Small forward is one of the most important positions in the NBA, and has been one of the most dominant in the past 10 years. Some of the biggest NBA stars, like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony predominantly play small forward. It’s usually a position of high scoring and rebounding. In the 2014 NBA Draft, there is an abundance of top small forwards, one of the best crops of young talent in the past few years.
I’ve gone through some of the top small forwards in this years draft, and I decided to start with the former number one overall recruit currently balling at the University of Kansas…
Andrew Wiggins, University of Kansas
Coming into the 2013 NCAA Basketball season, Andrew Wiggins was named as the “next LeBron James” before he ever stepped foot on a college basketball court. The young Canadian out of Huntington Prep seemed to have the full skill set to live up to this high billing, but would still need to impress at the college level to live up to the hype.
And so far into the season, Wiggins has.
Although you could make a case that the former #1 recruit in ESPN’s Top 100 list hasn’t played as well as some other players at his own position (most notably Jabari Parker of Duke), Wiggins has impressed, albeit in a small sample size.
Wiggins has been averaging a solid 16.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game (all numbers lower than Jabari Parker’s) but impressive for a freshman nonetheless. Wiggins has shown the ability however to take over a game in an instant, and get hot and stay hot, like when Kansas played West Virginia, and Wiggins scored a career high 41 points on 12-18 shooting, including 15-19 from the charity line (also adding 8 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 5 steals).
Point of the story, Andrew can score, and score well.
Aside from his college stats, Wiggins does have the physical tools to succeed. He measures in at 6’8” and about 205 pounds, which is a little on the light side, but with his speed and ball handling, it may end up helping him. As mentioned, Wiggins may not have the perfect weight to get into the paint and score from the post or fight for rebounds, but with his elite speed and quickness, it may not be imperative that he puts on any weight.
Wiggins hasn’t fully developed an outside shot, as he cannot consistently knock down the three point shot, but he has shown the ability to nail some from downtown when needed. Wiggins will get the majority of his points off the fast break, and blowing past defenders coming from the wings. Andrew can play iso, and run the floor on his own, but can be a spot up shooter and space the floor and get himself open.
Unlike Parker, Wiggins doesn’t have the same ability to score over the top of defenders with ease, or shoot in traffic, but Wiggins has found it easier to get himself open as compared to Jabari Parker.
Some critics may have problems with Wiggins’s weight, but at the age of 19, he still has time to grow. He could easily be the type of player to redefine the small forward position, and play in the role of a Kevin Durant, who, despite his lack of elite strength, can still find ways to the hoop and score. As of now, it’s safe to say that Jabari Parker has looked like the better prospect this season, but Wiggins still has time to shine this year in the NCAA tournament, and maybe move ahead of Jabari Parker on some teams draft boards. He projects to play the small forward position in the pros, and should be an immediate impact for any team that drafts him this June. I project him to go in the Top 4 in the draft.
Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz, Orlando Magic