College basketball fans may not like to hear it, but NBA draft discussions will overshadow much of what happens on the court across campuses this season.
There is so much professional-ready talent across the board that there have been serious suspicions that a number of NBA teams are “tanking” to improve their chances at landing one of the potential blue-chip studs. As one of the best teams at the collegiate level, Duke is not exempt from these discussions.
There are a handful of Blue Devils that could be well on their way to hearing their name called on draft night. Let’s dig into a discussion of the draft stock for three.
Jabari Parker is clearly the best NBA prospect on Duke’s campus, but the intriguing question is whether he is the top prospect across the entire collegiate landscape.
Matt Moore of CBS Sports recently compiled a mock 2014 draft, and he listed Parker as the No. 1 overall selection. He even suggested that comparing Parker to Carmelo Anthony may be an insult to the Duke playmaker:
He's the one player who seems to put together all the elements; that versatility is more highly regarded in NBA circles than at any point in history. There are a lot of Carmelo Anthony comparisons for him, but he's such a gifted playmaker, it honestly feels like an insult. And that alone is a crazy statement in a vacuum.
Parker combines every ingredient that an NBA squad would want from an athletic stretch forward. He has speed and size, can attack the rim off the dribble and has extended range with his jump shot. Parker has the occasional lapse on the defensive end, but that is almost to be expected from a teenager. If drafted in the right situation, then with more development, Parker’s defense will likely not be an issue.
Wherever Parker is selected, he will be viewed as something of a franchise savior and will compete for immediate playing time as a rookie.
Parker draws the majority of the headlines and attention when discussing Duke (both on the court and in NBA draft projections), but he is not the only first-round talent on Mike Krzyzewski’s roster.
Rodney Hood has made scoring at an efficient rate something of an art form in Durham during the start of this season. He averages just shy of 20 points a night on 59 percent shooting from the field and 54 percent shooting from behind the three-point line. He shoots 84 percent from the charity stripe and gets there with regularity.
Moore projected Hood as the No. 12 overall selection in the same mock draft that Parker was listed No. 1. If Hood is taken that early, it will be for many of the same reasons Parker is so attractive as a prospect.
Hood can score from almost anywhere on the court, has solid shooting touch, can attack the rim and can finish through contact, and he has the size, speed and athletic combination that NBA scouts love.
Hood may not be a candidate for the first overall selection like his teammate is, but he will be taken in the first round if he doesn’t return to Durham next year.
Coming into the 2013-14 campaign, Quinn Cook was seen as a borderline NBA draft prospect. Draft Express listed him as the 38th best college junior, which doesn’t exactly land him in first-round discussions.
Cook, however, has played the best basketball of his career through the start of this campaign. He scores nearly 15 points a night and dishes out more than six assists a game, and he has a better than 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He shoots nearly 50 percent from the field and a respectable 37 percent from behind the three-point line.
Would you want your favorite NBA team selecting Quinn Cook?
Cook is athletic, but he doesn’t have explosive speed that allows him to get to the rim at will. The most important trait he can demonstrate to NBA scouts this season is his ability to serve as a floor general and spread the ball around effectively to all the surrounding talent. He has done a remarkable job of doing just that thus far.
Cook will get an opportunity to make an NBA roster if he continues to play offense as effectively as he has so far this season.
Follow and interact with college basketball writer Scott Polacek on Twitter @ScottPolacek.