Monday, June 2, 2008

Top 5 Power Forward Prospects

The 2008 class of power forwards is loaded at the top, with three or four likely lottery picks in the group (depending on how you classify Anthony Randolph - I have him as a small forward). Regardless, even after you get passed that first group, there is still a good amount of talent, and four or five other players could sneak into the end of the first round with impressive workouts. Click on the player's name for more in-depth analysis.

1. Michael Beasley, Kansas State: Beasley may be the most talented player in this year's draft, but it looks like he will drop to the second pick (much like Kevin Durant did last year). There isn't much Beasley can't do on the court. He can score facing a defender up or backing him down, is a great rebounder, has unbelievable hands, is essentially ambidextrous, and has enough ball-handling ability to lead a fast break. He also apparently has developed his jump-shot so that he is deadly from the NBA three point line. The biggest question with Beasley has always been character and work ethic issues - does he want to be great?

2. Kevin Love, UCLA: Love is an interesting case. Skill-wise, he is very talented. He can shoot out to about twenty feet, is an excellent passer (especially on outlet passes), doesn't turn the ball over, has good moves in the post, and has an excellent feel for the game and basketball IQ. The problem is that he is not very athletic - at all - and has dealt with injury and weight problems in the past. But word is that Love had already dropped some weight heading into the pre-draft camp and was in the best shape he has ever been during his work outs. He may never develop into a star, but he is too talented to not be a solid NBA player.

3. Darrell Arthur, Kansas: Arthur is also an intriguing prospect. He is a great athlete - explosive, quick with quick feet, and can run the floor - and performed great during his workouts at the pre-draft camp. He also showed off a much improved jump shot, consistently hitting shots out to about 18 feet. He has a good back-to-the-basket game (and a very good turn-around jumper) and is stronger than his 215lb frame would lead you to believe. He has been moving up the draft boards (he looks like a lock for the lottery now, and could climb into the top 10), but how good Arthur becomes depends on how good he wants to be.

4. Jason Thompson, Rider: Thompson played in the MAAC, which means that the phenomenal numbers he put up the last two seasons must be taken with a grain of salt, but he did go against two players on this list and had two of his better games - 24 and 17 against Michael Beasley and 24 and 15 against JJ Hickson. Thompson has a complete game, but does not really excel at anything. He's an average athlete, has a good post-up game (but can't really go left), is a pretty good shooter, a below-average defender, etc. But his combination of size and ability (think Juwan Howard) should allow him to hang around the league for a while

5t. JJ Hickson, NC State and Richard Hendrix, Alabama: Both of these guys are good enough to be contributors in the NBA, but in very different ways. Hickson has much more potential that Hendrix given his athleticism and length, but is very raw and pretty much survived on his natural ability this season. Hendrix on the other hand has a pretty developed game and is incredibly strong (especially at establishing position on the block), but his lack of athleticism, size, and his tremendous bulk (he is 6'8", 250lb) gives him a ceiling somewhere around a Paul Millsap.

Honorable Mention: Ryan Anderson, Cal; Serge Ibaka, Congo; Marreese Speights, Florida; DJ White, Indiana.

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