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Head to Head: Top Pick in 2014 NBA Draft?

Who should be the top pick in the hyped up 2014 NBA Draft? Basketball Insiders’ team debate the candidates for the No. 1 pick.

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As we get closer to the 2014 NBA Draft, the debate over who should be the top overall pick continues to heat up. We asked Basketball Insiders’ Joel Brigham, Alex Kennedy Jessica Camerato and Jabari Davis who they felt should be the first player picked this June.

Andrew Wiggins

Prior to Jabari Parker’s offensive explosion, and before teammate Joel Embiid burst onto everyone’s radar as a potential defensive force, Andrew Wiggins was the consensus (presumed) No. 1 pick of the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft.

Remember him?

Not that Parker and Embiid, among others, haven’t been perhaps even better than advertised, but Wiggins may very well end up recapturing the momentum he once had when all is said and done. With Embiid out with a fracture in his back, reportedly until the second week of March Madness, helping Kansas make an impressive tournament run as the world watches would likely do just that.

What has been unfortunate and even unfair to Wiggins is the fact that he has been somehow criticized for not standing out as enough of an individual talent. In essence, he has been penalized for adopting coach Bill Self’s team-oriented style.

In what alternate, “Twitter sports logic” universe do we live in where a young player with superstar potential is actually punished in terms of public opinion for approaching the game in the right way while giving maximum effort at both ends of the floor? If you’ve been paying attention to his game rather than simply analyzing the box scores, you’d see that not only has Wiggins still managed to lead a very talented and balanced group of Jayhawks in scoring (17.1 PPG), he is also routinely matched up against the opposing team’s best scoring threats from the wing.

The 6’8 swingman utilizes his 7’0 wingspan to wreak havoc on the defensive end. From posting seven multi-block performances to the six games of three steals or better, Wiggins has shown the potential to be an absolute defensive stopper on the perimeter at the next level.

Not to mention the fact that he’s easily one of the best athletes of all the draft prospects, and can also shoot from the perimeter. As with most 19-year-olds in his position, he’ll have to continue to work on his frame and strength over the next few years, but there’s a chance he hasn’t even finished growing yet. The scariest thing about him is that even with all he’s shown to this point, you get the sense that he’s barely scratched the surface when it comes to his ultimate potential.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with selecting Embiid, Parker or any other prospect with the top pick, but if you want the player with the most complete package and highest potential ceiling, you’re taking Wiggins.

– Jabari Davis

 

Joel Embiid

If Joel Embiid wasn’t dealing with a stress fracture in his back right now, this might not even be a debate. After entering the season without much hype, Embiid put together a monster season and won over NBA decision-makers.

He had a number of dominant performances this year, including 16 points, nine rebounds, five blocks and two steals in a win over Iowa State as well as 13 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks against Oklahoma State.

When Embiid entered the season, he was described as very raw since he had only been playing organized basketball since 2011. However, he has made huge strides in a short period of time and displayed a jaw-dropping package of versatility, athleticism and fundamentals.

Watching Embiid, it’s easy to see why executives love him: graceful movements, soft touch, exceptional footwork, incredible instincts, high basketball IQ, 7’5 wingspan, extraordinary athleticism and, of course, limitless potential.

Star centers are extremely hard to find, which makes Embiid even more valuable. If Embiid is able to realize his full potential, he may become the best center in the NBA – capable of dominating on both ends of the floor.

I recently talked with an NBA scout, who raved about Embiid.

“He has had the biggest impact on this draft so far,” the scout said of Embiid. “Entering the season, the conversation was about Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle, and then scouts starting falling for Embiid. Scouts were falling in love with him and then looking over their shoulder hoping that no other teams were noticing how great he looked. Obviously, he kept improving and the secret got out.

“He’s able to do so many things at his size that nobody else can. He has amazing footwork, great athleticism, nice touch and a beautiful stroke on his shot. He may have the highest upside in the draft because he still has so much room to grow. … His footwork reminds me of Hakeem Olajuwon and his power, outside shot and skills remind me a little of Patrick Ewing. He could be really, really good.”

If a team has a chance to land the next Olajuwon or Ewing, you don’t pass on him. There are a lot of great players in this draft class, but Embiid has the chance to be very special. Assuming his injury isn’t serious and the top pick doesn’t go to a team that already has a long-term answer at center (such as the Sacramento Kings), Embiid should go first overall.

– Alex Kennedy

 

Jabari Parker

If the Milwaukee Bucks or Philadelphia 76ers (or whoever) draft Andrew Wiggins with the first overall pick this June, there’s no way to call that selection incorrect or idiotic.  It’s not common to see college players drop 41 points in a game and Wiggins’ athleticism, offensive chops and potential are arguably better than anybody else’s in the draft.  It’s why there was a time earlier this season when he was called the biggest can’t-miss No. 1 overall pick since LeBron James.

So why are we having this debate?  Because Jabari Parker.  That’s why.

Call it a gut feeling, but Parker just looks like a more NBA-ready player than some of the other top prospects in his class.  Not only is he more polished and more consistent than his contemporaries (his 18.8 PPG and 9.0 RPG led Duke this season and topped Wiggins and Joel Embiid in both categories), but he also has a more mature, muscular frame that should make him more physically prepared to take on the league.

Defensively, he has a lot of work to do, but he’s easily among the best scorers in the college game.  Comparisons to Carmelo Anthony aren’t unfounded at all, as he’s exactly the kind of big small forward that could spend a lot of time in the NBA at the four.  Anthony, for example, has been owning defenders the last few years in exactly that role.

The fact that he can rebound as well as he can is a bonus, but the thing about Parker is that he’s not only willing but excited to learn more about the game and be coached.  He puts in a ton of time in the gym, and when a player is that devoted to the game and that motivated, it very often equates to a very good NBA player.  Mix in all that talent, and there’s absolutely no way this kid misses as a future NBA All-Star.

Wiggins can alter a franchise, but he may be a couple years further away from doing so.  Embiid’s injury issues are a bit disconcerting, especially if we’re talking about a year in which equally (or arguably better) options at the No. 1 pick exist.  Dante Exum, Julius Randle and Marcus Smart all are good, but not on par with the top three guys available in this draft.

If the team with the top pick wants a savior, and they want him to start saving right away, it would very difficult to build a team around a better player than Jabari Parker.

– Joel Brigham

 

Dante Exum

In a season when NBA Draft talk has been dominated by the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker for months, that leaves several players overshadowed by the buzz. But just like in 2007 when all eyes were on Greg Oden and Kevin Durant and players such as Al Horford and Mike Conley Jr. deserved attention too, there are others in the mix who will be contributors in the pros next season.

So let’s go against the grain here for a moment and consider a prospect who will travel thousands of miles to begin his NBA career: 18-year-old Australian guard Dante Exum. Given his age and the fact he plays overseas leaves a lot of unknowns. Those circumstances also lend themselves to the potential for a high-risk, high-reward situation.

The 6’6, 188-pound Exum has been lauded for his athleticism, which includes his ability to get to the rim. He has proven his power to drive the basket to both finish and create for his teammates. Exum has a high basketball IQ and also isn’t afraid to crash the boards to fight for rebounds on the defensive end. It’s not surprising he lists Derrick Rose as one of his favorite players to watch.

Like with all players, there are areas to improve in as well. Exum’s shooting, both the mechanics and selection, will have to develop in the NBA. At less than 200 pounds, he would benefit from bulking up and adding muscle to his frame to be able to still attack the paint against the bigs in the league. Then there is the age and experience factor; he will have a learning curve transitioning to the NBA.

Basketball Insiders’ Alex Kennedy recently spoke to an NBA scout who, after acknowledging the huge question mark surrounding Exum, lauded him as a serious top pick candidate:

“I have seen him play live a limited number of times, but I have to say that he’s really intriguing. He has a legitimate chance to go No. 1 in this draft. He’s that good. His upside is enormous. I won’t be surprised if he goes No. 1 on draft night. If we land the No. 1 pick, he’s a guy who we’re seriously going to look at.

“There is nothing that suggests that he won’t be a great player. He’s athletic, he can shoot and he can handle the ball. He’s incredibly versatile. He really can play three positions, which is attractive to a lot of teams. I’m excited to watch him develop and see what kind of player he becomes.”

Taking all those factors into consideration, Exum is poised to grab attention when it comes time for the draft. He is a player who could turn heads when the first selections are announced.

– Jessica Camerato

Who should be the top pick in the 2014 NBA Draft? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: A New 2018 NBA Mock Draft – 2/13/18

With the NBA Trade Deadline passed, Basketball Insiders Publisher Steve Kyler turns focus toward the 2018 NBA Draft.

Steve Kyler

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Time To Focus On The Draft

With the NBA Trade Deadline out of the way, the next transactional window to watch becomes the 2018 NBA Draft; we’ll start dropping more Mock Drafts as we get closer, including our annual weekly Consensus Mock Draft.

There is something of a consensus starting to take shape in NBA circles on who the top 100 players truly are, although the range on players remains somewhat wide depending on who you talk to.

With all of that in mind, here is the latest Mock Draft:

Here are some of the pick swaps and how they landed where they are currently projected:

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer. The Brooklyn Nets traded several unprotected picks to Boston as part of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trades in 2015.

The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers’ 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015. The 76ers traded that pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the draft pick trade that became Markelle Fultz before the draft; it has 2 through 5 protections and based on the standings today would convey to Philadelphia.

The LA Clippers are owed the Detroit Pistons first-round pick in 2018 as a result of the Blake Griffin trade. The pick is top four protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the current standings.

The Chicago Bulls are owed the New Orleans Pelicans first-round pick as a result of the Nikola Mirotic trade. The pick is top-five protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Jazz/Wolves Ricky Rubio trade this past summer. The Jazz acquired the pick as part of the Thunder’s deal to obtain Enes Kanter in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Milwaukee Bucks’ first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick only conveys if the Bucks pick lands between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the standings today would not convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first-round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The LA Lakers are owed the Cleveland Cavaliers first-round pick as a result of Jordan Clarkson/Larry Nance Jr trade. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors’ first-round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets’ first-round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects – http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @BuddyGrizzard, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: The Top of The 2018 Draft Is Getting Crowded

The top of the projected 2018 NBA Draft is starting to get interesting, mainly because so many potential draft prospects are having incredibly dominant seasons.

Steve Kyler

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Things Are Getting Interesting

While the projected 2018 NBA Draft class doesn’t seem to have a future superstar sitting at the top of the board, there are potentially four players that are really looking the part of future NBA All-Stars and it’s making the top of the class very interesting.

Say what you want about stats, but there is little doubt that the numbers some of the top prospects are posting so far this season are pretty compelling.

Duke’s Marvin Bagley III is averaging 21.1 points per game to go with 10.9 rebounds. His 61.7 percent field goal average is impressive, especially when you consider he’s knocking in 34.6% of his three (9-26 on the season). Bagley has a 32.2 PER with a 64.6 True Shooting percentage and a 26.7 usage rate. In short, highly productive almost everywhere without having to own the basketball.

Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton is posting similarly ridiculous numbers, 19.5 points per game with 11.4 rebounds. His 61.7 percent from the field also comes with an impressive 30.4 percent three-point average (7-23 on the season). Ayton’s 32.3 PER is a nose higher than Bagley. He is also posting a whopping 65.6 True Shooting percentage with a 26.7 percentage usage rate. Again, highly productive in every way without being so ball-dominant to skew the numbers. Ayton hit the ground running at Arizona and really hasn’t had a bad game yet.

Oklahoma’s Trae Young has burst into the top-five discussion in a huge way. His 6’2 180-pound frame looks small on the court, but his game has been tremendous. Young is posting 28.7 points per game with a monster 10.4 assists per contest. He is grabbing 3.5 rebounds while shooting 48.5 percent from the field, 57.1 percent from two-point range and a scorching 41.1 percent from three (44 of 107 on the season). Young’s 38 PER is tops in all of college basketball. He has a 65.2 True Shooting percentage and a 36.1 usage rate. Unlike Bagley and Ayton, Young does control the ball, but that’s typical for an impact scoring point guard. He offsets the ball dominance with incredible assist numbers. He is also pretty spectacular to watch.

International phenom Luka Dončić is having a solid season in his own right, although his averages are lower because he doesn’t play the same volume of minutes as the NCAA collegiate prospects. In 26 games in both the Euroleague and the ACB, Dončić is posting 16.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per contest. He is shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from international three (48 of 135 on the season). Dončić is posting a 28.2 PER in Euroleague play and a 23.7 PER in ACB play. Dončić’s True Shooting numbers in Euroleague play are impressive at 66.2 percent. In ACB play his number drop a bit to 58.1 percent. His usage numbers illustrate the same slip. In Euroleague play, he posts a 30 percent usage rate while posting a 26.6 percent usage rate in ACB. Dončić typically plays more minutes and a larger role in Euroleague play. Hence the stat shift. If you haven’t seen him play, he’s so instinctual and gifted it easy to see why many see him as the top pick.

There are some compelling storylines to watch towards the top of the NBA draft board, which is likely why so many NBA executives seem split on who they would peg as the top talent in the projected 2018 Draft class.

So, with that out the way, lets jump into the latest first-round 2018 NBA Mock Draft:

Here are some of the pick swaps and how they landed where they are currently projected:

The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers’ 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015. The 76ers traded that pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the draft pick trade that became Markelle Fultz before the draft; it has 2 through 5 protections and based on the standings today would convey to Boston.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer. The Brooklyn Nets traded several unprotected picks to Boston as part of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trades in 2015.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the current standings.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Milwaukee Bucks’ first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick only conveys if the Bucks pick lands between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the standings today would not convey.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Jazz/Wolves Ricky Rubio trade this past summer. The Jazz acquired the pick as part of the Thunder’s deal to obtain Enes Kanter in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors’ first round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets’ first round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @MikeAScotto, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @BuddyGrizzard, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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NBA Daily: Another 2018 NBA Mock Draft – 12/13/17

Basketball Insiders’ publisher Steve Kyler drops his latest 2018 first-round NBA Mock Draft.

Steve Kyler

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A little less than a month ago we dropped the first 2018 NBA Mock Draft, which was met with a lot of disdain. Which is often a good thing because it sparks the discussion in NBA circles.

Since that Mock dropped, we’ve seen a bit more play out of some of the top prospects and many of the assumptions made almost a month ago are starting to settle into place a little more clearly.

The prevailing thought from NBA scouts and executives is that the possible 2018 NBA Draft class has a lot more questions than answers. The common view is that outside of the top 3 or 4 players there could be a very wide range on who the next 10-12 players will be; so expect for the second tier to evolve a lot over the course of the college basketball season.

A couple of things have started to surface among NBA scouts and executives, there seem to be three camps emerging around the top overall player – Duke’s Marvin Bagley III and international phenom Luka Dončić, seem to be the leading names mentioned most, with Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton making a strong push into the discussion. We can safely call this a three-horse race at this point.

The prevailing belief is that none of the three is far and away better than the other as a professional prospect, making it more likely than not that the top player selected will have a lot more to do with which team ultimately lands the pick, more so than the player themselves.

This class also seems to be brimming with promising athletic point guards, which unlike last year’s draft, could provide a lot of options for teams still trying to find that impact point guard.

There also looks to be 27 players in the projected top 100 that are 6’10 or bigger, eight of which project in the top 30. To put that into perspective, there were 11 players 6’10 or bigger drafted in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, and 17 total in the 60 2017 NBA Draft selections.

As we get into the 2018 calendar year, we’ll start to do deeper dives into the tiers of players and their possible NBA strengths and weakness.

So, with all of that in mind, here is the second 2018 first-round NBA Mock Draft.

Here are some of the pick swaps and how they landed where they are currently projected:

The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Ricky Rubio trade this summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would not convey.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the current standings.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves first round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick only conveys if the Bucks pick lands between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the standings today would not convey.

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors first round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets first round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/

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