Breakout NBA Draft Prospects Guaranteed to Shine in 2014
A truckload of breakout NBA draft prospects have turned our heads in 2013-14, but only a small handful will continue to shine as they turn pro next year.
These ballers have taken the collegiate scene by storm, and while they might not be as dominant in the NBA, they will make a huge impact for their respective clubs.
Our list includes a trio of versatile forwards who have phenomenal court sense, and therefore are tricky to contain. We also focus on a couple dynamic shooting guards who do a whole lot more than shoot.
Read on to find out who made the cut!
Jordan Adams, UCLA SG (6'5" Sophomore)
Breakout 2013-14: 18.7 PPG, 3.5 SPG, 51% FG, 38% 3-PT
Why He'll Shine: Just when we thought UCLA guard Jordan Adams was sliding into a problematic slump, he torched the twine for five triples, 21 points and six steals against USC.
The 6'5" wing just wanted to remind us about the damage he can do.
He doesn't possess the wow-factor explosiveness or world-class skill level that are usually prerequisites for NBA shooting guards. However, Adams is going to exceed expectations as a pro because he puts himself in good positions to score.
UCLA head coach Steve Alford told CBS Sports College Basketball Insider Jon Rothstein about Adams' court sense: "He's one of those guys who really knows how to play. He's always in the right spot on the floor."
Adams routinely finds the perfect spot and perfect time to catch and drive to the cup. His mid-drive adjustability and scoring instincts help offset underwhelming athleticism. As for the outside shooting, Adams' form and confidence will help him shine in his NBA role.
Sam Dekker, Wisconsin F (6'7" Sophomore)
Breakout 2013-14: 14.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 50% FG, 35% 3-PT
Why He'll Shine: Sam Dekker's versatility is terrific, and it's only going to become more potent.
The Wisconsin sophomore has been a crucial pillar of Wisconsin's undefeated start, and he's exhibiting phenomenal inside-out awareness. Dekker can handle, pass, shoot, drive and rebound, and he'll always work hard on both ends.
In particular, the combination of perimeter shooting and explosive drives makes Dekker a candidate to excel early in his career, even he doesn't reach his ceiling for a couple years.
NBADraft.net's Joel Steiner loves that one-two punch the Badger brings: "Dekker is not only a plus athlete but he is also an exceptional shooter."
Due to his versatility, he's going to fit well on any NBA lineup. He might not fit into the category of "stars," but his multitalented efforts will stand out.
Nik Stauskas, Michigan SG (6'6" Sophomore)
Breakout 2013-14: 17.8 PPG, 3.6 APG, 49% FG, 46% 3-PT
Why He'll Shine: Nik Stauskas' versatility has been on full display throughout 2013-14, as he's been doing a lot more initiating offense for the Michigan Wolverines.
We knew he would step up and expand his duties as a sophomore, but we didn't envision this much of a multidimensional attack. We knew he was "more than a shooter," yet he's expanded his game wider than we envisioned. Stauskas has showcased his exceptional dribbling and maneuvering to audition for the NBA, as well as his above-the-rim play.
His pro position is undoubtedly shooting guard, but his ability to deliver the rock makes him a more attractive prospect.
During his 14-point, seven-assist night against Minnesota, ESPN's Adam Finkelstein noted Stauskas' knack for finding his teammates scoring chances, saying, "[he's] creating for his teammates at a high level right now."
He won't be able to wheel and deal in the NBA like in college, but Stauskas will stand out as a critical role player who can play nearly three positions.
Jordan Clarkson, Missouri G (6'5" Junior)
Breakout 2013-14: 19.3 PPG, 4.1 APG, 49% FG, 31% 3-PT
Why He'll Shine: After sitting out a year due to his transfer from Tulsa, Jordan Clarkson has exploded for Missouri as an offensive juggernaut. It won't be long until he applies his skills to the next level.
He regularly slices past the first line of defense en route to a pretty finish or a timely dish. Even when opponents consciously try to steer him away, he's able to attack and make plays.
Steve Walentik of the Columbia Daily Journal explains how dangerous Clarkson is when he combines patience with size and talent:
He's been able to maintain his dribble, probing defenses for as long as it takes to find an opening to get into the paint. There's been almost no stopping him when he gets there because of his ability to score in traffic with his size, athleticism and soft shooting touch or draw contact and get to the free-throw line...
With a 6'5" frame, deft ball-handling skills and plenty of quickness, Clarkson is poised to give NBA opponents fits from day one.
He's too good as a scorer and facilitator in the lane to not earn a significant role. If he improves his jump-shooting consistency between now and the summer, that's just a bonus.
T.J. Warren, N.C. State F (6'8" Sophomore)
Breakout 2013-14: 23.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 52% FG, 23% 3-PT
Why He'll Shine: This guy can flat-out fill the hoop.
N.C. State needed T.J. Warren to shoulder a bigger workload in 2013-14, and he has not let them down. He has carved up foes with a tidal wave of slashes and fast-break forays.
His elite body control and penchant for converting in traffic will make him a weapon in the NBA. David Cassilo of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer explains that Warren is not a true combo forward, but he knows how to use his gifts to get buckets:
He's not a player that is going to dominate the low block like Julius Randle, but he's athletic enough to blow past a defender to the hoop, take a mid-range jumper or dunk the ball with authority.
In the NBA, 6'8" forwards who can rebound and finish fluidly are highly valued. Warren will quickly prove to be a productive component to his squad's offensive attack.
Rodney Hood, Duke SF (6'8" Sophomore)
Breakout 2013-14: 18.5 PPG, 2.1 APG, 53% FG, 47% 3-PT
Why He'll Shine: On numerous occasions this season, Duke forward Rodney Hood has demonstrated his finesse and tremendous feel for the game as a 6'8" swingman.
His polished repertoire and size will translate instantly to the Association; probably not at a star level, but certainly as a rock-solid role player.
If you hadn't considered him a breakout player before this week, there's no denying it now. His back-to-back 27-point performances have put him in the national spotlight and helped pick up the slack for Jabari Parker.
It's impressive for a wing player to score so efficiently. Draft Express scout Josh Riddell attributes Hood's success to the fact that he "always seems to be under control with the ball in his hands."
Considering his composure and productivity, it looks like this will be his last (albeit only) season at Duke. His talents will soon be upstaging NBA defenses.