Ranking the 5 best small forwards in the 2023 NBA Draft

Brandon Miller, Alabama Crimson Tide -Syndication Tuscaloosa News
Brandon Miller, Alabama Crimson Tide -Syndication Tuscaloosa News /
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Dariq Whitehead, NBA Draft (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)
Dariq Whitehead, NBA Draft (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images) /

NBA Draft #5: Dariq Whitehead, Duke

Dariq Whitehead is one of the more difficult first-round prospects to assess ahead of the draft. He should be one of the best small forwards of the class, but an uneven campaign at Duke and injuries muddy the waters.

The McDonald’s All-American averaged an uninspiring 8.3 points per game during his lone season with the Blue Devils. He did manage to shoot well, hitting 43 percent of his three-pointers.

How much of his struggles were related to a foot injury? That’s in the eye of the beholder – and evaluating medical staffs. He required a procedure on his right foot during the preseason before his collegiate campaign. After it didn’t heal properly, he’s set to undergo another procedure, though he’s expected to be ready for his debut season.

Still, it’s all a bit worrying. If there was no injury concern, Whitehead would likely be a couple of spots higher on this pecking order. Foot injuries have a history of hobbling young players at the starts of their careers, though.

Outside of that pesky foot, Whitehead has an ideal frame for the NBA game, standing 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds. He can slash on the offensive end and make some plays, while on defense he has the ability to switch, though his lack of athleticism could be a hindrance on that end.

As long as this second procedure is a success, Whitehead could regain some of his favorable attributes and become a potential steal towards the bottom of the first round. His health is everything, though.