Led by The Sports Xchange’s top-rated prospect, Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins, the 2014 NBA Draft is loaded with big names at small forward. While Wiggins is in the hunt to be the No. 1 overall pick, several household names from marquee programs will also be vying to land in the lottery, including UCLA’s Kyle Anderson (No. 12), Kentucky’s James Young (16) and Duke’s Rodney Hood (17).
The top small forward prospects in the 2014 NBA Draft:
1. (No. 1 overall) Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF, Fr., Kansas.
Overview: Had Wiggins been allowed to enter last year’s draft he was widely considered to be the top pick. After a year at Kansas, he still has a shot at going No. 1 overall with Duke’s Jabari Parker and Kansas teammate Joel Embiid also in the mix.
Analysis: Standing 6-feet-8 with a 7-foot wingspan, Wiggins has all the physical tools you could ask for in a wing player. He’s an elite athlete who puts on a show in the open court and leaves Kansas after one year with an impressive 17.1 ppg and 5.9 rpg. His offensive game is still developing and he should only continue to improve.
2. (12) Kyle Anderson, SF, So., UCLA.
Overview: A unique 6-9 jack-of-all-trades type. Scouts love his ball handling and passing for his size. He could conceivably play three positions at the NBA level: PG, SG, SF.
Analysis: While small forward was Anderson’s traditional position at UCLA, he spent a lot of time playing the point because of his deft passing. When he wasn’t playing point guard, the Bruins were running their offense through Anderson to make sure he was a primary decision maker in half-court sets. Has the potential to be a walking mismatch for any opponent.
3. (16) James Young, SG/SF, Fr., Kentucky.
Overview: Highly touted 6-7 freshman’s play during Kentucky’s deep tournament run aided his decision to declare for the draft. Young could join teammate Julius Randle as a one-and-done who gets selected in the lottery.
Analysis: Still just 18 years old, a lot of what intrigues NBA people about Young’s game is based on potential and he will need time to adjust to the NBA game. However, his ability to get to the basket and mid-range game, both showcased in coach John Calipari’s offense, should translate well to the NBA.
4. (17) Rodney Hood, SF, So., Duke.
Overview: The 6-8 southpaw has the look of a prototypical NBA wing player. After transferring from Mississippi State, the athletic Hood had a short one-year stay at Duke.
Analysis: Hood is solid in all areas offensively; he’s especially effective as a mid-range shooter with potential to hit the NBA three. His defensive ability is a bit of a concern, but he has shown the characteristics to be able to develop on that side of the floor as well.
5. (18) Jerami Grant, SF, So., Syracuse.
Overview: An intriguing athlete whose combination of size, quickness and explosiveness around the basket separates him from other wing players. After a so-so freshman season, Grant took a big stride maturity-wise last season.
Analysis: Standing 6-8 with a 7-2 wingspan, Grant looks the part of a NBA player. His bread and butter is attacking the basket in the open floor and crashing the offensive glass. He’s still quite raw offensively, but put up 12.1 ppg and 6.8 rpg on sheer athleticism and is capable of much more.
6. (19) Adreian Payne, SF, Sr., Michigan State.
Overview: Payne’s ability to shoot the college 3-pointer at his size was a big reason why Michigan State was so successful last season. He’s 6-10 with a huge 7-4 wingspan, and is a dangerous offensive weapon with his ability to shoot from the perimeter that forces big men away from the basket to guard him.
Analysis: In his four years as a Spartan, Payne consistently improved every season. He’s a bit older as a 23-year-old prospect, but his offensive game for someone his size should still land him in the first round. He’s a very good shooter for his size, but he’s also athletic enough to beat his man off the dribble attacking the basket.
7. (28) Cleanthony Early, SF, Sr., Wichita State.
Overview: One of the elder statesmen in the draft at 23, Early clearly benefited from Wichita State’s success the past two seasons. He’s going to have to shed the “tweener” label; his game is more suited to playing power forward but size-wise he’s an NBA small forward.
Analysis: Early’s offensive game at Wichita State benefited from mismatches. He was too quick for bigger opponents and too strong for smaller guys guarding him, but at the NBA level he’s simply undersized. He’s very strong for his size and will have to show he can expand his game into a small forward type role.
8. (31) Glenn Robinson III, SF, So., Michigan.
Overview: Son of former NBA player the “Big Dog,” Robinson is an above average scorer who does most of his damage from the perimeter. Michigan fans had hoped for more from Robinson in his two years in Ann Arbor, but he leaves with an NBA-ready game.
Analysis: Robinson never got a chance to be the headliner at Michigan with the emergence of Trey Burke in 2012-13 and Nik Stauskas last season, but his offensive game is tailor-made for the NBA; he’s athletic in the open floor and polished on the perimeter in the half court.
9. (32) K.J. McDaniels, SF, Jr., Clemson.
Overview: Very good athlete and high flying leaper; possesses an all-around game that should translate well in the NBA. Standing 6-6, McDaniels’ wingspan grew almost two inches the past year from around 6-9 to just under 6-11.
Analysis: McDaniels emerged on the scene last season with 17.1 ppg and showing off athleticism that many are saying rivals Wiggins and Zach LaVine in this class. His biggest weakness offensively is his jumper, but he found ways to overcome it = by getting to the basket with his athleticism last season.
10. (40) DeAndre Daniels, SF, Jr., Connecticut.
Overview: Much like Shabazz Napier, Daniels’ draft stock rose with Connecticut’s national championship run, and he likely would have opted to stay in school had it not been for his hot stretch in the NCAA Tournament. His biggest strength is his ability to shoot from the perimeter.
Analysis: At 6-8, 195 pounds, Daniels is definitely going to have to bulk up to play in the NBA. He played a little bit of small forward and power forward at UConn, and many of his perimeter points came against guys who weren’t able to close out on him. He’s a standard small forward for the NBA, but has the touch to be effective from the perimeter in a half-court setting.
11. (41) LaQuinton Ross, SF, Jr., Ohio State.
Overview: Ross, like Ohio State, failed to meet most people’s expectations last season. Most people believe he would be well served to play out his senior year, but he has shown enough ability to potentially be an NBA role player.
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