Top Small Forwards in the 2017 NBA Draft – April Edition

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2017 NBA Draft
Andy Lyons, Getty Images

Check out our other top lists from April for this draft by clicking the link below:

Top Point Guards in the 2017 NBA Draft-April Edition

Top Shooting Guards in the 2017 NBA Draft-April Edition

Today, we start off by looking at who the top small forwards are in the upcoming 2017 NBA Draft. This is a point guard heavy draft, but there are still three small forwards who should get drafted in the lottery.

Without further ado, here are the top 3 small forwards in the 2017 NBA Draft:

1. Josh Jackson Kansas

Is he a shooting guard or a small forward? We really don’t know yet. He has shown the ability to be a slasher on the wing, but he hasn’t shown flashes of being a dominant ball-handler yet. He shot very well from the floor (51.3 FG%) and from three (37.8 3PT%) but for some reason, many of us aren’t ready to commit ourselves to saying he’ll be that good of a shooter at the next level.

Why?

Well, there are 2 reasons:

#1: He just wasn’t that great of a shooter when you look deeper into the stats. He only shot 38% on 2-point jumpers!!

#2 Just look at the jumper and you won’t be too impressed:

He has that little hitch in his jump shot that needs to go away. What I’ve said for Lonzo Ball, I’ll say for Josh Jackson though: IF THE SHOT GOES IN, NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE FORM. We just need to hope that he continues to put up good numbers.

Josh Jackson has a similar problem that T.J. Warren had in college. T.J. was simply a bucket-getter. He could score with the best of them around the rim, but really had a problem with his jumper. Now, Jackson is a better all-around player than Warren was, but he has similar concerns surrounding his offensive game. Even with these concerns, Josh Jackson is the player with the most potential not named Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball in the 2017 NBA Draft.

2. Jayson Tatum Duke

How could someone this good, be talked about in such a minor fashion at this point prior to the draft? That’s just how good this draft class is this year. Jayson Tatum is probably a top 2 player in the draft right now. He may be even more NBA ready than Lonzo Ball. But, he does not nearly have as much potential as many of the other top tier guys in this draft. You know what you are going to get with Tatum.

Tatum knows how to get to the bucket effectively. He doesn’t need too many dribbles and can even post-up the smaller opponent and shoot over the top of him. He’s got the jumper and has the skills to step in and be the 2nd or 3rd best scorer on one of the lower tier teams in the league.

One of the problems with Jayson Tatum is his lack of athleticism. We’ve seen him pull off some nice poster dunks on opponents, but don’t let that convince you that he has hops. He’s a guy who plays very close to the ground and won’t ever be even a good rebounder because of that fact.

I’m ready to say that Tatum is one of the guys in this draft that just won’t bust. He might struggle with open jumpers or with being the main guy if he’s given that role, but I think he’ll always find a home somewhere in the league as a straight scorer.

3. Jonathan Isaac Florida State

The curious case of Jonathan Isaac. At one point this season, I was ready to give Isaac the nod as the 2nd pick in the upcoming NBA Draft behind Fultz!! And now, a lot of people have him at #10 or even later in the 1st. What happened?

Often, in scouting, there is the case of over-evaluating. We see a guy once and fall in love and then see him again and like him even more.  But, once you start to see that guy a 5th or 6th time, you begin to look too deep into his game. You begin to scout too much about his game and put too much value on the small negatives that you notice. The nitpicking changes your opinion of the man and you lose faith in your guy.

That is what happened to Isaac in the minds of many scouts. And it’s not necessarily their fault. There were times where Jonathan Isaac looked like the next Kevin Durant while at other times he looked like the next top 10 bust. So, let’s start with the positives.

He’s got great height for the small forward position (if that’s the position he lands at in the NBA, could very well be PF). The shot looks pretty smooth and the percentages were quite impressive (50.8 FG%, 34.8 3P%, 61.4% TS%). We know Jonathan Isaac has game:

Now, let’s talk about some of the negatives. Well for one, we only saw Isaac in a complimentary role this year. He mostly earned his points for getting his own offensive rebounds. He hit his jumpers when he was open and loved to use that hop-step to get into his shot which basketball savants love.

Isaac’s lack of exposure this season at Florida State is not necessarily a negative. It just makes it harder to evaluate him. Sure there were confidence issues, but there was nothing too alarming that we saw from Jonathan Isaac that should prevent any team from selecting him. Jonathan Isaac is still at least a year or two away from cracking significant minutes but could end up being a top 5 player from the 2017 NBA Draft class when it is all said and done.

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