Jarnell Stokes has chosen today to officially announce that he is leaving the college to pursue a career in the NBA. Stokes finished his career with 1129 career points, 836 rebounds and 40 career double-doubles. Impressive numbers for any player to leave for the NBA, but in many ways you have to question the decision.
Stokes is coming off one of the more impressive individual performances of any player in this year's NCAA tournament. He finished the season with 22 double doubles this year and even averaged a double double for the season with 15.1 PPG and 10.59 RPG. All these stats being impressive, there is still one less than subtle problem. Stokes is about to enter the NBA as a 6'8" Power Forward.
The top 5 Power Forwards in the NBA this year are Kevin Love, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Dirk Nowitzki, and Brandon Wright according to the Hollinger Efficiency Ratings. Respectively, their heights are 6'10", 6'10", 6'10", 7'0", and 6'10". This means for Stokes to continue playing at his natural position, he will have to give up at least 2 inches to the top players at his position. Stokes is an incredible athlete, but this type of height disadvantage is hard to overcome in the NBA.
Stokes can make the transition to the NBA game and has the abilities of an NBA player, but in order to do so, he needs to transition into a Small Forward. However, the best Small Forwards in the NBA now include names like Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul George. Stokes was a good defensive player his junior year, but elite is another thing. As a talent entering the NBA at this position, these will be the players he will need to guard and attempt to post up on.
Another year in college may have fixed this issue, but it may not have. However, an additional season with Cuonzo Martin to work on his post defense and defensive skills away from the basket would not have been a bad thing. Plus, Stokes needs a mid-range jumper. It is a little easier to work on your mid-range shot against Brandon Morris than it is against Lebron James.