On Friday night, the 2022 NBA Draft rises, so it’s high time to take a closer look at the best forwards in this class, including potential top pick Jabari Smith.
“Wings are Kings” – this motto has changed little in recent years, even if Stephen Curry this year for the first time since Dirk Nowitzki 2011 (who was also more of a forward at the time) did not win the coveted Finals MVP trophy this year home. Every team is looking for these players between 2 meters and 2.08 meters, who can be used in numerous positions and can also defend them accordingly.
If they’re not stars, then please so-called “3-and-D players”. However, this terminology only scratches the surface. Ideally, each player can defend to some extent and hit the three-pointer. It has become more important in recent years that these role players can also make plays themselves if in doubt.
A good example of this is the Dallas Mavericks. Reggie Bullock and Dorian Finney-Smith are the epitome of “3-and-D”, but both have limitations in creating their own opportunities, which did not relieve Luka Doncic enough. These limitations only came into play in the conference finals, but it shows how valuable such skills can be.
The upcoming draft class is very interesting in this respect, even if the clear stars are missing. But there are some prospects who, with a little imagination, can offer more than just “3-and-D”. We are therefore looking at the top nine candidates who could stay with us in the NBA as forwards for a longer period of time.
NIKOLA JOVIC (MEGA MOZZART / SERBIA)
Birthday: 9. June 2003 (19) / Size: 2,11 Meter / Span: 2,18 Meter / Weight: 95 Kilo
Nikola Jovic: His stats per 40 minutes
- Jovic is the classic late bloomer who was mainly used as a shooting guard in his youth, but then had a growth spurt. The Serb is now almost 2.11 meters tall and still has the abilities of a guard. He’s at his best with the ball, especially when he gets the rebound and then makes the game fast in transition.
- In addition, Jovic has a good feel for pick’n’roll. A constant mismatch with his size, he can create his own litter at will. Jovic can also make plays for his teammates, and at the same time he can appear as a blocker himself. This, coupled with his size, could give him great advantages in various matchups in the long run.
- With its length, at least the upside is there to be a decent defender. He certainly showed good approaches as a Help Defender and could also provide a bit of ring protection if needed.
- All the things about Jovic’s defense are just theory so far. The 19-year-old isn’t particularly quick and doesn’t move very well laterally. The physical requirements are simply not there for the Serb to become a good defender. The fact that he was sometimes noticed for playing only lax defense doesn’t make it any better.
- The throw also remains very shaky. It’s to his credit that Jovic takes his throws with confidence and doesn’t hesitate, but his attempts didn’t really want to fall yet. Jovic will first have to earn the respect that he can really sink his threes.
- And that’s important as Jovic doesn’t finish well near the ring either. There is a lack of balance in the body, especially at the beginning the forward should have great difficulties against the more athletic NBA players, both offensively and defensively. Jovic is more of a project that will take a year or two to get used to.
Remember: Hedo Türkoglu
SPOX forecast: Between 20 and 30
Best Fit: Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors
JAKE LARAVIA (WAKE FOREST)
Birthday: 3. November 2001 (21) / Size: 2,06 Meter / Span: 2,07 Meter / Weight: 103 Kilo
Jake LaRavia: His stats per 40 minutes
- LaRavia is also a long forward, but unlike Jovic, he is one of the best shooters in this draft. The three-pointer was almost automatic, especially from the corners, and with its high release, the throw was almost unblockable, even if LaRavia hardly jumped up on his attempts. Shooting is a premium skill, so it’s worth considering as a first-round pick.
- In addition, LaRavia has other facets in its offensive game. He’s a good post player against mismatches and uses a lot of fakes to offset his athletic disadvantages. From the post he liked the passing game in particular, he was also able to attach smaller jumpers.
- Despite physical disadvantages, LaRavia also works on defense. 1.7 steals and 1.0 blocks per game are respectable, the forward is long enough to at least make a play here and there. Especially as a help defender, LaRavia often guessed passes and thus initiated their own transition offense.
- We’ve already touched on the body, and that might actually be the biggest obstacle. Even in college, LaRavia struggled against beefy forwards and fast guards, and there’s a fear that teams will pick and attack him night after night.
- As good as the throw is, LaRavia should remain a pure specialist. He can hardly create for himself, a veritable pullup throw is not yet in his game. Maybe he can at least attack closeouts appropriately and pull the trigger from the middle distance, he’s not a good driver and finisher on the basket.
- But the biggest problem on defense is his movement. Footwork is generally okay, but it takes him far too long to sort his feet and move sideways. So you will always have to hide him and hope that opposing guards don’t look for the switch against LaRavia.
Remember: Georges Niang
SPOX forecast: Between 22 and 30
Best Fit: Milwaukee Bucks, Memphis Grizzlies