2018 Draft Position Preview: Forwards

Taking a Look at Some of the Forwards Who Might Be Available with Cleveland on the Clock
by Joe Gabriele
Cavs.com Managing Editor


2018 Draft Position Preview: Forwards

Studying Some of the Forwards Who Might Be Available with Cleveland on the Clock


We’re now within hours of the 2018 NBA Draft going down at the Barclays Center – with the Wine & Gold still weighing their options with the eighth overall selection.

As tonight has approached, Cavs.com has taken a look at what scouts are saying about some of the Draft’s top guards and big men. Today, we turn our attention to some forwards and swingmen who could be around when Adam Silver makes the announcement for Cleveland.

Among them are one of the highest-ranked high schoolers who struggled with a back injury in college, a rare junior who won two NCAA titles and an international star who’s been on the league’s radar for years …


Left-Right: MILES BRIDGES, MICHAEL PORTER JR., LUKA DONCIC, MIKAL BRIDGES, KEVIN KNOX


MIKAL BRIDGES6-7, 210 – Born: August 30, 1996 – (Malvern, PA) – College: Villanova – The only junior predicted to go to a Lottery team, Bridges is considered one of the safest picks and best two-way players in the entire First Round; three-point shot caught up to his elite defensive game over the course of his career at Villanova; won two NCAA titles in three seasons; was Big East’s co-defensive player of the year as a sophomore, was conference’s tournament MVP and earned a place on the All-Final Four team as a junior; added size and strength over the course of his career – came to college weighing 180 pounds and added 30, but will still need to bulk up for the next level; could be an excellent three-position defender in the NBA; intelligent, fundamentally-strong defender; nearly half of all his shots came from beyond the arc; efficient offensive player overall – shot 52 percent from the floor, 43 percent from long-range and 85 percent from the stripe; not aggressive around the rim, doesn’t get to the free throw line much; some concerns about his upside – turns 22 in August; still has a ways to go in terms of vision and playmaking; one of the most NBA-ready players in the Draft


MILES BRIDGES6-6, 220 – Born: March 21, 1998 – (Flint, MI) – College: Michigan State – The name of the game in today’s position-less trend in the NBA is versatility and the Michigan State swingman is exactly that – a two-way wing player able to defend several positions; averaged 1.5 blocks per game in two seasons at East Lansing; quick enough to match up with guards on perimeter and strong enough to battle forwards; built solidly, like Jae Crowder or P.J. Tucker with a high motor around the hoop; explosive athlete; below average wingspan; lefty; not a skilled offensive player at this point but still shot nearly 38 percent from long-range and 85 percent from the stripe in college; often settles for the three-pointer, doesn’t have much of a mid-range game; doesn’t need the ball to effect the game; can use his athleticism to get some easy hoops in transition; solid passer with positive assist-to-turnover ratio, but not a very good ball-handler overall; high-level rebounder on both ends; would’ve been considered a “tweener” years ago, but that’s exactly the kind of player the league is looking for in the modern era


LUKA DONCIC6-8, 225 – Born: February 28, 1999 – (Ljublijana, Slovenia) – Team: Read Madrid – After spending time on many teams’ radar for quite a while, Doncic could be one when the Wine & Gold are on the clock at No. 8; has been competing against older, more mature, NBA-level ball-players for years overseas; excellent work ethic and leadership skills; at just 19, helped his team win the 2018 EuroLeague while becoming the youngest recipient of the EuroLeague MVP and EuroLeague Final Four MVP awards; has the size and athleticism to defend (and play) three positions, including both guard spots and small forward; elite facilitator, especially in the pick-and-roll; likes to attack in transition after grabbing defensive rebound; can create his own shot in any situation and has a full arsenal of offensive moves – good three-point shooter but doesn’t rely on it; excellent ball-handling skills and court vision; lack of lateral quickness is a concern; sometimes struggles to create space for himself; wide frame, well-developed pro-ready body; Draft analyst Fran Fraschilla says he has the skill level of Gordon Hayward with the mind of Manu Ginobili


KEVIN KNOX6-9, 215 – Born: August 11, 1999 – (Tampa, FL) – College: Kentucky – One of the top of the Draft’s youngest and rawest players – Knox doesn’t turn 19 until August – he already boasts an NBA-ready body after just a single season at Kentucky; led the Wildcats in scoring as a freshman; solid 6-9, 218-pound frame with 7-0 wingspan, 8-11 standing reach and 36-inch vertical – ideal physical traits for either forward position at the next level; can score from all three levels; some questions about his motor – which ran hot and cold; not an overly-explosive athlete, but runs the floor well and is a strong finisher at the rim; questionable shot selection at times; was SEC co-Freshman of the Year; can shoot off the catch and off the dribble; will need to develop a more versatile post game at NBA level; led the team in three-pointers made and attempted, still not a polished long-range shooter; played in all 31 games for Kentucky; plays well off the ball; despite size, wasn’t a very strong rebounder – averaged only 5.4 rpg – or shot-blocker, racking up only 10 swats over the season; combination of size, youth, upside and versatility will almost certainly intrigue a team picking in the top 10


MICHAEL PORTER JR.6-11, 210 – Born: June 29, 1998 – (Columbia, MO) – College: Missouri – Along with Trae Young, where he goes might shape the entire first half of the First Round; was consensus top prep recruit coming into freshman season at Missouri, but a back surgery from an injury suffered in the season opener limited him to just three games – coming off the bench in both the SEC and NCAA Tournaments; like Kevin Durant and Kristaps Porzingis, he’s considered a “unicorn” because of his combination of his versatile, fluid skill set and size – standing 6-10 with a 7-0 wingspan and 9-0 standing reach; strong ball-handler; three-level scorer; considered a “high ceiling/low floor” pick simply because of such a small sample size in college; very good free throw shooter; smooth, polished shot mechanics with high release point; can create his own offense; decent playmaker for teammates; measurables to be a solid defender at the next level; excellent rebounder; averaged over 36 points and 13 boards while shooting 47 percent from three-point range as a senior in high school; could be the biggest gamble and most interesting storyline of Thursday night


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