Top 5 NBA Power Forward Prospects

by September 02, 2008
13

by Jeff Fox

Beware young power forward prospects – there are monsters lurking at your position in the NBA, waiting for fresh victims. Monsters with names like Duncan, KG, Amare, Dirk, Boozer, Bosh and Brand. Monsters with championship rings, MVP awards and All-NBA honors on their resume.

Power forward is without a doubt the most competitive position in the NBA – just look at the names listed above. So the prospects below better bring their “A” games or stay in college a little longer (if that is an option).

1. Blake Griffin – Oklahoma – SO

Lost in all the publicity heaped upon other freshman last season was the play of Blake Griffin. He went off for 15 and 9 for the Sooners last year, including 10 double-doubles. Possessing perfect size for a 4-man (6’10” 251lbs) he also is an NBA-level athlete – look no further than his slam dunk title at the McDonald’s All-American game while he was in high school.

He does need to work on some things – most notably his horrendous free throw shooting touch (59%). If he continues to improve and has another big year down in Norman, he very well might be the first name out of David Stern’s mouth next June.

2. Tyler Hansbrough – North Carolina –SR

One man who is definitely not afraid of the NBA’s power forward monsters is the Tar Heels’ Tyler Hansbrough. A ferocious competitor, Hansbrough is a bruising player not afraid to mix it up down low – in fact he relishes it. The top returning player in the NCAA, North Carolina will be looking for Psycho T to take them to the NCAA title in his senior season.

Despite all this, there are some serious doubts concerning Hansbrough’s NBA potential. He’s not a superb athlete, may only be 6’8” and doesn’t have much of a game outside of the post area. Plus he will be 24-years-old when his first NBA season begins – ancient for a rookie. His intense play and work ethic will give him a job in the League, but whether he ends up anything more than a role player is the big question.

3. Patrick Patterson – Kentucky – SO

Billy Gillispie’s first big coup as coach of the Wildcats was getting big man Patrick Patterson to commit to the program. He then pulled off an even bigger coup by getting Patterson to stick around for more than one season in Lexington.

A former high school teammate of O.J. Mayo in Huntington, W.V., Patterson was a godsend for the Wildcats last season, providing a formidable inside presence (16.4ppg, 7.7rpg, 1.2bpg). Coming in at 6’8” 232lbs, Patterson is a bit undersized for the post in the NBA, but he should make up for this with his 7-foot plus wingspan. A very good back to the basic player who is able to absorb contact and still score, double P is also an explosive leaper – attacking the rim until it begs for mercy.

4. Samardo Samuels – Louisville – FR

At 6’8” 240lbs, with a long wingspan, Samardo Samuels is an undersized beast in the post similar to aforementioned Patterson. Rivals #9 prospect in the class of 2008, the St. Benedict’s (NJ) Prep star, by way of Jamaica, uses his superior strength and long arms to be a menace at both ends of the court. All this contributed to him being named USA Today’s national high school player of the year last season.

Playing for a former NBA coach in Rick Pitino and competing in the Big East, which looks to be extraordinarily competitive this upcoming season, should do wonders for Samuels’ game as he tries to become yet another one and done player.

5. Jordan Hill – Arizona – JR

Not a very highly touted recruit coming out of Lenoir, N.C., Jordan Hill didn’t even crack the Rivals top 150 prospect list for the class of 2006. However, he has steadily improved in his two seasons in Tucson and is now considered NBA first round draft pick material. How steadily has he improved? Compare his freshman stat line with his sophomore – 4.7ppg, 4.1rpg, 0.9bpg vs. 13.2ppg, 7.9rpg, 1.6bpg.

At 6’10” 226lbs, with long arms, Hill is a long and lean post player. As his blocked shots stats show, he uses his length to swat away opponent’s shots and to also flick hook shots over them on the offensive end. He also is very athletic for his size and has a nice shooting touch. Hill and his fellow classmate Chase Budinger will be the focal points for Arizona this year and will ensure that NBA scouts are regular guests to the McKale Center this season.

Next in line: Greg Monroe, Georgetown, Ater Majok, Connecticut; Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech; Connor Atchley, Texas; James Johnson, Wake Forest.

Next Column: Top 5 Centers

Previous rankings: Point Guards | Shooting Guards | Small Forwards

Jeff Fox writes more extensively about the NBA draft and college basketball at www.collegehoopsnet.com. All hate mail can be directed to him at foxyjj@sympatico.ca.