If the idea is to take advantage of your own situation when you are at your highest point, then NC State 6-foot-8 sophomore forward T.J. Warren is absolutely making the right decision by entering his name in for the 2014 NBA Draft. Warren may not have been seen as a player on the 2014 NBA Draft radar entering the season, but he put up the kind of numbers that for one, will be very difficult to repeat, and two, should make him marketable to any number of NBA teams in need of scoring and rebounding.
Warren, a Durham native who will turn 21 prior to the start of the next NBA season, dominated most of the ACC this season while leading the Wolfpack to a 22-14 record and a second-round berth in the NCAA Tournament before being eliminated by the Saint Louis Billikens. On a team where there was little other offense to be had and in a situation where he had to produce for NC State to have any success at all, Warren had an amazing year. After missing a game against Maryland on Jan. 20, Warren scored at least 20 points in all 17 games the Wolfpack played the rest of the season. The high-water mark for Warren came Mar. 3 and 9 in the final two games of the Wolfpack’s regular season when he scored 41 points at Pittsburgh and 42 points at home against Boston College in a pair of Wolfpack wins.
Over NC State’s last 17 games, Warren averaged 27.7 points per game and finished at a whopping 24.9 PPG for the entire season. To put that number into perspective, Duke standout freshman Jabari Parker, who is expected to be a lottery pick in the NBA Draft assuming he enters, was second in the ACC in scoring, but his 19.1 PPG average was nearly a full six points a game behind Warren. Warren also averaged about seven rebounds per game during that 17-game stretch, including grabbing 13 in his 42-point effort against the Eagles. Warren shot 53 percent from the field for the season, and perhaps most impressively, he usually racked up his points the old fashioned way. Warren only averaged about one made three-pointer per game.
At 6-foot-8, Warren could be an ideal small forward in the NBA given his shooting ability and rebounding prowess. He’s a shade light at 215 pounds, but a decent NBA strength and conditioning program will suit Warren just fine if he’s willing to put in the work. Given that he developed into the ACC Player of the Year as a sophomore, there’s no reason to think Warren won’t get the job done. He’ll make some NBA team in need of solid offensive player very happy in this draft. While it will definitely hurt the Wolfpack in the short term, Warren has to do what’s best for him, and entering the NBA Draft, as Yahoo and other media outlets are reporting, is totally the right thing for Warren to do.