Thursday, May 31, 2012
Knicks' draft prospects: Power forwards
By Jared Zwerling
With my colleague Ryan Feldman, an ESPN Stats & Info college hoops researcher and co-founder of The Hoops Report, I've pinpointed five power forwards the Knicks could pick at No. 48 (for offense and defense).
1. Yancy Gates (Cincinnati) -- Gates' draft stock dipped after his involvement in an ugly brawl with Xavier in early December, which resulted in a six-game suspension. He plays aggressively, but sometimes needs to tone it down. He also needs to change his scoring mentality, as he tends to play 15 feet away from the basket and shoot midrange jumpers. But when he plays inside, he's a beast and double-double threat. He's a strong four at 6-9, 260 pounds, and can do lots of work down low offensively and defensively.
2. Kevin Jones (West Virginia) -- Jones is a natural four who is a creative scorer in post-up situations, even hitting tough, turnaround jump hooks. This past year, he became more of a versatile scorer, refining his pull-up and dribble-drive game, but he's still an average outside shooter. At 6-8, 260, he's strong and has great timing on the boards, including the offensive glass. Defensively, what may be most impressive is that after he scores, he hardly ever celebrates, but almost always runs back to get into defensive position.
3. Cameron Moore (UAB) -- Even though Moore (6-10, 230) played four years in college, he's still a bit raw. At this point, his game is almost confined to the paint area, and he doesn't have many skillful post moves. He's also not a good passer out of double teams. But what he does have is a tremendous motor, which helps him score quickly and get into positions early to rebound and block shots. If he develops his down-low game -- not just being a highlight reel -- and refines his midrange jump shot, he'll be a surprise prospect.
4. Andrew Nicholson (St. Bonaventure) -- Nicholson (6-9, 240) plays with a lot of confidence, as he constantly demands the ball in the post and likes to go to work quickly. He can shoot the turnaround and score with either hand, and his long stride gets him to the basket faster. But he tends to use the same combination to score -- a spin, hesitation and then layup. From outside, he has a quick release and has range. He just needs to play more aggressive offensively; he doesn't dunk a lot. He may get drafted higher, but could slip.
5. Wesley Witherspoon (Memphis) -- Witherspoon (6-9, 207) has always had potential, but he hasn't shown up yet consistently. As a senior, he would sometimes go from two points in one game to 15 the next, or vice versa. He actually has a lot of guard skills and when his jumper is on, he's dangerous. He's also effective attacking the basket in face-up situations and shows a commitment to D. He just needs to develop more of an interior game, but with the right NBA coaching, he could make a decent impact in his rookie season.