On Monday afternoon, NC State forward T.J. Warren declared for the 2014 NBA Draft, a move that was not especially surprising but was definitely a smart one. Warren is a lock to become not only a lottery pick, but a top-10 selection in the draft as a result of his great production this season and overall professional outlook.
During the 2013-14 college basketball season Warren was one of the best college basketball players in the country and was actually voted the Player of the Year in the ACC. Statistically speaking, the forward averaged 35.4 minutes per game, 24.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 1.1 assists and a 52.5 field goal percentage. This is obviously impressive on the face of things and becomes especially jaw dropping when one considers that NC State only had one other player average even 10 points per game, meaning that Warren was double teamed on many occasions.
Clearly Warren passed the test of being a No. 1 option and fighting through different defensive looks at the college level, and he looks equally destined to succeed in the NBA. At 6-foot-8, 215-pounds he has the size to succeed as a small forward, and his willingness and ability to crash the rim gives him the ability to consistently score points at the NBA level. Furthermore, Warren has the physical ability to beat defenders in one on one situations and the basketball acumen to fight through the added nuances of the professional game.
When you combine this skill with the fact that he cut close to 20 pounds this past offseason, it is obvious Warren also has the dedication to succeed. This will be especially important considering he only shot 26.7 percent from three-point range and 69.0% on free throws, which will each need to be improved upon to become an All-Star level player at the NBA level. Still, no player going into the draft is perfect, and most teams prefer an athletic specimen with a correctable flaw over a one-dimensional player who can’t beat anyone off the dribble.
One thing that each of the 14 teams that are part of the draft lottery needs is a true impact scorer, and Warren definitely will be just that at the NBA level in the future. Warren may not yet be the complete package, but a top ten selection looks increasingly likely. Whichever team does draft him will be getting a future All-Star player and perennial 20 point per game scorer.