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2014 NBA Draft: Jonathan Wasserman's Top 50 Prospect Big Board

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterMarch 25, 2014

2014 NBA Draft: Jonathan Wasserman's Top 50 Prospect Big Board

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    Depending on who declares and who returns, we could be looking at a really promising field for the 2014 NBA draft. Unlike last year, this year's draft actually offers some potential star power at the top.

    Remember, our big board is a ranking of the top 50 draft-eligible prospects, not the order in which we're projecting them to be drafted. For the rankings, we've taken a number of different factors into account and weighed them appropriately. Upside, NBA-readiness, work ethic—these are just some of the things we're looking for when determining who's going to pan out in the Association. 

    Anyone who's already stated they will be returning to school or Europe has been knocked off the board, including Croatia's Dario Saric, who will not enter, according to ESPN.com's Chad Ford (subscription required), and Utah's Delon Wright. 

     

    NBA Featured Columnist Daniel O'Brien also contributed to this story.

50. A.J. Hammons, Purdue, 7'0", C, Sophomore

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    All it takes is a few trips up and down the floor for A.J. Hammons to show why he could find a spot in the NBA.

    The Boilermakers big man stands at 7’0” with a 7’3” wingspan and weighs a sturdy 250. Those gifts allowed him to block five shots per 40 minutes, including 3.7 per 40 against Big Ten competition. He also grabbed 11.1 boards per 40 minutes in conference play.

    Offensively, he doesn’t own an advanced repertoire, but he’s not a complete project. Hammons can post up and finish through contact, and he also has a little bounce in his step on pick-and-rolls and alley-oops.

    Teams looking for size and depth in the frontcourt, or even a backup center, should take a flyer on Hammons.

49. Isaiah Austin, Baylor, 7'1", PF/C, Sophomore

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    At the beginning of his freshman year, Bears forward Isaiah Austin was thought to be a lottery pick (albeit in a weaker class). Fast forward a year-and-a-half, and he’s considered second-round material, probably needing a third year of college. 

    His rail-thin physique prevents him from doing a ton of damage from a post-up and rebounding standpoint, and his inconsistent three-point shot hurts his stock as a potential stretch 4.

    Austin’s postseason exploits haven’t hurt his standing, though.

    Throughout the Big 12 bracket and the NCAA tourney, he’s been scoring, blocking shots, hitting the open man and staying out of foul trouble. His big minutes helped Baylor make deep runs in both tournaments.

48. Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa, 6'6", SG/SF, Senior

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    Throughout the year, Iowa’s Roy Devyn Marble didn’t emerge as the top-scoring upperclassman prospect. Nor did he shoot particularly efficiently or drop a ton of dimes.

    He got involved in a little bit of everything, however, and he was not afraid to initiate offense or take over as a scorer for the Hawkeyes. Marble attacked from the wing, set up his teammates, pulled up from mid-range and fired away from deep.

    The bottom line is that he won’t thrive in a major NBA role, but he’s versatile enough to be an attractive rotational option for teams picking in the second round.

47. Jabari Brown, Missouri, 6'5", SG, Junior

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    Missouri standout Jabari Brown had a huge year for the Tigers, but his draft stock is squarely in the second round because he’s 21 years old and his game doesn’t entirely translate to the NBA.

    He produced as a superb perimeter scorer, and he even put the ball on the deck a little and manufactured points inside the arc. 

    But will he be able to break down pro-caliber defenders and attack the rim against NBA athletes? Let’s just say he’ll have a tough time putting up consistent numbers, even as a rotational piece.

46. Dwight Powell, Stanford, 6'10", PF, Senior

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    Dwight Powell isn’t a classic low-post operator for the Stanford Cardinal, but this March he’s shown why NBA teams are interested.

    His 6’10” body and 7’0” wingspan are great for the power forward position, but he’s light on his feet and can cover a lot of ground fluidly. Powell’s explosiveness isn’t off the charts, but he can get up and finish or block shots.

    Adding to his pro value is his shooting ability. He’s got a decent outside jumper that sometimes stretches out to three-point range.

    He won’t punish people in the paint and he’s not a great ball-handler, so he’ll have to prove that his level of activity is worth keeping in the rotation.

45. Jordan Clarkson, Missouri, 6'5", PG/SG, Junior

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    Early in the year, Missouri guard Jordan Clarkson turned some heads in NBA circles due to his scoring and playmaking ability. And why not? The 6’5” transfer from Tulsa owns great physical tools and can finish acrobatically in traffic. 

    However, it gradually became clear that he was an unreliable shooter and wasn’t the most polished facilitator. He shot 28 percent from three-point land in 2013-14 and averaged 3.8 assists per 40 minutes compared to three turnovers.

    As you can imagine, NBA teams don’t want to use a high draft pick on someone who can’t efficiently initiate offense and make everyone better.

44. Sam Dekker, Wisconsin, 6'8", SF, Sophomore

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    There's a lot to like about Sam Dekker. There's just nothing to love. 

    He's a skilled forward with above-average athleticism. His basketball IQ is terrific. He also has strong offensive instincts, along with the ability to knock down shots from a number of different angles.

    But Dekker hasn't shown much progress in the shot-creating department. His one-on-one game is pretty limited. Dekker scores opportunistically in Wisconsin's offense as a shooter, slasher and driver, though it was disappointing to see his three-point percentage drop to just 32.2 percent. 

    There's talent and brains here, and that's a dangerous combination. But Dekker needs to make some tweaks and improvements before making the NBA jump.

    He'll have a better shot at the first round in 2015.

43. Markel Brown, Oklahoma State, 6'3", SG, Senior

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    While he doesn’t figure to be a dynamic shot-creator in the Association, Markel Brown has improved enough in that area to be a respectable threat.

    And once he gets some momentum or room to operate, he’ll use his trampoline-like leaping capacity to fly over everyone for emphatic buckets.

    Brown has also honed his shooting skills over the past two seasons, and NBA clubs will hope he can be more than a streaky three-point threat. He shot 38 percent for the Cowboys in 2013-14 on 145 attempts.

    His 6’3” frame and age don’t help his draft stock, but he can’t tumble too far with that kind of athleticism.

42. Andrew Harrison, Kentucky, 6'6", PG, Freshman

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    Kentucky struggled through much of 2013-14 because Andrew Harrison didn’t turn out to be a reliable floor general. A mountain of mistakes and less-than-stellar playmaking skills hurt the youngster’s draft stock, too.

    However, he’s still a 6’6” athlete who can drive and shoot, and he did average 4.9 assists per 40 minutes.

    Harrison’s postseason has been superb; he’s consistently challenging defenders, getting to the free-throw line and setting up teammates. More importantly, his Wildcats found a winning groove and answered all the midseason doubters.

    It might take him a couple years to really learn the art of basketball quarterbacking, but if he ever figures it out, he’ll be a handful for opposing point guards.

41. Bogdan Bogdanovic, Serbia, 6'6", SG/SF, 1994

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    An intriguing overseas option is Serbian gunner Bogdan Bogdanovic, who has ample length to play on the NBA wing and a pretty shooting stroke.

    He can also get buckets inside the arc. His ball-handling skills allow him to get past his man, and then he uses his 6’11” wingspan to attack the rim against frontcourt help defenders.

    Bogdanovic’s draft stock is held in check, however, by his age and his approach to the game. He’s already 21 years old, yet he’s error-prone and doesn’t have the best feel for making the right play.

40. Caris LeVert, Michigan, 6'6", SG, Sophomore

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    After a quiet freshman year spent primarily on the bench, Wolverine wing Caris LeVert leapt (both literally and figuratively) into the NBA draft conversation in 2013-14.

    When foes give him a window of opportunity, he takes it and dunks on them. His length and athleticism in the open floor have NBA written all over them, and his defensive potential is also enticing.

    LeVert also drastically improved his outside shooting, as he’s drilling 41 percent of his triples. As soon as he becomes more polished and develops his feel for the game, he could be a great swingman addition to any club.

39. Chris Walker, Florida, 6'10", PF, Freshman

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    Chris Walker is seeing inconsistent minutes for the high-powered Florida Gators, so he hasn’t received much of a chance to showcase his potential.

    That being said, his athleticism and ranginess is readily apparent when he takes the floor. His 7’1.5” wingspan and vertical bounce allow him to climb the ladder a step higher than most of the competition.

    His skill set is raw, with little to no post moves to speak of, but most of his draft value lies in his upside.

    Walker entered the season with star-type expectations, but now he’s something of a sleeper prospect. If he falls to the bottom of the first round in 2014 or 2015, some team might get really lucky in the long run.

38. Mitch McGary, Michigan, 6'10", PF, Sophomore

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    With his back injury keeping him sidelined into the NCAA tourney, Michigan power forward Mitch McGary remains a tricky prospect for executives to gauge.

    After his outstanding performance during the 2013 Big Dance, he earned widespread first-round consideration until he announced he would return for his sophomore season.

    Now these back issues have prevented him from showcasing his assortment of skills: low-post positioning, rebounding, mobility, soft touch around the rim, mid-range shooting and more.

    The season-long injury also puts teams on notice and creates doubt as to whether he’ll enjoy a durable career.

37. Wayne Selden, Kansas, 6'5", SG, Freshman

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    After the 2013 McDonald’s All-American entered the year with lottery hopes, an inconsistent campaign led to a downgraded draft outlook.

    At times, Selden was able to step up nicely when Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid faltered, but overall he didn’t display the kind of feel for the game NBA teams want from a potential scoring guard.

    On the bright side, his strength, leaping ability and shooting talent point to a productive future. It may be beneficial to return for another year of seasoning and increased touches, but either way, he can eventually become a dangerous starting 2-guard in the Association.

36. Jordan Adams, UCLA, 6'5", SG, Sophomore

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    A more efficient perimeter shooting stroke and improved all-around contributions have boosted UCLA’s Jordan Adams into the 2014 draft conversation.

    He lacks tremendous athleticism, but he’s a capable long-range threat who also has a soft touch inside the arc. Adams is shooting 36 percent from distance in 2013-14, and according to Hoop-math.com, he’s connected on 43.4 percent of his two-point jumpers.

    On the defensive end, his physical tools won’t stand out at the next level, but his instincts will aid him. He plucked 3.5 steals per 40 minutes as a sophomore, and many of those thefts were anticipation plays where he jumped passing lanes.

35. Deonte Burton, Nevada, 6'1", PG, Senior

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    If you want athleticism, this guy is loaded with it.

    Nevada senior point guard Deonte Burton is a strong, aggressive playmaker who loves to attack the rim. He can blow by his man with foot speed and ball-handling ability and then elevate to score above the back line.

    As far as facilitating, the jury is still out on Burton. He showed flashes of productive distribution but didn’t consistently find teammates as a quarterback for the Wolf Pack.

    Despite those question marks, Burton could find a niche as a dangerous reserve. His athleticism and formidable on-ball defense gives him that extra edge to earn playing time.

34. Nick Johnson, Arizona, 6'3", PG/SG, Junior

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    Arizona’s leader isn’t the most creative playmaker off the dribble, and he’s not a prototypical shooting guard or point guard. But all he does is make the right plays and help his Wildcats win. 

    Oh, and he’s got loads of athleticism. That helps him thrive in the open floor, elevate in half-court scenarios, rebound and block shots.

    Johnson is a smart player who knows when to attack, how to find the open man and when to stretch the defense with a clutch three-pointer. He’s also a terrific defender who can play a disciplined, positional style or make calculated gambles to disrupt opponents.

    Once the draft heads into the late first round, it will be tough for teams to pass on him, especially if they need backcourt depth.

33. Glenn Robinson III, Michigan, 6'6", SG/SF, Sophomore

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    As a 6’6” athlete with some ball skills and shooting ability, Michigan’s Glenn Robinson III is both exciting and puzzling at the same time.

    GR3 is a dangerous slasher who shows shooting potential, yet we didn’t see the sophomore reach the level of stardom and assertiveness that we hoped for.

    Although his stock took a bit of a hit this year, NBA decision-makers still like his potential to become a confident, versatile scorer. One scout told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports that “he'd be a solid latter first-round pick” if he decides to make the jump.

    His physical tools will more than accommodate him if he’s willing to sharpen his shooting skills and become a dependable scorer.

32. Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette, 6'3", PG, Junior

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    One of the most elusive mid-major guards you’ll find, Louisiana-Lafayette’s Elfrid Payton has NBA-caliber talent off the dribble.

    Sporting a 6’7” wingspan, a nasty crossover and agility at the rim, Payton has scored at will in the Sun Belt conference. It’s time for him to move up to the big leagues while his stock is up.

    Payton will be a good slasher, passer and on-ball defender in the pros, but teams will test his jump-shooting ability.

    As a junior, he shot 26 percent from three-point range and only hit 24 percent of his two-point jumpers, according to Hoop-math.com. His ability to improve as a shooter will greatly affect his playing time in the NBA.

31. Shabazz Napier, Connecticut, 6'1", PG, Senior

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    His NBA upside isn’t as high as a Dante Exum or a Tyler Ennis, but UConn’s veteran playmaker Shabazz Napier offers a ton of value in the late first or early second-round range.

    Finishing above traffic isn’t his strong suit, but Napier can still do some damage after he shakes his man and gets into the paint.

    He can create in close quarters with step-backs or floaters, and he’s a heady passer who can kick out to shooters or dump it to the big man. NCAA tourney foes are learning that the hard way.

    Napier’s size and athletic ability will limit his ability to score at a high level or defend prolific scorers, but you can bet he’ll hold his own against most point guards. He has the instincts and quickness to compete on defense and enough toughness and creativity to ignite things off the bench.

30. Vasilije Micic, Serbia, 6'5", PG, 1994

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    In a draft filled with versatile athletes whose NBA positions aren’t set in stone, Serbia’s Vasilije Micic’s role at the next level is clearly defined. He’s a pass-first, pure point guard who’s carving up the Adriatic League with superb vision and deft passing skills. 

    With his polished ball-handling and knack for controlling the tempo, Micic could be a dependable floor general in the NBA, even if he doesn’t become a top-tier starter.

    Defense and overall athleticism are the knocks on his game, as he won’t scare anyone with speed off the dribble or lateral quickness as a stopper.

    That being said, his footwork and hesitation moves will keep many foes off balance, and his NBA ceiling looks a lot like that of Jose Calderon.

29. C.J. Wilcox, Washington, 6'5", SG, Senior

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    The Huskies’ top scorer did most of his damage in college as a jump-shooter, and the same will be true in the NBA. He has the size and the smooth delivery to connect from deep as soon as he joins the league.

    A career 39 percent three-point shooter at Washington, C.J. Wilcox will help stretch NBA defenses during his time off the bench. He’ll also be able to reliably knock down mid-range jumpers when the opportunities arise.

    Unfortunately, his game will be pretty much one-dimensional as it translates to the NBA, so that could hurt his chances of holding down a major role.

28. P.J. Hairston, Texas Legends, 6'6", SG

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    His shooting has been streaky of late, but P.J. Hairston remains the most attractive draft-eligible D-League player and is notching 21 points per game for the Texas Legends.

    Few shooting guard prospects have his mix of size, strength and shooting ability. Hairston is thriving in the D-League’s wide-open style of play and is finding all sorts of ways to score near the rim and beyond the arc. 

    Off-the-court transgressions derailed his collegiate career at North Carolina, but from interviews it seems like he’s matured and used the fallout as an opportunity to grow. His time in the minor leagues has served as a nice go-between before he hits the NBA’s bright lights.

27. K.J. McDaniels, Clemson, 6'6", SF, Junior

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    His shot-creating moves aren’t advanced and he’s not a prolific outside shooter, yet Clemson small forward K.J. McDaniels could land in the first round.

    Why? Well, let’s start with his eye-popping athleticism. His explosiveness and aerial agility enables him to block shots, score above the fray and haul in rebounds. McDaniels is able to drive powerfully and acrobatically to the rim and also rise up above defenders for jumpers.

    Ultimately, defense will be his signature asset in the NBA.

    The 2013-14 ACC Defensive Player of the Year has the lateral quickness, footwork and instincts to stay in front of top scoring weapons. Factor in his 6’9.5” wingspan, and he could guard the 3 or 4, depending on the matchups.

26. Kyle Anderson, UCLA, 6'9", PG/SF, Sophomore

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    On paper, it sounds too good to be a true: a 6'9" pass-first point guard who averages 14.7 points, 8.7 boards and 6.5 assists per game. 

    But Kyle Anderson hasn't convinced everyone his unique blend of skills and physical tools will translate. Some scouts view him as a mismatch; others think of him as a tweener. 

    Offensively, he's got a tremendous feel for the game. He moves at his own pace out there, always keeping his man at his hip despite lacking the speed and quickness to really shake him.

    Anderson is also a special passer with unteachable instincts, especially for someone his size. And there's no doubt that point guard is his natural position, as he just never really got comfortable playing the wing as a freshman. 

    The big question is whether or not he can defend in the pros. At his size, he lacks the quickness to keep up laterally on the perimeter and the strength to hold his own inside. 

    If Anderson can find a way to make it work, he'll probably be a steal anywhere outside the lottery. But if he can't, I'm not sure where he fits. 

    Consider Anderson the ultimate boom-or-bust prospect of the first round. 

25. Jerami Grant, Syracuse, 6'8", SF/PF, Sophomore

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    Jerami Grant aces the eye test with his 6'8" size and a gigantic 7'2" wingspan for a forward. He's tightened up his game a bit this year, too, particularly as a scorer and finisher around the rim.

    He's super athletic and flexible; Grant can elevate for a vicious dunk over traffic or get acrobatic with a layup. He's also thrown down some mean putback slams off misses, where he's been able to showcase the springs and hand-eye coordination. 

    Offensively, Grant doesn't have much of a handle with which to create, but he's quick enough to face his man up and beat him with a quick first step. And with room, we've also seen him go to the one-dribble spin move in the lane. 

    While playing to his strengths, Grant unfortunately went the entire season without hitting a three-pointer. And it might be tough for him to play the NBA wing without any range or touch on his jumper.

    Still, Grant's appeal really stems from his ability to make plays off the ball and around the rim. I'm not sure how much upside he's offering as a forward with no post moves or jumper, but there's a place in the NBA for guys with Grant's physical tools and motor.

24. James Young, Kentucky, 6'6", SG/SF, Freshman

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    Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

    James Young has had some ups and downs this season, but his strengths as an NBA prospect haven't been tough to detect. 

    At 6'6", Young blends size and athleticism with a confident long-range stroke. He nailed over two three-pointers a game this season, while most of his other buckets came in transition or slashing toward the hole. 

    However, more than half of Young's shots this year have come behind the arc. And on 222 attempts from downtown, you'd just expect him to hit more than 76 (34 percent). 

    But when he finds that zone, Young can really catch fire and score in bunches. Despite the ugly 40 percent shooting clip from the floor, he still managed to put up 14 points a game this season.

    Young hasn't looked very sharp defensively, and his offensive game needs some fine-tuning, but the NBA ingredients are all there if he can improve his consistency—both as a shooter and defender. 

23. T.J. Warren, North Carolina State, 6'8", SF, Sophomore

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    T.J. Warren had himself some kind of sophomore season, having averaged nearly 25 points a game on 52.5 percent shooting.

    Warren isn't the most explosive athlete; he just knows how to get buckets. He's deadly in the mid-range, with the ability to rise and fire at will. He's also a dangerous weapon on the break, where he can weave between traffic and score on the move. 

    Warren doesn't have much shooting range, which is likely to keep his stock in check, but his offensive instincts and insane production are just too compelling to ignore. 

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

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    Montrezl Harrell really came alive down the stretch of the season, giving both Louisville and his NBA draft stock a much-needed boost. He's gone for at least 20 points and 10 boards five times since February 14.

    At 6'8", 235 pounds, Harrell packs a destructive combination of size, strength, explosiveness and hops. He plays high above the rim while giving you the impression he just might tear it down. 

    But despite the heavy production late in the year, he's still hasn't shown much touch. In fact, he's shooting just 46.7 percent from the line after shooting 50.8 percent as a freshman. 

    He also struggles to create his own shot away from the hoop.

    Harrell's physical tools are still far ahead of his skill set, though he clearly has the NBA body and athleticism needed to finish, rebound and score on the low block. 

21. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona, 6'7", SF, Freshman

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    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson isn't there yet, but you can just imagine what he'll look like if and when he arrives.

    He has the potential to offer some rare and valuable versatility. At 6'7" with a 7'1" wingspan and terrific foot speed, Hollis-Jefferson would seem to have the ability to lock down three different positions defensively. 

    Offensively, he's still pretty raw, but Hollis-Jefferson is a tough slasher and active cutter and finishes around 74.5 percent of his shots at the rim, per Hoop-Math.com. He's also a heads-up passer, as well as a wing who can make things happen without the ball in his hands. 

    Hollis-Jefferson has shown some touch in the mid-range, but shooting is clearly No. 1 on the must-improve list moving forward. 

    It's tough to say what he's going to do after the NCAA tournament. He'd probably be better off returning for more reps and a bigger role in the offense.

    Either way, his defensive versatility and room for offensive growth should be intriguing enough to warrant top-20 looks. 

20. Cleanthony Early, Wichita State, 6'8", SF, Senior

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    After scoring 24 points in the 2013 Final Four against Louisville and then leading Wichita State to a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance in 2014, you'd think Cleanthony Early would have gotten a little bit more love. 

    Early averaged 16.4 points a game this season. Sure, he played in the Missouri Valley Conference, but many have written his numbers off as a product of mediocre competition. 

    That should have changed following Wichita State's heartbreaking loss to Kentucky in the NCAA tournament's round of 32. Early poured in 31 points on 12-of-17 shooting against an awfully big and athletic front line. 

    At 6'8", he's got prototypical size and length for the NBA wing. This season, he improved dramatically as a shooter, getting his three-point percentage up to over 37 percent. 

    In between, he can get to the rim in line drives, finish in traffic and stick that pull-up jumper. Early also registered the No. 1 defensive rating in the conference this year, according to Sports-Reference.com.

    He certainly looks the part of an NBA wing. Shooting and defensive consistency will ultimately be Early's biggest hurdles moving forward, but we love the tools and promise he's showcased in his two years at Wichita State. 

19. Jusuf Nurkic, Bosnia, 6'11", C, 1994

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    The buzz surrounding Jusuf Nurkic's breakout season has increased by the month. 

    Though he only gets 16 minutes a game, he has the highest Player Efficiency Rating of anyone in the Adriatic League.  The kid just makes things happen whenever he's on the floor. In three recent games, Nurkic went for 16 points and 15 boards in 20 minutes, 14 points in 16 minutes and 16 points and nine boards in 22 minutes.

    Immovable when planted yet nimble on the run, the 6'11", 280-pound Nurkic can anchor the interior and get up and down the floor. 

    Offensively, he plays with his back to the rim, where he gets himself a position down low and flips shots over the defense. It's hard not to think of Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic when watching him push guys around inside. 

    Defensively, he takes up space and uses his length to bring in boards and contest shots. He blocked 1.3 shots in 15.4 minutes in 15 Eurocup games. 

    Nurkic is one of the rising international stars this season, and many expect him to declare in June. Look for his name to heat up once the NCAA tournament comes to an end. 

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

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    Adreian Payne returned as a senior with a list of things he needed to improve before wrapping up his career at Michigan State. 

    Mission accomplished. 

    Payne was awesome this season. He raised his scoring average six points, to 16.6 a game. He's even hit 39 three-pointers at a 43.8 percent clip after making just 17 threes in his previous three seasons combined. 

    Given his 6'10", 245-pound frame, he's a handful in the post, where he can finish through contact with both hands. And now that he's developed a jumper that seems to be working for him with regularity, he's established himself as a legitimate pick-and-pop or drive-and-dish target. 

    There's always a place in the NBA for big men who can finish inside and knock down shots on the perimeter. Payne might be 23 years old, but he'll present himself as one of the more NBA-ready bodies in the draft field. 

17. Mario Hezonja, Croatia, 6'6", SG/SF, 1995

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    At just 19 years old, Mario Hezonja hasn't gotten much burn for Barcelona's senior team, but his talent has already been well documented from his standout play at Eurocamp and the European Championships. 

    In 20 minutes recently against La Bruixa d'Or (his season high is 21 minutes), Hezonja dropped 26 points on 9-of-12 shooting. He just makes the game look so easy thanks to some breathtaking, effortless athleticism and natural scoring instincts. 

    From jaw-dropping reverse layups to one-on-one stop-and-pop jumpers from deep, Hezonja really has the whole offensive package. He's even hit 11 of his 25 three-point attempts, and he's shot 54 percent on two-point field goals. 

    Concerns have been raised over his basketball mentality, as Hezonja has a reputation for being a bit too ball-dominant, while his shot selection has been questioned. 

    But if we're talking about straight talent, Hezonja is the real deal. 

    It's unclear whether he'll take his chances and declare for the 2014 draft or if he'll wait for more playing time before declaring in 2015. Either way, Hezonja is a lottery talent whenever he chooses to go. 

16. Clint Capela, Switzerland, 6'10", PF, 1994

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    At 6'10" with a 7'3" wingspan and powerful athleticism, it's no secret what drives Clint Capela's NBA upside. 

    He's a terror around the rim at both ends of the floor. Pick-and-rolls, drive-and-dump-offs, lobs, offensive putbacks—Capela is a big-time finisher who shot 71.8 percent from the floor in 10 Eurocup games, and he's shooting around 65 percent in 24 games in France. 

    Capela also averages about 13 rebounds per 40 minutes in each league. 

    He's blown up a few times this year, most recently for 19 points and 10 boards in a win over ASVEL. Capela is still more of a finishing target around the rim than an actual scoring option, but with his sharp physical tools and high energy level, he could be capable of doing some serious two-way damage on the interior. 

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

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    It's been tough to spot given how limited his role is off UCLA's bench, but Zach LaVine's upside occasionally gets flashed in blinding fashion. Though he's probably a few years from being able to compete at the next level, LaVine's long-term potential is awfully intriguing. 

    With 6'5" size, long arms and showtime athleticism, he's a potent offensive weapon, particularly in the open floor. 

    He can handle the ball and maneuver off the dribble, or he can score from the wing as an off-guard. 

    In the half court, he can create his own shot moving in every direction, both as a driver and perimeter threat. LaVine averaged nearly 10 points and shot over 38 percent from downtown this season (1.3 three-pointers made per game)—not so easy to do with a usage rate around just 20 percent. 

    There's a chance that LaVine doesn't even declare this season, given his limited freshman role and the bigger one he'd likely get as a sophomore. But if the NBA calls early in an attempt to chase his upside, I'm not sure LaVine will be able to turn it down.

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

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    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    It didn't end the way he probably hoped, but Doug McDermott's senior year was nothing short of spectacular. 

    He averaged nearly 27 points a game despite having a target on his head night after night. It also marked the fourth year in a row he shot over 40 percent from downtown, an important note when you consider the three-ball is likely to be his bread and butter as a pro. 

    Still, it would be wrong not to mention just how advanced his scoring game has become. He's got everything from 25-foot pull-ups to Dirk Nowitzki one-legged fadeaways and crafty post moves with his back to the rim. 

    But it's tough to hide the fact that he only racked up eight steals and five blocks the entire season—his third year in a row finishing below 10 in each department. McDermott is severely limited athletically, and it's going to hurt him on defense and as a one-on-one scorer. 

    Regardless, the college-to-NBA barrier won't keep his basketball IQ and shot-making ability from translating. Think Kyle Korver mixed with a little Ryan Anderson. 

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

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Rodney Hood had a strong season at Duke after sitting out last year following his transfer from Mississippi State. He averaged 16 points a game, though his performances started to trail off down the stretch. 

    Still, Hood had been fairly consistent throughout the year. He gave Duke a versatile frontcourt scorer who can make shots in a variety of ways. Spotting up, pulling up, in the post, off one foot—Hood has a shot to go to from just about every angle on the floor. 

    Hood's defensive outlook is a little cloudier. He got exposed in Duke's humiliating round-of-64 loss to Mercer. He just doesn't play low enough to the ground, nor does he have the lateral quickness of your traditional wing.

    Hood might not knock your socks off with upside, but at 6'8" with deceptive athleticism, small forward mobility and a dangerous 42 percent three-point stroke, there's a place for him in the league as a supporting stretch forward. 

12. Nik Stauskas, Michigan, 6'6", SG, Sophomore

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    I'm not sure anyone underwent a bigger transformation than Nik Stauskas, who's evolved from a complementary shooter as a freshman into a lethal scorer as a sophomore.

    After adding about 16 pounds to his frame and a few new moves to the arsenal, Stausas emerged as the Big Ten's Player of the Year this season. He averaged over 17 points a game while maintaining that lights-out three-point stroke—he shot 45 percent from downtown this season after shooting 44 percent in 2012-13. 

    This year, he's expanded his off-the-dribble game. Stauskas has become a pretty dangerous one-on-one scorer, showing the ability to rise and fire over his defender, pull back and separate into a jumper or navigate through traffic and get to the rack. 

    He took over 100 more free-throw attempts, and he more than doubled his assist total from a year ago.

    Though not exactly a lockdown defender, Stauskas' elite shooting stroke, polished in-between game and high basketball IQ should translate nicely to the 2-guard position—especially given his above-average athleticism and 6'6" size. 

    He apparently likes to compare his game to Klay Thompson's, and though it sounds like a reach, I like the idea of it. 

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

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    More of a role player as a freshman, Gary Harris emerged as Michigan State's top offensive weapon in 2013-14. 

    His usage rate rose from 22.1 to 27.1. And in turn, his scoring average spiked to 16.9 from 12.9 points a game. 

    This season, Harris became a bigger one-on-one threat with the ball in his hands. He also continued to torch defenders as an off-ball scorer. Whether he's curling around a screen for a jumper or popping out behind the arc, Harris has found ways to get open without overusing the dribble. 

    Defensively, Harris is disciplined, and though he's slightly undersized at the 2, he's smart, active and alert. 

    Harris might not offer that NBA All-Star upside, but as a slasher, shooter and defender, he's got starter potential in a supporting role.

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

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Willie Cauley-Stein's weaknesses didn't improve, but his strengths got a little bit stronger. 

    He actually saw his measly 8.3-point-per-game freshman average fall to just seven points a game as a sophomore. But he's averaging nearly a block per game more than he was a year ago while playing roughly the same amount of minutes. Cauley-Stein provided better rim protection in 2013-14, one of his major selling points to NBA teams. 

    At this point, it's pretty clear that he's not going to be much of a scoring option in the post. Unless he's set up five feet away for a jump hook, chances are Cauley-Stein isn't even looking at the hoop.

    But at 7'0" with NFL wide receiver-like athleticism, he gives his guards a high-percentage target at or above the rim. And with Cauley-Stein's premier physical tools, he doesn't need a post game to be effective. I'm not sure Knicks center Tyson Chandler has made a post move in the last three years, yet he's still found ways to make a massive impact. 

    With very few true centers to choose from in this field, I'd expect Cauley-Stein to reap the benefits. There's always room for ultra-athletic 7-footers in the pros, even if their skill levels are below average. 

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

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    We knew about his athletic ability coming in. Aaron Gordon has given Arizona an easy-bucket machine above the rim, where can seemingly stop time in the air and throw down effortless dunks over traffic. 

    He's incredibly coordinated. Gordon catches everything, and he's got that ability to contort his body and turn tough scoring angles into easy ones. 

    But we didn't know much about Gordon's valuable intangibles or defensive versatility. He's an excellent passer and a high-energy presence. He's also shown the lateral quickness to defend the perimeter and the size to man the post. 

    Gordon hasn't shown much in-between offense—he's more of a catch-and-finish scorer than one who picks up points off the dribble. As a shooter, he's only made 14 three-pointers this season, and he's shooting a disastrous 42.9 percent from the line. 

    At this point, Gordon's bread and butter revolves around his ability to make plays without the ball as a scorer and within the offense as a passer. He'll need to improve that shooting stroke as well as his shot-creating ability in the mid-range and in the post.

    I like the Shawn Marion comparison for Gordon. 

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

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Not many prospects have seen a bigger draft-stock spike than Tyler Ennis, who came in considered more a two-to-four-year college guard. 

    He's now projected by many as one-and-done potential lottery pick. 

    Scouts love the intangibles he brings to the table: basketball IQ, passing instincts and natural feel for the position. He finished top-10 in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio despite playing over 35 minutes a game as a freshman floor general. 

    Ennis isn't the biggest, strongest or most athletic guard, but he just takes the right steps at the right times, and he knows how to command an offense. 

    As a scorer, he's looked comfortable in the mid-range, while his floater game is on point. Ennis even shot a respectable 35 percent from downtown this season.

    There are some questions regarding his defensive outlook, considering he spent the year playing in a zone. And given his lack of standout athleticism, he's missing that visible All-Star upside. 

    Scouts are likely hoping Ennis follows the paths carved out by guys like Tony Parker, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash—natural point guards who made up for physical tools with clever play and top-shelf decision-making.

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

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    Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sport

    Between the shoving incident with a fan that cost him three games and Oklahoma State's disappointing record and finish, Marcus Smart's sophomore season didn't go according to plan. 

    He still had himself a pretty darn good year individually, having averaged 18 points, 5.9 boards, 4.8 assists and 2.9 steals per game. It's tough to beat those numbers in the Big 12. 

    Smart is just a flat-out playmaker at both ends of the floor. He's shown he can run the offense at the point or take it over as a scorer. Smart doesn't have that ball-on-a-string handle shared by the NBA's top point guards, but he's an exceptional passer who has terrific instincts as a facilitator. 

    As a scorer, Smart's strengths revolve around his attack game, where he's powerful yet slippery on his way to the rim.

    However, he hasn't shown much progress as a shooter. He shot below 30 percent from downtown for the second straight year, and his free-throw percentage fell to just 72.8 percent. His mid-range game has also been somewhat limited.

    Smart will also inevitably have to answer questions regarding his temper, but I'd imagine his perimeter game will ultimately be a bigger long-term concern to NBA scouts. 

    Regardless, don't count on Smart slipping too far, if at all. There's just too much to like about his offensive versatility, defensive impact (No. 1 in Big 12 in defensive win shares, per Sports-Reference.com) and killer instinct. 

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

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Arguably the most physically imposing prospect of anyone in the field, Julius Randle finished his freshman year averaging a 15-point, 10-board double-double.

    He's just relentless in the paint, where he can outmuscle opposing bigs and scrub the offensive glass clean. Unlike most freshmen, Randle embraces contact, and in many cases he initiates it. 

    Despite his overwhelming interior presence, Randle might actually be most effective facing his man up in space. There aren't many big men capable of keeping up with Randle laterally, and when he has room he can put it on the deck, blow by his man or spin past him into the lane.

    However, scouts have mentioned Randle's lack of length as a concern. His wingspan is five inches shorter than that of Indiana's Noah Vonleh. Some wonder whether this will be a problem for Randle, given he doesn't have much of a jumper (only three three-pointers all year) to counter the disruptive length in the paint. 

    He's also had trouble making a meaningful defensive impact. In 36 games, Randle only has 17 steals and 29 blocks. 

    Still, the talent here is obvious. And by the time he's peaked physically, I'd imagine he'll be a walking double-double. 

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

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    Doug McSchooler/Associated Press

    Noah Vonleh didn't put up the flashy numbers that some of the other top guys put up, but that didn't make his NBA potential any tougher to spot. 

    At 6'10", 240 pounds with a massive 7'4" wingspan, Vonleh has an incredible physical profile that stands out the second he hits the floor. He's also nearly a year younger than Kentucky's Julius Randle, the other top power forward prospect. 

    Vonleh didn't see many touches in Indiana's offense, but he made the most of the ones he got. Though still raw, he's got a good feel in the post, where he can hop-step into jump hooks or drop-step into power layups. 

    He also nailed 16 of his 33 attempts from downtown, showing really nice touch on the perimeter. 

    To top it off, Vonleh led the Big Ten in rebounding despite playing less than 27 minutes a night. 

    He reminds me a lot of Chris Bosh in that he can wheel and deal in the paint, spot up on the perimeter and man the glass. 

    Vonleh might not be 100 percent NBA-ready, but between the promise he's flashed and the amount of room he has to grow, there's plenty of potential reward here without much risk.

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

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    You won't find another guard in the field with a higher NBA ceiling than Dante Exum.

    A scoring point guard at 6'6", Exum has Penny Hardaway's size with Russell Westbrook's above-the-rim explosiveness. He's been blowing up NBA radars over the past two summers—Exum led Australia to a silver in 2012 and a bronze in 2013 in the FIBA World Championships, demonstrating his takeover ability as a lead guard. 

    Exum has the intelligence and floor game to run the point for his team, but he also has the physical tools and skill set to score off the ball on the wing. 

    Defensively, he's going to be a nightmare for opposing backcourts, given his ridiculous size and length for the position. 

    Even teams with a starting point guard in place might still want to give Exum a look. His versatility should allow him to play multiple positions at both ends of the floor, while the upside he's offering is as high as anyone's outside of Joel Embiid of Kansas.  

    Depending how the lottery plays out, Exum will be an option for teams anywhere on the board, whether it's at No. 5 or No. 1 overall.

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

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Jabari Parker jumped out as the most refined and complete offensive prospect in the country within the first two weeks of the season. At 6'8", 235 pounds, he's got that NBA-ready body with some deceptive mobility and athleticism. 

    We've seen Parker take over a game from numerous positions this season. Early in the year, it was his perimeter game that had been working. Step-backs, pull-ups, jab steps—Parker has shown he can separate into jumpers in a variety of ways. 

    We've also seem him control a game from the post, where he can score with his back to the rim or pass out of double-teams. And though not as light on his feet as Andrew Wiggins, Parker can start and finish a break by grabbing a defensive board and taking it coast to coast. 

    He's also a terrific rebounder (8.7 per game) and a vocal leader on the floor. 

    However, Parker has had his fair share of problems on the defense end. He was even benched for defensive possessions down the stretch of Duke's round-of-64 loss to Mercer in the NCAA tournament. 

    Parker isn't the highest or most explosive leaper, and he lacks that quick first step that makes guys like Wiggins so tough to contain off the bounce. But for a team looking for a safe, high-reward option at the top of the draft, there isn't anyone who offers a more favorable risk-to-reward ratio. 

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

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Andrew Wiggins entered the season with some of the craziest individual expectations we'd seen over the last 10 years. And except for a little inconsistency here and there, he did a pretty good job of living up to the impossible. 

    He averaged 17.1 points a game as a freshman playing in a loaded Big 12 lineup.

    Wiggins is just a once-in-a-decade kind of athlete. He's the type of wing who can get to the rim from half court with just two dribbles and three steps. Whether he's sneaking backdoor for a lob, flying in transition or exploding through a driving lane, Wiggins picks up easy baskets in a variety of different ways. 

    As a scorer, he's flashed the entire skill set, from one-dribble pull-ups and step-back jumpers to floaters in the lane and lightning slices to the rack. Wiggins even hit 43 three-pointers this year—five more than Duke's Jabari Parker, who many pegged as the deadlier shooter earlier in the season. 

    Defensively, Wiggins' upside is off the charts. He's got the length and foot speed to lock down three to four positions, which is what ultimately separates him from Parker, who has been a liability at times on the defensive end. 

    The only real knock on Wiggins has been his tendency to take a back seat. Sometimes, he'll go long stretches in the offense without taking a shot, like he did in Kansas' final game against Stanford, when he only took six of them in 34 minutes. 

    Scouts have questioned his alpha-dog mentality and assertiveness numerous times throughout the season, but at just 19 years old, I'm not sure how much weight a general manager is going to put on Wiggins' lack of assertiveness. If we're talking about pure talent here, it's pretty clear that Wiggins is the cream of the crop. 

    He's the top two-way wing prospect in the country, with a ceiling that exceeds the height of Parker's.

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

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    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    If we're talking about long-term ceilings, NBA potential and pure, natural talent, you won't find a more attractive prospect than Kansas' Joel Embiid. When healthy, there isn't anyone out there capable of reaching the same level of two-way impact. 

    While many were expecting a raw, unpolished 7-footer, Embiid blew us away with refined post moves that seemed to have gotten better and sneakier by the week.

    Righty and lefty jump hooks, dream shakes, fadeaways, spin moves, up-and-unders—between his fancy footwork, unteachable touch and ridiculously high release point (7'5" wingspan), Embiid has shown he can get himself high-percentage looks whenever he wants in the post. 

    He became a double-team magnet midway through the year. And from there, he began to develop his passing skills. Based on the attention he's drawn in the post, Embiid has that ability to make his teammates better, considering the shots he's able to create for them by drawing their defenders. 

    Defensively, he shrinks the size of the rim he's protecting. Embiid blocked 2.6 shots a game (in only 23 minutes) and changed a number of others on the interior. 

    Centers with a go-to offensive skill set and game-changing defensive potential just don't come around very often.

    The only question is whether the back injury he suffered will become a long-term concern. But based on the history of stress fractures and the reports out of Kansas' camp, it appears that Embiid might have dodged a bullet with this one. 

    We'll know more about Embiid's status as we get closer to the draft, but assuming he doesn't suffer any setbacks and his physical comes back clean, there's no doubt he's the most promising prospect in this year's field. 

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