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NBA Draft 2001 Position Comparison: Forwards
Forward Thinking

The teams follow one of two selection theories when making their choices -- drafting according to need or drafting the best available player regardless of position. We're here to help with the first option through a weekly series of position comparisons, ranked and evaluated by's Draft analyst, Brad Greenberg.

Greenberg brings 22 years of successful NBA and NCAA management and coaching experience to as our player personnel expert. His roles included eight years in the personnel department of the Portland Trail Blazers and a stint as general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers. It was during Greenberg's tenure that the Sixers drafted league MVP Allen Iverson.

NBA Draft 2001 has an exceptionally strong crop of forwards, with the potential for a lot of future All-Stars. But once again remember that this is a very young draft and like the guards, these players will need time to mature.

Following are the top 10 forwards available in NBA Draft 2001:

Battier SHANE

Year: Senior
Height: 6-8
Weight: 220
College: Duke

Battier is an exciting small forward prospect, who Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski has labeled "the most complete player I have ever had." College Player of the Year, an Academic All-American, College Defensive Player of the Year and both the Naismith and Wooden College Player of the Year, Battier is one of the rare players who actually comes close to giving 100 percent focus and effort on each and every possession. His mature leadership ability has earned him the respect of all true basketball aficionados.

Initially referred to as a "defensive stopper" and "fit / role" player, he has evolved into one of the premier three-point shooters in college basketball. He is a relentless defender with world-class alertness and awareness on and off the ball.

One of the most productive all-around players in recent years, Battier will be able to step right in and help any team. While some young players intrigue scouts with their potential, Battier is a lock to realize his. He is a winning player and someone who will enhance any franchise's value, on and off the court.

Year: HS Senior
Height: 6-11
Weight: 240
College: None

Possessing the best basketball body of all the high school prospects, Brown teases many scouts with Kevin Garnett-like "upside." Skilled and instinctive, Brown is more of a "face-the-basket" player right now, with a promising floor game. However, he has the size and bulk to evolve into a dangerous inside-outside threat. Versatile defensively, he projects as a multi-position frontcourt defender, a la Cliff Robinson.

A McDonald's All-American Team selectee and First Team Parade All-American from Glynn Academy in Brunswick, Ga, the 19-year old Brown is the most mature early entry prospect from the high school ranks.

Griffin EDDIE

Year: Frosh.
Height: 6-9
Weight: 220
College: Seton Hall

Voted Freshman of the Year by the United States Basketball Writers Association and the Sporting News, Griffin has the potential to be an outstanding pro frontcourt player. The second leading college shot-blocker (swatting 4.3 a game) and the fifth leading rebounder (hauling in 10.8 boards a game), Griffin has exceptional quickness into the air.

He has a decent looking shot, but tends to drift away from the hoop too often versus focusing on becoming a dominant player in the lane area. Incredibly, he shot more three-pointers than free throws and that is proof that he doesn't yet comprehend what his bread and butter should be. His turnaround jumper out of the post has the potential to become a "go-to move."

Griffin's numbers as a freshman and his quickness and length are intriguing. How competitive he becomes will determine his pro future.

Year: Frosh.
Height: 6-9
Weight: 238
College: UNC Charlotte

White is an intriguing forward prospect whose stock is rising based on his impressive body, top-flight athletic potential and all-around skills. He is strong enough to match up against power forwards and he has the face-the-basket skills and range to cause major headaches to opposing forwards, once he gains the necessary experience.

Conference USA Freshman of the Year and C-USA Tournament MVP, he was the leading freshman scorer in the country last year averaging 18.7 points a game. He reminds some scouts of Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson and his individual workouts have created a "buzz" among NBA insiders. There are even some credible talent evaluators mentioning White as perhaps having the greatest potential of anyone in the draft!

Murphy TROY

Year: Junior
Height: 6-11
Weight: 245
College: Notre Dame

Associated Press First Team All-American and the first Notre Dame player with more than 2,000 points and 900 rebounds, Murphy was a two-time Big East Player of the Year. He is tough, will stick his nose into action around the hoop and has a knack for scoring in a variety of ways. A good shooter from 15-17 feet right now, he has the potential to increase his range and become a power forward capable of distorting defenses by bringing opposing defenders away from the hoop to allow more driving lanes for quick perimeter players. His touch could prove valuable in attacking zones.

While it may be tough to find current NBA players similar to Murphy enjoying a ton of success, his abilities and track record as a collegiate player, combined with his size, bulk and toughness should enable him to evolve into a strong NBA contributor.
Randolph ZACH

Year: Frosh.
Height: 6-9
Weight: 270
College: Michigan State

While he's not a great runner nor someone who plays above the rim that much, Randolph gets it done and was a very strong college producer when breaking down his stats on a per-minute basis. He has a thick upper body, is a hard worker, has a solid feel for the game and a nice touch on short jumpers.

An active player with some low post offensive instincts, Randolph reminds some scouts of Othella Harrington and that is a sign that he is definitely capable of carving out some time for a number of teams, once he learns the NBA ropes. His superior work ethic and nose for the offensive glass will eventually earn him playing time and the appreciation of fans, teammates and coaches.

Chandler TYSON

Year: HS Senior
Height: 7-0
Weight: 235
College: None

At 7-0, 235 and just 18 years old, Chandler's agility, speed and quickness excite many an NBA scout. Some feel he is better than Marcus Camby at the same stage.

A concern for many personnel people is his affection for playing on the outside and the fact that despite his quickness into the air, he does not have a power game nor does he appear to have a desire to mix it up. To his advantage is an awareness that while he is probably not ready for the physical rigors of the NBA right now, he will focus on improving his strength and low post skills under the tutelage of NBA coaches.

"I can't compare myself to anyone, but I can compare myself to me and make sure that I always try go out there and make myself better." Chandler says that he would attend college in the off-season if he did go straight to the pros. How competitive he really is will determine how close he will eventually come to realizing his potential. Skeptics say he is soft and not competitive. Endorsers are excited by his perimeter skills and agility for someone so young and big.
Gasol PAU

Year: N/A
Height: 7-0
Weight: 227
College: None

Gasol is a European frontcourt prospect who has created a buzz among NBA scouts because he is springy, shows some quickness, speed and appears fundamentally sound. The skinny on him also includes a mature young man with a good work ethic and intriguing NBA potential. Some European scouts feel he will be one of the best imports without US college experience to ever play in the NBA. He has drawn comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki as another tall import with face-the-basket skills.

Reports are he has a three million dollar buyout to free himself of his contract with Barcelona and that may keep some teams from drafting him early for fear he will not come over to play next year. If he is anything close to Nowitzki, teams would be smart to secure his rights even if it meant waiting a year before securing his services. Seven-footers with agility, an evolving floor game and range are few and far between. However, history tells us that with foreign prospects, the pool of teams that will seriously consider him with a high first round pick is limited.


Year: Senior
Height: 6-9
Weight: 221
College: Maryland

If Morris hadn't raised the "expectation bar" so high after a breakout sophomore season, most scouts would perceive this first round forward prospect in a completely different light than a previous lottery lock whose stock has been devalued.

Morris appears more comfortable blending with talent, but that unselfish attitude doesn't camouflage his length, strength, quickness and touch. He might not have a dominant personality but he still possesses the potential to be a strong NBA contributor. He is a solid "character" prospect with a good all-around game and versatile skills. He can be a very good "fit" player and is capable of being a late first round selection, who could surprise down the road. Coming from Maryland coach Gary Williams' fast-paced, aggressive style should enable Morris to make adjustments to the NBA game more quickly.

As the draft approaches, you will hear people question Morris' aggressiveness and disposition. However, his length, quickness, smoothness, versatility at both ends of the floor and skill level compare with most forwards in this draft. He is an efficient player who has exhibited poise and purposefulness as a collegian and he is capable of playing as a complimentary player on a good team next season.
Haston KIRK

Year: Junior
Height: 6-10
Weight: 245
College: Indiana

Haston is a good offensive player who can make shots and is a solid rebounder. Named Third Team All-American by the Associated Press and a unanimous First Team All-Big Ten selection, Haston led the conference in scoring last year. He has some range to pull big defenders away from the hoop and he can score around the basket with some crafty low post moves to free himself for a dependable tight jump hook. He is a fair athlete and that is a concern for some, but he has drawn comparison to Danny Ferry and that signals he will be able to carve out a solid NBA career.

He is an early entry candidate, but he red-shirted the 1997-1998 season so he has been in college for four years and is more physically and mentally ready for the NBA than many of the younger frontcourt prospects. He will be a valuable player in countering zone defenses as an additional frontcourt shooter with range.

(All photos courtesy of the Associated Press)

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