The 2014 NBA Draft: Profiling the Top Power Forwards

What order will the power trio of Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle, and Noah Vonleh get picked, and how does the rest of this position shape out?

In this fourth part to the 2014 NBA Draft prospect series, we'll analyze the top power forwards looking to hear their names called on draft night. You can find the small forwards here, the shooting guards here and the point guards here.

With the top three power forwards locked to go within the top 10 picks, it will be interesting to see what order these players are picks in. In fact, these five players I have ranked could potentially all be off the board by the 15th pick. Let's get at it.

1. Noah Vonleh

School: Indiana
Height: 6’9”
Weight: 247 lbs.
Age: 18

The second youngest player in this draft class, Noah Vonleh has as much potential as any player who didn’t go to Kansas this past season. With a 7’4” wingspan and a high motor on the court, the Indiana alum is one of the best rebounders in the draft and has great defensive potential. Vonleh uses his strong frame and quickness to score in the paint. He also shot 48.5% from three, and has the potential for an impressive inside-outside offensive game.

As you can imagine for someone of his age, Vonleh’s overall game is fairly raw, especially on offense. His basketball IQ and feel for the game is still developing, but he has superstar potential once professional coaches get their hands on him.

Player Comparison:

Chris Bosh – The inside-outside scoring ability that Chris Bosh has displayed with Toronto and Miami is exactly what has NBA teams excited about Vonleh.

Draft Pick Projection:

Utah Jazz – Utah will be in a position here to take the best position player available with another first-round pick waiting for them later. It will be interesting to see how far Joel Embiid could fall, but I believe Vonleh is their choice here.

2. Julius Randle

School: Kentucky
Height: 6’9”
Weight: 250 lbs.
Age: 19

The jewel of John Calipari’s impressive freshman class at Kentucky last season, Julius Randle is one of the most NBA-ready prospects in this draft class. A classic lefty in the mold of Zach Randolph, Randle uses his strength and agility to put up impressive interior scoring and rebounding numbers. The 19 year old averaged 19.4 points and 13.5 rebounds per 40 pace-adjusted minutes last season for a team that grew up just in time to make it to the NCAA Championship Game. He can use his strength to be a potential force on the block defensively as well.

There were times during his freshman season that Randle tried to do too much on offense for the Wildcats, and it often ended in turnovers or poor shot selection. Randle often relies too much on his left hand and it can get him into trouble when opponents are able to force him to go right. His outside jump shot is virtually non-existent at this point and he will need to some improvements to avoid becoming one dimensional.

Player Comparison:

Zach Randolph – This is an easy comparison as both are dominant left-handers who bully their way around the paint despite lacking explosive athleticism.

Draft Pick Projection:

Los Angeles Lakers – Who knows what the Lakers lineup could look like in a few months, and going with the best player available in Randle is probably their best approach.

3. Aaron Gordon

School: Arizona
Height: 6’9”
Weight: 220
Age: 18

The youngest prospect in this draft class, Arizona’s Aaron Gordon is also one of the best athletes. Flying up and down the court like a gazelle, Gordon was a regular on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays with his alley-oop dunks. Once the 18 year old fills out his frame a little more, he should be a lockdown defender both on the block and on the perimeter. Gordon can attack you in a number of different ways and has been praised for his hustle and “team player” mentality.

Gordon’s biggest weakness right now is his overall offensive game. While he can use his athleticism to get to the rim and finish, he often relies too heavily on it and tries to force plays. After shooting a horrific 42.2% from the free throw line, Gordon will have to improve his shooting ability to become a major threat on offense.

Player Comparison:

Shawn Marion – Gordon’s combination of athleticism, defense, and intangibles is what Shawn Marion has used to establish a long, successful career.

Draft Pick Projection:

Sacramento Kings – With the possibility of having three 20-point scorers on their roster next year, Sacramento wouldn’t require Gordon to shoulder too much of the offensive load and he would greatly improve a poor defensive team.

4. Clint Capela

School: INSEP (Switzerland)
Height: 6’11”
Weight: 222 lbs.
Age: 20

In such a physically gifted power forward class, Clint Capela stands out as a player with some of the highest upside. At 6’11” with a 7’4” wingspan and the ability to get up and down the floor in transition, Capela could be one of the biggest steals on draft day. His upside as a rim protector on defense is tremendous, as he uses his length and athleticism to send shots away. Capela is also an excellent rebounder, snatching 12.7 rebounds per 40 pace-adjusted minutes in EuroCup ball.

Capela’s weaknesses stem from his inexperience and the rawness of his overall game. There is little offensive polish in his game and he should struggle to score consistently early in his NBA career. He tends to get lost on the defensive end at times due to a lack of fundamentals and effort. Capela will also need to add a significant amount of strength to his frame to be able to match up with bigger forwards in the NBA.

Player Comparison:

Amir Johnson – Johnson is an exciting player to watch in transition, and really stepped up his overall game in the 2013-2014 season. If Capela can develop a consistent offensive game he could even outperform the Toronto Raptor.

Draft Pick Projection:

Oklahoma City Thunder – With a championship-caliber team and multiple first-round picks, the Thunder can afford to spend one on a high risk-high reward project like Capela. The dividends could be huge for a team that seems to be one piece away from winning the NBA Finals.

5. Adreian Payne

School: Michigan State
Height: 6’10”
Weight: 239 lbs.
Age: 23

Adreian Payne’s greatest assets might be his mentality and character, but that’s not why he is getting looks within the first 20 picks. With a 7’4” wingspan and freakish athleticism, Payne is fun to watch when he has his eyes set on the rim. A versatile scorer as a power forward, Payne possesses a lethal inside-outside game. He shot 42.3% from three-point range in his final season at Michigan State and is deadly from anywhere on the court.

Already 23 years old, Payne is the oldest prospect in this draft class, and he plays even older. The big man is often visibly fatigued just a few minutes into the game, and can struggle to get up and down the court. This leads to a lack of focus and has caused him to get in foul trouble too often.

Player Comparison:

Channing Frye – Frye isn’t a huge post presence but he can stretch the floor with his shooting ability, something Adreian Payne will be able to do with great success in the NBA.

Draft Pick Projection:

Chicago Bulls – Payne would be a tremendous asset has a big shooter for Tom Thibodeau, who will love his energy and character as well. His ability to pull big men out of the paint will give Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah room to operate in and around the paint.