Seth Walder ESPN Analytics
Despite all the talk about the value of wings in the modern NBA, there is some evidence to suggest that small forwards are actually undervalued in the draft. Below is a plot of small forwards' average box plus-minus (blue) over their first five seasons by draft slot alongside all other positions (red), using the 2001-2016 draft classes. The small forwards have outperformed the others. We've found the same phenomenon exists across rankings by media scouts leading into drafts, which is why we actually adjust those scout rankings in our projections model (giving a slight bump to small forwards). That is one of several reasons why we like Mikal Bridges, for example, more than most. Research by ESPN Analytics' Paul Sabin.