Stock Up, Stock Down for Top 20 2014 NBA Draft Prospects

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterDecember 20, 2013

Stock Up, Stock Down for Top 20 2014 NBA Draft Prospects

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    After just seven weeks of college basketball, we now have a new No. 1 on the board. 

    Jabari Parker has been too good to ignore at this point. This isn't a demotion for Andrew Wiggins as much as it is a promotion for Parker, whose game is just far more advanced at this stage in their respective careers. 

    But Parker isn't the only one to make a move. Kansas' Joel Embiid has turned nearly as many heads with his play and has put himself in the hunt for that No. 1 spot. 

    This week, only Kentucky's Andrew Harrison has fallen out of our top 20, though there's been plenty of shuffling in between.

20. Glenn Robinson III, Michigan, 6'6", SF, Sophomore

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    Stock Report: ↑

    Glenn Robinson III finally showed off the skill set scouts had been hoping to see all year. 

    He went for a season-high 20 points against Arizona, but it was how he got them that earned some attention. 

    Robinson hit defenders with a few step-back and pull-up jumpers, along with his usual strong cuts and slashes to the rim. 

    Scouts want to see Robinson become a bigger threat with the ball in his hands, and this was a promising reminder that he's got that potential. However, he disappeared after the first 20 minutes and took just two shots in the second half. 

    He'll have to be more assertive, but at least he flashed the talent scouts have been waiting to see.

19. Jahii Carson, Arizona State, 5'10", PG, Sophomore

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    Stock Report: ↔

    It's no surprise that Arizona State's two losses came during Jahii Carson's worst two games of the year. In a beatdown by Creighton, Carson finished with five turnovers and just four assists before shooting 2-of-14 in a loss to Miami. 

    He's been terrific in the other nine games, however. Carson's ability to break down defenses has allowed him to take over stretches with the ball in his hands. 

    Still, there's a big difference in value between an offensive spark plug and a pass-first point guard. Carson should look to mimic Sacramento Kings' breakout star Isaiah Thomas, who's evolved into a true facilitator from a scoring guard.

18. Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado, 6'6", PG/SG, Junior

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    Stock Report: ↑

    Spencer Dinwiddie has done a much better job of balancing scoring with playmaking, and it's shown in the results. 

    His shooting percentages and assists are up, while his turnovers are down. Dinwiddie has emerged into a combo guard who can excel at either position, thanks to his size for the 2 and playmaking instincts at the 1. 

    He dished out seven dimes in a strong win over Kansas and continues to get to the line at an excellent rate (7.8 times per game). 

    With Colorado playing Marcus Smart and Oklahoma State Saturday night, look for scouts to be locked in on Dinwiddie.

17. Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, 6'8", PF, Sophomore

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    Stock Report: ↔

    Louisville hasn't played anyone of substance recently, but it's worth noting Montrezl Harrell is a combined 16-of-20 over his last three games. Credit that to a blend of size, strength and destructive athleticism. 

    He's an incredible, high-percentage finishing option in the paint. Harrell is shooting 64.4 percent from the field with just about all of his production coming within 10 feet from the rim. 

    It would be nice to see more of that elbow jumper, but that's not really a shot Louisville wants him taking. Expect him to remain in the top-20 conversation throughout the year based on his natural physical ability alone.

16. Doug McDermott, Creighton, 6'8", SF, Senior

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    Stock Report: ↔

    Nothing new to report on Doug McDermott, who seemingly rolls out of bed with 20 points in the box score before even showing up to the arena.

    He's now hit the 20-point mark in nine of his first 10 games and continues to shoot it lights-out from behind the arc (44.1 percent). 

    The guy can just put the ball in the hoop from anywhere on the floor. There isn't much upside here, but for a team looking for some complementary offense, McDermott should be high on the shopping list. 

15. Gary Harris, Michigan State, 6'4", SG, Sophomore

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    Stock Report: ↓

    Gary Harris has been dealing with an ankle injury that's kept him out of Michigan State's last two games. 

    But he was still struggling with his shot prior to going down, having only made 12-of-48 (25 percent) from three since opening night. 

    It's a little weird to see a player like Harris, who's averaging roughly the same amount of minutes as he was last year, average almost four more three-point attempts per game. He's taking a whopping 8.3 per game from behind the arc.

    Harris should look to become a bigger threat off the dribble, where he can get easier buckets closer to the rim. His stock isn't falling much, but with more athletic guards like Zach LaVine creeping up, I'm not sure Harris is the lottery lock many initially pegged him to be. 

14. Zach LaVine, UCLA, 6'5", PG/SG, Freshman

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    Stock Report: ↑

    Zach LaVine was held to just seven points against Duke, where he struggled to get going within the flow of the offense.

    But prior, LaVine had already flashed lottery-caliber upside with his electric athletic ability and lethal outside stroke. He also sports a tight handle and has the ability to create off the dribble when given the freedom to do so.

    LaVine is still figuring out the nuances and spacing of the game, as well as his place in it, but he's clearly oozing with untapped potential. 

    He's averaging 13.2 points on 43.8 percent shooting from deep off the bench.

13. Adreian Payne, Michigan State, 6'10", PF, Senior

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    Stock Report: ↑

    Adreian Payne has really taken his game to a new level this year, with his scoring average now up to 16.6 points—six more than last year. 

    He's also added a three-point stroke to his arsenal—after making only 17 total threes combined from his freshman to junior year, he's already hit 14 as a senior through 10 games. 

    Payne always had the size and strength for the pros. Now it finally looks like he's got the offensive package to go with it. 

    Between his interior presence and good-looking jumper, Payne now offers teams a multidimensional frontcourt weapon. 

12. James Young, Kentucky, 6'6", SF, Freshman

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    Stock Report: ↔

    James Young continues to find ways to score despite some erratic shooting. 

    He's taking a ton of threes—through 11 games, Young actually has 31 more three-point attempts than two-point attempts. 

    His jumper is clearly a big part of his game, and it's nice to know he's got confidence in it early in his career. But Young might want to become a bigger half-court threat inside the arc if he wants to pick up his sub-40 shooting percentage. 

    Still, the NBA loves athletic wings who can shoot, and Young fits that description. He's averaging 14.1 points per game on 34.2 percent shooting from three.

11. Jerami Grant, Syracuse, 6'8", SF, Sophomore

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    Stock Report: ↔

    Jerami Grant continues to stay active for the Orange, picking up points on tip-in dunks, cuts to the rack and drives off the bounce. 

    He still lets his physical tools do the talking for him—Grant doesn't have many offensive skills; rather, he relies on his quickness to beat defenders and his length and athleticism to finish around them. 

    Though it's tough to tell playing in a zone, Grant has awesome defensive potential, thanks to that 7'2" wingspan, 6'8" size and lateral foot speed. 

    He's more of a project, but with his standout physical tools, Grant's motor seems powerful enough to generate consistent production right now. 

    The forward is averaging 13.2 points and six boards on 53.7 percent shooting on the year. 

10. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, 7'0", C, Sophomore

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    Stock Report: ↑

    Willie Cauley-Stein has been a human tornado in the paint over the past two weeks, blocking 33 shots in his last five games. 

    Physically, he's an incredible weapon given his 7'0" size, quick foot speed and explosive athleticism. 

    Cauley-Stein has been using his physical tools to protect the rim at an elite level, as well as rebound in traffic and finish above it. 

    He's still not much of a threat with the ball in his hands, but his ability to impact a game on the glass and defensive end raises his value as a potential anchor in the middle.

    Cauley-Stein is averaging 8.1 rebounds and 4.4 blocks per game on 61.9 percent shooting from the floor.

9. Rodney Hood, Duke, 6'8", SF, Sophomore

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    Stock Report: ↑

    Behind Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood might be the most skilled wing prospect in the country. 

    He went for 14 points in wins over UCLA and Michigan and continues to be a fixture in the scoring column for the Blue Devils. 

    Smooth attacking the rim and fluid on the perimeter, Hood is a difficult mismatch at 6'8" with a sharpshooting outside touch. 

    He's a little bit one-dimensional—Hood hasn't been much of a factor on the glass, but he's definitely a reliable source for offensive production. 

    Hood is averaging 18.5 points on 55.4 percent shooting in his first season playing for Duke.

8. Aaron Gordon, Arizona, 6'9", PF, Freshman

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    Stock Report: ↔

    Aaron Gordon had a strong all-around game in a win at Michigan, showcasing his above-the-rim athleticism throughout. 

    He finished 7-of-11 from the floor for 14 points and followed up with 21 against Southern University on 8-of-11 shooting. 

    Gordon is solid in the paint—he's not much of a post scorer, but he's a tremendous target off cuts and has a feel for when to make them. 

    Scouts have been pleasantly surprised by Gordon's intangibles, as he seems to make timely plays as a passer, rebounder and scorer, and consistently plays within the offense. 

    He'll have to bulk up his frame for the NBA interior, but that shouldn't keep teams from targeting him in the lottery.

7. Noah Vonleh, Indiana, 6'10", PF, Freshman

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    Stock Report: ↔

    Noah Vonleh is one of those guys whose appeal stems from his long-term potential, not his present-day production. 

    He's been quiet as of late—he doesn't get many touches in the offense as a go-to option. Vonleh has essentially been scoring as a finisher and offensive rebounder. 

    The big man is still averaging nearly a double-double as a freshman with 12.4 points and 9.6 boards per game. Even though he's not refined as of yet as a scorer, he's got terrific instincts around the rim, along with an overwhelming 6'10", 240-pound frame and ridiculous 7'4" wingspan. 

    Vonleh isn't NBA-ready, but you'll want him on your team when he is.

6. Julius Randle, Kentucky, 6'9", PF, Freshman

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    Stock Report: ↓

    Julius Randle was a no-show in a loss to North Carolina, when he finished with 11 points and five boards on 3-of-9 shooting.

    He continues to turn the ball over at a rate too high for a big man (3.5 per game). With predetermined moves, Randle has the tendency to spin into traffic, while his ball security away from the basket is a tad loose. 

    Still, he's an absolute beast on the block with an unteachable feel for the rim. He just has to improve his basketball IQ and ability to adjust.  

    Randle isn't much of a defensive presence, and that should also hurt his value a little bit (less than a block per game). But his offensive upside as a frontcourt nightmare should keep him in top-five talks throughout the year.

5. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, 6'4", PG/SG, Sophomore

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    Stock Report: ↔

    Oklahoma State has been involved in a number of blowout wins as of late, so Marcus Smart's numbers have taken a bit of a dip as his team hasn't needed as much from him for the entirety of those games.

    He's going to be in top-five conversations throughout the year and will ultimately have to battle Australia's Dante Exum for the first guard off the board, assuming he declares. 

    Smart has improved his outside shooting and has become much more aggressive as a scorer. He's playing almost four minutes fewer per game this year than he was last year, yet he's averaging more points and free-throw attempts. 

    I'm not sure how traditional of a point guard he is, but that shouldn't affect his draft stock. Given his leadership, physical tools and two-way skill set, Smart should be locked in to the top six of the draft.

4. Dante Exum, Australia, 6'6", PG/SG, Born 1995

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    Stock Report: ↔

    Though everyone expects Dante Exum to declare in 2014, Jeff Goodman of ESPN reported Exum will be making visits to Indiana, North Carolina, Kentucky, Michigan and Oregon. 

    It seems more like due diligence than strong interest, given his place on the first-round radar.

    "He's a projected top-five pick and he could go to college and risk getting hurt," fellow Australian Andrew Bogut told Melbourne's SEN radio (h/t The Guardian).

    I'm with Bogut in that I expect the visits to be part of the process for Exum, who's expressed his interest to go pro in the past. Exum recently tore up the Australian School Championships, where he averaged 27.6 points, 10.6 assists and 9.6 rebounds over his final three games. 

    Don't read too much into the visits. He'll be a top-five pick this upcoming June.

3. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, 6'8", SF, Freshman

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    Stock Report: ↓

    There's no denying Andrew Wiggins' long-term potential—but he's just a lot further from reaching it than we initially anticipated. 

    Wiggins' lack of offensive polish and assertiveness has forced him to take a backseat. You just get the feeling he projects more as a secondary guy than a go-to one or centerpiece. 

    He's coming off a 3-of-11 performance against New Mexico, his fourth game with only four field goals made or fewer. 

    Still, Wiggins has been terrific on defense and as dangerous as advertised on the break. With the slightest opening, he can slice to the rim as quick as any wing in the country.

    And as much as I'm intrigued by his potential, Wiggins just has so much work to do before getting there. Without the ability, or having shown the mentality, to take over a game, Wiggins has officially been dethroned as our top prospect in the land.

2. Joel Embiid, Kansas, 7'0", C, Freshman

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    Stock Report: ↑

    Joel Embiid has gotten scary good in an extremely short amount of time. 

    He's coming off his best game of the year in which he finished with 18 points, six boards and four blocks in only 25 minutes against New Mexico. 

    With moves to go to and others to counter with, Embiid was unstoppable in the post. Righty and lefty jump hooks, spin moves, up-and-unders—he's been able to create high-percentage looks for himself as a top scoring option. 

    Defensively, he challenges everything just based on his 7'0" size and 7'5" wingspan. He has to learn how to defend without fouling, but Embiid has the same tools shared by the NBA's premier rim protectors.

    It's crazy to think he just started playing organized ball at 16 years old. Bleacher Report's Jason King recently profiled Embiid and detailed his unique background.

    We're not just talking about some raw, Hasheem Thabeet-like center whose appeal is that he's big—Embiid is extremely skilled and naturally gifted.

    And yes, he's a monster too.

    Embiid has the potential to blossom into one of the NBA's top two-way centers. He'll be a candidate to go No. 1 overall for the remainder of his one-and-done season.

1. Jabari Parker, Duke, 6'8", SF/PF, Freshman

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    Stock Report: ↑

    Jabari Parker was cookin' Thursday night at the Garden, where he finished with 23 points, 10 boards and five assists in a win over UCLA.

    Pulling up, stepping back, spotting up—Parker was getting buckets on the perimeter and throwing down dunks in transition. 

    He's now scored at least 20 points in nine of his first 11 games at Duke. Parker has been lethal from outside, with the ability to rise and fire over defenders from just about any spot on the floor. Inside, he's a bully and makes up for a lack of above-the-rim explosiveness with under-the-rim strength.

    Right now, the only thing Andrew Wiggins has on Parker is athleticism, and that's just not enough to hold him off at this point. 

    Between his intangibles—basketball IQ, passing instincts, leadership—and his advanced offensive game, there doesn't seem like a better bet for NBA stardom in the field. 

    Parker is averaging 22.1 points and 7.8 boards on 55 percent shooting and 47.5 percent from three.