Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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This NBA Draft class is fairly deep at the power forward position, but almost all of the players come with risks. Here are the top five power forwards.
1. Lauri Markkanen
FG percentage: 51
3FG percentage: 48.7
(All stats are as of 8 February)
Lauri Markkanen has played himself into a legit top 10 pick this season. He’s not just a good shooter, he’s an incredible one. Shooting just under 50 percent from three while attempting five a game is just jaw dropping. If you can find Markkanen wide open, the ball is going in. On top of this, Markkanen is a good free throw shooter, hitting over 80 percent of his shots at the charity stripe.
The Jyvaskyla native has put on a lot of muscle in the last year, and has not effected his mobility at all. Markkanen’s body is already NBA ready. Of course, there will be a transition period but he already has a deadly offensive game that will work efficiently and be effective from day one. Markkanen can definitely become the next great European stretch four; following on from Dirk Nowtzki and Kristaps Porzingis.
Markkanen has shown that he is a decent, but not great, rebounder. 7.5 rebounds a game is a decent number, but there are many small forwards who are averaging over 8 rebounds a game. In addition to Markkanen’s average rebounding, he isn’t a great rim protector, being a legit 7-footer and to only average half a block a game isn’t too attractive. But as we’ve seen with Nowitzki, you don’t have to be a brilliant rim protector to succeed as a stretch four.
The ceiling for Markkanen is very high, after seeing the immediate impact Porzingis had, it fills teams with hope that Markkanen could do the same.
Everyone was shocked when Ivan Rabb decided to return to Cal for his sophomore season. If he entered to 2016 NBA Draft he would’ve definitely been a lottery pick. Rabb bypassed millions of dollars to work on his game and come into to the NBA when he’s more prepared. It was a big decision, but that decision is looking like it’s paying off.
In his second year, Rabb has improved in almost all of his stats, he’s becoming a more well rounded, polished power forward. He’s even began hitting three’s this year. Rabb is also becoming more of a leader this year, being the team’s number oen option, you’d expect that from him. The Oakland native rebounding has been nothing short of excellent this year, his instincts around the rim should translate well to the NBA.
Offensively, Ivan Rabb has taken on a larger load, he’s taking more shots per game as well as averaging more points per game. Rabb has drawn comparisons to Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge, both are smooth inside scorers that are not rim protectors. Aldridge didn’t start hitting threes consistently until his ninth season, but with the way the NBA is headed Rabb will have to be able to hit threes from day one.
Despite his successes on the boards, Rabb has struggled protecting the rim. Despite standing 6-11 and possessing a 7-1 wingspan he is only averaging 1.2 blocks a game. Not an enticing number by any means. Considering that he is not a stretch four, like Markkanen, Rabb will have to improve this area of his game to be in the conversation for a top 10 pick.
Time will tell if his decision in returning to school was the correct one.
Harry Giles first torn his ACL, MCL and meniscus in his left knee in June 2013. Then in the first quarter of the first game of the season, Giles suffered a partially torn ACL that caused him to miss his entire senior season. Then in October, Giles had a left knee arthroscopy and missed the first 11 games of the season. This run of knee injuries are very concerning, and I mean very concerning. For a young player to go through this much already it’s hard to see a career that won’t be blighted by injuries. But with the potential he offers, it may be worth the risk in selecting him.
It’s clear that Coach Krzyzewski has eased Giles back into the lineup. There was no need to rush him back because Duke are already stacked to the brim with talent. Giles has only played 12.4 minutes on the season, that should go continue to go up as long as Giles stays healthy. They just need to wrap Giles in clingfilm so do doesn’t get hurt from now to the draft.
Aside from his injuries, Giles is a very talented player, and he has a massive, intimidating frame. Giles’ 7-3 wingspan give him sky high potential defensively. And if he fine-tunes his offensive game then he could be a force in the league. We’ve seen Joel Embiid succeed, another player who suffered injury after injury, and was very raw coming out of Kansas, but now he’s one of the best big men in the league.
On top of his ability, Giles has a big personality. He lightens up a room as soon as he enters. It’s key to be positive when going through various injuries and minute restrictions. Sound like anyone? Perhaps Joel Embiid. I’m not saying Giles is Embiid but when Embiid was a freshman at Kansas there are many similarities between injuries, personality, potential and rawness. As Embiid was the biggest boom-or-bust prospect in the 2014 draft, Giles will be the biggest boom-or-bust prospect in the 2017 draft.
It will be interesting to see which team will be brave enough to select Harry Giles, and how high he’ll get picked.
Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
4. TJ Leaf
FG percentage: 63.9
3FG percentage: 46.7
TJ Leaf has had a much bigger impact for UCLA than most people had expected coming into the season. This is mainly down to the unselfishness of point guard Lonzo Ball, but Leaf has shown great offensive awareness to get open and in good shooting spots, and he knocks them down on a consistent basis. Leaf was expected to be a multi-year college player, he was on almost no mock drafts up until November, he’s finally getting the recognition he deserves.
Leaf was shooting above 50 percent from three up until his recent dry spell, he hasn’t hit a three in his last four games, going 0-4. The UCLA power forward is very much like Ryan Anderson. They’re both stretch four who aren’t the best athletes and not the greatest defenders. In what looks to be one of the deepest draft classes in years, Leaf has managed to cement his place into the late lottery, mid first round conversation.
I dont expect Leaf to have a big upside, similar to Ryan Anderson, he’ll come into the league and hit 3-pointers for his career. He could possibly he an average starter or maybe a valuable sixth man. If Leaf can light it up from three for the rest of the season then we may see him get selected as high as the lottery.
I wonder how TJ Leaf will perform without having Lonzo Ball as his point guard.
Jul 4, 2015; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The flag of Germany is carries off the field before a game between Germany and England in the third place match of the FIFA 2015 Women
FG percentage: 40.5
3FG percentage: 26.7
Isaiah Hartenstein is this year’s mystery man. Nobody know all too much about him or have seen much footage of him. This is very similar to previous years, last year it was Dragan Bender, then Kristaps Porzingis the year before. All of which are 7-footers who can shoot the ball very well. Another comparison is that during their last year overseas, they were all very skinny, that trend continues with Hartenstein.
Hartenstein is a better shooter than what his stats suggests. At the U18 European Championships earlier this year, Hartenstein put up 14.7 points per game and 9.5 rebounds per game while averaging 25 minutes a game. He shot 33.3 percent from three on the tournament, a good indication of what his long ball may develop into.
Depending on what team drafts Hartenstein, they may ask him to stay overseas for a year to two as he isn’t fully ready for the NBA. That said, teams were also saying that about Porzingis and he ended being unanimously selected to the All-NBA Rookie 1st Team. It’s fair to say that Hartenstein may prove to be one of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects in the draft class.