The power forward position in this year’s class does not have any superstar prospects. It instead has some players that can play huge roles for teams and help them win a lot of games. The NBA has kind of become positionless so if there is a player could be in these rankings, check out the top small forwards as well. Here are the top 5 power forwards in the 2021 NBA Draft.
#5 Roko Prkacin, Croatia
Prkacin has the pedigree. His father was a longtime professional throughout the various European leagues, but Roko is taking his talents to the U.S. Roko has small forward skill in the body of a power forward. He is 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot wingspan. He could stand to put on a few pounds, but he has the skills to make up for it. He can handle the ball super well for a forward and will be able to run some point forward if need be. He has great passing instincts. Like a lot of European athletes, he is not the quickest so he will most likely never be an above-average defender, but he has the tools to become a solid one.
A skill that he will need to improve on is his shooting. He still has not developed his jump shot. He is solid when it comes to the midrange and he utilizes that spot of his game into a strength. Seeing his midrange shooting is encouraging for scouts that he can extend that distance a little further out to the three-point line. Prkacin is going to be a bit of a project still, but a team picking in the 20s should take a chance on him.
#4 Isaiah Jackson, University of Kentucky
Jackson will make his money in the NBA by protecting the rim and being a high-energy guy. He is a great athlete who will make highlight-reel defensive plays. This is what a lot of people see when they look at Jackson, but some believe there is a little more to him. Some believe that he was not able to show everything that he could do while at Kentucky.
Jackson not only has the highlight blocks but also showed he can guard in space. When being switched onto pick and roll ballhandlers, he held his own with his quick feet for a big man. Jackson will likely take up the role of a roller to the rim and finishing second-chance points on offense. On defense, he could be a great rim protector and overall defender for a team.
#3 Kai Jones, University of Texas
Kai Jones could end up being one of the best players in this class. Or he could end up being picked at way too high of a draft slot. Jones feels like he is going to be a major boom or bust pick. He is a super bouncy athlete who showed the ability to block shots and flash some three-point shooting. That three-point shooting is the swing skill. He shot 38.2% from three, on few attempts, but some team might fall in love with the potential of a stretch big. If he develops that three-point shot with his exceptional athleticism, he is going to be a scary player in his league.
Jones is listed at 6-foot-11, but only 218 pounds. He will have to put on more muscle if he is going to be a big in the NBA. His highlights make him look like a top-three pick. He is that crazy of an athlete and has the potential to become a shooter. The issue is his decision-making. He only played 22.8 minutes and started four games for Texas this past season. He never really earned his spot on an experienced roster. This is likely due to Shaka Smart’s preference for players with higher basketball IQ. This is something that Jones can surely improve upon. It will be very interesting to see where he goes in the draft.
#2 Jalen Johnson, Duke University
Johnson only played 13 games for the Blue Devils before leaving the team. He was rehabbing a foot injury and thought it was in his best interest to opt-out of the season and go ahead and prepare for the draft. He will no doubt be questioned as to why he made his decision, but it really should not matter. What does matter is the skillset he could bring to these teams. Johnson is a great athlete standing 6-foot-9 and weighing 220 pounds. He can grab a rebound and push the fast break on his own. He has advanced playmaking skills for someone of his size and athleticism. Johnson has the strength and quickness to become a good defender in the NBA.
He is not a shooter. In the few games that he played at Duke, he shot a good percentage from three, but that was on very limited attempts. Scouts are not high on his shooting due to his poor free throw percentage, 63.2%. This is likely a future indicator of how good of a shooter he really is. He could always develop a jump shot down the line, but right now a lot of scouts are looking at the rest of his body of work. Johnson is a very versatile athlete who will likely go within the top 10 picks.
#1 Scottie Barnes, Florida State University
Barnes is one of the most unique players you will find. Barnes is a 6-foot-9, 227-pound forward with a 7-foot-2 wingspan. Those measurables alone would qualify him as unique, but that is not where it stops. He ran point guard for Florida State quite often this season. He has great playmaking skills for someone his size. Barnes is also very solid when it comes to attacking the paint and getting himself a bucket on the inside. He also is the most versatile defender in the class. He has the length to guard bigs and the quickness to guard guards. Not many people are legitimately able to guard positions 1-5, but he is one of them.
Obviously, he is not without weakness. He is pretty much without a jump shot. He shot 27.5% from three in his freshman season. This is really his only weakness, but it is a large one. Barnes could be one of those players that is very successful even without a jump shot. He could have a very similar impact as Draymond Green did. Green was never a shooter, but he thrived on his playmaking on offense and his overall great defensive play. This is something that Barnes can do in the future.