Power Forward Prospects

[As we get closer to the draft, the Davis-Drummond-Robinson-Sullinger-Jones debate will start to heat up. I like those players in that order, but today, in the FanPosts, usnfish explains why he thinks Sullinger should be the top choice. - R]

It is generally accepted that the Power Forward position is the deepest in this draft. Andre Drummond (FR-Connecticut), Anthony Davis (FR-Kentucky), Jared Sullinger (SO-Ohio State), Perry Jones III (SO-Baylor) and Thomas Robinson (JR-Kansas) are all expected to go in the lottery. This is convenient since the Hornets do not have a PF of starting quality signed next year while GM Dell Demps has the other four positions solidified with Jarrett Jack, Eric Gordon (Hornets' fans hope), Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor under contract in 2012-2013. So which power forward is the best? And (this is important), which power forward fits the needs of the Hornets best? I think the answer to each question is different and will attempt to explain.

Andre Drummond, Anthony Davis and Perry Jones III are freak athletes. They represent upside picks. They have really long arms, they can jump and run and put down alley-oops. If Chris Paul was still a Hornet all of these players would be great teammates to match with his skill set. Whoever the new owner is could rename New Orleans Arena "NOLA-Oop Arena" and be perfectly justified in that decision. Chris Paul, unfortunately, no longer plays for the Hornets.

Drummond and Davis are #1 and #1a as mock drafts go., DraftExpress,, and all have a mock draft or big board listing Drummond and Davis #1 and #2. Drummond is typically compared to Amar'e Stoudemire. The problem with this comparison is that Stoudemire (who went from high school to the NBA) as a rookie averaged 13.5 PPG and 8.8 RPG. Drummond is averaging 9.7 and 7.6 in college. There is also the problem of a putrid FT% of 34. Davis is compared at times to Kevin Garnett, Marcus Camby or Chris Bosh. The KG comparison is much more friendly than Drummond above, Garnett with 10.4 and 6.3 as a rookie and Davis with 13.2 and 10.3 as a freshman.

It is difficult to project potential. There is nothing that NBA GM's and scouts love more than length and athleticism. Davis and Drummond have gobs of both. Should the Hornets have the first or second pick it will be expected that one would end up in Creole Blue. The impact of each, especially in their rookie season, would be on the defensive end. And here is where we arrive at a dilemma. The Hornets already have an elite defensive big man in Emeka Okafor. In addition Gustavo Ayon has shown promise as a defender, especially with his pick-and-roll defense and ability to switch onto shorter, quicker players. None of the big men under contract in 2012-2013 (Okafor, Jason Smith and Ayon) are very effective scoring on the low block. The offense Monty Williams runs is methodical, even now without a dominant post scorer. I believe Anthony Davis has the potential to be the best pro, but he is not the best fit for the Hornets.

Read this blurb from (Player X)

For all his skill on the low block, Player X does run into some problems in the post, specifically when he’s going up against a longer defender. He is prone to having his shot blocked, and has trouble trying to score over bigger defenders. He doesn’t show much in terms of vertical explosiveness, being a mostly under the rim player. To his credit, he does a great job pursuing his own misses, as his motor never stops, and he’s often able to convert on his second effort

Now read this excerpt from (Player Y)

Does not possess elite athleticism…Is prone to having his shot blocked and has some difficulty with longer athletic defenders…Does not run the floor extremely well.

One of the above refers to Kevin Love, the other refers to Jared Sullinger. Player X averaged 17.4 and 10.6 as a freshman in college. Player Y averaged 17.1 and 10.1 as a freshman in college. I am not saying that Jared Sullinger will be a carbon-copy of Love, but that he most closely resembles him at the NBA-level. Love measured at 6'9.5" in shoes and weighed 255 lbs. with a 6'11" wingspan. Sullinger was measured at 6'10" in shoes with a 7'1" wingspan at the Amar'e Stoudemire skills camp in April 2011. Reports have his weight down from 292 before his freshman year to 269.

The Hornets have no reason to draft a project (and make no mistake, a player like Davis will be a project in all respects his first season) and wait. The Hornets have depth (Greivis Vasquez, Xavier Henry, Al-Farouq Aminu, DaJuan Summers, Jason Smith and Gustavo Ayon all under contract next year), they have elite wing defenders in Gordon and Ariza and they have a solid paint defender in Okafor. In addition they have an excellent team concept provided by Monty Williams.

The Hornets' fans are being patient now, we knew that there would be a significant drop off after trading away one of the best point guards in the league. However, that patience is not unending. Selecting a project big-man is a request for more patience, both from the fans and Eric Gordon. The Western Conference is getting old. The time to strike is now. Jared Sullinger is the most NBA-ready prospect and fills the greatest weakness on the Hornet roster.