2019 NBA Draft Prospects: Power Forwards

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2019 NBA Draft Prospects: Power Forwards 

Post#1 » by RealGM Articles » Tue Jun 18, 2019 1:35 pm

In the pace-and-space era, power forward has become a swing position. The NBA increasingly demands that the second big play like a bog wing on offense who is not only credible as an outside shooting threat, but can also make plays off the bounce as well


On the other end, whether this player offers the versatility to defend multiple types, smaller or bigger, has become key, since switching is now the preferred method of defense in high leverage situations.


That evolution is reflected in this draft class where the top five players have at least shown flashes of being able to differently sized guys in a pinch.


ESPN’s top 100 was used as the guide for the positions and rankings cited, for organization purposes.


The stats cited in this post were researched at our own stats’ database and hoop-math and the measurements cited were researched at NBA.com/stats/ and Draft Express’ database.


Let’s dive into the specifics.


- Zion Williamson (Ranked 1st, Duke, 19 years, 6’7, 285 LBS)


Zion Williamson is probably the most remarkable athlete to enter the NBA since LeBron James. Listed at six-foot-seven and 285 pounds, Williamson is a wrecking ball with impressive ball handling skills for someone with his frame, who can create shots for himself and others out of the perimeter against a set defense.


He has an explosive first step to get by opposing big men who opt to press him, can maintain his momentum forward through contact against physical defense and can unleash in-and-out dribbles or go between the legs into crossovers to shake his defender out of position from time-to-time.


Williamson is extremely well coordinated for someone with his weight – having shown fluidity putting the ball on the floor out of triple threat position, pivoting into spin moves in a split second off the bounce and exhibiting great body control on hard jump-stops to avoid charges. Thanks to his combination of skill, strength and nimbleness, it’s tough to keep him out of the basket as he drives – with 55.6% of his makes at the rim unassisted last season.


He has yet to develop a patient approach operating in middle pick-and-roll but has a good feel for rejecting picks and bulldozing his way through on straight line drives.


The 18-year-old [1] is an explosive leaper off two feet to go up with power in traffic and can finish through contact but has also shown the flexibility to adjust his body in the air extended and scoop finishes among the trees, besides flashing a floater off a jump-stop to score over length from the in-between area.


He has better touch with his dominant left hand rather than with his right hand but Williamson has shown to be a great finisher regardless – converting 79.2% of his 313 attempts at the rim, at an incredible pace of 10 such makes per 40 minutes.


































































TABLE 1 - TOP FIVE PLAYERS IN FIELD GOALS MADE AT THE RIM PER 40 MINUTES IN THE NCAA IN 2018-2019, AMONG PLAYERS RANKED ON ESPN'S TOP 100



ESPN RANK



PROSPECT



TEAM



RIM FGA



RIM FGM



RIM FGA/40



RIM FGM/40



1



Zion Williamson



Duke



313



248



12,6



10,0



41



Daniel Gafford



Arkansas



223



183



9,7



8,0



13



Brandon Clarke



Gonzaga



236



188



9,1



7,2



71



Tacko Fall



UCF



169



136



8,2



6,6



96



Moses Brown



UCLA



179



121



9,6



6,5



Source: hoop-math



_


The South Carolina native hasn’t showcased anything particularly special in terms of crosscourt passes against the momentum of his body in traffic or pocket passes to the roll man playing with pace in pick-and-roll but has proven himself capable of delivering strong-side kickouts or drop-offs on the move and spotting shooters drifting around the wing on the opposite side or diagonal cutters with his back to the basket – assisting on 14.6% of Duke’s scores when he was on the floor.


As far as creating for himself in the post, Williamson mixes power moves to carve up space on pure strength for hooks with spin moves behind light footwork for scoop finishes.


Based on his strength and explosive leaping ability, he offers the option to play at center for stretches, though it didn’t happen a lot in his time at Duke where he shared the floor with either Marques Bolden or Javin DeLaurier most of the time.


Williamson has shown he can play above the rim as a target for lobs sneaking behind the defense in transition, on baseline cuts and crashing the offensive glass, so he figures to be equally as threatening as a rim roller.


With the area near the basket generally crowded in college, Williamson made more of a habit of spacing out to the three-point line off the ball. But he is only a capable three-point shooter at this point of his development – nailing just a third of his 71 such attempts at Duke – and though he took some shots off movement jogging to open spots off roll-and-replace or drifting around the wing, it’s likely his somewhat mechanical release will need to be reworked.


His 64% foul shooting on 203 free throws also puts into question if he has enough of a base in place in terms of sound mechanics to develop into more of an average shooting threat in the near future rather than in the long run.


Defensively, Williamson puts in great effort transitioning back and his chasedown blocks are more impressive than his dunks.


He has so far proven to be more effective defending closer to the rim, making quick rotations off the weak-side and exploding off two feet in a pinch to act as a constant shot blocking threat – averaging 2.4 blocks per 40 minutes.


Away from the basket, Williamson is more hit-and-miss. When engaged, he can bend his knees to get down in a stance, has a couple of lateral slides in him to stay in front of face-up big men or wings out in space, uses his strength to chest up and contain dribble penetration, puts in the effort to contest pull-ups, covers a ton of ground on hard closeouts and leverages his instincts making plays in the passing lanes – averaging 2.8 steals per 40 minutes.


But Williamson is also prone to playing flat-footed pick-and-roll defense, mixing in those great closeouts with iffy ones from time-to-time and gambling wildly for steals he lacks the length to get.


- DeAndre Hunter (Ranked 5th, Virginia, 21 years old, 6’8’’, 221 LBS)


Hunter profiles as the two-way big wing every team is looking for to surround their stars with in the pace-and-space era.


The six-foot-eight, 222-pounder has proven himself an ace on-ball defender against similarly sized opponents and has shown he can hold up when asked to pick up bigger or smaller players on switches.


Hunter bends his knees to get down in a stance, has as many lateral slides as needed in him to stay in front out in space, chests up to contain dribble penetration, guards with his arms up and puts in the effort to contest pull-ups.


He is not an option to crossmatch onto smaller guys for entire possessions, though – unable to go over picks at the point of attack cleanly.


The 21-year-old [2] is also not as well developed away from the ball as he is guarding one-on-one. He is attentive enough to switch on the fly and step up to the front of the rim as the last line of defense but doesn’t leverage his athletic ability to fly around creating events, doesn’t assist the rim protection effort coming off the weak-side as much he should and struggles to negotiate screens chasing shooters around.


His contributions on the defensive glass are also somewhat disappointing, as he picked up only 13.3% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor last season.


On the other end, Hunter offers floor spacing as a good open shot shooter – nailing 43.8% of his 105 three-point shots last season, though at a pace of only 3.4 such attempts per 40 minutes.








































































TABLE 2 - TOP FIVE PLAYERS IN THREE-POINT PERCENTAGE IN 2018-2019, AMONG POWER FORWARDS RANKED ON ESPN'S TOP 100



ESPN RANK



PROSPECT



TEAM



MIN



3PM



3PA



3PA/40



3P%



84



Donta Hall



Alabama



911



1



1



0



100,0%



21



Cameron Johnson



North Carolina



1078



96



210



7,8



45,7%



45



Zylan Cheatham



Arizona State



1102



11



25



0,9



44,0%



5



De'Andre Hunter



Virginia



1234



46



105



3,4



43,8%



16



P.J. Washington



Kentucky



1024



33



78



3



42,3%



Source: our stats' database



_


He hasn’t yet developed into a volume shot taker because his release is still somewhat mechanical and causes him to hesitate against some closeouts he shouldn’t fear.


As a counter to that limitation, Hunter is extremely fluid shot faking into putting the ball on the floor attacking closeouts and out of ball reversals for straight line drives to the basket or one-dribble pull-ups in rhythm – nailing 42.8% of his 152 two-point jumpers last season.


The Philadelphia native is not an explosive leaper off one foot and has only so-so touch on non-dunk finishes but does a decent job of protecting the ball in traffic and can deliver kickouts to the strongside or drop-offs to the dunker spot on the move – assisting on 13% of Virginia’s scores when he was on the floor and posting a 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio.


Hunter is a capable shot creator in the post, mostly against smaller players on switches but facing up against bigger types from time-to-time as well, as he loves to rely on his no-dribble jumper off a jab step and mixes in good-looking rip through moves on occasion.


That said, Hunter hasn’t shown much in terms of star potential as a shot creator from the perimeter against a set defense. He can create some separation for elbow pull-ups in isolation but hasn’t shown a tight enough handle to operate as a slasher in pick-and-roll, court vision for crosscourt passes to the opposite end in traffic or side-to-side shake to manipulate his defender out of position.


- Sekou Doumbouya (Ranked 9th, CSP Limoges, 18 years old, 6’9’’, 231 LBS)


It’s hard to imagine any other player in this draft evolved on offense as much as Doumbouya did throughout the year.


Much like Poitiers 86 last season, CSP Limoges played the six-foot-nine combo forward as a full-time wing instead of as a big man – which was how he exploded into the scene as a 16-year-old in the 2016 U18 FIBA European Championship.


Earlier in the season, Doumbouya was very unimpressive as a mere spot-up threat who did very little on the ball. But towards the end of the campaign, he was a lot more assertive pushing the ball up the floor on grab-and-go’s, taking his man off the bounce out of ball reversals with fairly impressive dribble moves for someone his size and even flashing a patient approach operating in middle pick-and-roll.


The 18-year-old [3] is still at his best shot-faking into straight line drives while managing to leverage his long strides and chiseled 231-pound frame to get all the way to the basket where he can hang in the air and finish through contact.


Doumbouya is a powerful one-foot leaper off momentum but has also shown a somewhat resourceful finishing package on finger-roll lefty layups and extended finishes to maneuver his way around rim protectors, though his touch on non-dunk finishes is only so-so so far.


He got chances to operate in isolation out of ball reversals, on hand-offs and off Iverson cuts and offered enough glimpses of star potential as a shot creator for himself one-on-one. Doumbouya hasn’t yet developed a particularly tight handle and has a bit of stiff posture who limits his side-to-side shiftiness but flashed the ability to hit pullups off hang dribbles and in-and-out dribbles in very impressive fashion. He’s shown a well-coordinated hiked leg turnaround fadeaway jumper on an emergency post-up as well.


The Conakry, Guinea native of French citizenship flashed a sleek bounce pass in middle high pick-and-roll but for the most part didn’t show anything particularly advanced in terms of being able to create for others on the move – assisting on just 6.4% of Limoges’ scores when he was on the floor and posting 0.6 assist-to-turnover ratio last season.


After missing of his first 25 three-point attempts to start the season, Doumbouya improved as a shooter as the year went on, even flashing some ability to take shots on the move jogging to the ball on hand-offs. He remains only a capable open shot shooter at this point of his development – nailing 35.8% of the subsequent 67 three shots he took – but has a projectable stroke.


Doumbouya catches on the hop, has a fluid motion (though one with a pronounced dip for rhythm), fully extends himself for a high release and often gets a good arc on his shot. His 75.8% foul shooting on 41 free throw suggests his touch is improving as well.


On the other end, he acted mostly as a weak-side defender who proved himself attentive to his responsibilities picking up the roll man, stepping up to the front of the rim as the last line of defense and switching on the fly away from the ball but fouled a ton and didn’t often leverage his athleticism to fly around creating events – averaging just 1.6 steals and 1.1 blocks per 40 minutes and collecting 15.8% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor, good but unimpressive marks for a top 10 prospect in the French Jeep Elite and the Eurocup, which are second-tier competitions in Europe.


Doumbouya was asked to crossmatch onto smaller players and chase mobile shooters from time-to-time. He is unable to go over picks at the point of attack and struggles to negotiate his way around multiple screens but impressed with his hustle in pursuit on both instances, leveraging his eight-foot-11 standing reach to challenge shots from behind and contesting effectively on hard closeouts.


- Rui Hachimura (Ranked 12th, Gonzaga, 21 years old, 6’8’’, 234 LBS)


Hachimura had a strong junior year to solidify himself as a contender to get picked in the lottery – averaging 26.1 points per 40 minutes on 63.9% true shooting as the leading scorer on a team that made it to the Elite Eight.








































































TABLE 3 - TOP FIVE PLAYERS IN SCORING PER 40 MINUTES IN 2018-2019, AMONG POWER FORWARDS RANKED ON ESPN'S TOP 100



ESPN RANK



PROSPECT



TEAM



MIN



FGA



FTA



PTS/40



TS%



1



Zion Williamson



Duke



990



435



203



30,1



70,2%



12



Rui Hachimura



Gonzaga



1117



465



222



26,1



63,9%



89



Robert Franks



Washington State



930



408



125



25,1



62,4%



13



Brandon Clarke



Gonzaga



1040



374



157



24,1



69,9%



62



Dedric Lawson



Kansas



1175



508



205



23,8



57,8%



Source: our stats' database



_


The six-foot-eight combo forward operated for the most part on face-ups off catches around or below the foul line, with 54.6% of his live-ball attempts at the rim and averaging 7.9 foul shots per 40 minutes. He can set deep seals against softer defenders, shoot over smaller players on switches and go around bulkier types.


Hachimura flashed decent court vision on crosscourt passes to the opposite end scanning the floor with his back to the basket but also looked off some open teammates to get tougher shots up himself from time-to-time – assisting on just 9.1% of Gonzaga’s scores when he was on the floor.


Operating from the perimeter, the Sendai native is not very shifty but can create separation to rise in balance in isolation and can shoot over the top of the average wing, showing impressive fluidity on step-back jumpers and going behind the back into his pull-up – converting 45.1% of his 175 mid-range attempts last season.


He hasn’t yet developed the ability to create for others in pick-and-roll, though, and his general court vision is suspect, as he is prone to driving into the crowds.


The 21-year-old [4] spaced out to the three-point line a little bit and proved himself a good open shot shooter on spot-ups with a fluid release – nailing 41.7% of his 36 three-point shots. But he isn’t a volume shot taker from long range yet – taking those at a pace of just 1.3 such attempts per 40 minutes.


Defensively, Hachimura can bend his knees to get down in a stance, has a couple of lateral slides to stay in front one-on-one and uses his length to contest pull-ups, though he could leverage his 234-pound frame to chest up and contain dribble penetration through toughness more often.


Gonzaga had him picking up smaller players on switches from time-to-time and Hachimura proved himself capable of keeping pace with them on straight line drives out on an island and block shots on the ball when engaged, though he isn’t suited to crossmatch onto these types regularly due to an ability to negotiate screens cleanly with to his wide frame and the fact he just doesn’t play with the sort of intensity needed for this sort of task.


As a weak-side defender, Hachimura executed the scheme switching on the fly away from the ball and made quick rotations to challenge shots at the rim but his closeouts back to the perimeter are only so-so and he doesn’t leverage his athleticism and length flying around to create events – averaging just 1.3 steals and 1.0 block per 40 minutes and last season.


- Brandon Clarke (Ranked 13th, Gonzaga, 22 years old, 6’8’’, 207 LBS)


Outside of Zion, I think it’s fair to say Clarke is the most explosive leaper in this draft class.


The six-foot-eight pogo stick can play above the rim as a target for lobs in very exciting fashion filling the lanes in transition, sneaking behind the defense on baseline cuts, crashing the offensive glass, roaming around in the dunker spot and, most importantly, going up in a crowd diving down the lane in the pick-and-roll – finishing his 123 attempts at the basket at a 79.7% clip last season.


Clarke lacks length to rebound outside of his area but has shown great instincts chasing the ball off the rim quicker than most his opponents, can explode off the ground to secure it higher than everyone else and has a quick second jump to fight for tip-ins or play volleyball around the rim – collecting 13.9% of Gonzaga’s misses when he was on the floor and converting his 47 putback attempts at an 82.5% clip.


The Vancouver native is well coordinated and has enough ball skills for straight line drives on perimeter catches, even mixing in a spin move from time-to-time. He is also shown a good looking no-dribble face-up jumper off a jab-step move on post-ups – nailing 52.8% of 123 two-point shots away from the basket.








































































TABLE 4 - TOP FIVE PLAYERS IN MID-RANGE SHOOTING IN THE NCAA IN 2018-2019, AMONG POWER FORWARDS RANKED ON ESPN'S TOP 100



ESPN RANK



PROSPECT



TEAM



MIN



% MID-RANGE FGA



% MID-RANGE FGM



MID-RANGE FGA



MID-RANGE FGM



13



Brandon Clarke



Gonzaga



1040



32,9%



52,8%



123



65



30



Grant Williams



Tennessee



1181



51,3%



52,3%



193



101



1



Zion Williamson



Duke



990



11,7%



47,1%



51



24



12



Rui Hachimura



Gonzaga



1117



37,6%



45,1%



175



79



16



P.J. Washington



Kentucky



1024



42,3%



44,8%



154



69



Source: hoop-math



_


Clarke is yet to transfer his shooting stroke out to the three-point line but has projectable mechanics, though his 69.4% foul shooting on 157 free throws puts some pause in that optimism.


It’s key that he continues to develop perimeter skills because even though Clarke is best suited to play center, his lack of length (eight-foot-six standing reach) and bulk (207 pounds) will likely prevent most coaches from playing him there full-time.


In college, at least, the 22-year-old[5] excelled as defender close the rim. His lack of reach made a difference on some contests but Clarke was proactive rotating off the weakside in help-defense and stepping up to the front of the rim as the last line of defense. With his explosive leaping ability, he challenged a lot of shots via verticality and acted as a constant shot blocking threat (4.4 blocks per 40 minutes), besides holding up fine in the defensive glass (19.7% defensive rebounding rate).








































































TABLE 5 - TOP FIVE PLAYERS IN BLOCKS PER 40 MINUTES IN 2018-2019, AMONG PLAYERS RANKED ON ESPN'S TOP 100



ESPN RANK



PROSPECT



TEAM



STANDING REACH



MIN



BLK



MIN/GP



BLK/40



77



Sagaba Konate



West Virginia



8'10,5''



193



22



24,1



4,6



13



Brandon Clarke



Gonzaga



8'6''



1040



114



28,1



4,4



71



Tacko Fall



UCF



10'2,5''



822



85



24,9



4,1



11



Jaxson Hayes



Texas



9'2,5''



747



71



23,3



3,8



15



Bol Bol



Oregon



9'7,5''



268



24



29,8



3,6



Source: our stats' database



 





[1] DOB: 7/6/2000




[2] DOB: 12/1/1997




[3] DOB: 12/23/2000




[4] DOB:2/8/1998




[5] DOB: 9/19/1996



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