The NBA continues to covet small forwards at an alarming rate. It's become the new shiny object in NBA organizations. Every team wants to be able to find a versatile forward that can play and defend multiple positions at a high level. In this year's 2020 NBA Draft Class, there's plenty of forwards that will entice teams. Prospects that offer serious upside moving forward with their unique skill sets. Let's take a look at some of the notable "3's" in this year's class.
Deni Avdija is going to be the "hyped" International prospect of this class and he's our top Small Forward. While Avdija won't wow you with his production from last year, his skill set for a player of his size (6'9") is more than intriguing. Before you start to daydream about Avdija becoming another Luka Doncic...let's come back down to earth. Avdija is a fantastic prospect who has a great feel for the game and offers playmaking upside, especially as a transition threat. But there's still some rawness from Avdija, who was playing for one of the top clubs in the Euroleague lately.
The criticism about Avdija is fair. With most young prospects, his outside shot is in question. The form isn't bad at all, but the percentages will have some evaluators scratching their heads. Avdija finished the year shooting 33.6% from 3, but he did show great improvements once his season resumed after the hiatus caused by the worldwide pandemic. Avdija looked to have added some serious weight to his upper body and his shot was more compact. At the end of the day, the key to unlocking Avdija's full potential comes with his shot. If he can produce on a consistent level, the rest of the tools in his game are there.
A potential defensive nightmare on the wing, Auburn freshman Isaac Okoro will intrigue teams with his potential to become a lockdown defensive asset. Okoro makes some plays on the defensive side of the ball in which it seems as if he is at a different speed compared to others. It's almost as if he's reading the play before it happens like an NFL safety. On paper Okoro has everything you're looking for in an NBA wing. He's 6'6" with an NBA frame already and the athleticism stands out in a hurry.
So now that we got the exciting part about Okoro down, why could his range be so wide on draft night? The thing with Okoro is his offensive game needs time to develop. Easier said than done for a lottery team, but the "fit" for Okoro needs to be perfect to unlock his full potential. Isaac will be able to contribute immediately on the defensive side of the ball and potentially at a high level early on. But he needs to go somewhere in which he isn't asked to do much on the offensive side of the ball early on. Much like the Boston Celtics with Jaylen Brown, Okoro is going to take some time to hit his stride offensively. If an NBA organization has a belief in their player developmental staff, then they could find a potential star in Okoro. But patience and allowing some confidence to build is crucial with Okoro.
Every year before the NBA Draft, one name get's HOT and skyrockets up in the draft. That name this year is Patrick Williams. The talented freshman formerly of Florida State is a raw lengthy wing with fantastic upside. But there's definitely still a ways to go with Williams as an all-around player. When you watch Williams, you get the vibes of a potentially bigger and longer version of PJ Tucker.
There's still some work to be done with Williams as a consistent offensive threat. He needs to consistently be able to extend his range out to three-point territory, which would make him an even more dangerous threat. At the end of the day, Williams is going to have teams drooling over his upside. At 6'8" with a reported 6'11" wingspan and great bounce, the former Florida State forward has more than enough tools and versatility to sell teams on his potential. He's shaping up to be a Top 10 pick in this class.
When it comes to the small forwards in this class, there's an argument to be made that Vanderbilt sophomore Aaron Nesmith is the best shooter of the bunch. Nesmith is a catch-and-shoot weapon maniac and will have NBA teams foaming at the mouth who are searching for a floor-spacing threat. At 6'6", Nesmith has the size you're looking for in a prototypical wing, and he shot the ball at a high percentage last year.
Under head coach and former NBA player Jerry Stackhouse, Vanderbilt ran a ton of actions for Nesmith that got him the ball in catch-and-shoot situations. So fit could be an interesting dilemma when talking about the former Vandy sophomore. Nesmith also has some work to do on the defensive side of the ball, but he definitely has the tools and desire to become a much improved two-way player.
NBA teams looking for immediate contributors as a potential 3-and-D type of wing will be enticed by Villanova's Saddiq Bey. There's a lot to love about Bey's game. His basketball IQ and feel for the game make Bey a sure bet to go earlier than some might "expect."
Many will be intrigued by Saddiq's ability on the defensive side of the ball, and it's for good reason. At 6'8" with an NBA frame, Bey will be a weapon on defense early on thanks to his ability to defend multiple positions. But there's also some serious intrigue with his potential on the offensive side of the ball. Bey is one of the top shooting weapons in this year's class and his lightning-quick release from outside makes him a dangerous floor spacer. If Bey continues to develop his offensive game, there's some serious multi-level scoring potential in his future.
ROBERT WOODARD II
The former Mississippi State product is one to keep a serious eye on throughout Draft night. Woodard is a swiss-army knife on the basketball floor. He's versatile, lengthy, and can make winning plays without scoring. It wouldn't be a surprise to see a playoff-caliber team picking towards the end of the first round jump all over the idea of adding Woodard II to their roster.
At 6'7" with a reported impressive 7'2" wingspan, Woodard has ideal measurements you look for in a versatile wing. There's an argument to be made that Woodard has some serious upside in his offensive game as well, as the offense at Mississippi State wasn't normally run through him. Still, Woodard has some impressive numbers to go off of including 49.5 FG%, 42.9 3P%, and a 54.9 EFG%.
No Small Forward in this Draft class will be a bigger "swing for the fences" than former Washington Huskies freshman Jaden McDaniels. If you haven't heard of McDaniels before the Draft, let us bring you up to speed in a hurry. McDaniels was one of the top prospects in the country out of high school, even drawing comparisons to Kevin Durant due to his length and impressive ability to light it up from outside. There were some lofty preseason expectations from talent evaluators across the land, as some even considered McDaniels a favorite to become a Top 5 pick in this class.
Unfortunately for Jaden, his only season at Washington raised a lot of question marks moving forward. But make no mistake about it, McDaniels has the talent and potential to be an absolute gold mine of a selection. The problem is that he needs to fall into the right system that will allow him to install some confidence early on in his career. While there's plenty of head-scratching plays from his only year in a Huskies uniform, there are also some plays that simply leave you in awe of what he could become. McDaniels will have a wide range around the league, but all it takes is for one team to be convinced they can unlock the treasure chest of tools that he has in his potential. He could go anywhere from the late lottery to the beginning of the second round.
Pencil this player in as a prospect that simply isn't getting enough respect. Now Nwora is one of the more "seasoned" prospects on this list. He's a former junior from Lousiville who has put up plenty of big performances for the Cardinals over the years. We've talked about Nwora before in our previous "We Got Shooters" segment.
NBA scouts were hoping that Nwora would take another leap forward in his development when he decided to return to Louisville this year for some more seasoning. Unfortunately, the leap didn't happen, but Nwora still produced solid numbers including 18.0 PTS and 7.7 REB while shooting 40.2% from 3. Nwora has a lightning-quick release and offers upside as a multi-level scorer. He might not have the upside that some of the others have on this list, but his potential to come in and do his role at a high level is more than intriguing. He should hear his name early in the second round at the latest.