The best prospect in the country isn't always the guy who's ready to immediately rock and roll.
Though it's early, that honor appears likely to go to one of three prospects in America who've seemingly separated from the pack. Kansas' Andrew Wiggins, Duke's Jabari Parker and Kentucky's Julius Randle should sit atop most draft boards at the moment after their standout performances at the State Farm Champions Classic.
So who's capable of making the biggest impact in the pros right away?
To find out, let's run through three major phases of the game that represent barriers to those looking to make the transition.
Speed of the Game
Sometimes, the speed of the NBA game can catch a young prospect off-guard. And I'm not necessarily just talking about tempo, although it does play a role.
I'm talking about keeping up laterally with guys like Kemba Walker and John Wall. Or rotating down on defense after Russell Westbrook breaks down the perimeter. I'm talking about getting back in transition after James Harden pushes the ball off a defensive rebound, or finishing on the break when LeBron James is chasing you from behind.
The NBA game offers a more high-octane environment given the level of athleticism on the floor. It is quite the transition from college basketball's 35-second shot clock and methodical offensive sets.
The speed of the pro game isn't likely to favor Jabari Parker or Julius Randle, whose strengths lie within their ability to score when the game is slowed down. Parker and Randle also lack lateral quickness, which could cause them to struggle defensively in face-up situations.
The pace of the NBA was built for guys like Andrew Wiggins, whose unparalleled athleticism allows him to fly down the floor and slide effortlessly side to side.
And because of it, Wiggins allows himself to have 22-point games despite lacking a refined offensive skill set that's likely to develop over time. Considering Wiggins' core strength is his electric athletic ability, the NBA's speed barrier shouldn't bother him a bit.
Most NBA-Ready Speed: Andrew Wiggins
These guys are just too good. Think about how many people play basketball around the world, and how many play in NBA rotations. This is the top game on this planet, and if your skill level isn't up to par, it's going to show early on.
To be considered a top-three pick, you obviously need to be skilled. And all three have awesome skills—or at least a foundation to build the set.
But among the three, one stands a head above the others: Jabari Parker.
NBA superstars are superstars because the shots they consistently take and make are unguardable. The best defense in the world can't guard a Kevin Durant step-back jumper.
Against Davidson and Kansas, Parker has shown he's got that shot-creating and shot-making ability. Step-backs, pull-up with range, acrobatic finishes on the move—Parker was making shots that great defense can't contain.
This isn't a knock on Randle, who knows how to feed himself buckets down low. But Parker is simply a threat from more spots on the floor.
We saw Randle struggle in the first half against Michigan State when the Spartans defense kept him out on the perimeter.
Wiggins, well—he's just not there yet. His handle and range both could use work, relatively speaking. Wiggins' skills are going to develop over time.
Parker already has them.
And it's not even just about scoring. Parker appears to be that team-first guy who sees the right pass and has the willingness to make it.
With such a versatile skill set, Parker looks fundamentally ready to step into an NBA rotation and play within the offense.
Highest Skill Level: Jabari Parker
The Physical Test
When you enter the NBA ring, you have to be fully prepared.
Because they'll eat you. Literally. I'm pretty sure I saw Reggie Evans actually swallow someone last year.
These NBA guys are big. Small forwards aren't 6'5'', 190 pounds. Power forwards look like Carlos Boozer, not teenagers.
Right now, Wiggins weighs in as a 200-pound small forward. And not that it's a concern, but Wiggins' weight might take a few years to build. And if we're talking about NBA-readiness, you have to wonder how effective he'll be right off the bat when he's guarded by stronger wings like Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Luol Deng, Nicolas Batum, etc.
Parker has himself a strong 235-pound frame in the mold of a young Carmelo Anthony. He's not as light on his feet as Wiggins is, but he'll be at the same level, if not bigger than some of the guys he'll be matched up against.
There's no doubt that Randle, whose 6'9'', 250-pound frame is made to take and initiate contact, wins this battle of the three. He put on a finishing-after-contact clinic against Michigan State in the State Farm Champions Classic, showing the ability to take the body shots and finish around it.
Randle should enter the NBA physically ready to compete without being overwhelmed by muscle or mass. He takes this phase of the transition with his eyes closed.
Physical Test Champ: Julius Randle
All three of these guys could probably compete in an NBA game today. But how many would succeed?
I've currently got Wiggins as the top prospect in the country and No. 1 pick in the draft. However, I don't think he's the most NBA-ready.
At 18 years old, both Parker and Randle are more physically prepared for NBA life. Wiggins will get there, but as a 19-year-old rookie, Parker and Randle might have the edge.
While both Parker and Randle are probably NBA-ready, I'd take the more skilled player of the two to produce bigger results in a pro game tomorrow.
Parker has the size, frame, athleticism, mindset and advanced offensive skill set. And now it sounds like I'm selling a car.
Wiggins, Parker and Randle each look capable of heading in All-Star directions, but I'll take Jabari Parker as my 2014-15 NBA Rookie of the Year.
Most NBA-Ready: Jabari Parker
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