NBA Draft's Top 3: Small Forwards

Today’s focus is small forwards. With Danilo Gallinari expected to return from a knee injury and Wilson Chandler in his prime, the Nuggets are well-equipped on the wing. Denver also has a developing prospect in 20-year-old Quincy Miller, so it is not necessarily an area of need.

That being said, the crop of small forwards in this year’s draft is extremely talented.

Andrew Wiggins

College: Kansas

Age: 19

Height/Weight: 6'8"/200 lbs.

Wiggins is one of those rare talents who appears to be built for the NBA. After averaging 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds as a freshman at Kansas, he is the odds-on favorite to be the first player selected when Cleveland goes on the clock on June 26.

The basketball skills are still developing, but Wiggins has athletic gifts that no one can teach. Last month, he tweeted a photo displaying a 44-inch vertical leap. In essence, he would be able to leap over most second-graders without much effort.

In addition to his jumping ability, Wiggins is extremely dangerous in transition, and he has the length and quickness to become a strong perimeter defender. As with most young players, his jump shot remains spotty, but scouts were impressed at his improvement throughout his freshman year.

Wiggins has a slender frame that will benefit from an NBA strength program. He will be asked to contribute immediately during that process, and his track record at Kansas and with the Canadian National team indicates that he will be ready for the responsibility.

Bottom line: With his athleticism and superstar potential, expect Wiggins to be among the first two picks.

Jabari Parker

College: Duke

Age: 19

Height/Weight: 6'9"/240 lbs.

In 2003, the Nuggets drafted Carmelo Anthony as a freshman out of Syracuse with the third overall pick. Parker might fall to the Philadelphia 76ers in the same spot 11 years later.

With his size, strength and speed, Parker is drawing comparisons to Anthony, who developed into a perennial All-Star during his seven-plus seasons in Denver. Parker averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds in his only season at Duke and became the first freshman in the school’s history to receive consensus first-team All-America honors.

Through tremendously gifted offensively, there remains concern about Parker at the other end of the floor. Quickness might be an issue as he tries to defend elite wing players, and he might be undersized while guarding power forwards.

Bottom line: The list of shortcomings is short. Parker has an NBA-ready game and is a virtual lock as a top-three pick.

Doug McDermott

College: Creighton

Age: 22

Height/Weight: 6'7"/220 lbs.

Four-year lettermen are a dying breed in the NBA, but McDermott is certainly capable of representing the species well.

McDermott led the NCAA in scoring at 26.7 points per game as a senior and won the John R. Wooden Award and the Naismith Trophy given to the nation’s top player. He also finished his college career fifth on the NCAA scoring list.

With those impressive credentials in mind, McDermott could be a late-lottery bargain for a team looking for a dangerous perimeter shooter who also has the maturity to contribute right away. Despite being the opposition’s primary focus each game, he shot a remarkable .458 from 3-point range in his college career.

McDermott will have to improve his defensive skills at the next level. It will be difficult for him to guard quicker wings, and he lacks the height to cause problems for taller players in the post.

Bottom line: McDermott is a proven scorer who could be a pleasant surprise for someone selecting from 10 to 15.