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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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NBA Daily: Looking At The 2018 Draft Class By Tiers

The NBA Draft is a hard thing to predict, especially when it comes to draft order and individual team needs, Basketball Insiders publisher Steve Kyler takes a look at how this draft looks in tiers.

Steve Kyler

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Looking At The 2018 Draft In Tiers

While Mock Drafts are an easy way to look at how the NBA Draft might play out, what they do no do is give a sense of what a specific player might be as a player at the next level. With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at how some of the notable NBA draft prospects project.

It’s important to point out that situation and circumstance often impact how a player develops, even more so than almost any other variable.

So while the goal here is to give a sense of how some NBA teams and insiders see a draft prospect’s likely potential, it is by no means meant to suggest that a player can’t break out of his projection and become more or sometimes less than his he was thought to be.

Every draft class has examples of players projected to be one thing that turns out to be something else entirely, so these projections are not meant to be some kind of final empirical judgment or to imply a specific draft position, as each team may value prospects differently.

So, with that in mind, let’s look at the 2018 NBA Draft in Tiers.

The Potential Future All-Stars

DeAndre Ayton – Arizona – C – 7’0″ – 245 lbs – 20 yrs
Luka Doncic – Real Madrid – SG – 6’7″ – 218 lbs – 19 yrs
Michael Porter Jr – Missouri – SF/PF – 6’10” – 216 lbs – 20 yrs

Maybe Stars, But Likely High-Level Starters

Jaren Jackson Jr. – Michigan State – PF – 6’10” – 225 lbs – 19 yrs
Marvin Bagley III – Duke – PF – 6’11” – 220 lbs – 19 yrs
Wendell Carter – Duke – PF – 6’10” – 257 lbs – 19 yrs
Mohamed Bamba – Texas – C – 7’0″ – 216 lbs – 20 yrs
Collin Sexton – Alabama – PG – 6’2″ – 184 lbs – 19 yrs
Mikal Bridges – Villanova – SG/SF – 6’7″ – 210 lbs – 22 yrs
Robert Williams – Texas A&M – C – 6’9″ – 235 lbs – 21 yrs
Miles Bridges – Michigan State – SF/PF – 6’7″ – 230 lbs – 20 yrs
Dzanan Musa – Cedevita – SF – 6′ 9″ – 195 lbs – 19 yrs
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Kentucky – SG – 6′ 6″ – 181 lbs – 20 yrs
Trae Young – Oklahoma – PG – 6’2″ – 180 lbs – 20 yrs

Maybe Starters, But Surely Rotation Players

Kevin Knox – Kentucky – SF – 6’9″ – 206 lbs – 19 yrs
Troy Brown – Oregon – SG – 6’6″ – 210 lbs – 19 yrs
Khyri Thomas – Creighton – SG – 6′ 3″ – 210 lbs – 22 yrs
Zhaire Smith – Texas Tech – SG – 6′ 5″ – 195 lbs – 19 yrs
Rodions Kurucs – FC Barcelona B – SF – 6′ 9″ – 220 lbs – 20 yrs
Aaron Holiday – UCLA – PG – 6′ 1″ – 185 lbs – 22 yrs
Jacob Evans – Cincinnati – SF – 6′ 6″ – 210 lbs – 21 yrs
De’Anthony Melton – USC – PG – 6’4″ – 190 lbs – 20 yrs

The Swing For The Fence Prospects – AKA Boom-Or-Bust

Lonnie Walker – Miami – SG – 6’4″ – 206 lbs – 20 yrs
Mitchell Robinson – Chalmette HS – C – 7′ 0″ – 223 lbs – 20 yrs
Anfernee Simons – IMG Academy – SG – 6′ 5″ – 177 lbs – 19 yrs
Jontay Porter – Missouri – C – 6′ 11″ – 240 lbs – 19 yrs
Lindell Wigginton – Iowa State – PG – 6′ 2″ – 185 lbs – 20 yrs
Bruce Brown – Miami – SG – 6’5″ – 191 lbs – 22 yrs
Isaac Bonga – Skyliners (Germany) – SF/SG – 6’9″ – 203 lbs – 19 yrs
Hamidou Diallo – Kentucky – SG – 6’5″ – 197 lbs – 20 yrs

Players not listed are simply draft prospects that could be drafted, but don’t project clearly into any of these tiers.

If you are looking for a specific player, check out the Basketball Insiders Top 100 Prospects list, this listing is updated weekly.

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_, @mike_yaffe, @MattJohnNBA, and @Ben__Nadeau.

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Top Ten NCAA Basketball Juniors: 2017-18

While the NCAA junior class typically provides a limited number of NBA-ready options, this could be the most talented group in quite some time.

Mike Yaffe

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NCAA juniors might appear to yield limited options for NBA draft purposes. But while the “one and done” athletes receive the most hype, there can also be worthy candidates from the third-year ranks due to factors like attrition, injuries, suspensions or transferring to another school.

Although the majority of last season’s top prospects either stayed for their senior year (Grayson Allen, Trevon Bluiett) or went undrafted (Melo Trimble), there was still NBA-ready talent to be had in both Justin Jackson (Sacramento Kings) and Dillon Brooks (Memphis Grizzlies).

This year’s crop should be more fruitful, as many of the athletes listed below were able to showcase their talents in the March Madness tournament; in fact, three of them played in the national championship game itself.

With honorable mention due to Shake Milton (SMU), Jalen Hudson (Florida) and Melvin Frazier (Tulane), here are the top ten NCAA basketball juniors from the 2017-18 season:

10. Allonzo Trier, SG, Arizona

Tale of the tape: 6 ft. 4 in., 205 lb.

Despite being overshadowed by top overall prospect DeAndre Ayton, Trier had an impressive campaign of his own that featured personal highs in both scoring (18.1 PPG) and free-throw percentage (.865). He was named the MVP of the PAC-12 tournament, but failed to deliver (10 points, zero three-pointers) in the team’s upset loss to Buffalo to derail the Wildcats’ post-season aspirations.

Trier’s college-level career was extended by a pair of PED-related suspensions, but perhaps his season-high 32 points in his first game back served notice that the infractions are firmly in the past. If nothing else, he should at least be able to represent his team in the NBA dunk contest.

Draft-day projection: mid-to-late second round

9. Moritz Wagner, F/C, Michigan

Tale of the tape: 6 ft. 11 in., 235 lb.

Wagner raised eyebrows with his timely three-point shooting in the NCAA tournament, but the reality is that he averaged just over 39 percent from beyond the arc in both his sophomore and junior years. In addition, he set collegiate highs in both rebounds (7.1) and points per game (14.6) in what was a successful, if not breakthrough, campaign.

Although bigs who can shoot from outside are more commonplace than ever, there is surely room in the league for the German who is likely to follow in the footsteps of fellow countrymen Dirk Nowitzki and Maxi Kleber, with the latter being the more apt comparison.

Draft-day projection: mid second round

8. Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova

Tale of the tape: 6 ft. 2 in., 190 lb.

Brunson blossomed into the Big East player of the year while staying put at Villanova for three seasons. His 18.9 points and 4.6 assists per game as a junior are nearly double what he averaged as a freshman, and his ascension to running the point for the defending national champs has been impressive.

No one can question Brunson’s passion for the game, but he lacks the scoring ability of comparably-sized point guards Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard, both of whom averaged over 24 PPG at the collegiate level. He will also need to improve on the defensive end, but a sustainable NBA career similar to that of Jeff Teague is within reach.

Draft-day projection: early-to-mid second round

7. Chimezie Metu, F/C, USC

Tale of the tape: 6 ft. 10 in., 225 lb.

A Lawndale, CA native who stayed local, Metu has averaged nearly the same points (14.8 then 15.7), rebounds (7.6 then 7.4) and blocks (1.4 then 1.6) per contest between his sophomore and junior years. Yet this apparent level of consistency belies a great deal of variation in his contributions on a game-by-game basis, and don’t think the scouts haven’t noticed.

As a case in point, Metu’s final Pac-12 tournament ended with a thud, as he managed a mere seven points and four boards against Arizona, and the Trojans were subsequently left out of the big dance. Much like Texas’ Mo Bamba, he possesses the size and tools to be effective in the NBA, as long as he is willing to put forth the effort.

Draft-day projection: late first-to-early second round

6. Keita Bates-Diop, F, Ohio State

Tale of the tape: 6 ft. 7 in., 235 lb.

Bates-Diop responded to his medical redshirt in 2016-17 by becoming the Big Ten’s player of the year, during which he produced 19.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. He averaged 26.0 PPG in the NCAA tourney, although he was nearly kept off the glass (three rebounds) in the Buckeyes’ elimination loss to Gonzaga.

While Bates-Diop has drawn comparisons to the Dallas Mavericks’ Harrison Barnes, his burly stature seems more reminiscent of former Mavericks forward Justin Anderson, who has been a bench fixture since his trade to the Philadelphia Sixers. Despite Bates-Diop’s impressive college resume, it will be incumbent upon him to cause matchup problems as a stretch-four at the next level, a stipulation that most likely will eliminate him from lottery pick consideration for now.

Draft-day projection: late first round

5. Jacob Evans, SF, Cincinnati

Tale of the tape: 6 ft. 6 in., 210 lb.

Evans brings Swiss Army knife potential at the small forward position that NBA teams covet. His surface-level stats (13.0 PPG, 3.1 APG) aren’t eye-popping, but when you consider that he led the NCAA’s second-ranked defensive team in both categories, it seems feasible that he was limited more by style of play than by personal ability.

Despite his deflated offensive stats, Evans converted 37 percent of his three-point attempts, so comparing him to the Houston Rockets’ Trevor Ariza seems appropriate for his skill set. In the Bearcats’ loss to Nevada in the NCAA tournament, Evans had 19 points and seven rebounds, which coaches would gladly take from him on a regular basis.

Draft-day projection: late first round

4. Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

Tale of the tape: 6 ft. 3 in., 210 lb.

With a 6 ft. 10 in. wingspan (showcased on this block) and the ability to connect at a 41.1 percent clip from outside, Thomas may best exemplify a prototypical “three and D” player in the league. His 15.1 PPG and 1.7 SPG are both indicative of year-over-year improvement, and he possesses the physical dimensions that can make him effective as a pro.

Playing on a Blue Jays squad that got eliminated in their first game of both the conference and the NCAA tournaments afforded Thomas little opportunity to perform in the spotlight, but the level of consistency with which he produced before those early exits cannot be ignored.

Draft-day projection: mid-to-late first round

3. Jerome Robinson, SG, Boston College

Tale of the tape: 6 ft. 6 in., 191 lb.

A tall shooter with a slight frame, Robinson brings to mind former NBAer Kerry Kittles, who was a productive member of the New Jersey Nets (before they moved to Brooklyn) for several years. Playing for an average Eagles squad, Robinson provided double-digit scoring in all but three games during his junior season, including a whopping 46 points at Notre Dame.

Although his Boston College team didn’t participate in March Madness, Robinson still averaged 21.7 PPG in three conference tournament games, which included two opponents (Clemson, NC State) that were invited to the big dance. He probably won’t be drafted in the top 15, but he makes for a safe choice among the better NBA teams, which would allow time for him to develop his upper body strength.

Draft-day projection: mid-to-late first round

2. Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

Tale of the tape: 6 ft. 1 in., 185 lb.

After starting his freshman year, Holiday was relegated to the bench as a sophomore before reclaiming the starting gig after incumbent Lonzo Ball departed for the NBA. His junior campaign was remarkable, as he averaged 20.3 PPG and connected on 42.9 percent of his three-point attempts. Over the course of the season, he scored in single digits once while cracking the 30-point barrier on three occasions (including the Pac-12 quarterfinals).

As the youngest brother of current NBA players Jrue and Justin, Aaron Holiday brings a pedigree that should enhance his draft-day value. While he is smallish by league standards, both Yogi Ferrell (as a key reserve) and Kemba Walker (as an All-Star) have proven that so-called limitation is far from being a show-stopper.

Draft-day projection: mid-to-late first round

1. Mikal Bridges, G/F, Villanova

Tale of the tape: 6 ft. 7 in., 210 lb.

A swingman by NBA standards, Bridges nearly doubled his production as a sophomore by averaging 17.7 PPG, which was buoyed by his ability to make three-pointers at a 43.5 percent clip. Although super-sub Donte DiVincenzo dominated the national title game, it was Bridges who led the Wildcat starters with 19 points of his own after being named MVP of the preceding Big East tournament. Much like the aforementioned Jacob Evans, he is capable of stuffing the stat sheet, but Bridges is the better offensive threat of the two.

With his 7 ft. 2 in. wingspan and long-distance accuracy, perhaps Bridges himself said it best when he listed Paul George and Kawhi Leonard as players that “intrigued” him. While mock drafts have varied wildly in terms of projecting the other names on this list, Bridges appears to be a consensus top-ten pick, albeit towards the tail end of that continuum.

Draft-day projection: early-to-mid first round

 

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: 2018 NBA 60-Pick Mock Draft – 4/10/18

With the floodgates open and college players entering the draft class left and right, Steve Kyler offers up another 60-pick NBA Mock Draft.

Steve Kyler

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With the NBA regular season coming to a close, there are some draft ramifications to watch.

Should the Milwaukee Bucks stay where they are today, they would not convey their pick to the Phoenix Suns as that pick is protected in such a way that it only conveys if it lands between the 11 and 16th pick.

Equally, the dead heat that exists in the Western Conference playoff race, could shift several teams around the draft board based on how the season actually finishes.

There are also some key dates to keep in mind this draft season:

College players can request information from the NBA Draft Advisory panel on where they might fall in the draft; they must request this information by April 13. The Advisory panel is comprised of well-respected draft talent evaluators that offer would-be draft prospects a draft range valuation based on a survey of NBA executives. Historically their range projections have been pretty accurate, and it’s a way for a college player to understand how the NBA views them as a draft prospect. It’s not a guarantee by any means, simply an informed survey of how NBA teams value them in terms of where they might get drafted, if at all.

The NBA’s Early Entry deadline is April 22. All underclassmen that wish to be included for draft consideration must declare in writing to the NBA, by that date.

The NBA Draft Lottery will be held in Chicago on May 15. The annual NBA Draft Combine will get underway on May 16, also in Chicago. In any given draft year, roughly 70 percent of players invited to the Combine end up being drafted into the NBA, so a Combine invite is a significant milestone.

The NCAA requires all players wishing to maintain their college eligibility, without penalty, to withdraw from the NBA Draft by 11:59 pm on May 30. That is an NCAA mandated date, not related to anything involving the NBA, and that notice must be delivered in writing.

The NBA’s draft withdrawal date is June 11 by 5:00 pm ET. The NBA’s date allows a prospect to remain NBA draft eligible for future NBA drafts and is not related to any NCAA rule or date. There are ways for college players that did not accept benefits to return to college, however, they may be subject to NCAA penalties.

Here is this week’s 2018 NBA Mock Draft, based on the standings of games played through 4/09/18:

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