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Position Analysis: Power Forward

Posted: Thu June 18, 1998

Other Positions: Center | Small Forward | Shooting Guard | Point Guard

With the 1998 NBA Draft quickly approaching, CNN/SI takes a position-by-position look at the top prospects. Below, Dan Shanoff and Albert Lin each pick their favorite power forward, and then give you five others to watch.

SIZE MATTERS

Robert Traylor
ROBERT TRAYLOR
6'8", 300, Michigan

Why he's The Man: Despite his ample frame, Traylor—a.k.a. "The Tractor"—showed throughout his Michigan career that sweet hands and near-perfect footwork can exist independently of an expanding waistline. A center in college, Traylor will have to make the transition to power forward in the NBA, where he'll not only set one of the widest picks in the game but also shock opponents with his deceptive speed, touch and leaping ability. There are whispers that Traylor has shed weight furiously, reportedly dropping down to 284 pounds—the lightest he's been since his early teens. Hope not, because it would be great to see his husky frame pirouetting through the paint.

At best, he's the next: Charles Barkley

And if I'm wrong, he's: Take your pick of two ex-players with girth and nicknames: John "Hot Plate" Williams or "Dinner Bell" Mel Turpin.

—D.S.

 

THE ENIGMA

Dirk Nowitzki
DIRK NOWITZKI
6'11", 237, Würzburg, Germany

Why he's The Man: This virtually unknown European exploded onto the scene at the Nike Hoop Summit during Final Four weekend in San Antonio. He dominated the game with 33 points (6-12 FG, 2-3 3-pt. FG, 19-23 FT) and 14 rebounds in a 104-99 International Select Team victory. Initially was thought headed to college (he visited Cal and Kentucky), but instead entered the draft; wavered the last few of weeks but did not withdraw his name. Nowitzki has an extremely aggressive, versatile offensive game. He can score inside or step out and hit the three. A good ballhandler, he can take it to the hole (as evidenced by free throw total at Hoop Summit). Very polished in all facets. Will have teams ruing the day they bypassed him. Fellow German Detlef Schrempf was called the best import since the Volkswagen; Nowitzki's coach says, "Here comes the Porsche."

At best, he's the next: Keith Van Horn.

And if I'm wrong, he's: Cherokee Parks.

—A.L.

photographs by John Biever (left), David E. Klutho

FIVE OTHERS TO WATCH
NameHeight Weight School At best, he's...
Antawn Jamison 6'8" 222 North Carolina James Worthy
The Skinny: National player of the year is extremely unorthodox, but is explosive and has ultra-quick shot he releases on the way up. Needs to develop perimeter skills, because he's probably too small to play inside.
Raef LaFrentz6'11" 240 Kansas Derrick Coleman
The Skinny: Maybe the most NBA-ready offensive game of any prospect; can operate in the low post with lethal turnaround jumper or step outside and drill 20-footer. Great size, but needs to add strength. Hard worker.
Torraye Braggs6'8" 230 Xavier Tyrone Hill
The Skinny: A bit of a tweener, but an athletic player with a nose for grabbing the ball off the glass. Could develop along the lines of fellow Musketeer Hill.
Jelani McCoy6'10" 240 UCLA Michael Stewart
The Skinny: Superior shot-blocker, great athlete, but not much else. Shooting range limited to dunks. Was kicked off Bruins team for off-the-court problems.
Andrae Patterson 6'8" 240 Indiana Glenn Robinson
The Skinny: Should be ready for anything after surviving four years under Bobby Knight. Needs more tenacity in the paint. Smooth offensively and has a good head on his shoulders.

Other Positions: Center | Small Forward | Shooting Guard | Point Guard

Related information
From Sports Illustrated
Jackie MacMullan's Mock Draft
Commencement: Draft-Class Superlatives
SI's Seth Davis: 12 Intriguing Prospects
Prince or Frog? Keon Clark from UNLV is the great unknown
A Decade of Drafting
Chicago Pre-Draft Camp Notes
Your Turn
You Be the GM: Who would be your top pick?
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