RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The top forwards in Thursday’s NBA draft needed only a season in college to secure their position in the lottery.
Kansas’ Josh Jackson and Duke’s Jayson Tatum are one-and-done small forwards with size and athleticism, and they’re almost certain to go in the top five overall picks. The Boston Celtics have the third overall pick after their deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, and Jackson or Tatum could find themselves headed to Boston.
Two other college freshmen — Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac and Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen — round out the headliners in this class of small forwards, who all have the skill and size to play inside or out in small-ball lineup.
Here’s a look at the top prospects:
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The Kansas star lived up to the hype surround him in his one college season.
STRENGTHS: The 6-foot-8 checks every box when it comes to two-way potential at the 3-spot. He averaged 16.3 points while shooting 51 percent overall and 38 percent on 3-pointers. He attacked the glass (7.4 rebounds), set up teammates (3.0 assists) and proved to be a versatile defender (1.7 steals, 1.1 blocks).
CONCERNS: The glaring problem came at the line, where he made just 57 percent of his free throws — leaving a lot of points on the board considering he got to the line about five times a game. He’ll need to build up his overall offensive game and his frame (207 pounds) for the next level.
Duke’s latest one-and-done wing has a polished all-around game with room to grow.
STRENGTHS: The 6-8 small forward averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds with the ability to score from outside or use his 6-11 wingspan to attack the rim. He put the total package on display in his most impressive stretch during Duke’s four-games-in-four-days run to the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament title, averaging 24.5 points while shooting 57…