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Redrafting the 2010 NBA Draft

Today, we redraft the 2010 NBA Draft, which was a particularly weak class outside of the top three.

Eric Saar

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This week, Basketball Insiders has been redrafting recent NBA drafts. We’ve been jumping in our time machines, taking a look at some older drafts re-ranking that class of players after several seasons. We’ve already done 2012 and 2011. Today, we’ll redraft the 2010 class.

The 2010 draft ended up being pretty top heavy, as it got mediocre in a hurry. This draft sure gave the NBA a bunch of bench players as well as a bunch of busts who are already out of the NBA.

#1- Washington Wizards: Paul George

While John Wall obviously isn’t a bust, George is the clear cut best player from this draft in my eyes. He is the only one to have already been a serious MVP candidate. He has taken the Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals; if not for a certain player named LeBron James, he probably would have gotten further (and maybe even won a championship by now). George will continue his dominance now that he has recovered from his broken leg.

#2- Philadelphia 76ers: DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins is a dominant player. There isn’t too much of a difference between the 76ers and the Kings over the last several years, with the only exception being the Kings drafted Cousins after Philly passed on him at second overall in 2010. The 76ers probably regret that. There is a really good chance Cousins (at only age 25) could already be the best center in the NBA next season. Their pick, Evan Turner, was a disappointment and is much further down the list in this redraft.

#3- Brooklyn (then New Jersey) Nets: John Wall

There is no disputing it: John Wall is a stud. He is so fast, blazing up and down the court with the ball, slicing into the lane, finishing at the rim with no fear, while also dishing out a bunch of assists to get his teammates involved. The Nets drafted Derrick Favors here and eventually shipped him to Utah for Deron Williams. Who knows what would have happened had Wall been a Net instead?

This top three is its own tier. They are all close together, but there is a clear delineation.

#4- Minnesota Timberwolves: Derrick Favors

The Wolves had Kevin Love breaking out and had recently gotten Ricky Rubio from overseas. At the time, the decision to draft a small forward (Wes Johnson) was understandable given their roster. However, Johnson hasn’t lived up to his draft slot while Favors has developed into a very talented player. Putting Favors at center next to Love would have been interesting, and he’s clearly one of the better players in this class.

#5- Sacramento Kings: Greg Monroe

The Kings are happy they got DeMarcus Cousins with the No. 5 pick, as it’s looking like DMC is probably the second-best player in this draft. In this redraft, Cousins doesn’t fall to them and they instead get Greg Monroe, who signed with the Milwaukee Bucks this summer. Imagine how his development could have been different if he had been the focal point in Sacramento and able to play center (as he has wanted to) instead of moving to the four like he did in Detroit.

#6- Golden State Warriors: Eric Bledsoe

In this redraft, the Warriors probably wouldn’t have the “Splash Brothers” they have now as they wouldn’t have wasted their sixth overall pick on Ekpe Udoh and instead would have picked “mini-LeBron” instead. Eric Bledsoe would have been insurance since at the time Stephen Curry’s ankles were suspect, but the two guards would have been able to complement each other quite well. Probably not as well as Steph and Klay Thompson currently do, but Bledsoe certainly goes higher in this redraft than he did back in 2010 (18th overall).

#7- Detroit Pistons: Gordon Hayward

Instead of getting Greg Monroe at seven, the Pistons get Hayward, who is a better fit with their 2012 pick Andre Drummond. While not elite, Hayward has the size, skill and shot to have a long career in the NBA. He’s the leader of the youthful Jazz and is very talented. But one wonders what could have been if Detroit (now with Stan Van Gundy at the helm) had Drummond and Hayward as building blocks. They sure would be further along in their rebuild.

#8-Los Angeles Clippers: Lance Stephenson

The Clippers land Lance Stephenson in this redraft, just as they did via trade this offseason. In this redraft, they would have drafted him at number eight instead of Al-Farouq Aminu. Stephenson might have flourished because he would have grown with Blake Griffin and been mentored by Chris Paul when he got to L.A. a few years later. His role this year will be intriguing for sure.

#9- Utah Jazz: Avery Bradley

Instead of getting Gordon Hayward, the Jazz would have to settle for Bradley, who is just more of a specialty role player than Hayward and shouldn’t really be the focal point of a team. However, Bradley is better than many of the players Utah has brought in to fill the role Bradley seems to have excelled at in Boston.

#10- Indiana Pacers: Al-Farouq Aminu

Instead of getting easily the steal of the draft (Paul George at No. 10), the Pacers instead get Al-Farouq Aminu, who has certainly bounced around the league in his short career so far. Aminu started with the Clippers, went to the Pelicans for a few years, was with the Mavericks in 2014-15 and now is the highest-paid player on the Blazers at $8 million this year (until Damian Lillard’s contract jumps from $4 million to nearly $21 million next year). Still, it seems like Aminu will have a long NBA career, even if he did start as a journeyman. The Pacers likely would not have had those few very successful years if they got stuck with Aminu over George back in 2010.

#11- New Orleans Pelicans: Hassan Whiteside

Whiteside burst onto the NBA scene recently with the Miami HEAT, and really jumped up the draft board in this redraft from a second-rounder to just outside the top 10. While he is a bit reckless with his emotions on the court at times and is still refining his skill-set, he is a good, young talent. He was out of the league as recently as last year, but just turned in an excellent season with the Miami HEAT. Imagine him at the center position alongside Anthony Davis in New Orleans. That’s a pretty good, complementary tandem in the frontcourt for sure. If he can prove last season wasn’t a fluke, he likely climbs even higher.

#12- Memphis Grizzlies: Ed Davis

Davis was apparently valued correctly back in 2010. Instead of being drafted 13th overall by Toronto, he gets selected 12th by Memphis. Instead of being the starting power forward for the Raptors, he’d have been the third big man for the Grizzlies (as he eventually was anyway), certainly improving their team more than their actual pick of Xavier Henry. Now, Davis is in Portland as the second-highest-paid player (which says more about Portland this coming year and the apparent exodus than anything else).

#13- Toronto Raptors: Jeremy Lin

Linsanity in Canada! Lin was an undrafted free agent in 2010, but he climbs into the lottery in this redraft. It’s hard to say if Toronto would be in a better position right now if they had drafted Lin instead of their actual pick of Ed Davis. Since his amazing time in New York, Lin hasn’t quite found the right place to thrive long-term. Maybe it’s in Charlotte, where he signed this offseason.

#14- Houston Rockets: Greivis Vasquez

Since actually getting drafted 28th overall by Memphis, Vasquez has sure been a journeyman in the league. In five years, he’s been on five teams now that he landed in Milwaukee this offseason. Vasquez is a quality backup guard and can really run an offense and get his teammates involved. It seems Vasquez would have been a better selection than Patrick Patterson, who Houston actually drafted.

#15- Milwaukee Bucks: Evan Turner

Evan Turner is a decent NBA player, but some still consider him a bust. He was selected second overall in the draft and hasn’t lived up to that billing. He’s been on three teams already. He started out with Philadelphia, played a year in Indiana and now is with Boston. He is basically a high-volume, low-efficiency shooter. While those are plentiful around the NBA, that’s not what the 76ers were signing up for at the second overall pick. But Turner definitely would have been a better pick here at 15 than their actual pick… Larry Sanders.

#16- Minnesota Timberwolves: Alexey Shved

Shved actually signed as an undrafted free agent with Minnesota when he came into the league. He’s since moved on to a few other teams, but would have been a great addition to the Timberwolves’ “Euro” team they seemed to be constructing for a few years. He is definitely better than the Wolves’ actual pick of Luke Babbitt.

#17- Chicago Bulls: Wesley Johnson

Wesley Johnson sure hasn’t lived up to his draft hype at all. In actuality, he went fourth overall that year, but in a redraft he goes 17th in what seems like a weak draft five years later. He is athletic and can defend, but he’s certainly not someone who was worthy of a top pick. He’s currently with the Clippers on a minimum deal. He’ll have a role in the league for several years to come, but some may consider him a bust.

#18- Oklahoma City Thunder: Jeremy Evans

Evans is primarily known for his amazing dunks in games and in the dunk contest, but he is still growing as a player and has outplayed his 55th overall draft selection. That is not to say he is better than who OKC actually got at this pick in 2010, since they landed Eric Bledsoe. That’s good value – too bad they had traded that pick to the Los Angeles Clippers.

#19- Boston Celtics: Quincy Pondexter

Pondexter is no Avery Bradley, which is who the Celtics actually selected, but he is a decent rotation player. He has certainly out played his 26th actual draft selection slot, but not by too much. He’s now in New Orleans after a few years in Memphis.

#20- San Antonio Spurs: Patrick Patterson

The Spurs usually draft and stash, so their pick would probably still have been someone else, but this is where Patrick Patterson slots in, talent-wise. He is an okay, backup big man with limited upside, but he is steady. He scores a bit, rebounds, sets screens. He does what you need him to do. He is a complementary player around stars.

#21- Oklahoma City Thunder: Trevor Booker

Booker is a banger down low. Booker would have been an upgrade in some senses over OKC mainstay Nick Collison as the backup power forward over the last several years, so it would have been intriguing if the Thunder had picked Booker.

#22- Portland Trail Blazers: Kevin Seraphin

Seraphin is an average NBA player. He’d get some time with this new-look Trail Blazers team, and would have been decent and provided some frontcourt depth the last few years.

#23-Minnesota Timberwolves: Landry Fields

Fields had two good years in New York, but has been buried on the bench of Toronto. He would have been a good bench guy for the Timberwolves with this late first-round pick back in 2010. Considering his flashes with the Knicks, he has outperformed his second round draft selection as 39th overall. In most redrafts, he may not have gone first round, but this class is weak.

#24- Atlanta Hawks: Luke Babbitt

Babbitt is on his second NBA team, the Pelicans. He’s not a great player, but size and the ability to shoot keeps you in the league for awhile. He could be a significant bench contributor for New Orleans this season.

#25- Memphis Grizzlies: Xavier Henry

Henry is a reasonably talented player, but he just keeps getting sidelined by injuries. If he can stay healthy for a while, he could be a rotation player. It’s unlikely he’ll live up to his hype as the 12th overall pick, but he’d be a solid pick-up here.

#26- Oklahoma City Thunder: Ish Smith

Ish Smith is a great backup point guard. He is really fast and can distribute the ball, although he is small and can’t shoot from deep very well. He would have been a great backup to Russell Westbrook the last few years.

#27- Brooklyn Nets: Donald Sloan

Sloan has been bouncing around the league for a while (playing for Atlanta, New Orleans, Cleveland and Indiana) after entering the league as an undrafted free agent following the 2010 draft. But in this redraft, he’d make the first round.

#28- Brooklyn Nets: Elijah Millsap

The younger brother of Hawks big man Paul Millsap, Elijah was eligible for the 2010 draft, but he wasn’t selected. He played 47 games for the Jazz last season. The Nets could have used a young player like him the last several years with all their veterans.

#29- Orlando Magic: Jerome Jordan

The penultimate pick in the 2010 redraft is Jerome Jordan. Playing 44 games for the rebuilding Nets last season, he is just barely hanging on the NBA roster bubble.

#30- Washington Wizards: Jordan Crawford

Crawford is a volume scorer and who had some success early in his NBA career, but spent last season overseas. That’s how bad this redraft got. It got to the point where all of the remaining players were mediocre at best and there aren’t even enough legit NBA players still in the league from that year to fill 30 first round slots.

In the comments, feel free to let us know what you think of this redraft.

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Reviewing the Nurkic Trade: Denver’s Perspective

The Denver Nuggets have been on a miraculous run this postseason, but that doesn’t mean that they’re infallible. Drew Maresca reviews the 2017 trade that sent Jusuf Nurkic from Denver to Portland.

Drew Maresca

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The Denver Nuggets are fresh off of a 114-106 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, pulling within three wins of the franchise’s first trip to the NBA Finals. But what if I told you that the Nuggets’ roster could be even more talented by acting more deliberately in a trade from three years ago?

While Denver won on Tuesday night, they lost a nail bitter on Sunday – for which most of the blame has been pointed at a defensive breakdown by Nuggets’ center Mason Plumlee, who was procured in the aforementioned 2017 trade. What did it cost Denver, you ask? Just Jusuf Nurkic and a first-round pick.

Nurkic was a 2014-15 All-Rookie second team member. He played 139 games over 2.5 seasons in Denver, averaging 7.5 points and 5.9 rebounds in approximately 18 minutes per game. He showed serious promise, but Denver had numerous reasons to pursue a trade: he’d suffered a few relatively serious injuries early in his career (and he’s continued to be injury-prone in Portland), butted heads with head coach Michael Malone and – most importantly – the Nuggets stumbled on to Nikola Jokic.

The Nuggets eventually attempted a twin-tower strategy with both in the starting line-up, but that experiment was short-lived — with Jokic ultimately asking to move to the team’s second unit.

The Nuggets traded Nurkic to the Portland Trail Blazers in February 2017 (along with a first-round pick) in exchange for Plumlee, a second-round pick and cash considerations. Ironically, the first-round pick included in the deal became Justin Jackson, who was used to procure another center, Zach Collins – but more on that in a bit.

As of February 2017, Plumlee was considered the better player of the two. He was averaging a career-high 11 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists through 54 games – but it was clear that at 27, he’d already maximized his talent.

Conversely, Nurkic was only 23 at the time of the trade with significant, untapped upside. In his first few seasons with Portland, Nurkic averaged 15 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, while establishing himself as a rising star. As noted above, injuries have continued to be a problem. Nurkic suffered a compound fracture in his tibia and fibula in March 2019, forcing him to miss a majority of this current campaign. The COVID-19-related play stoppage in March gave Nurkic extra time to get his body right, and he returned to action in July inside the bubble.

And he did so with a vengeance. Nurkic demonstrated superior strength and footwork, and he flashed the dominance that Portland hoped he would develop, posting eight double-doubles in 18 contests. He averaged 17.6 points and 10.3 rebounds per game and while his play dipped a bit in the playoffs – partially due to a matchup with first-team All-NBA star Anthony Davis – he still managed 14.2 points and 10.4 rebounds in the five-game series. So it’s fair to say that Nurkic is still on his way toward stardom.

But the Nuggets are in the conference finals – so all’s well that ends well, right? Not so fast. To his credit, Plumlee is exactly who Denver expected him to be. He’s averaged 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in three seasons with Denver since 2017 – but to be fair, Plumlee is asked to do less in Denver than he had in Portland. Still, it’s fairly obvious that they’re just not that comparable.

Plumlee is a good passer and an above-average defender that’ll compete hard and isn’t afraid to get dirty – but he has limitations. He doesn’t stretch the floor and he is a sub-par free throw shooter (53.5 percent in 2019-20). More importantly, he’s simply not a major offensive threat and his repertoire of moves is limited.

High-level takeaway: Defenses tend to game plan for opponents they view as major threats – Nurkic falls into this category. Other guys pack the stat sheet through putback attempts, open looks and single coverage alongside the guys for whom opposing defenses game plan – that’s a more appropriate description of Plumlee.

On to the wrench thrown in by Zach Collins’ involvement. Statistically, Collins is about as effective as Plumlee – he averaged 7 points and 6.3 rebounds through only 11 games in 2019-20 due to various injuries – and he possesses more upside. The 22-year-old is not as reliable as Plumlee but given his age and skill set, he’s a far better option as a support player playing off the bench. He stretches the floor (36.8 percent on three-point attempts in 2019-20), is an above-average free throw shooter (75 percent this season) and is a good defender. Looking past Nurkic for a moment, would the Nuggets prefer a 22-year-old center that stretches the floor and defends or a 30-year-old energy guy?

Regardless of your answer to that question, it’s hard to argue that Nurkic should have returned more than Plumlee, definitely so when you factor in the first-round pick Denver included. There is obviously more at play: Denver was probably considering trading Nurkic for some time before they acted – did they feel that they could increase his trade value prior to the trade deadline in 2016-17? Maybe. Further, Nurkic and his agent could have influenced the Nuggets’ decision at the 2017 deadline, threatening to stonewall Denver in negotiations.

Had Nurkic been more patient or the Nuggets acted sooner before it became abundantly clear that he was on the move, Denver’s roster could be even more stacked than it is now. Ultimately, the Nuggets have a plethora of talent and will be fine – while it appears that Nurkic found a long-term home in Portland, where he owns the paint offensively. Denver can’t be thrilled about assisting a division rival, but they’re still in an enviable position today and should be for years to come.

But despite that, this deal should go down as a cautionary tale – it’s not only the bottom feeders of the league who make missteps. Even the savviest of front offices overthink deals. Sometimes that works in their favor, and other times it does not.

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NBA Daily: They Guessed Wrong

Matt John reflects on some of the key decisions that were made last summer, and how their disappointing results hurt both team outlooks and players’ legacies.

Matt John

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It doesn’t sound possible, but did you know that the crazy NBA summer of 2019 was, in fact, over a year ago? Wildly, in any normal, non-pandemic season, it all would have been over three months ago and, usually, media days would be right around the corner, but not this time. The 2019-20 NBA season is slated to end sometime in early to mid-October, so the fact that the last NBA off-season was over a year ago hasn’t really dawned on anyone yet. Craziest of all, even though there will still be an offseason, there technically won’t be any summer.

Coronavirus has really messed up the NBA’s order. Of course, there are much worse horrors that COVID-19 has inflicted upon the world – but because of what it’s done to the NBA, let’s focus on that and go back to the summer of 2019. It felt like an eternity, but the Golden State Warriors’ three-year reign had finally reached its end. The Toronto Raptors’ victory over the tyranny that was the Hamptons Five – as battered as they were – made it feel like order had been restored to the NBA. There was more to it than that though.

Klay Thompson’s and Kevin Durant’s season-ending injuries, along with the latter skipping town to join Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn meant two things.

1. Golden State was down for the count
2. Brooklyn’s time wasn’t coming until next year.

A one-year window was open. Even if neither Golden State nor Brooklyn posed the same threat that the former did when it had Kevin Durant, those were two contenders out of commission. If there was a time to go all in, it was in 2019.

Milwaukee certainly seemed to go all in. For the most part.  Malcolm Brogdon’s departure seemed a little odd since he was arguably their best non-Giannis playmaker when they were in crunch time. Not to mention there was nothing really stopping the Bucks from keeping him except for money. Detractors will call out Milwaukee for electing to cheap out by not keeping Brogdon and hence, avoiding the luxury tax. However, there’s more to it than that.

Milwaukee thought it had enough with the core it had on its roster. Coming off the best season they had put up since the eighties, they believed the franchise built the right team to contend. There was an argument that keeping Brogdon may have been overkill with their guard depth – let’s not forget that Donte DiVincenzo did a solid job in Brogdon’s role as the backup facilitator. This would have been more defensible had it not been for Milwaukee picking the wrong guy to let go. That was the indefensible part- electing to keep Eric Bledsoe over Brogdon.

Bledsoe wasn’t necessarily a bad investment. No one’s complaining about an almost 15 point average on 47/34/79 splits or playing individual defense tight enough to get named on the All-Defensive second team. By all accounts, Bledsoe earns his keep. That is until the playoffs. Bledsoe’s postseason woes have been a weight ever since he first entered Milwaukee, and this postseason was more of the same.

Bledsoe’s numbers dwindled to just 11.7 points on 39/25/81 splits, and Milwaukee getting ousted in five games at the hands of Miami made his struggles stand out even more than it had ever been. Bledsoe may be the better athlete and the better defender, but Brogdon’s all-around offensive savvy and his only slight dropoff defensively from Brogdon would have made him a bit more reliable.

Milwaukee guessed wrong when they opted to extend Bledsoe before the postseason last year when they could have waited until that very time to evaluate who to keep around. Now they face a hell of a lot more questions than they did at the end of last season – questions that may have been avoided had they made the right choice.

Now they could have kept both of them, yes, but it’s not totally unreasonable to think that maybe their approach with the luxury tax would have worked and maybe they would still be in the postseason right now had they gone with the homegrown talent. And just maybe, there wouldn’t be nearly as much of this Greek Freak uncertainty.

The Houston Rockets can relate. They got bruised up by a team that everyone thought Houston had the edge on going into the series and then crushed by the Lakers. Now, Mike D’Antoni is gone. The full-time small ball experiment likely did not work out. Since the Rockets emptied most of their assets to bring in Russell Westbrook and Robert Covington, there may not be a route in which they can become better than they presently are.

The mistake wasn’t trading for Russell Westbrook. The mistake was trading Chris Paul.

To be fair, most everybody severely overestimated Chris Paul’s decline. He’s not among the best of the best anymore, but he’s still pretty darn close. He deserved his All-NBA second team selection as well as finishing No. 7 overall in MVP voting. OKC had no business being as good as they were this season, and Paul was the driving force as to why.

For all we know, the previously-assumed tension between Chris Paul and James Harden would have made its way onto the court no matter what. Even so, Houston’s biggest obstacle in the Bay Area had crumbled. If they had just stayed the course, maybe they’re still in the postseason too.

To their credit, none of this may have happened had it not been for the Kawhi Leonard decision. Had he chosen differently, the Thunder never blow it up, and Houston might have very well been the favorite in the Western Conference. Instead, the Rockets took a step back from being in the title discussion to dark horse. But at least they can take pride knowing that they weren’t expected to win it all – the Clippers can’t.

Seeing the Clippers fall well short expectations begs the question if they too got it wrong. The answer is, naturally: of course not. They may have paid a hefty price for Paul George, but the only way they were getting Kawhi Leonard – one of the best players of his generation – was if PG-13 came in the package. As lofty as it was, anyone would have done the same thing if they were in their shoes. They didn’t get it wrong. Kawhi did.

On paper, the Clippers had the most talented roster in the entire league. It seemed like they had every hole filled imaginable. Surrounding Leonard and George was three-point shooting, versatility, a productive second unit, an experienced coach – you name it. There was nothing stopping them from breaking the franchise’s long-lasting curse. Except themselves.

Something felt off about them. They alienated opponents. They alienated each other. At times, they played rather lackadaisically, like the title had already been signed, sealed, and delivered to them. The media all assumed they’d cut the malarkey and get their act together – but that moment never really came. They had their chances to put Denver away, but even if they had, after seeing their struggles to beat them – and to be fair Dallas too – would their day of destiny with the Lakers have really lived up to the hype?

Even if it was never in the cards, one can’t help but wonder what could have happened had Kawhi chosen to stay with the team he won his second title with.

Toronto was the most impressive team in this league this season. They still managed to stay at the top of the east in spite of losing an all-timer like Leonard. That team had every component of a winner except a superstar. They had the right culture for a championship team. Just not the right talent. The Clippers were the exact opposite. They had the right talent for a championship team but not the right culture. That’s why the Raptors walked away from the postseason feeling proud of themselves for playing to their full potential while the Clippers writhed in disappointment and angst over their future.

In the end, everyone mentioned here may ultimately blame what happened to their season on the extenuating circumstances from the pandemic. The Bucks’ chemistry never fully returned when the Bubble started. Contracting COVID and dealing with quad problems prevented Westbrook from reviving the MVP-type player he was before the hiatus. As troubling as the Clippers had played, the extra time they would have had to work things out in a normal season was taken away from them.

For all we know, next year will be a completely different story. The Rockets, Bucks, and Kawhi may ultimately have their faith rewarded for what they did in the summer of 2019 – but that will only be mere speculation until the trio can change the story.

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Looking Toward The Draft: Power Forwards

Basketball Insiders continues their NBA Draft watch, this time with the power forwards.

David Yapkowitz

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We got some updated NBA draft news this week when the league announced that several key dates have been pushed back including the draft, the start of free agency and the beginning of the 2020-21 season.

The 2020 draft was originally scheduled for Oct. 16, but it will now likely occur sometime in November. Obviously, with the COVID-19 pandemic still wildly out of control in the United States, all of these potential deadlines are fluid and subject to change.

With that said, we’re continuing our position by position breakdown here at Basketball Insiders of some of the top 2020 draft prospects. We looked at the point guards and shooting guards last week, and this week we’re covering the small forwards and power forwards.

The power forward crop, like the draft overall, doesn’t appear to be as strong as recent years, that doesn’t mean there aren’t potential contributors and high-level NBA players available, as well as one who might just turn out to be a star-caliber player.

Onyeka Okongwu, USC – 19 years old

Okongwu is the player who just might develop into a star on some level. He was actually underrated in high school and was snubbed for a McDonald’s All-American selection his senior year. He established himself early on at USC as the team’s best player as a freshman and now appears to have turned some heads.

He’s been mentioned as a lottery pick and in some mock drafts, he’s top 4-5. He possesses a great all-around skill-set; he can score in the post, he can put the ball on the floor and attack and he can shoot. But perhaps his biggest attribute is his versatility on the defensive end. He’s got quick feet and mobility and can guard multiple positions.

Okongwu might actually play center in the NBA, especially in small-ball lineups, but he’s mostly played power forward and so he’ll probably see time there in the league. His skill-set fits perfectly with today’s game.

Obi Toppin, Dayton – 22 years old

Toppin is one of the older players in the draft, and in recent history, players that age tend to slip on draft boards. In Toppin’s case, it looks like the reverse might actually be true. He’s been projected as a lottery pick, and even going in the top 3.

He’s an incredibly athletic player who thrives in the open court. He looks like he’ll do well in an up-tempo offensive system that has capable playmakers who can find him in transition. He’s extremely active around the rim and he can finish strong. A decent shooter too, something he’ll need at the next level.

Toppin has the physical tools to be an effective defensive player, but that’s where the questions marks on him have been. In the NBA, he’s likely going to have to play and guard multiple positions. Whether or not he can adapt to that likely will answer the question as to what his ceiling can be.

Precious Achiuwa, Memphis – 20 years old

Achiuwa is another intriguing prospect. this writer actually got to watch him play in person while he was in high school and he was very impressive. He looked like a man among boys. He’s projected to be a late lottery pick.

He has an NBA-ready body and he’s got some toughness around the rim and in the paint. He was a double-double threat during his one season at Memphis and his knack for rebounding is something that should translate to the NBA. He’s a very good defender too, in particular, as a rim protector. He’s very quick and has the ability to guard multiple positions.

One of the main knocks on Achiuwa is his shooting ability. He didn’t shoot that well in college and power forwards being able to space the floor is almost a requirement in today’s NBA game. It’s something he can certainly work on and improve on though.

Honorable Mentions:
Paul Reed, DePaul – 21 years old
Xavier Tillman, Michigan State – 21 years old
Killian Tillie, Gonzaga – 22 years old

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