2014 NBA Draft: Ranking the Top 10 Prospects Right Now
Getting an Early Grasp on the 2014 NBA Draft
With the 2013-14 NBA season underway there is no doubt that basketball is back, in turn filling a void that has been left in many fans hearts since the Miami Heat won the NBA Finals on June 20. The new season offers a number of interesting storylines, ranging from the return of Derrick Rose and Kevin Love to whether or not the Heat can get a three-peat and everywhere in between. As one would expect at the beginning of the season most fans are rather optimistic, as they have not been tormented by any heartbreaking losses, or even worse a string of blowout losses.
Inevitably there will be a certain section of basketball fans who are filled with pessimism heading into the upcoming season, immediately turning their attention to the race for the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Of course this may seem to be a bit of a Debbie downer attitude, but sometimes teams simply have no hope of reaching the playoffs (calling out you Charlotte Bobcats and Phoenix Suns).
For fans stuck in this unfortunate position the 2013-14 NBA season will be one to forget and likely be a year to catch up on the college and international basketball scene. In these avenues fans will not only look for consolation from their favorite team's woes but look to find a new face to turn around their team's plummeting fortunes.
Luckily for these people -- and others who simply enjoy examining the NBA Draft -- we have compiled a list of the top ten prospects for the 2014 NBA Draft, providing a early look at the talent a handful of fan bases will be looking forward to throughout the year.
10. Mario Hezonja
If you have not yet heard of Mario Hezonja we recommend you get to know him. The 18 year old Croatian shooting guard/small forward stands a towering 6-foot-7 and like most larger players from Europe is both lanky and very technical. Unlike some of his European counterparts, though, is that Hezonaj possesses great athleticism and the ability to beat almost any player off the dribble to accompany his great fundamentals. Currently his playing for FC Barcelona will go a long way towards developing further before the 2014 draft and could see a large jump on draft boards before then.
9. Glenn Robinson III
Unlike many of his counterparts on this list Glenn Robinson III has received extensive playing time at the college level, as he played a crucial role in the Michigan Wolverines making it to the NCAA Final last season. Last season Robinson averaged 33.6 minutes and 11 points per game, showing great athleticism and the ability to jump out of the gym. Before reaching the draft he will have to work specifically on three-pointer and free throws, as he struggled with both at times last year. Still, executives will use Robinson's incredible athleticism and the fact that his father had an extensive NBA career as indicators he can be a successful pro.
8. Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid comes into the 2013-14 season as one of the highest touted college basketball and NBA Draft prospects in the nation. He will be playing the upcoming season for the Kansas Jayhawks, where he will play center and look to polish up on his interior play both offensively and defensively. Many teams will simply be hoping that he does not get injured, as at 7-foot and possessing great athleticism there is no doubt teams will be drooling over Embiid's potential.
7. Andrew Harrison
Andrew Harrison will join the annual rank of highly touted talents going into Kentucky this season where he is expected to start at point guard. Harrison is known as a pure scorer, as he has the ability to both drive the lane and shoot from distance, making him a nightmare to guard. This affinity for scoring may result in a position change to shooting guard eventually, although we could see the 6-foot-5 guard adapt to distributing the ball when faced with stiffer competition. Either way he will be placed high on many people's boards as scoring guards are extremely valuable in basketball today.
6. Aaron Gordon
Aaron Gordon will play power forward for the Arizona Wildcats this season and can be expected to provide some highlight reel moments. This is because the 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward has the type of athletic ability that reminds one of Blake Griffin and the dunking ability to back it up. He will also be expected to corral a number of rebounds and be a machine with the ball in his hands on the open floor, although there are some downfalls to this athletic ability. Work needs to be done on his shooting ability and footwork to truly become a success at the next level, although most collegiate big men need work in these areas. Expect teams to overlook the negatives and take Gordon with one of the top picks in the 2014 NBA Draft.
5. Marcus Smart
During the 2012-13 season Marcus Smart showed the entire world that he can be a top notch point guard, as he led Oklahoma State to the NCAA Tournament. Throughout the season the 6-foot-4, 220-pound point guard showed great ability to create space and find open teammates along with great shooting and playing solid defense. Smart has the solid type of all around game that makes one wonder why he didn't enter the 2013 NBA Draft and will make him a top pick in 2014.
4. Jabari Parker
Jabari Parker will enter his freshman year with Duke as one of the highest touted freshmen in the nation, and for good reason. The 6-foot-8 235-pound small forward has shown a mix of competitiveness, shooting ability and ability off the dribble that has drawn comparisons to Carmelo Anthony. While this may be a bit far for any 18 year old it has not seemed to faze Parker yet, and in fact he has looked to improve in the few areas he is not above average. Look for the youngster to develop greatly under the tutelage of Mike Krzyzewski and possibly be a top three pick in 2014.
3. Dante Exum
Dante Exum is an 18 year old prospect from Australia, where he will stay in the upcoming season rather than play college basketball. The 6-foot-6 point guard will not need this opportunity to impress scouts, though, as he absolutely dominated the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championships with Australia. He did this with a combination of incredible quickness both on and off the dribble, an ability and willingness to shoot and the ability to attack the hoop. Teams will look for him to bulk up to become a truly successful pro, although this will not be deterrent in being a top-five pick in 2014.
2. Julius Randle
Julius Randle will play his freshman -- and likely only -- season with the Kentucky Wildcats in 2013-14, as he awaits becoming a top pick in the 2014 draft. The 6-foot-9 250-pound forward has great dribbling ability, can finish around the basket or even step out to hit shots from distance. The only downfall to his game is not possessing jaw dropping physical ability, although this is not a necessity to becoming a top pick in the NBA Draft. This is fortunate for Randle as he is going to be a top pick in 2014.
1. Andrew Wiggins
Andrew Wiggins has been touted as the best NBA prospect since LeBron James and will have many fans simply praying he does not get injured playing for Kansas this season. The 6-foot-8 200-pound small forward is an absolutely world class athlete and has all of the abilities on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor that a team looks for in a top prospect. Simply put, Wiggins can do it all on a basketball court and little can stand in the way of him becoming the top pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.