Close your eyes... and take yourself back to when you matriculated into college... except this time, you're 6'8 with a solid frame and length, a quick, high jumper, and have some good (but not Durant like) handles and court sense for your size.
Do you focus your energy on becoming a wing (in the Rudy Gay mold), or do you hit the weight room and focus your energy on becoming a PF (in the Derrick Williams mold)?
We've had a few guys in this vein on our radar recently - Daniels, Poythress, Pollard, Ellis - and they have had varying approaches to this enviable conundrum. Poythress sees himself as a pure SF, Daniels and Pollard seem to prefer the SF route but would be willing to play some PF, and Ellis seems like he's more of a pure PF.
I have my opinion on the matter, but I'm curious to see what y'all think before I make my case.
But if I was looking to how I would translate as a pro, I would go the wing player, as this gives me the opportunity to play multiple positions.
Either way, shows how much of a team player Singler was in his time at Duke, changed his body to suit the team.
I would choose the option that is most attractive to the ladies AND gives me the most time to spend with them...
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I think certain guys are just wired to play inside, while others are not. You can only really "choose" what type of player you'll be to a certain extent, but besides that it comes down to your natural ability and mindset.
Duke has a long history of these versatile forwards you're describing - Laettner, Battier, Dunleavy, McRoberts, Singler, soon to be Murphy.
For some reason the "hot" thing to do right now is to try to be a SF, but the thing is, it really doesn't benefit you all that much to be oversized at the 3 unless you're a) an excellent athlete for your size AND b) either an excellent ballhandler for your size or a deadeye shooter; otherwise, you're going to have an ineffective and inefficient offensive game, unless you can post up smaller defenders. We saw this firsthand when Kyle Singler's shot was off this year.
If you're merely a decent shooter that, in reality, doesn't have the handles and perimeter repertoire to see/space the floor and get the the rim against top-level college and NBA wings, what is your real value at SF? Perhaps good rebounding and (if you're laterally quick enough) defense for your position, but that role is kind of counter to the whole motivation to take the SF route in the first place.
IMO, it's much easier to follow the Derrick Williams Plan: Pack on some muscle, develop a couple power moves, and just work on becoming an inside-outside force in general. A versatile 4 who is strong and athletic enough to block shots and rebound at the 4 position, but also take advantage of his explosiveness against slower bigs in transition and with a primarily face-up game on the offensive end is an extremely valuable, dynamic player to have on a college team.
Then there's the myth that the you've got to be a SF at 6'7-6'9 for the NBA to like you... but let's take a look at the prospects in that size range projected to go first round in this year's draft:
2) 6'8 PF - Derrick Williams
5) 6'7 wing - Kawhi Leonard
7) 6'9 PF - Tristan Thompson
10) 6'9 wing - Chris Singleton (played combo forward in college)
11) 6'7 wing - Klay Thompson
12) 6'9 PF - Bismack Biyombo
14) 6'8 PF - Tobias Harris
15) 6'8 wing - Jordan Hamilton
17) 6'7 PF - Kenneth Faried
18) 6'9 PF - Marcus Morris
26) 6'8 wing - Tyler Honeycutt
28) 6'9 PF - Justin Harper
That's 7 PFs and 5 SFs - 4 if you don't count Klay Thompson, who is a waify 6'5 and change in socks, so he's not really in this category.
And while you might assume guys like Derrick Williams and Marcus Morris have just always been hulking post men and shouldn't really count... but that's not the case. It's hard to believe, but Derrick Williams was a 6'7 195 jumping jack in HS, and Marcus Morris was a 6'8 210 SF who never played PF until he got to college, for example.
I would also argue that PFs in that mold tend to genearlly pan out better than expected in the NBA, while SFs are often the opposite... for every Kevin Durant SF, there seems like there's 10 Marvin Williams. On the other hand, you've got unheralded PFs like Paul Millsap, David West, Jeff Green, Al Horford, Taj Gibson, Udonis Haslem becoming star NBA PFs at 6'7-6'9, with new guys like Dante Cunningham, Durrell Arthur, Dejuan Blair and Trevor Booker are already outperforming expectations.
To summarize, IMHO, there's a pretty fundamental misconception out there about these types of prospects. Unless you've got undeniable perimeter talent that comes natural to you - unless you're really a natural wing and always have been - it's really, really hard to develop the skills and sense of vision and flow to the extent that you need to succeed at the highest levels.
I really think that kind of unique skillset is much better leveraged by following the Derrick Williams model.
Yes, but, well isn't that the expected answer?
Its EASY to say that with a few years in the rear view mirror and knowledge of how tuff it can be in the world..
A 17 or 18 yo boy?.... You couldn't tell me much when I was 17. I was king of the world and bet a lot of others here had the same outlook at a similar age...
The NBA PF size thing is really a myth. Consider:
Atlanta: Josh Smith is starting PF, and he's 6'7, 6'8.25 in shoes. What's more, he was a 6'8 195 athlete coming out of HS - the EXACT prototype we're talking about, and on the smaller side at that. I mean, he's the poster boy for my argument.
Charlotte: Starting PF alternated between 6'8 Boris Diaw and 6'8 Dante Cunningham this year.
Chicago: Starting 6'9 PF Boozer was almost identical to Perry Ellis at the same age, physically.
Denver: Starting PF Kenyon Martin was listed as 6'8 230 when he was drafted, and was also pretty much the exact prototype we're talking about coming out of HS.
Detroit: Ben Wallace was their starting PF all year, and he's like 6'5 barefoot. Also, 6'6-6'7 Jason Maxiell started 14 games for them in the post this year.
Golden State: David Lee is their PF, and he's barely 6'9 in shoes.
Houston: 6'6 Chuck Hayes has actually been the starting PF all year, alongside either 6'9 Scola or 6'9 Patterson.
Miami: While they went bigger this year, they started Beasley at PF all year in 2009-'10, who is 6'7 barefoot.
Memphis: Couldn't find official measurements, but the consensus seems to be that Randolph is also 6'7 barefoot (Google 'Zach Randolph barefoot').
Milwaukee: Starting PF is 6'8 Mbah a Moute.
New Jersey: Close... Starting PF Kris Humphries is 6'9 and change with shoes, but his standing reach is only 8'10.5, which is only average for a 6'7.75 player, according to draft express's aggregate measurements.
New Orleans: Starting PF Carl Landry is 6'8.5 in shoes, and his sub-8'7 standing reach makes his effective height more like 6'5-6'6 (and David West is 6'9, but not sure he'll be playing for a while...)
New York: Post-trade, they've started either 6'8 Shelden or 6'9 Ronny Turiaf alongside Amare (and see above re: Turiaf's 8'10.5 standing reach/effective height).
Orlando: Starting PF Brandon Bass is only 6'7.25 WITH shoes
San Antonio: Dejaun Blair starts in the post at under 6'7 in shoes.
Toronto: 6'9 215 out of HS (starting PF Amir Johnson) is a pretty similar prospect to these players we're talking about here...
Utah: Starting PF Paul Millsap is also only 6'7.25 with shoes.
The NBA is different than it was in the 90's... the hulking Tim Duncans are going the way of the dynamic Al Horford types, and 6'8 isn't too short if you're long/athletic with a frame that can add muscle.
*Measurements are from Draft Express combine records and starting lineups are from basketball-reference.com... the links didn't paste over across the boards, sorry.
I don't follow the NBA that closely, but my limited exposure seems to indicate that you're at an advantage if you're oversized (in terms of height) for a particular position. If I was an athletic, versatile 6'8" high school forward, I'd be working on outside shooting and quickness while maintaining strength.
I would work on my defense. That can take you far...