Top 5 Small Forwards in the NBA Draft

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The Top 5 Small Forwards In The NBA Draft: Dariq Whitehead
Photo courtesy: Duke Athletics

The college basketball season is upon and the NBA season has been alive and well for a few weeks. That means it is absolutely already draft season. We’ve given you the top point guards and shooting guards to watch this season. Now it’s time for the best small forwards for this upcoming NBA draft.

The Best Small Forwards In The 2023 NBA Draft

1. Dariq Whitehead (Duke)

The 6-foot-7, 220-pound freshman has played only two games for Duke so far this season as he was recovering from a foot injury that required surgery. He scored only six points and went 3-of-9 from the floor in his first game. He only played 10 minutes in the second one so he will have to work his way into the starting lineup, but if he returns to pre-injury form, that should not take too long.

Whitehead was competing for the top spot in his recruiting class with fellow teammate, Dereck Lively II. He’s explosive, a smooth athlete, a good shooter from deep, and should have some defensive versatility with his size and wingspan. He’s a strong finisher at the rim and can finish through contact as well.

2. Cam Whitmore (Villanova)

The 6-foot-7, 232-pound freshman has yet to play a game for Villanova this year due to thumb surgery and it has hurt in losses to Michigan State and Temple. Cam Whitmore is a strong forward who gives the Wildcats some much-needed athleticism and shooting. He’s good off the ball as well and always seems to be in the right spot at the right time.

He’s got an NBA-ready body and is one of the best athletes in this class. Whitmore is known for regularly putting defenders on posters and will surely do the same when he returns to the court for Villanova. Whitmore likes to play bully ball due to his strength, but he is also a good finisher at the rim when he has to play with some finesse.

3. Ausar Thompson (Overtime Elite)

Twin brother of Amen, Ausar is also a freak athlete. He’s 6-foot-7 and 207 pounds. Ausar is another smooth athlete who has excellent body control and just gets the game defensively. He’s long, he bounces off the floor quickly, and he blocks shots. He’s a good help-side defender who also plays passing lanes well and knows how to finish in transition.

Ausar Thompson has to work on his shooting, but he is further along than his brother in that regard. He can hit shots consistently in and around the paint, including out to about 15 feet. He just has to extend that range and he immediately becomes a major threat with his ability to handle the ball as well.

4. Dillon Mitchell (Texas)

This 6-foot-8, 205-pound freshman has gotten off to a solid start for Texas. He’s not stuffing the stat sheet quite yet, but he should find himself with plenty of opportunities to do so over the season. He’s athletic, bouncy, and can finish exceptionally well in transition.

Mitchell is not a shooter yet despite his burgeoning midrange game. He is an incredibly effective and efficient shooter right now because the vast majority of his shots are in the paint. When he starts to move out and shoot in a 15-foot radius, we will have a much better idea of what to expect from him. For now, shooting is the swing skill knowing that he can be a good defender and could be strong enough to play as an undersized power forward as well.

5. Gradey Dick (Kansas)

Standing at 6-foot-8 and 205 pounds, this freshman has played pretty well to start the season. In four games, he’s averaging 16.8 points, 1.8 assists, 1.3 steals, and 3.8 rebounds. He’s shooting over 50 percent from the floor and exactly that number from beyond the arc. He’s comfortable shooting everywhere on the floor and has shown himself to be a team player with his energy and hustle on the floor.

Dick’s gravity as a shooter is one of his most important attributes as it allows his teammates to operate in space. He has a quick shot when others drive and kick to him and is comfortable with a dribble pull-up if defenders close out on him too hard. Gradey has to get better about mixing it up in the paint for rebounds and being a bit more of a playmaker since his shot should open up opportunities for others. He also leaves a bit to be desired on the defensive end.

What is your list of the best small forwards for the 2023 NBA draft?

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