The Small Forward Quandary

There are two positions on this team that people almost universally acclaim as unsettled.  Point Guard has evoked a ton of visceral discussion in the past year compared to the other: small foward.  It seems clear that this will be one of the crucial decisions to be made in the next year and a half.

The candidates so far:

Travis Outlaw:  A gifted leaper and explosive scorer who is better at getting his own shot than anyone on the team outside of Brandon Roy himself.  He's a career 44% shooter who has recently developed a couple semi-consistent moves and range out to the three-point arc.  His rebounding would be good for a small foward.  His help defense can be good at times but his individual defense and understanding of the game are still raw.  Without the ball in his hands and a green light he's far less effective.  There's some question whether he's a power foward or small foward but he shows the most promise of any of the candidates and his stats have generally increased season-by-season.

Martell Webster:  A good three-point shooter with athleticism.  He's been working on improving his defense, rebounding, and overall shooting with some success.  He tallied career highs in shooting and three-point shooting this year but his career percentage is low for a shooter.  He could have a ton of upside.  He has trouble creating off the dribble and this may never be a strength.  When plays are run for him he's often deadly but when he has to improvise he struggles.

James Jones:  A veteran three-point specialist who spreads a defense with the mere rumor of his presence.  His distance shooting is unparalleled on the team (and nearly in the league).  He's also smart and experienced enough to be in the right place at the right time.  He knows how to get his shots.  He has yet to produce consistently in a full NBA season.  He lacks the athletic prowess of the other two.  When he's not hitting threes his intimidation factor goes way down but he is less susceptable to bottoming out than the other two are.  He also has far less upside.

Somebody Else On the Team:  Do Brandon Roy or Rudy Fernandez have the ability, athleticism, size, and desire to play here?  Would that be better for the team in the long run?

Somebody Else Entirely:  Have we yet to sign our starting small foward?  Is some of that cap room in 2009 earmarked for a free agent at this position?  If so, whom?  Or...are we drafting our small foward of the future with our (hopefully) final lottery pick for a while?  Again...whom?

Here are the questions:

1.  Which one of these options will be our starting small forward of the future?

2.  What happens to the remaining options already on our team?  Will they be back-ups or play at other positions?  Will they be cut or traded?

3.  What qualities are we looking for in a small forward exactly?  Again, people seem to have pretty definite opinions about the kind of point guard we need.  Is there a general consensus about small forward as well?

Have at it.

--Dave

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