Draft 2011: Top 5 PF Prospects, Vol. 1
The deepest position in this year’s Draft?
The NBA is in need of some new blood in its power forward ranks. The players who have ruled the 4-spot of late in the NBA are all getting long in the tooth: Duncan, Garnett, Nowitzki, Gasol. While Kevin Love and Blake Griffin look like they could be the future of the position, don’t sleep on the 2011 Draft’s power forward pool — this is a talented, deep bunch. So talented and deep that all five names on this list could be off the board before the lottery portion of the Draft is done.
Leading the way is Baylor freshman Perry Jones, whose length, athleticism and overall potential could make him the first name called in the Draft. He still is young and needs to get stronger, but Jones could be a very good NBA player, especially in the open court where he can use his speed, athleticism and length to his advantage. Given time, he should even be able to play the small forward spot in the pros.
The best freshman in the nation (with Kyrie Irving on the shelf) has been Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, who has been nothing short of dominant. While his height (6-8 or 6-9) and lack of elite athleticism are a bit of a concern for the NBA, Sullinger has long arms and an even longer repertoire of moves on the court. He’s smart, strong, a great rebounder and looks to be a very solid NBA player for a long time.
Another undersized NBA power forward prospect who is dominating college hoops is Arizona’s Derrick Williams. Like Sullinger, Williams is in the 6-8 range (but not as bulky) but gets work done on the court. An explosive scorer, Williams has been lights out from the floor this year, shooting 63.7 percent from the floor and 69.4 percent (!!!) from long range. No, that’s no typo — he’s 25-36 from three-point land this year. He’s such an offensive dynamo that many are comparing him to Michael Beasley (however, not sure if that is much of a compliment anymore).
4) Jan Vesely | Czech Republic | 1990
The 6-11 Vesely might end up being a small forward in the NBA, but for now we’ll list him on our power forward list. Vesely could have been a top-10 pick in last year’s Draft but wanted to spend another year overseas growing his game. He’s been spending this season attacking the rim and posterizing opponents with punishing dunks in the Adriatic League and Euroleague.
A highly touted player coming out of high school, John Henson failed to deliver last year for the Tar Heels. But he is making up for it this season, as he’s starting to become the player many had envisioned him to be. While he’s still a rail-thin 6-10, 210lbs he has deceptive strength (but he’ll still need to get bigger for the pros). Henson is a terrific shot-blocker and rebounder and is an absolute menace on defense due to his length.
Next in line: Marcus Morris, Kansas; Trey Thompkins, Georgia; Kenneth Faried, Morehead State, Tristan Thompson, Texas.