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NBA Draft Preview Part II: Power Forwards

Taking a look at the top power forward prospects available in the upcoming draft

The NBA Draft is right around the corner so the time has come to take an in-depth look at the players hoping to hear their names called out by Commissioner David Stern on the night of June 28. To help with the process, Rockets.com is once again enlisting the help of NBA draft expert Jim Clibanoff.

The formula is simple: our man Clibs will team up with our own Jason Friedman to break down the draft position by position, offering his thoughts on the top prospects, while sprinkling in a few feelings on some lesser known players who might be worth a closer look in the draft’s later stages.

Today’s feature focuses on the power forward position. Click here to check out Part 1 of the series in which we examined the players available at the center position. One final note: players' height (with shoes) and weight are taken, when possible, from the NBA’s combine measurements.

Anthony Davis, Fr., Kentucky

Combine measurements: Height: 6' 10.5'', Weight: 221.8, Wingspan: 7' 5.5'', Standing Reach: 9' 0''

Basic stats: 14.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 4.7 bpg, .623 FG%, .709 FT%

Synergy stats of note: Offense: Cuts: 1.51 points per possession (96th percentile), Post-ups: .848 points per possession 60th percentile), Pick-and-roll roll man: 1.19 ppp (77th percentile), Transition: 1.458 ppp (93rd percentile)

Defense: Post-ups: .634 ppp (79th percentile)

Clib’s take: He clearly should be the consensus No. 1 player. He’s a late-in-life growth spurt guy who still has a bunch of guard skills to him, but at his dimensions and the way he’s filling out I don’t even see him playing small forward – I see him as a very versatile four-man. However, he does that versatility that would allow him to play some five in addition to doing some of the things that some small forwards can do.

He is definitely a pillar, a foundation for a team on the rise. He can impact the game without ever having to take a shot because of his defense and he’s got the good character check where he’ll be able to come in and fit right in. He probably won’t be a guy like a David Robinson or Tim Duncan who comes in and immediately gets your team into the playoffs just because, at 19-years-old, his body still needs time to fill out before he really hits his stride.

(At this point I interject and ask Clibanoff if he thinks Davis might, over time, transition toward becoming more of a center the way Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett have during the latter half of their careers)

I hadn’t really thought of that, but based on how his body develops you could be right. He’s a little bit short at 6-10 for the five-spot but his arms are extremely long and he knows how to play bigger, especially on the defensive end. So yes, absolutely, he could morph into that five-man and that’s pretty important in terms of projecting his long-term potential as a pro; it’s just added versatility which only enhances the overall package he brings to the table.

Thomas Robinson, Jr., Kansas

Combine measurements: Height: 6' 8.75'', Weight: 244.2, Wingspan: 7' 3.25'', Standing Reach: 8' 10''

Basic stats: 17.9 ppg, 11.8 rpg, .9 bpg, .505 FG%, .682 FT%

Synergy stats of note: Offense: Post-ups: .885 points per possession (67th percentile), Cuts: 1.274 points per possession (74th percentile), Pick-and-roll roll man: .859 ppp (32nd percentile), Transition: 1.257 ppp (79th percentile)

Defense: Spot-ups: .733 ppp (79th percentile), Post-ups: .603 ppp (83rd percentile), Isolations: .593 ppp (74th percentile)

Clib’s take: We’re huge fans of motor and Robinson probably has the best motor in the draft and I imagine he’ll have one of the higher level motors in the NBA. He just wants to outwork people. I can’t see him taking half of a possession off, let alone a full one. Some people question how big he is but if Dennis Rodman was one of the best rebounders of all time at 6-8 and Kenneth Faried was able to come right into the league and average 10 (points) and 8 (rebounds) per game in just 20-something minutes, then there’s no reason why Thomas Robinson won’t be able to duplicate that kind of success. Players with worth ethics like his, even though he’s more power and grit than polish right now, you have to think he’ll put the time in during the offseason to perfect or correct whatever deficiencies exist in his game.

Perry Jones, Soph., Baylor

Combine measurements: Height: 6' 11.25'', Weight: 233.8, Wingspan: 7' 1.75'', Standing Reach: 8' 10.5''

Basic stats: 14.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg, .6 bpg, .500 FG%, .696 FT%, .303 3-PT%

Synergy stats of note: Offense: Post-ups: .795 points per possession (49th percentile), Cuts: 1.254 points per possession (71st percentile), Spot-ups: .839 ppp (42nd percentile), Isolations: .654 ppp (35th percentile), Transition: 1.571 ppp (97th percentile)

Defense: Spot-ups: .907 ppp (52nd percentile), Post-ups: .66 ppp (76th percentile)

Jason’s take: Perry Jones and Andre Drummond are clearly the two most enigmatic players in this year’s draft. Like the UConn center, Jones is positively bursting with potential. He has the physical gifts and multidimensional skill set necessary to end up being the best player in this draft when all is said and done. He's that talented. There are questions about his natural position -- is he better suited for the small or power forward spot? -- but the answer to that query will sort itself out in time. Like Drummond, the only question that truly matters for Jones is how much he truly desires to make the most of his massive potential and ability to dominate. If he responds to that challenge in a positive fashion, the sky is truly the limit. Either way, the polarizing Baylor product promises to be one of the more fascinating stories from this draft to follow in the future. 

Terrence Jones, Soph., Kentucky

Combine measurements: Height: 6' 9.5'', Weight: 252.0, Wingspan: 7' 2.25'', Standing Reach: 8' 9.5''

Basic stats: 12.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.8 bpg, .500 FG%, .627 FT%, .327 3-PT%

Synergy stats of note: Offense: Transition: 1.178 ppp (69th percentile), Post-ups: .924 points per possession (74th percentile), Cuts: 1.088 points per possession (43rd percentile), Spot-ups: 1.016 ppp (69th percentile), Isolations: .917 ppp (78th percentile)

Defense: Spot-ups: .722 ppp (81st percentile), Post-ups: .67 ppp (73rd percentile), Isolations: .5 ppp (86th percentile)

Clib’s take: A guy who might not be an NBA star, but his ability to fit in with other talent around him at Kentucky helped him quite a bit and should portend positive things for his NBA career. I compare him a little bit to a guy like Al Harrington who is a four-man who likes to face-up and shoot. People wanted him to be a three and we used to list Terrence Jones as a three, but the bottom line is he’s a versatile power forward who can do a little bit of a lot of stuff. I think the composition of the team he goes to is going to be critical in the development of his pro identity. I could see him being used as an offensive weapon in certain situations or more a rugged, physical four in others. I can see his future going a lot of different ways.

Jared Sullinger, Soph., Ohio State

Combine measurements: Height: 6' 9'', Weight: 268.2, Wingspan: 7' 1.25'', Standing Reach: 8' 11''

Basic stats: 17.6 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.1 bpg, .519 FG%, .768 FT%, .400 3-PT%

Synergy stats of note: Offense: Post-ups: .993 points per possession (81st percentile), Cuts: 1.426 points per possession (90th percentile), Spot-ups: .968 ppp (61st percentile)

Defense: Post-ups: .708 ppp (67th percentile), Spot-ups: .628 ppp (89th percentile), Isolations: .628 ppp (69th percentile)

Jason’s take: Dominant rebounding is one college skill that almost always seems to translate at the NBA level, so Sullinger should be a safe bet to devour plenty of boards as a pro. What scouts and NBA execs are still trying to puzzle together, however, is what else from his smart, fundamentally sound skill set will carry over. There are the natural concerns about his height and lack of explosive athleticism and how they might adversely impact him on both ends of the floor. Then again, similar questions were raised about Kevin Love on draft night and we all know how that has turned out. To be sure, Sullinger has a looong way to go before reaching the summit that Love has climbed in his first four years in the league. But the Minnesota power forward serves as an excellent model for Sullinger to follow going forward. Like Love, Sullinger must commit himself to transforming his body and working himself into elite physical condition. Do that, and the Ohio State product's skills and high basketball IQ should have an excellent chance of shining in the NBA.

John Henson, Jr., North Carolina

Combine measurements: Height: 6' 10.5'', Weight: 216.0, Wingspan: 7' 5'', Standing Reach: 9' 3.5''

Basic stats: 13.7 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 2.9 bpg, .500 FG%, .511 FT%

Synergy stats of note: Offense: Post-ups: .805 points per possession (81st percentile), Cuts: 1.314 points per possession (80th percentile), Transition: 1.246 ppp (78th percentile), Spot-ups: .755 ppp (31st percentile)

Defense: Post-ups: .807 ppp (50th percentile), Spot-ups: .602 ppp (90th percentile), Isolations: .589 ppp (74th percentile)

Jason’s take: Like Sullinger, Henson's time dedication to a professional strength and conditioning program will be key in terms of tapping into his pro potential. Unlike the Ohio State forward, however, Henson's future success will largely be determined by his ability to add weight, rather than shed it. Henson is the physical manifestation of the word "long" with a massive wingspan and standing reach that allow him to wreak havoc on the defensive end. He's an excellent rebounder and shot blocker, and versatile enough to defend multiple positions. But to take full advantage of those assets Henson definitely needs to add bulk so he can bang with the big bodies down low and develop a go-to move or two on the offensive end as well.

Arnett Moultrie, Jr., Mississippi State

Combine measurements: Height: 6' 10.75'', Weight: 232.8, Wingspan: 7' 2.25'', Standing Reach: 8' 10.5''

Basic stats: 16.4 ppg, 10.5 rpg, .8 bpg, .549 FG%, .780 FT%, .444 3-PT%

Synergy stats of note: Offense: Post-ups: .851 points per possession (61st percentile), Cuts: 1.474 points per possession (94th percentile), Spot-ups: .692 ppp (23rd percentile), Pick-and-roll roll man: 1.051 ppp (59th percentile)

Defense: Post-ups: .683 ppp (72nd percentile), Spot-ups: .778 ppp (75th percentile), Isolations: .452 ppp (90th percentile)

Clib’s take: He’s a guy who showed tremendous improvement during his redshirt season. He’s a four who possibly in some small lineups could play the five. He started to show a really fine face-up touch this year. In his last game against UMass, he made a few threes that looked effortless. I saw some workout footage where he was demonstrating that part of his game and it made you think he could play a Channing Frye type roll if his team needed. He’s also a respectable low-post scorer who knows his limitations and if his rebounding carries over like it did in college where he was a double-double guy, he’ll be a definite rotation big. He has the potential to be a better version of what people hoped Jordan Hill would become.

Andrew Nicholson, Sr., St. Bonaventure

Combine measurements: Height: 6' 9.5'', Weight: 234, Wingspan: 7' 4'', Standing Reach: 8' 10.5''

Basic stats: 18.5 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.0 bpg, .571 FG%, .776 FT%, .434 3-PT%

Synergy stats of note: Offense: Post-ups: .99 points per possession (81st percentile), Cuts: 1.4 points per possession (89th percentile), Spot-ups: .792 ppp (35th percentile)

Defense: Post-ups: .77 ppp (56th percentile), Spot-ups: .703 ppp (83rd percentile)

Jason’s take: Andrew Nicholson has seen his stock steadily rise over the course of the last year thanks to a tremendous senior season that saw him carry the Cindarella Bonnies into the second round of the NCAA tournament. The 22-year-old from Ontario was excellent operating out of the low-post but perhaps his most impressive skill from a pro potential perspective is the outside shooting stroke he unleashed upon opponents during his final season at St. Bonaventure. Nicholson demonstrated an impressive ability to step back and knock down shots from long range this year, making him an intriguing pick-and-pop prospect at the power forward position. 

Kyle O’Quinn, Sr. Norfolk St.

Combine measurements: Height: 6' 10'', Weight: 240.8, Wingspan: 7' 4.75'', Standing Reach: 9' 3.5''

Basic stats: 15.9 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 2.6 bpg, .573 FG%, .696 FT%

Synergy stats of note: Offense: Post-ups: .91 points per possession (71st percentile), Cuts: 1.417 ppp (90th percentile), Transition: 1.442 ppp (92nd percentile)

Defense: Post-ups: .863 ppp (39th percentile)

Clib's take: He’s probably the guy who benefited the most from his Portsmouth performance. There’s always been a lot of intrigue with him but I believe people have always held against him the quality of competition he’s played against. He’s been a double-double guy the last few years. He plays with veteran savvy. He doesn’t have dynamic athleticism but he has enough to get by at the NBA level. I don’t know what will be his strong suit, but he’s competent in a lot of different areas; he can face up and shoot a little bit, he’s a better passer than his statistical average shows, he stepped up in competition and played well against Missouri. He was the MVP of Portsmouth. I see him as a second rounder that you bring in to see if his game works at the next level. If it does, he could be in the league for the next seven-to-nine years.

JaMychal Green, Sr., Alabama

Combine measurements: Height: 6' 9'', Weight: 217.4, Wingspan: 7' 2.25'', Standing Reach: 8' 9.5''

Basic stats: 14.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.5 bpg, .546 FG%, .690 FT%

Synergy stats of note: Offense: Post-ups: .918 points per possession (72nd percentile), Cuts: 1.2 points per possession (63rd percentile)

Defense: Post-ups: .755 ppp (59th percentile), Spot-ups: .833 ppp (66th percentile)

Clib’s take: JaMychal Green was a very highly touted player coming out of high school. He was a very good SEC player but never fully realized his potential. But I’ll tell ya, he came to Portsmouth, looked like he shed about 10-15 pounds and was one of the two best players there. I don’t like to get too geeked up about a player’s postseason performance, but I was really impressed by what I saw there. I think he’s a guy who will probably go in the second round, but it wouldn’t shock me at all to see him stick around the NBA for the next eight-to-ten years.