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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.

Basketball Insiders

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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 AM: The First 2018 NBA Mock Draft

With College Basketball getting underway and things starting to get interesting in the standings of the NBA, what better time to drop a 2018 Mock Draft than on Thanksgiving.

Steve Kyler

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The Thanksgiving 2018 NBA Mock Draft

With College Basketball getting underway and things starting to get interesting in the standings of the NBA, what better time to drop a 2018 Mock Draft than on Thanksgiving.

So with that in mind here is my first Mock Draft of the 2018 Season, look for more of these are we march on (and hopefully you like the new Mock Draft table design.

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

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 convey.

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 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 our 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

NBA AM: A Look At The 2018 NBA Draft Class

With the NCAA basketball season gearing up, here is an early look at some of the names to watch as it gets rolling.

Steve Kyler

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A Look At The Top Of the 2018 NBA Draft Class

With the college basketball season getting ready to get underway, it’s time to take our first look at the names to watch in what could be a very flat 2018 NBA Draft class. While the draft class always evolves as the season goes on, there are a few names that look more likely to be sure things than others, and here are a few:

Luka Dončić – Real Madrid

The 6-foot-7 Dončić looks to be the front-runner of the 2018 class. While not a college player, Dončić has been on the NBA radar for some time and took part in NBA preseason last year when the Oklahoma City Thunder faced off against Real Madrid.

Dončić is considered by many to be the next can’t miss International player, with some labeling him a basketball prodigy. Dončić has spent his offseasons training in the U.S. at the famed P3 Performance Training Center in Santa Barbara, so he is no stranger to the NBA style of play or how hard you have to train got be great at the NBA level.

Dončić is listed as a forward but tends to play with the ball in his hands a lot for Real Madrid, where many label him as more of a point forward. Dončić is a polished shooter, with the game all the way to the three-point line.

It will take something pretty special (or tragic) to happen for Dončić not to be the top overall player this June. He is absolutely the name to watch.

Michael Porter Jr. – Missouri

Of all of the college players with a shot at a top-three pick in June, the 6-foot-10 Michael Porter Jr. might be the best of the bunch. With an amazing set of skills, Porter has been the star of the high school all-star circuit and has cemented himself as a very serious NBA prospect. The problem with Michael Porter Jr. isn’t anything he does on the basketball court, it a reputation that’s followed him for a while that he may not have the right circle of influence.

In what has become all too common in the AAU/high school, players have started to amass a circle of influence that’s been clouding the star of some of the top players.

Dallas’ Dennis Smith Jr had similar concerns last year, which was a big contributing factor to him sliding to the Dallas Mavericks and the ninth pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

For Porter, NBA teams are going to want to see him shake some of the labels around his game and gauge how coachable he can be at the next level.

From a pure talent and skill point of view, though, Porter might be the next best talent in the eventual 2018 NBA draft pool, it will be interesting to see if Porter and a very solid recruiting class can get Missouri into the elite of the college basketball. It would go a long way towards quieting the noise around him that doesn’t have anything to do with the game.

[Update: Porter Jr, has been ruled out for the college basketball season after needing a microdiscectomy of the L3-L4 spinal discs. The projected recovery time is 3-4 months. NBA teams will want to understand the full scope of Porter Jr.’s surgery and his prognosis. If he is deemed to be a 100% after the procedure, his draft stock could remain very high. However, needing a disc-related back surgery at 19 is a huge red flag, especially for a player listed at 6′ 10″.]

Marvin Bagley III – Duke

If Porter isn’t the guy for whatever reason, the next guy looks to be Duke’s Marvin Bagley III. He re-classified this summer making him eligible for this season and one of the younger prospects on the board. At a legit 6-foot-11, Bagley has the whole package for a big man. He is an incredible athlete that can score from everywhere. He is explosive around the basket and a lethal at-the-rim scorer.

Given Duke’s loaded recruiting class, Bagley looks likely to be playing deep into March this year, and that could bode well for his eventual draft stock.

Collin Sexton – Alabama

Alabama’s Collin Sexton looks to be the top point guard prospect in the eventual 2018 NBA Draft class. He is a legit 6’2 and as cat quick as they come. Sexton was a star on the high school All-Star circuit and looks to have the whole pack for an NBA caliber guard.

The big thing Sexton is going to need to show at the next level is that he can be a playmaker as well as a scorer. The High School/AAU platform has shown that Sexton can score at will, NBA teams are going to want to see him create for others.

It’s no secret that the NBA is built around point guard play, and like Smith Jr, who is flourishing in the NBA with the Mavericks. Sexton could be equally as potent, especially after a season playing for Avery Johnson at Alabama.

Miles Bridges – Michigan State

Surprisingly, Bridges opted to return for another season at Michigan State. Historically most players don’t add to their draft stock returning to school, but in Bridges case, he could find himself towards the top of the class with a dominating season for the Spartans.

Bridges is more of a combo forward. The knock on his game is he is more of a tweener, with a limited outside game. If he can take over in his Sophomore season and prove he has improved as a perimeter threat, he could add some serious value to what many expected was 15-20 draft range in 2017.

The problem for Bridges is that scouts tend to latch on to an idea around a player and unless he shakes the label, it’s generally viewed as a negative if a player does not improve.

Bridges has the potential to leap way up in his draft stock, which is pretty rare. The question is, is there another level to his game in college basketball?

Trevon Duval – Duke

Duke has a great recruiting class, but the enigma of the bunch may be guard Trevon Duval. A start for IMG and one of the top high school/prep players in the Nation, the buzz around Duval has dropped considerably. Most NBA scouts are eager to see how Duval handles being coached by Mike Krzyzewski.

Duval has all the tools to be an elite point guard prospect, but like Porter Jr, there are questions about his circle of influence and how much he wants to win at the college level.

With some many prospects looking past their college season into an eventual NBA career, scouts and executives seem to be interesting in seeing how Duval leads a team like Duke and how much latitude Coach K gives him throughout the season.

The one this to know about any future draft class at this point in the calendar is that everything is subject to change. However, history has proven time and time again that the top names on NBA scouting boards in November, usually end up being in the top 10 when the draft rolls around in June.

Once some of these guys log actual games, we’ll start dropping our monthly NBA Mock Drafts, so stay tuned for that as the college basketball season ramps up.

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

The Best of the Undrafted Players

David Yapkowitz breaks down the best players who weren’t drafted in Thursday night’s NBA Draft.

David Yapkowitz

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Ben Wallace, Raja Bell, Avery Johnson, David Wesley, John Starks; those are just a few former NBA players who didn’t hear their name called on draft night, yet went on to have pretty impressive careers.

Each year there are a few undrafted players who end up making a team’s roster and turn out to be solid contributors. This past season, players like Ron Baker of the New York Knicks, Yogi Ferrell of the Dallas Mavericks, and Derrick Jones Jr. of the Phoenix Suns went undrafted in 2016 yet ended up as regular rotation guys for their teams. In Ferrell’s case, he became a starter.

With the 2017 NBA Draft come and gone, here’s a look at some of the top undrafted players who might be able to strengthen a team’s roster.

Johnathan Motley

Johnathan Motley was the best player on a Baylor team that was a No.3 seed and made it to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament. He averaged 17.3 points per game on 52.2 percent shooting and pulled down 9.9 rebounds per game.

At 6-foot-9 and 230 pounds, Motley is definitely in the mold of a versatile wing player who can play multiple positions and thrive and in today’s NBA. What he needs to do, however, is improve his outside shot. He shot only 28.1 percent from three-point range. One crucial aspect for hybrid forwards is to be able to step out and hit long range jumpers.

His stock often fluctuated in various mock drafts; some had him going in the first round, others in the second. Per The Vertical’s Shams Charania, Motley signed a two-way contract with the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday.

P.J. Dozier

P.J. Dozier was one-half of South Carolina’s star duo that helped propel them to a Cinderella run to the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament. The other half, Sindarius Thornwell, had his name called, but at the end of the night, Dozier was still waiting.

Only a sophomore, Dozier was the second leading scorer for the Gamecocks with 13.9 points per game. He was always projected to go in the second round on most mocks and perhaps he came out a bit too early. The talent is there though.

He can have success as a team’s combo guard off the bench. He will need to work on his shooting though. He shot only 40.7 percent from the field, 29.8 percent from three. He’ll be in summer league with the Los Angeles Lakers, and from there will hope to entice a team to bring him to training camp.

Melo Trimble

Melo Trimble might have been one of those players that needed to strike while the iron’s hot. Two years ago, he was talked about as a probable first-round pick had he declared for the draft after his freshman year at Maryland. Instead, he stayed until his junior year and his stock fell.

He actually turned in an impressive junior campaign with 16.8 points per game, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists. He shot a respectable 44.4 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from three-point range.

Trimble will play summer league with the Philadelphia 76ers, and like most undrafted free agents, will look to turn his performance into a training camp invitation. He probably projects to be a backup point guard should he find a place in the league. He had first round and possible lottery talent before, however, so maybe all he needs is an opportunity.

Devin Robinson

In today’s game, where teams put a premium on versatile, do it all type players who can play multiple positions, Devin Robinson certainly fits that description. Robinson is a long, athletic forward who can step out and hit outside jumpers while locking up his opponent’s best wing scorer.

Florida had a surprisingly solid run in the NCAA Tournament and Robinson was a big part of that. His junior year, his best year yet, saw him average 11.1 points per game on 47.5 percent from the field and 6.1 rebounds. He showed a much improved outside shot, connecting on 39.1 percent of his looks from downtown. In the tournament, he upped his averages to 28.3 points on similar shooting percentages.

Robinson will be in summer league with the Washington Wizards, a team that often times lacked production off their bench last season. Depending on how he performs in summer league, don’t be surprised to see him on the Wizards roster come opening night.

Nigel Hayes

Playing in the shadow of Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker in years past, Nigel Hayes was given an opportunity as a senior at Wisconsin to show what he could do as the focal point of an offense. His numbers didn’t jump off the page, but he did play well enough to be given a shot at making a team’s roster.

His 14 points per game were good enough to tie teammate Ethan Happ for the second leading scorer on the team. As a power forward, he was actually the second leading assist man with 2.7. One area he’ll need to improve on to make an impact in the NBA is his outside jumper. He shot 39.6 percent from three his sophomore season. This year it was down to 31.4 despite taking a similar number of attempts (2.5 and 1.9 respectively).

Hayes looks to be one of those players in between positions. He lacks the quickness and range to thrive at small forward but is a bit undersized at the NBA level for power forward. He is an incredible energy player, though, and players like that have been able to carve out nice careers. He’ll be in summer league with the Knicks, and given their current state of affairs, they need all the help they can get.

L.J. Peak

In the mock drafts that projected him to be drafted, L.J. Peak was most likely going to be a second round pick. That’s not to say he doesn’t have first round talent. He’s a big guard that can play both guard positions.

Despite Georgetown’s futile record this season, Peak was a standout. He was the team’s second-leading scorer at 16.2 points per game on 48 percent shooting from the field. He was also their top playmaker, dishing out 3.5 assists. In the NBA, he most likely can find a role for some team as a combo guard off the bench. He only shot 32.7 percent from the beyond the arc, however, so if he wants to make an impact in the league that’s one area he’ll need some work.

He’s set to go to summer league with the Houston Rockets. Depending on what roster moves the Rockets make, it will be tough for Peak to make the final team. They already have two guards capable of playing both guard spots off the bench in Lou Williams and Isaiah Taylor. Taylor’s contract isn’t guaranteed, but he probably has the inside track due to his familiarity with the team. In any case, a strong summer showing should lead Peak to a training camp invite with another team, if not the Rockets.

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