2010 NBA Draft – Small Forwards
There was a time when Wesley Johnson was a virtual unknown – that time is gone.
As we continue our breakdown of the best 2010 NBA Draft prospects by position, not only are the players getting bigger — they are also getting better. The point guard class is a one trick pony, the shooting guard class a bit better, while the small forward prospect group is even stronger yet. All five players on the following list are potential lottery picks, with the top two guys possibly going in the top five. And leading the way is a player that was totally off all our radars at the beginning of the season.
1) Wesley Johnson | Syracuse | Junior
The Iowa State transfer’s breakout season continues for the surprising Syracuse Orange. He has everything you look for in a NBA small forward — size (7-foot wingspan), athleticism and shooting range (45 percent from deep). He is projected by some to be the second player picked in June after John Wall.
2) Al-Farouq Aminu | Wake Forest | Sophomore
Al-Farouq Aminu also has size and athleticism to spare, with the added bonus of being three years Johnson’s junior. As hoped, the 19-year-old has blossomed as “The Man” for Wake Forest this year, averaging 18 points and 12 boards a game. In fact, you aren’t going to find a better rebounding small forward in the college game right now. If he could develop an outside shot he could improve his draft stock even more.
3) Devin Ebanks | West Virginia | Sophomore
Similar to Farouq-Aminu, Devin Ebanks is a guy who could play either forward spots in the NBA. A scorer, rebounder and good passer, Ebanks also needs to improve his outside shot like Aminu. And, considering he plays for Bobby Huggins at West Virginia, he won’t blink if a NBA coach starts screaming at him!
4) Stanley Robinson | Connecticut | Senior
Is there a more fitting nickname in NCAA hoops than Sticks for Stanley Robinson? Not only is Robinson skinny like a stick, he’s got springs like a pogo stick. Robinson’s draft stock has soared in this his senior season at UConn, as he is now improbably talked about as a potential lottery pick. Athleticism, length and a nice outside touch is what he brings to the table.
5) Elias Harris | Gonzaga | Freshman
Another guy most of us didn’t have a real clue about before this season is German import Elias Harris. Harris has stepped in and filled the void Gonzaga was left with after player departures this summer, as the rookie leads the Bulldogs in scoring and rebounding. And when you look at some advanced stats (effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage) you’ll find Harris among the best in the nation.
Next in line: Gordon Hayward, Butler; Damion James, Texas; Quincy Pondexter, Washington; Kyle Singler, Duke; Paul George, Fresno State.
Next up: Power Forwards
Read more of Jeff Fox at The Hoops Manifesto.