NBA Draft: The Top Power Forward Prospects (version 1)

I start the first of my NBA draft positional breakdowns with the power forward crop. The power forward prospects this season may not be the potential transcendent type talent that we see at the wing positions (Wiggins and Parker) and perhaps the center position with Joel Embiid, but it’s a good crop of players, who look to be impact players at the next level. Here’s the top players at the PF position:

A note: A am counting Doug McDermott and Jerami Grant as small forwards, although I can make the case that they would be better served as power forwards.  From everything I have read though, most people tend to think the natural position for both is SF. I also have no idea what position to peg UCLA’s Kyle Anderson at.  He looks like a PF, but plays like a PG.  MY guess is a SF, but I’m not sure.  For now, I will exclude him from this list.

Lottery Picks:

1. Noah Vonleh, Indiana 6’10” 240 lbs, Freshman

So I am one of the few who has Vonleh ranked higher than Randle, but I believe at the NBA level, Vonleh’s superior length and perimeter game will make him a better player.  Vonleh has been rebounding the ball really well of late, with double-doubles in 5 of his last 6 games.  While Vonleh does not get many touches offensively within the Indiana offense, he has proven that he has the potential to be a big time scorer.  He is a very good shooter as he is 71% from the free throw line, a remarkable 58% from downtown (11-19 on the season), and 54% overall.  He is still learning offensively, especially in the post, but the raw skills and measurables are undeniable.

2. Julius Randle, Kentucky, 6’9″ 225 lbs, Freshman

Randle, who started the season in absolute beastmode, has regressed somewhat recently.  Formerly a double-double machine, he hasn’t posted one 3 weeks and has been struggling rebouding the basketball.  Randle is however, an animal in the paint, reminding many of a young Zach Randolph.  He has incredible touch and body control, which he uses to create space when there seems to be none.  From a purely offensive prospective, he is the best at his position in the draft.  Defensively, I have not been as impressed with what he has shown.  He has quick hands that he uses to slap at the ball and does have solid footwork, but I think at the NBA level, players will easily be able to get him off balance and shoot over him. I still see Randle as an all-star caliber player in the NBA, but I don’t think his ceiling is as high as Vonleh’s.

3. Aaron Gordon, Arizona 6’8″ 210lbs, Freshman

Gordon is a freak athlete, an elite defensive prospect, and a high IQ player. He has one of, if not the best motor in the draft.  His footwork on defense is elite, he has very quick hands and is lighting quick off his feet to challenge shots.  He rarely lets a player get where they want to go. His only problems, from my prospective are on the offensive end.  On that side of the court I think he is pretty terrible.  He is a weak shooter at best from both the free throw line (42%) and from anywhere outside 8 feet (29% from three point land).  Right now, he doesn’t find his own offense and relies on passes from his teammates to give him alley oops, easy layups, or short leaners.  He is a huge asset in the transition game offensively with his speed, strength, vertical, and handle.  Right now I do not see him as an all star, but without question a very valuable player to have on your team.

Other First Rounders:

4. Adreian Payne, Michigan St. 6’10 225lbs, senior

Payne is a perfect stretch power forward.  He is an excellent athlete and will be a solid defender, but his real asset to any team will be his shooting ability.  He is a knock down shooter from all over the court.  I think he is one of the most sure fire impact players you can find late in the first round of this upcoming draft. He is currently shooting over 44% from downtown in a tough conference.

5. Clint Capela Switzerland, 6’10” 215 lbs

The long armed Swiss has all of the measurables you would want in a power forward.  I have not seen him play a full game, so I am going off of solely game stats, highlight video, and the word of other scouts, but he looks like a great project big. He projects as an impact defensive player, rebounder, and scorer around the basket.  Keep an eye out, when he comes for workouts, he could skyrocket up draft boards. I am very intrigued.


6. Montrezl Harris, Louisville, 6’8″ 235 lbs, Sophmore

Harris is a poor mans Paul Milsap right now.  He has superior strength and athletic ability, but he is undersized for the next level.  He is still learning how to score and refine his post moves, but the motor and work ethic seem to be there.  I think he has a very bright future and could become an all-star someday, but he will need a couple years to mature as a player. He needs to become a better mid range and free throw shooter to truly be successful at the NBA level.

Top Second Round Prospects: Cory Jefferson (Baylor), Dwight Powell (Stanford), Tj Warren (NC State)


Please feel free to comment or ask me any questions.  I’d love to debate or talk NBA/college ball!

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3 thoughts on “NBA Draft: The Top Power Forward Prospects (version 1)

  1. wilson

    When you get to the center position, may I also suggest you consider Alabama’s freshman center, Jimmy Taylor. He is shooting 62% from the field, albeit mostly around the hoop, and even then infrequently. Additionally he appears to be turning into a shotblocking machine as his confidence seems to be growing as he adapts to Alabama’s defense oriented focus. He may well be the best from Bama in quite a few years.

    1. Andrew Lipson Post author

      I have watched a bit of Jimmy Taylor as my family has strong ties with the Crimson Tide. He certainly has the size and length to be a big time player. Right now, i think he’s two years away so I don’t think he would leave this early for the draft. I probably wouldn’t include him with the top center prospects now, but I really like that you have an eye out for the future. He certainly is one of the freshmen who has a really bright future if he puts in the work.

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