Looking ahead to the NBA draft

With the Eastern conference teams playing like a bunch of gangly, uncoordinated pubescents, many fans deem it fit to lick their chops even before the New Year in preparation for the next draft class. The 2014 draft class looks to be more of a mouth-waterer than usual with comparisons being drawn to the famous 2003 draft class, which included LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony. The top five most likely draft picks are listed below.

5. Marcus Smart

The lone sophomore and guard on the list, many basketball pundits considered Smart a shoe-in top three pick for the weak 2013 draft, but he decided to stay for his second year so as to “mature more,” Smart said. Despite the 2013 Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year nod, Smart had fallen on a number of draft big boards. Yet, solid performances against the University of South Florida and ranked Memphis have forced analysts to reconsider. While he doesn’t have the speed or athleticism of a Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook, Smart does play fast and hard. He always asserts his presence on the court, compiling a number of effort rebounds, steals and blocks throughout the games.


4. Joel Embiid

Kansas’ freshman center has all the genetic makings of a top flight center: long wingspan (7’5”), tall frame (7’) and lateral quickness. Despite that, Embiid has a lot of ground to make up. He only began playing basketball two years before his first collegiate basketball game, and many of his skills have been found wanting. Embiid’s limited in his choice of low post moves, and he’s prone to defensive fouls (3.6 fouls per 19 minutes of play according to SB Nation). That being said, Embiid could easily reach the levels of players like Serge Ibaka on athleticism alone, so any team that drafted him in the top five wouldn’t have to worry about a bust.


3. Julius Randle

Julius Randle has the body type of a Josh Smith or young LeBron James. As such, he’s a prototypical positional mismatch – he’s too big for small forwards to match up with him on the block and too agile and skilled for bigs to check him on the perimeter. Unlike an 18 year old LeBron, though, Randle has issues with forcing the issue and giving away possession. Likewise, as Draftexpress suggests, Randle sometimes has the tendency to simply try out-muscling players on his way to the basket, a tactic which flew in high school but may not do so in college or in the pros.


2. Jabari Parker

Before Wiggins’ entrance on to the scene, many considered Parker the second coming. SI covers and frenzied recruiting painted the portrait that Parker was the most complete high school player of the 2013 recruiting class. In some respects, that thought still holds. As of now, he’s one of the leading scorers in the nation with Duke, and many, such as Stephen A. Smith, consider him a remarkably “cerebral” player with tremendous shooting and passing abilities.Yet, Parkerd doesn’t have the athleticism that Wiggins has. Understanding of basketball can be more easily taught than genetics.


1. Andrew Wiggins

Every discussion about Kansas’ Wiggins inevitably brings up his athletic parents, as if to insinuate that he was somehow selectively bred to be a world class athlete. His father played shooting guard at Florida State University and in the NBA, and his mother, an olympian, holds the Canadian 400 meter record. As would follow, Wiggins has an exceptional athletic makeup. He can run faster and jump higher than anyone in the gym, and on top of that, he refined his jump shot to an almost perfection. Wiggins, however, has the tendency, like LeBron in some respects, to fall out of the focus in games, which may concern some potential suitors. Yet, according to most pundits, Wiggins has the most upside of anyone in the upcoming draft, which, historically, matters the most to the general managers.