Mar 21, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Creighton Bluejays forward Doug McDermott (3) signals in the second half of a men

NBA Draft: Top Small Forward Prospects

We have taken a look at the top point guard and shooting guard prospects in the upcoming NBA Draft. Now, we take a look at the top small forward prospects at the NBA Draft, and see if they fit with the Utah Jazz.

1. Jabari Parker – Duke

Parker is the most NBA-ready player in the draft and the most polished scorer, able to make shots from anywhere on the floor. His skillset is incredibly advanced for his age, with ball-handling skills, a well-developed midrange arsenal and a strong understanding of the game. He’s a willing rebounder with a wide lower half that lets him hold his own down low. Though he took a lot of difficult shots at Duke, it was often a byproduct of a stagnant offense. Parker is an unselfish player who enjoys making his teammates better, even if it didn’t translate into assists — remember that he played out of position a lot of the time last season. He’s a leader with unquestionable character, and has dealt admirably with the heavy spotlight that’s been on his shoulders since high school. A basketball junkie who eats, sleeps and breathes for the game, Parker has the ability to be a perennial all-star and elite scorer. He’s as safe a bet as there is in this draft to have a long NBA career.

There are questions about what position Parker will be able to guard in the NBA, as he’s a good-not-great athlete and was a liability at times for Duke. He’ll have to commit to improving on the defensive end and build his body in order to stay with guys, whether it’s on the perimeter or in the post. Parker will score enough to stay on the floor, but to really shine at the next level, you’d like to see him make that effort to guard. But defensive development is coachable, and though he might have some athletic limitations sticking the quickest of small forwards, based on Parker’s work ethic it’s easy to see him step up in that area — he’ll never make an all-defensive team, but he won’t have to to be a star.

Parker would fit basically anywhere he is drafted because of his scoring ability. However, the lack of defense in his game would make some GM’s a little nervous, but there is no way any other small forward in this draft is better and more NBA ready than he is.

2. Doug McDermott – Chreighton

McDermott was one of the most prolific scorers in NCAA history. He dominated in each of his four seasons at Creighton by utilizing a polished mid-range game, post ups and – his best skill – shooting. In McDermott’s senior season, observers took to calling him “McBuckets,” a nod to his penchant for, well, getting buckets. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about McDermott’s college career was his ability to balance efficiency with a high usage rate. McDermott probably won’t be asked to carry any team’s offense in the NBA, but his skillset makes him well suited for a secondary scoring role.

There are questions about McDermott’s ability to defend at the next level. It’s unclear whether he is agile enough to stay in front of ball handlers or strong enough to handle post players. Also, McDermott’s height (6-foot-6 1/4 inches without shoes) and wing span measurements (just over 6-9) won’t do him any favors on draft day. His lack of elite athleticism, coupled with a smaller frame than some expected, could give teams pause. And while he had no trouble scoring against college opponents, there could be an adjustment period against longer, quicker NBA defenders.

McDermott would be a great fit offensively in Utah, but the only way the Jazz could draft him would be to trade up somewhere between 8-15 range. His scoring could bring an added spark off the bench that the Jazz would need. However, more than likely, the Jazz won’t be able to land him.

3. Rodney Hood – Duke

A big, smooth wing who can score from all over the court, Hood is one of the better scorers in this class. The lanky lefty hit threes at a prolific clip last season and his shooting should translate at the NBA level. He played somewhat in the shadow of Parker at Duke but took advantage of his opportunities, playing under control, limiting turnovers and making smart plays. Hood’s an intriguing piece that should provide some immediate help by spreading the floor with room to grow down the road.

What Hood boasts in scoring ability, he lacks in an all-around game. His ball-handling leaves something to be desired, which hampers some of what he can do offensively. He likes to hang around on the perimeter, isn’t an outstanding rebounder and didn’t make much of a concerted effort on the glass as one of the tallest regulars on a Duke team that badly needed interior help. He’s not a max-effort defender and some added muscle would help him guard NBA wings as well as improve his own scoring around the rim. Hood has to prove he can at least cut it defensively if he wants to become a regular and maximize his ability at the next level.

As mentioned, Hood kind of lived in the shadow of Parker in college. However, there were a lot of nights where Hood was equally as impressive or more impressive than Parker. He has great length, but is very thin and could end up being someone who doesn’t get to see the court much, but I could be wrong.

4. Kyle Anderson – UCLA

It’s hard to predict how Anderson will fare in the NBA because it’s been a long time since we’ve seen a prospect with a similar skill set. Anderson has an excellent feel for the game that really shines through in his passing. At UCLA last season, Anderson posted a 34.3 assist rate, one of the top 25 marks in the country. His nickname – Slo-Mo – is well earned, as Anderson often looks like he’s operating at a leisurely pace. But don’t be fooled: Anderson is able to deftly beat defenders with hesitations and clever dribbles. Anderson also uses his good instincts and positioning to contribute on the defensive glass, where last season he pulled down 25.5 percent of opponents’ misses, a top-30 rate nationally.

One of Anderson’s biggest assets in college – his size, relative to other players at his position – won’t be as helpful in the NBA, where quicker, stronger defenders could neutralize him. A lack of top-end athleticism will hurt Anderson on both ends of the floor. The range of crafty moves he used to break down college defenders may not work as well and he could wind up being a liability on the defensive end. With Anderson seemingly too slow to match up with opposing point guards and too weak to bang with opposing big men, how will he be deployed defensively?

5. Glenn Robinson III – Michigan

After a promising freshman season at Michigan in which he averaged 11 points and shot 57 percent from the field, Robinson didn’t make the sophomore “leap” some were expecting. Still, Robinson occasionally flashed the type of athleticism and scoring ability that project well in the NBA. Robinson’s learning curve will be eased by his physical gifts. He is one of the best athletes in this class, as evidenced by the 41.5-inch vertical he recorded at the pre draft combine. His combination of size and athleticism provide the framework for defensive success, provided he is consistently putting forth a strong effort.

The biggest reasons many scouts are optimistic Robinson can become a valuable piece at the next level is his combination of size and athleticism. Yet during his two college seasons, he didn’t come close to maximizing those tools. Creating off the dribble can be a struggle for Robinson and he needs to tighten up his ball handling. Robinson is also a poor rebounder for his size and his perimeter skills are still developing. Teams thinking about taking him may need to wait a couple of seasons before he makes a big impact.

I’ve had an article before talking about how Robinson would fit in Utah, and if you read it, I think he could fit very well. I see him being able to come off the bench and have a very big role. His best season at Michigan was when he played with current Jazz point guard, Trey Burke. With Robinson coming to the Jazz and playing again with Burke, it could be just what he needs to help his game advance in the NBA.

This article was put together with help from Sports Illustrated. Ideas and thoughts are a combination of personal thoughts, as well as profiles on prospects from SI. 

Tags: Doug McDermott Glenn Robinson III Jabari Parker Kyle Anderson NBA NBA Draft Rodney Hood Utah Jazz

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