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 NBA.com's Draft analyst, Brad Greenberg.
Greenberg brings 22 years of successful NBA and NCAA management and coaching experience to NBA.com 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. He is currently serving as the director of basketball operations at the University of South Florida.
The top forwards are a young group this year, led by juniors Drew Gooden and Mike Dunleavy and with only one senior among the them. But the word you'll hear repeated over and over is "athletic" and they try to make the biggest leap of their early basketball careers -- into the NBA.
Following are the top 10 forwards available in NBA Draft 2002:
A good competitor with above average basketball instincts, Gooden is a versatile forward capable of scoring inside and out. He is a bit of a “tweener” and some question whether he is big enough to bang as a power forward, while others are concerned that his floor game needs to improve to be a full-time small forward. However, being compared to Juwan Howard and Danny Manning is indication enough that Gooden will carve out a purposeful niche for the team that acquires him in the draft.
He is quick enough around the hoop and a solid enough outside shooter to pose matchup problems for NBA defenders. His rebounding numbers attest to his nose for the ball and ability to mix it up in the paint. Experienced from Big 12 battles and hometown Northern California Pro Am competition, Gooden is savvy enough to contribute as a rookie.
MIKE DUNLEAVY Status: Junior Height: 6-9 Weight: 221 College: Duke
Deceptively long and athletic, Dunleavy is a “glue” player who many feel will develop into a strong pro. Versatile and well rounded, he proved he could take on bigger challenges this past season by assuming a larger role for Duke, as a result of Shane Battier moving on to the NBA.
Dunleavy has an advanced floor game, the size to pass over defenders, NBA three-point potential and a genuine “feel” for the game. Having grown up around NBA players, he is well prepared to make both the mental and physical adjustment to the show. He can move his feet on defense and should be able to stay in front of his share of small forwards. He will not be a big scorer but he should evolve into a solid all-around efficient and productive playmaker capable of playing multiple positions.
Strong and improving, Butler has an impressive and powerful NBA small forward body and serious athleticism. His shooting and floor game are maturing, as is his on and off court demeanor. He has a nose for the offensive glass and the quickness to finish around the tin.
Still evolving as a defender, Butler has major work ahead to become an on and off the ball defender capable of matching up against prime time NBA scorers. He has the physical attributes and appears to have the competitive fire.
CHRIS WILCOX Status: Sophomore Height: 6-10 Weight: 221 College: Maryland
One of the best pure athletes in the draft, Wilcox exploded onto the scene this year and more than held his own during Maryland’s run to an NCAA national championship. A quick jumper with length, he has the potential to evolve into a very good NBA player.
Relatively inexperienced, Wilcox needs to improve his skill level, develop a hi-low post arsenal and become a more purposeful front-court ball handler. He is a natural power forward prospect and scouts love that he has a definite position.
QYNTEL WOODS Status: Junior College Height: 6-8 Weight: 221 College: Northeast Mississippi CC
Inexperienced but long and athletic, Woods is this year's most non-traditional draft prospect attempting to make the big jump from JC ball to the NBA. He reminds some of a smaller Darius Miles.
Woods has a decent perimeter shot and appears to have NBA three-point potential. His advanced floor game intrigues all, as he is considered one of the best ball-handling small forwards in the draft. Somewhat of a mystery man, Woods' off court history will be researched and considered by any team giving him lottery and first round consideration.
JARED JEFFRIES Status: Sophomore Height: 6-10 Weight: 215 College: Indiana
While there are questions about his toughness and whether he has a true position for NBA battle, no scout denies Jeffries is a talented and versatile forward prospect with a decent medium range shot and a the potential to develop a purposeful floor game. He lacks the strength to play effectively inside right now and he needs to develop his wing skills to be an effective face-the-basket threat out of the gate.
However, while Jeffries might struggle initially, expect him to evolve into a NBA contributor as his body matures and he gains needed experience in the physical world of professional frontcourters. Patience is the key if you draft Jeffries, as long as you are convinced he has the mental toughness to stay positive, confident and resilient through his early professional years
MARCUS HAISLIP Status: Junior Height: 6-10 Weight: 230 College: Tennessee
An explosive athlete with a solid frame and good spring, Haislip is the classic “upside” guy with only one year as a college starter under his belt. He is raw, needs experience, and has to become a more aggressive boardman but he has a decent touch and has a prototype NBA power forward body.
He is not as big as Chris Wilcox or Amare Stoudemire but he is built along the same lines. Haislip is a bit of a first round gamble, but his athleticism is so intriguing that there are teams willing to be patient and nurture his development along with a lot of fundamental enhancement training.
SAM CLANCY Year: Senior Height: 6-7 Weight: 240 College: USC
With long arms, big hands and extremely competitive, Clancy is the best of the undersized power forwards in this year's draft. He is powerfully built and has some explosiveness into the air. He has enough lateral quickness to guard small forwards out on the floor and also possesses some offensive skill facing the basket. He definitely plays bigger than his height and has drawn comparisons to San Antonio’s Malik Rose.
Clancy is disciplined enough to be a role player out of the gate and that’s a pretty good start for a 6-7 “tweener.” He runs the court hard and knows how to shoot the board on short-range jumper. He works hard for post-up position and is poised when he gets it in traffic.
This is a player that is more athletic and competitive than some players currently occupying roster spots on NBA teams. A mid-May left knee injury while working out for the Phoenix Suns resulted in a dislocated kneecap, which could effect his draft status for some teams.
A combo forward with decent size and athleticism, Nachbar is a good all-around offensive talent. He has one-on-one dribble moves facing, has legit NBA three-point potential and a decent feel for back to the basket moves. Reported to be a hard worker and unselfish with good shooting and passing skills, he is a solid NBA prospect who some feel can not only help a team right away but also possesses the potential to get very good.
Some doubt his toughness and lack of experience but the recent success of foreign players has most NBA teams seriously studying Nachbar.
ROD GRIZZARD Yeah: Junior Height: 6-8 Weight: 200 College: Alabama
Long, talented, and springy with a nice looking stroke and scoring potential, Grizzard is an enigma to a lot of NBA scouts and questions persist about his practice habits and coachability. He is very lean and some feel his eventual position may be at big guard. Under the “intangibles” microscope, he is an enigma to many personnel gurus regarding his lack of emotion during important games leading to questions about his “fire in the belly” and whether he understands how hard you need to play to be effective in the NBA.
Coaches like to know what a player will give them and despite flashes of notable skill, Grizzard is inconsistent and streaky. He is a classic first round “if” tease -- the player with upside who could develop into a productive pro but is currently lacking in the character traits necessary for success out of the gate. A right knee injury during an early May workout required arthroscopy surgery to repair a fracture to the tibial plateau. He could be out of action for four or five months and that may affect his draft status.