Monday, June 25, 2007

Second Tier Small Forwards

Previously: Oden v. Durant, First-Round Point Guards, Second-Round Point Guards, First-Round Shooting Guards, Lottery Small Forwards

These are the guys that could go anywhere from the middle of the first round to the middle of the second round. Taking any of them at the upper boundary is probably a stretch. Taking any of them at the lower boundary is almost certainly a good value.

In alphabetical order, the 2006-07 seasons of Derrick Byars, Jared Dudley, Reyshawn Terry, Alando Tucker, and Thaddeus Young:

Points, assists, turnovers, blocks, and steals listed per 100 individual possessions


Thaddeus Young is projected to be the first of this group drafted, which, barring information to which I don't have access (spectacular workouts or other demonstrations of potential not displayed during his time at Georgia Tech) strikes me as a huge gamble if not an outright mistake.

Young was an extreme finesse player as a college freshman, failing to make half of his two-point attempts, making just 14 free throws for every 100 field goal attempts, and putting up a defensive rebounding percentage that would acceptable for a point guard but is embarrassing for a frontcourt player.

There are positive attributes to Young's game. He made 41.9% of his three-point shots (while taking just 25.1% of his field goal attempts from beyond the arc) and was active on the offensive glass. Were he able to consolidate these strengths while adding other positive contributions he would (obviously) become quite a good player. Like Spencer Hawes, however, Young's projectable improvement has a lot to do with how (relatively) little he contributed as a college freshman.

Offensively, I see Young, like Donyell Marshall, concentrating his value in making jump shots and getting offensive rebounders. Because he's smaller than Marshall, Young will have to find a position he can defend if he wants to match Marshall's overall value or playing time.

Teams looking at Young in the mid-to-late first-round would be better off (at least in the short term) taking Derrick Byars who is a superior scorer, ball-handler, passer, and defender. I don't see Byars getting much better than he is now but he should be able to contribute fairly quickly.

Of course, Byars is four years older than Young so a team that is not drafting for immediate help could have reason to gamble on Young who is more likely to improve. However, Young would have to improve fairly significantly to be as good as Byars is now.

I have little doubt that Reyshawn Terry is the best player in this group. In his senior season at North Carolina he checked off every item on the list of "Ways to Be a Good Basketball Player Without Being Noticed" with the exception of don't turn the ball over.

Terry played limited minutes on a very good team. He scored efficiently but not often. He played good defense. He rebounded (defensively) extremely well for his position.

Terry will join an NBA team and immediately be asked to the things he did so well at North Carolina. His junior season, where he scored over 33 Pts/100 possessions and was a significant factor on the offensive glass only makes him more intriguing.


It's tempting to look at a useful, unspectacular NBA player like Ryan Gomes and project such a future for good, similarly-sized collegiate prospects. Because we now watch Ryan Gomes carry water for players better-suited for NBA basketball it's easy to forget that he was not a pretty good college player, he was a great college player.

Jared Dudley was not a great college player. He was a very good scorer in college but he was a fairly indifferent rebounder and defender (though the latter is symptomatic of Al Skinner's Boston College players and teams and may not be chronic in Dudley's case). Dudley's offensive game is rather unique whichshould make it easier for to find (and hold onto) a role in an NBA team's rotation. He's an effective player in the paint (both making shots and getting to the free throw line) and as a perimeter shooter. His value will be closer to Clarence Weatherspoon or Lee Nailon than it will be to Ryan Gomes.

Alando Tucker had an outstanding career at Wisconsin but I have almost zero faith that he can be an effective offensive player in the NBA. He was a poor shooter throughout his college career:


To stay in the league I suspect he'll have to transform himself into an Adrian Griffin-style player. I don't think there's a market for a smaller Antoine Walker even if this version were to be smarter, harder-working, and more likely to miss shots from 18- rather than 25-feet.

Small forward rankings, in full:

1. Kevin Durant
2. Corey Brewer
3. Jeff Green
4. Julian Wright
5. Al Thornton
6. Reyshawn Terry
7. Derrick Byars
8. Thaddeus Young
9. Jared Dudley
10. Alando Tucker

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