Sam Dekker is more than just one of the eight pieces in the Chris Paul deal between the LA Clippers and the Rockets; he is the future of the small forward position in the NBA.
The small forward position is arguably the most versatile. Some small’s can shoot, some can’t. Some can dunk with ease, and some prefer to just lay it up. Some don’t even average more than one basket per game, and are more of a defensive asset. Much like every position in the modern era of basketball, this position is changing, and the LA Clippers’ Sam Dekker is at the front of the wave.
Sam Dekker played ball for the University of Wisconsin and was drafted 18th overall in the 2015 NBA draft by the Houston Rockets. His first season in the league hardly counted, as he played just 3 games for a total of 6 minutes. Last season however was a completely different story. His standout game was against the Grizzlies in January. You can take a look at his stat line for the game here.
He finished the season having played 18.4 minutes per game for 77 games. In that time he averaged 6.5 points on 47.3% shooting, 3.7 rebounds and 1 assist. Are these amazing numbers? No, but this was his first season with some real playing time. The 23-year old is expected to continue to improve going into this next season, let’s look at why his future is so bright.
Do positions even matter anymore in the league? Does the size of the players at each position matter? No, not really. 6’11” Giannis Antetokounmpo runs the traditionally small point guard position for the Milwaukee Bucks while 6’7″ Draymond Green finds himself at the center spot for the Golden State Warriors in their “Death Lineup”. Where does Sam Dekker fit into all of this size talk? Well, he is a 6’9″ small forward.
Other notable small forwards listed within an inch of that height include LeBron James, Kevin Durant (probably closer to 8 feet tall though), Rudy Gay, and Otto Porter. Small ball may work occasionally, however Dekker’s size is a natural mismatch for his defender, so long as none of the guys listed before are guarding him. Dekker’s height allows him to be versatile. He can dunk with ease, block shots, and hang in the post on both ends of the court. When it comes to the future of the NBA small forward, size matters.
We mentioned how his size allows him to rebound, block shots, dunk, and operate in the post, but Dekker can also stretch the floor. He can shoot, which is an essential part of this ideal, futuristic NBA small forward. Being able to shoot is the difference between a player who can heat up and be unguardable, and one who can’t. He dazzled scouts during his college games with the ability to score inside and out, and we’re hoping that his shot will continue to grow a the NBA level next season. His 18 minutes per game with the Rockets was a decent amount, but as the primary backup forward for the Clippers, he should be getting even more time next season.
Dekker is just 23-years old. Other players his age and younger such as Karl Anthony Towns, Devin Booker, Nikola Jokic, Kristaps Porzingis, Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo (just to name a ton) are taking over the NBA. His youth gives him plenty of time to continue to revolutionize this NBA position along with other young stars. Sam Dekker certainly has the right formula to be the future of the NBA small forward position.