (Ames, IA) – College: North Carolina – First Team All-ACC as a sophomore; one of six Tar Heels to average 15 ppg as both a freshman and sophomore; led UNC as was third in ACC in scoring as a sophomore; prototypical small forward size – long wingspan with a strong frame; smooth stroke with high release point; extremely mature floor game; plays the game at the speed of a polished veteran; stellar combine showing; excellent mid-range game; gets to the free throw line frequently; can score on the block or in transition; was burdened by huge expectations coming into college; excellent scoring instincts; effective pulling up off the dribble; his size and athleticism should make him a solid defender at the next level; not great at getting teammates involved; can fade if shot isn’t falling, evidenced in poor 2011 NCAA Tourney; still one of the purest players in the Draft who scouts feel could be a better pro than college player

BartonWill Barton6-6, 174 – Born: January 6, 1991 (Baltimore, MD) – College: Memphis – was named Conference USA Player of the Year as a sophomore; led conference in scoring; great first step and excellent lateral quickness; strong passer and ball-handler; long arms, can pull down rebounds in and above traffic; production grew exponentially from freshman to sophomore seasons; size, length and athleticism is prototypical for a wing player, but needs to add muscle to very wiry frame; jack-of-all-trades, can do a little bit of everything; can get to the hoop in a hurry off the dribble; quick decision-maker; great body control around the rim; excels in transition – getting into passing lanes and turning rebounds into fastbreaks; outstanding rebounder; skinny frame can get him bumped off course easily; has the makings of an excellent defender at the NBA level; has great tools but lack of physical strength could push him out of the first round

HarklessMoe Harkless6-8, 207 – Born: May 11, 1993 (Queens, NY) – College: St. John’s – named Big East Rookie of the Year as a freshman; started all 32 college games for St. John’s; outstanding athlete with excellent length; plays with passion; great finisher off the ball and in transition; has impressive defensive potential; wingspan is nearly 7-2; runs the floor like a guard; must continue to get stronger, but has the frame to do so; can struggle to get his own shot in the halfcourt; has range about out to 20 feet; quick first step and decent ball-handling skills; doesn’t shoot well from beyond the arc and just OK from the stripe; can beat big men off the dribble; high energy level, especially on the offensive glass; plays big against strong competition; one of the youngest players in the Draft; could have benefitted from another year in college, but his physical gifts and upside should put him in the bottom of the first round

Kidd-GilchristMichael Kidd-Gilchrist6-7, 233 – Born: September 26, 1993 (Somerdale, NJ) – College: Kentucky – helped Kentucky capture a national title as a freshman; doesn’t turn 19 until September; one-time high school teammate of Kyrie Irving; exceptional strength and toughness; plays with great heart and energy; hard-nosed and active defender with terrific instincts; strong on the glass; effective in the open court and a good finisher; emotional sparkplug; 6-10 wingspan and a chiseled 228-pound frame; concern about his ability to create his own shot in the halfcourt; explosive leaping ability and body control to adjust mid-air; doesn’t need the ball to impact the game; very good passer; limited offensive skill-set; average perimeter shooter at best; shooting motion has a noticeable hitch in it; not an advanced ball-handler in terms or change of direction or speed; can guard almost any position on the floor; intangibles and versatility make him one of the most coveted players in the Draft

RoyceRoyce White6-8, 261 – Born: April 10, 1991 (Minnetonka, MN) – College: Iowa State – one of the most unique and versatile big men in college basketball last year; advanced lottery-level tools and talent; has advanced ball-handling and passing skills for a big; enrolled at Minnesota, but legal difficulties kept him off the court; suffers from anxiety disorder that could affect his ability to travel; big, bulky frame; soft hands for a big man; outstanding feel for the game; excellent rebounder, who can bring down a board and run the floor like a guard; respectable mid-range shooter; as comfortable on the perimeter as he is in the post; not a pure athlete in terms of leaping ability; not a good long-range shooter; has a tendency to coast, defensively; shot under 50 percent from the stripe, a problem considering how much he handles the ball; high-risk, high-reward player who could turn out to be the steal of the Draft