Top forward? It's Bennett over Porter
In today's NBA, the forward position has evolved to the point that it's difficult to typecast a player as "only" a power or small forward. Certainly, there are power forwards such as Zach Randolph, David West and David Lee who fit the traditional mold and pound you inside. Likewise, athletic, multidimensional players such as Carmelo Anthony or Paul George fit what we traditionally think of as the small forward position.
Then there are uniquely skilled players who don't fit the positional archetype, the guys a good NBA coach can fit into a range of offensive and defensive schemes with flexibility and what I call "coaching creativity."
For example, the New Orleans Pelicans' Ryan Anderson is a "stretch" power forward who creates great spacing for an offense with his shooting but won't do much damage to a defense in the paint. Similarly, there are those at the small forward position I call "one-trick ponies", such as the Atlanta Hawks' Kyle Korver, whose only elite NBA skill is shooting the ball. But that's been enough for him to carve out a long career because coaches can maximize those prized traits.
Undersized power forwards who play with supreme energy, like the Denver Nuggets' Kenneth Faried, are in vogue right now. George Karl isn't running many plays for him, but Faried has started his career averaging one rebound every three minutes.
This year's draft offers up some forwards who could be taken in a similar range in the first round but with very different skills. The two best forwards in this year's draft, Georgetown's Otto Porter and UNLV's Anthony Bennett, are 6-foot-8 but play very differently. Porter is the traditionally skilled small forward who is one of the draft's best shooters, and Bennett is an undersized power forward with terrific rebounding instincts, a good shooting touch and massive potential, as well.
Bennett and Porter are expected to go in the top five selections. Here is a breakdown of both players and how each could ultimately affect the teams that draft them.
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