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

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterJanuary 3, 2014

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

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    Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

    The top 20 prospects continue playing musical chairs, with the barrier into it acting as a revolving door. This week, it let in two new prospects after their standout play and consistency throughout the year. 

    Wisconsin's Sam Dekker and Syracuse's Tyler Ennis have cracked our top 20, with Louisville's Montrezl Harrell and Michigan's Glenn Robinson III falling out. 

    With conference play approaching, now is the time to find out what these top prospects are really made of. 

20. Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado, 6'6", SG, Junior

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    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    Stock Report: ↔

    Though Colorado needs him to score, Spencer Dinwiddie might actually have a future in the NBA running the point. He's showing a good feel for the position and seems to always find a way to break down the defense and create shots for his teammates. 

    Dinwiddie struggled to convert in a recent win over Oregon State (2-of-9, nine points), but he's still averaging 15.3 points on just 8.1 shots per game. He gets to the line at a terrific rate (7.2 times per game) while making 40 percent of his threes.

    At 6'6" with the ability to handle the ball, run an offense or play the wing as a scorer, Dinwiddie offers an appealing package of offensive playmaking, and he looks like a more complete all-around player from a year ago.

19. Sam Dekker, Wisconsin, 6'7", SF, Sophomore

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    Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

    Stock Report: ↑

    Sam Dekker has found the zone, as he's now shooting 31-of-47 (65.9 percent) from the floor over his last five games. 

    He's become a much bigger threat to score from inside the arc. Though not too creative off the dribble, Dekker times his cuts in rhythm with the ball movement around him and always seems to find himself catching passes with an open lane to attack. 

    The kid can shoot (37 percent from three) and score (14.5 points per game), and he does so by playing within the offense. 

    Dekker might not come with an All-Star ceiling, but he's definitely got something to offer here. 

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

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    Stock Report: ↔

    For a guy with such limited skills, it's amazing how productive Jerami Grant continues to be. He relies strictly on his crazy length and athleticism to pick up buckets at the rim—no jumper, no shot creativity and a 65 percent free-throw stroke. 

    But he's scored in double figures in 10 of 12 games, most recently going for 15 points and eight boards against Eastern Michigan. 

    Grant does his damage by finishing off the creativity of others (Tyler Ennis)—catch-and-finishes, tip-ins and lobs. He's a sick athlete with the ability to finish over and around defenders from all sorts of angles.

    But to play the wing in the pros, you must have some sort of perimeter game. And Grant doesn't right now. 

17. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse, 6'2", PG, Freshman

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    Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

    Stock Report: ↑

    Not too many freshmen have been more impressive than Tyler Ennis, who's been the catalyst behind Syracuse's impressive start to the year. 

    He's logged 416 minutes (32 per game) and only has 15 turnovers (and 70 assists) to show for it. Ennis' decision-making and feel for the position are spot on, as he makes up for speed and explosiveness with tremendous vision and unteachable instincts. 

    He distributes when he needs to—nine assists against Eastern Michigan, nine against High Point—and scores when it's appropriate—20 points against Villanova, 21 against St. John's. 

    Ennis won't win any awards at the NBA combine, but there's a glowing quality about him that could allow teams to overlook his physical limitations.

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

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    Stock Report: ↓

    You have to appreciate what Willie Cauley-Stein is doing well, but you can't help but feel a little disappointed in how little he's progressed offensively.

    He finished with two points against Louisville. Not that anyone will be targeting Cauley-Stein for his scoring, but it would be nice if he was able to give you a little something more.

    "He has no offensive game. You can't even go to him. He doesn't even look at the basket. He's not a threat," one NBA scout told SNY's Adam Zagoria

    It didn't stop Steven Adams from going No. 12 in 2013, but with the loaded talent in this year's pool, I'm not sure size and athleticism alone will be a lottery-worthy package. 

15. Dario Saric, Croatia, 6'10", SF/PF, Born 1994

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    Stock Report: ↑

    Dario Saric, a potential lottery pick from a year ago, is making things happen over abroad for Cibona.

    Over his last six games (four Adriatic League, two Eurocup), he's averaging 17.6 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. 

    It's his versatility that really drives his appeal as an NBA prospect. At 6'10", Saric can put it on the floor, clean the glass, create for a teammate and knock down open shots. 

    Now that he should be a little more NBA-ready this time around, expect Saric to keep his name in the draft and generate lottery buzz once again.

     

    Stats courtesy of Eurobasket.com.

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

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    Stock Report: ↔

    Gary Harris returned from an ankle injury last week but hasn't really been tested too much since. He did end up dropping a wild 19-point, nine-rebound, five-assist, five-rebound line in a blowout over New Orleans, so it appears he's good to go. 

    He followed that up by shooting 3-of-5 from downtown against Penn State, a potential sign he's found his range after a rough start to the year shooting the ball.

    There isn't any aspect of Harris' game that will blow you away, but he's fundamentally sound and understands how to score within the offense. He'll be a low-risk option on draft day.

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

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    Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

    Stock Report: ↔

    Adreian Payne appears to be locked and loaded for conference play, sporting averages of 17 points and 8.1 boards on 44 percent shooting from three. 

    He's two games removed (both of which were blowouts) from a 33-point, nine-rebound explosion against Texas. Payne has clearly added to his game, which now takes him out to the arc. 

    With that monster frame and confident stroke, Payne offers teams an inside-outside package more valuable than the one he brought to the table last year.

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

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    Stock Report: ↔

    Zach LaVine has been quiet the past few games, but nothing can erase the upside he's already established. 

    He's put my DVR rewind button to work this year. LaVine packs a potent punch of high-flying athleticism and sharp-shooting touch, a blend that traditionally attracts plenty of NBA attention.

    "That's my ultimate goal, is to get to the NBA," LaVine told Chris Johnson of Sports Illustrated. "With the one-and-done, I don't know about that yet. I feel like anyone would consider it. It's going to be a decision me and my family make at the end of the year."

    As long as LaVine can prove his hot-shooting start isn't a fluke, expect the buzz to follow him through conference and tournament play.

11. Doug McDermott, Creighton, 6'7", SF, Senior

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    Dave Weaver-USA TODAY Sports

    Stock Report: ↔

    There really isn't much more Doug McDermott could do at this point, although a Stephen Curry-esque NCAA tournament run wouldn't hurt.

    He's shooting it roughly 43 percent from downtown, which if sustained, would be his fourth consecutive year above 40 percent. 

    McDermott is also No. 2 in the country in scoring at 24.3 points per game. If he keeps it up through Big East play, expect him to catch an invite to this year's green room in June. 

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

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Stock Report: ↓

    Not that it's his fault, but playing within Arizona's offense, Aaron Gordon has tended to fade a bit into the background. 

    He finished with five points in 26 minutes in a rout over Washington State and nine points in 30 minutes against Northern Arizona. Gordon doesn't quite have a skill set for either the 3 or the 4 right now. He's not much of a threat off the dribble, nor does he have an advanced post game with his back to the rim.

    His rebounding numbers are also down—he's only grabbed five or fewer in four of his last five games. 

    But more than anything, I'm more concerned about his future NBA position, especially after seeing lottery combo forwards (Anthony Bennett, Thomas Robinson, Derrick Williams, Michael Beasley) struggle with the transition. 

    Gordon is averaging 12 points and 7.8 boards on the year.

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

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    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Stock Report: ↔

    Duke has been involved in mostly blowouts over the past few weeks, so the team's production has been fairly spread out.

    Rodney Hood has been consistent enough offensively for us to know his 17.2 point-per-game scoring average isn't a joke. He's shooting it nearly 43 percent from three on 1.6 makes per game, and at 6'8", he's shown the ability to wheel and deal inside the arc. 

    Hood plays on the ball, off the ball, in the post—he's a threat to score from a variety of different positions on the floor. 

    He's got the ideal NBA size for the wing, a money outside stroke and a capable in-between game. Hood looks like a safe bet to fall in that late lottery to mid-first round range.

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

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    Stock Report: ↑

    Though he hasn't been a model of efficiency, James Young's deadly three-ball and high activity level allow him to contribute even on off days. 

    He only shot 5-of-17 from the floor against Louisville but somehow managed to collect 18 points, 10 boards and four assists on the day.

    Young has the ability to heat up and score in bunches, as well as make athletic, energy plays as a finisher, rebounder and defender throughout a game. 

    With better spacing and playmakers, you get the feeling Young could be a lethal weapon in the pros. A fluid athlete at 6'6" with a smooth, lefty stroke, I'd expect his game to translate seamlessly. 

    Young is averaging nearly 14 points per game on the year for Kentucky.

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

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    Stock Report: ↑

    No stat line tells it better than Noah Vonleh's against Illinois—he converted only two field goals yet finished with 16 points, nine boards and four blocks. 

    He's still raw in terms of delivering and executing offensive moves, but at 6'10" with a 7'4" wingspan and strong upper body, sometimes the only way to keep him from the rim is to foul him. 

    And those two buckets against Illinois—they were three-pointers. Vonleh has a very promising outside stroke (he also shot 10-of-12 from the line), even though we're probably only going to see it in limited doses. 

    Vonleh is a work in progress, but I wouldn't mind having him on my squad when the work is complete. He's got a high ceiling as a dominant rebounder and inside-outside big man.

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

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    Stock Report: ↔

    Don't expect Marcus Smart's stock to fluctuate much, if at all, throughout the year. Scouts are well aware of what he brings to the table, and a few quiet games in the scoring column won't make a scratch on his bulletproof draft stock. 

    Smart did go for 18 points in a good win over Colorado on December 21, the only meaningful game Oklahoma State has had on its recent schedule. This past week, he dished out a season-high eight assists in only 19 minutes during a beatdown of Robert Morris. 

    With conference play approaching, keep your eyes on January 18 when Smart faces off against Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Kansas. You can bet plenty of NBA eyes will be locked onto that one.

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

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    Stock Report: ↔

    Before leaving the game with cramps in the second half, Julius Randle had been going to work against Louisville's front line. He had 17 points in the first half, getting whatever shot he wanted in the half court. 

    To keep Louisville from double-teaming, Randle played out a little further from the rim, where he was able to take advantage of his foot speed and quickness off the bounce. His face-up game is what should ultimately drive the mismatch he presents in the pros, but he'll have to add a threatening jumper to keep defenders honest. 

    Overall, he still relies a little too heavily on his strength, but he looks locked in as a top-six pick this June.

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

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    We're just playing the waiting game with Dante Exum, after ESPN's Jeff Goodman reported he'll be visiting the priority schools recruiting him (Indiana, North Carolina, Michigan, Oregon, Kentucky). 

    Still, nobody really expects Exum to pass on the draft this upcoming June—not with scouts having him pegged as a top-five lock. 

    Exum, a scoring point guard at 6'6", might have the chance to emerge as the toughest mismatch in this field. Don't read into the school visits—expect him to declare this June.

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

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    John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

    Stock Report: ↔

    Andrew Wiggins bounced back from two poor games with a good one against Toledo, where he finished with 20 points while holding the opposing team's top scorer, Rian Pearson, to just 10.

    Offensively, he knocked down a three-pointer with a one-dribble pull-up and got to the rack a number of times off that lightning-quick first step. Defensively, he was terrific, as he's been all year. You just can't teach that blend of size, length and lateral quickness. 

    The goal for Wiggins now is all about repetition and consistency. Prior to Toledo, he shot just 3-of-10 against Georgetown and 3-of-11 against New Mexico. 

    With Jabari Parker cooking over at Duke every night, there's just no margin for error here. Now that conference play is kicking off, this could be an opportunity for Wiggins to find and ultimately sustain a rhythm.

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

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    Stock Report: ↑

    Joel Embiid has found a nice rhythm, having scored at least 14 points in three straight games. 

    He's got post defenders constantly guessing out there, beating them with a variety of unpredictable moves—some created by skill, others by quickness. 

    Embiid logged a season-high 31 minutes in a win over Toledo and managed a double-double with 14 points, 10 boards and three blocks. The highlight of his evening came with his back to the rim, when Toledo immediately sent a double-team, which Embiid escaped with a slick spin move baseline for a pretty reverse layup. 

    He's even converting from the foul line—he's gone 8-of-10, 9-of-12 and 4-of-7 in three consecutive games. 

    Given the rate at which he's improving, there's no reason to think he'll top out any time soon. Embiid seems locked in as a top pick the draft. 

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

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    Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

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    What separates Jabari Parker from the others at this point is his ability to dominate night after night. He hasn't taken a game off yet. 

    Outside of the 12-point, 10-rebound double-double he picked up against Elon this past week, Parker had scored at least 21 points in 10 of his first 12 games. And he's converting a 52.8 percent rate from the floor and 45.5 percent rate from downtown. 

    No, he can't match Andrew Wiggins' athleticism, but his frequent coast-to-coast takes, one-handed alley-oops and weak-side blocks give me reason to believe this concern is overblown. 

    Through 13 games, Parker is averaging 21.4 points and eight boards, as he seems like the early favorite for National Player of the Year.