NBA Draft

2014 NBA Draft: Jonathan Wasserman's Big Board, Post-NCAA Tournament

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterApril 8, 2014

2014 NBA Draft: Jonathan Wasserman's Big Board, Post-NCAA Tournament

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    Doug McSchooler

    And just like that, it's NBA draft season. 

    With the college basketball season over, many of the prospects are now in the process of gathering as much intel as they can with regard to their stock. 

    Those American prospects looking to declare early have until April 15 to decide whether to go all in or return to sustain their college eligibility. International prospects have until June 16.

    Our big board is a ranking of the top 30 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 thrive after college. 

     

    Stats courtesy of ESPN.com, Basketball-Reference.com and Eurobasket.com

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

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    2014 NBA Draft Status: Expected to Enter

    Elfrid Payton had some type of season at Louisiana-Lafayette, where he averaged 19.2 points, six boards, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals as the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

    He even led the Ragin' Cajuns to the dance, where he put up 24 points, eight boards and three assists in a loss to Creighton. 

    Payton sure has the physical tools to do his thing at the pro level—at 6'3", he's got excellent size, length and athleticism to make plays through or over a defense. He's quick off the bounce with the ability to change direction at high speeds and finish on the move. 

    Payton is a dynamic playmaker, particularly in transition, but he's also an offensive machine in the half court, whether he's splitting the defense for a drive-and-kick or he's running the pick-and-roll. 

    If only Payton could shoot the rock, he'd be about 15 spots higher on the board. He made just 14 three-pointers all year at a 25.9 percent clip, and he failed to hit the 70 percent free-throw mark for the third year in a row. 

    Some encouraging news with regard to Payton's development is that he's young for his class—Payton, a junior, is less than a month older than Kansas' Joel Embiid and Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart. 

    There's still upside here, and if Payton's perimeter game ever develops, we could be talking about draft-day robbery a few years down the road. 

     

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

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    KEVIN RIVOLI

    2014 NBA Draft Status: Undecided

    Jerami Grant's game is powered by his 6'8" size, 7'2" wingspan and incredible blend of hops and coordination. 

    He can finish in a variety of different ways around the rim, whether it's off a slash, lob, dump pass or an offensive putback slam. And at this point, that's his sales pitch—Grant is a guy who can make things happen around the rim without needing the ball to score. 

    But while he's a fantastic athlete, he doesn't quite have an NBA position. At 210 pounds, he only averaged 6.8 boards and .6 blocks per game. It just seems hard to imagine Grant being able to hold down the power forward position in the pros.

    And he isn't quite skilled enough to play the wing, a position that traditionally requires a jumper to stretch the floor and spread the defense. Grant didn't hit a three-pointer all year, and he struggles to create his own shot.

    With an angle and space to work, we've seen him go to the one-dribble spin, but if it gets taken away, he doesn't quite have a counter. 

    Grant has plenty of potential thanks to a tremendous physical profile, but he could really use another year to refine his offensive game.

     

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

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    2014 NBA Draft Status: Auto-Eligible 

    Shabazz Napier didn't need a national title to prove he's got NBA game. Although it didn't exactly hurt. 

    His leadership and floor general qualities were on display throughout the NCAA tournament. But he's been phenomenal all year, having made a number of clutch shots and taken over plenty of games as his team's primary playmaker. 

    Incredibly quick and shifty off the dribble, he's shown he can break down defenses at will with the dribble penetration. In addition to being dangerous in the drive-and-kick game, he's also proficient facilitating the pick-and-roll.

    As a shooter, Napier finished over 39 percent from behind the arc with at least two makes per game for the second straight year. 

    He's small, he's 22 years old and he plays below the rim. Napier isn't an upside pick, but his toughness, confidence and skill level are just too much. My money is on him to stick around and make it as a serviceable NBA backup.

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

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    Julie Jacobson

    2014 NBA Draft Status: Undecided 

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson played a supporting role as a freshman, but he did a whole lot with it, flashing some appealing versatility at both ends of the floor. 

    Standing 6'7" with a disruptive 7'1" wingspan, he's got a slick bounce to his step, lightning lateral quickness and explosive athleticism. Hollis-Jefferson is more of a finisher around the rim at this stage in his development, but he's shown some promising passing ability, and at 49 percent from the field, he's converted a good portion of the scoring opportunities that have come his way.

    Hollis-Jefferson's defense might be his most convincing selling point, as he should have the ability to lock down three positions on the floor. 

    He'll ultimately have to improve his jumper and expand his shot-creating ability, as he's just not much of a threat with the ball away from the rim. 

    There's no question he needs another year at school, but his NBA potential was just made too obvious throughout the year. If he does declare, don't be surprised if a team reaches on that upside.

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

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    Gerry Broome

    2014 NBA Draft Status: Expected to Enter

    T.J. Warren absolutely blew up for North Carolina State this year, having averaged 24.9 points and 7.1 boards on an impressive 52.5 percent from the floor. 

    There's no specific blueprint for his success—Warren just flat out knows how to get himself buckets. He has that natural ability to catch and score from wherever he is on the floor, whether he's slashing through the lane for a runner or coming off a curl in the mid-range. He hits a ton of shots by simply rising and firing over his man when he least expects it. 

    He's got excellent size and mobility for an NBA wing—he's just not that athletic or long. Almost all of his offense comes from inside the arc (only 26.7 percent three-point shooter). 

    There aren't too many scoring wings in the pros who can't stretch the floor and hit the three-ball. But if Warren's perimeter game ever develops, he could be a steal outside the lottery.

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

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    2014 NBA Draft Status: Expected to Enter

    Montrezl Harrell had a really strong final stretch of the year, when he reminded us why many were so high on him following Louisville's 2013 title run.

    He's an insane athlete when you take into account his size, python arms, explosive athleticism and crazy hops. Harrell is a monster above the rim as a finisher and rebounder, and if he's got room to operate, he can score around the low block. 

    Still, Harrell's post game hasn't fully taken off, and though he's made some shots around the key, he hasn't done so with enough consistency. Most of his buckets have come off drive-and-dishes, offensive rebounds and lobs, while he's now shot 50 percent or below from the line in two back-to-back years.

    Harrell does have plenty of room for growth, but at this point, his physical tools are too far ahead of his skills. 

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

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    2014 NBA Draft Status: Declared

    Kyle Anderson's season probably couldn't have gone any better from an individual draft stock standpoint. After struggling to fit in playing off the ball as a freshman, Anderson was given the rock as a sophomore point guard, and he put up some dazzling numbers across the board with it. 

    He averaged 14.6 points, 8.8 boards and 6.5 assists per game this year, stats that reflect the mismatch he presented on a night-to-night basis. At 6'9", Anderson is a sensational passer with a natural feel for the point guard position—a seemingly unprecedented blend of tools, skills and strengths. 

    He plays right over the defense, whether he's pulling up for a jumper or dishing a pass above traffic. 

    As a scorer, Anderson has a threatening mid-range game and a promising outside stroke he used to nail 28 of 58 (48.3 percent) three-point attempts.

    The red flag with Anderson stems from his slow feet and minimal athleticism. Some scouts wonder whether he's quick enough to run the point or defend the perimeter. 

    Offensively, Anderson moves at his own pace out there, but he always manages to keep his man at his hip despite lacking the elusiveness to really shake him.

    Personally, it's his defensive outlook that worries me, but Anderson just possesses too much valuable and potentially rewarding versatility. 

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

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    Chris Steppig

    2014 NBA Draft Status: Undecided 

    James Young averaged over 14 points a game this year as Kentucky's second-leading scorer. He was the team's designated shot-maker on the wing, where he gave post players and penetrators a kick-out shooting option.

    He nailed over two three-pointers a game, though his shooting consistency suffered, as he only converted around 35 percent of his 235 attempts.

    In between, he's shown he can attack driving lanes and finish runners on the move, while he's proved to be a dangerous threat in the open floor. 

    But Young was a rotating door defensively on the perimeter, where he let too many guards blow by him.

    He's got the potential to play a similar role in the pros as he did for Kentucky, but not unless he improves his shooting consistency and defensive technique and awareness.  

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

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    Sergio Hentschel/Getty Images

    2014 NBA Draft Status: D-League Draft Eligible 

    With North Carolina declining to seek reinstatement after his offseason legal troubles got him suspended, P.J. Hairston has used the NBA D-League to help rebuild his image as an NBA prospect. 

    In 26 games with the Texas Legends, Hairston averaged over 21 points on 45 percent shooting and 35 percent from downtown, showcasing his smooth offensive game as a perimeter scorer and driver.

    At 6'6", Hairston is a physical athlete with a deadly jumper and the ability to create it off the dribble. 

    He's got the size, strength and athleticism to match the offensive skills and sweet shooting stroke. If he interviews well and connects from outside during workouts, I could see his stock getting a legitimate boost during draft season. 

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

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    Gerry Broome

    2014 NBA Draft Status: Expected to Enter

    Rodney Hood had a strong, consistent season, though he was never able to really break through into that top tier of prospects. 

    At 6'8" with a sharpshooting lefty stroke, Hood brings an NBA-ready skill set to the table. He's dangerous from behind the arc (two three-pointers per game at 42 percent clip) and refined inside it, where he can knock down shots off the dribble, over his shoulder or off one foot via a runner. 

    Unfortunately, he's not a standout athlete, which keeps him from getting to the rim (3.9 free-throw attempts per game) or effectively defending his position. Hood actually ended the season on a brutal note after shooting 2-of-10 in a loss to Mercer—a game in which he fouled out and got exposed on the defensive end. 

    There probably isn't much upside with Hood, but he'll be a nice mid-to-late first-round option for team that could use some shot-making and offensive versatility. 

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

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    2014 NBA Draft Status: Expected to Enter

    Jusuf Nurkic is this year's big international riser, as he's been dominant overseas in the limited time he's been given. 

    He's No. 1 in the Adriatic League in player efficiency rating, per DraftExpress.com, thanks to ridiculous per-40-minute averages of 28.6 points, 13.9 boards and two blocks on 55 percent shooting. 

    Nurkic combines a monster 6'11", 280-pound body with nimble feet and soft touch around the rim. 

    Offensively, he plays with his back to the rim, where he gets himself in 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. 

    With few true centers available in this year's field, don't be surprised to see Nurkic's name heat up over the next few months.

     

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

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    Frank Franklin II

    2014 NBA Draft Status: Auto-Eligible 

    It didn't seem possible for Doug McDermott to improve his draft stock, having averaged over 23 points a game as a junior. But McDermott returned to get in one season of Big East basketball—and he crushed it. 

    McDermott was this year's National Player of the Year after averaging 26.7 points and seven rebounds a game. Easily the most skilled prospect in the field, he added even more to his arsenal this season, including a mean Dirk Nowitzki one-legged fadeaway that he used to consistently separate with as a one-on-one scorer. He also nailed over 40 percent of his three-point attempts for his fourth consecutive year. 

    But the question regarding McDermott remains the same: Will his game translate to the pros despite his below-average athletic ability? 

    There's concern over whom he'll be able to guard—McDermott lacks the strength to defend the NBA post and the foot speed to man the perimeter. He finished with just five blocks and eight steals in total all season—the third year in a row he's failed to hit double-digits in either category. 

    McDermott still has unteachable offensive instincts and elite shot-making ability. But unless he proves he has a defensive position, or that his offensive game can seamlessly translate, it might be hard for him to earn a full-time or starting role. 

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

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    Michael Conroy

    2014 NBA Draft Status: Expected to Enter

    Gary Harris played with a different level of confidence and aggression as a sophomore than he did a year ago. But he took 72 more three-pointers, a likely reason for what was a productive yet inconsistent season. 

    He averaged 16.7 points a game, though his field-goal percentage fell to 42.9 percent, and his three-point percentage dropped to 35.2 percent. 

    Still, Harris' glowing strength is his ability to score within an offense, not something that's easy to learn. He moves really well without the ball and often finds himself open for spot-up jumpers or lanes to attack, whether he's popping out behind a screen or curling around one in the mid-range.  

    Defensively, he's disciplined, alert and quick. 

    The downside with Harris is his upside. He projects more as a supporting shot-maker than a scorer you'd want to go to. With most of his shots coming on the perimeter (25 percent of shots taken come at the rim, per Hoop-Math) and an undersized 6'4" frame, I wouldn't bet on Harris as a future All-Star.

    But as a safe, role-playing 2-guard, he makes sense as a mid-first-round option. 

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

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    2014 NBA Draft Status: Auto-Eligible 

    Cleanthony Early capped off a productive two-year career at Wichita State with a needle-moving performance against Kentucky in the NCAA tournament, when he finished with 31 points on 12-of-17 shooting. 

    He had been solid all year, but having played in the Missouri Valley Conference, many had been quick to write his numbers off as a result of mediocre competition. 

    The mid-major argument against Early won't work anymore—he torched Kentucky's NBA-caliber front line with everything from three-point shooting and half-court driving to a number of buckets in transition. 

    This season, Early really improved as a shooter, getting his three-point percentage up to over 37 percent. He also registered the No. 1 defensive rating in the conference this year, according to Sports-Reference.com.

    With 6'8" size, a clean shooting stroke and NBA-level athletic ability, Early certainly looks the part of an professional wing. Guys who ace the eye test tend to benefit during the pre-draft process and workouts. I've got him as one of the big late risers in this year's field.

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

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    Ringo H.W. Chiu

    2014 NBA Draft Status: Declared 

    With a minimal role in the offense playing alongside three older guards and the coach's son, Zach LaVine has decided to bolt and take his chances in the draft, per Jack Wang of the Los Angeles Daily News

    He's become one of the more interesting prospects to follow, given the upside he's flashed and the little production he has to show for it (9.4 points per game). He is one of those showtime athletes who plays above the rim, though with a promising 37.5 percent three-point stroke and a tight handle on the ball, he's got some skills to go with the talent. 

    But LaVine was used in just 20.1 percent of UCLA's plays when on the floor, which was only 24.4 minutes a game. And it hurt his consistency and ultimately his image as a prospect who isn't ready for the pros. 

    LaVine will enter the draft as a gambler's type of prospect—a guy who offers loads of potential long-term reward, but one without a convincing enough track record to suggest he'll reach it. 

    I'm a fan of LaVine's game and upside—the only question I have is whether he'll land in the right place to develop. Because it just might take the ideal situation for LaVine to hit his stride. 

15 Nik Stauskas, Michigan, 6'6", SG, Sophomore

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    David J. Phillip

    2014 NBA Draft Status: Undecided

    It didn't take long for Nik Stauskas to find the NBA radar in the 2013-14 season, when he scored at least 20 points in five of the team's first six games of the season. 

    Stauskas added about 16 pounds of muscle to his frame and a few extra moves to his offensive repertoire. More of a one-dimensional shooter as a freshman, he maintained that red-hot 44 percent three-point stroke as a sophomore, only he developed an off-the-dribble game to complement it, making him a bigger one-on-one threat to score. 

    He took over 100 more free throws in 2013-14 than he did in 2012-13, and he more than doubled his assist rate as well. Stauskas also became a lot more creative as a scorer on the perimeter, having implemented a step-back and rise-and-fire pull-up to his jump-shooting arsenal. 

    Defense is Stauskas' Achilles' heel, as he averaged less than a steal per game, a bad look for a projected wing. 

    But as a shot-maker, passer and high-IQ presence, Stauskas should fit nicely into a supporting offensive role. 

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

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    2014 NBA Draft Status: Declared 

    Though Tyler Ennis probably needed another year, it's tough to blame him for leaving, and it's going to be just as tough to blame a team for reaching. 

    There was no hiding Ennis' standout feel for the point guard position this season. Poised, mature and composed under pressure, he finished in the top 10 in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio while playing over 35 minutes a game as an ACC freshman. 

    Where Ennis lacks in athleticism and explosiveness, he makes up for with timing and instincts. He's a terrific passer and facilitator, where he runs the pick-and-roll like a pro. Attacking the rim, he just seems to take the right steps at the right speeds.

    He's a decent shooter, having made 30 three-pointers at a 35 percent clip, and he's shown he can knock down shots off the catch or the dribble.

    Given his underwhelming physical tools, struggles finishing at the rim and questionable defensive potential, I'm not sure how much upside Ennis is offering. But whether he's your long-term starter or a backup, there's no question his floor-general qualities hold NBA value.  

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

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    2014 NBA Draft Status: Auto-Eligible 

    Adreian Payne made the strides he needed to make in what was his final audition for the pros as a senior at Michigan State. 

    Payne always had the natural tools and talent—at 6'10", 245 pounds with a monster frame and above-the-rim athleticism, he just needed to refine and ultimately expand his offensive skill set. 

    By becoming more of a threat with the ball in his hands, he raised his scoring, averaging nearly six points a game this season. Payne improved his low-post game, but the biggest change came on the perimeter, where he sunk 44 three-pointers at a 42.3 percent clip, after only hitting 17 total threes his first three years combined. 

    He's now presenting himself to teams as a legitimate pick-and-pop or drive-and-kick target, as well as a physical presence on the interior who can score and finish through contact. 

    If I'm looking for an NBA-ready big, I'm targeting Payne, whose 41-point performance against Delaware in the NCAA tournament was one of the top showcases of NBA potential this year.

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

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    2014 NBA Draft Status: Expected to Enter

    Clint Capela has been a head-turner overseas this season, where he sports per-40 averages of 16.5 points, 12.7 boards and 3.5 blocks in 24 games in France.

    At this point, his potential is driven strictly by his sensational physical tools consisting of 6'10" size, a 7'4" wingspan and high-flying athleticism. He's shooting nearly 66 percent, a reflection of his above-the-rim finishing ability off dump passes, lobs, pick-and-rolls and offensive boards. 

    He's also an excellent rebounder and shot-blocker who remains active on the glass and defensive end. 

    For a guy his size, Capela is extremely mobile—you'll often see him sprinting from baseline to baseline down the floor, and he's shown the ability to put the ball on the deck and attack a driving lane. 

    Capela will eventually need to develop some type of elbow jumper, but he's got the tools to make a real difference on the interior once he adds some muscle and offensive polish.

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

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    2014 NBA Draft Status: Undecided 

    Though a spectacular, eye-opening talent, Mario Hezonja hasn't gotten much burn for Barcelona's senior team in the Spanish ACB. 

    But his playing time has increased lately, and that talent has started to become a little easier to spot.

    You couldn't miss it on March 16, when Hezonja erupted for 26 points in 20 minutes on 9-of-12 shooting in what was a jaw-dropping display of athleticism and offensive skills. 

    From step-back jumpers to absurd reverse layups, Hezonja just makes it look effortless, and at 6'6", he's got the size and frame to pull it off at any level.

    In 27 games in Spain, he's also shooting it 14-of-32 from downtown while playing just 11.5 minutes a game.

    It's unclear whether or not Hezonja is interested in declaring in 2014. Given how little action he's seen, it wouldn't be surprising to see him stay in Europe to use another year for NBA preparation. 

    But if we're talking about draft-eligible prospects for 2014, few offer a higher reward than Hezonja.

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

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2014 NBA Draft Status: Expected to Enter

    Willie Cauley-Stein missed out on Kentucky's last few games of the team's NCAA tournament run. But after two years of college ball, there's no mystery as to what he'll be bringing to the NBA table. 

    At 7'0" with the athleticism of an NFL wide receiver, Cauley-Stein can be a difference-maker on the interior and defensive end. He blocked 2.9 shots in less than 24 minutes a game. And a box score just doesn't measure his impact as a pick-and-roll defender or rim protector.

    Cauley-Stein doesn't offer much offensive upside, but with his near immaculate physical tools, he's the type of center who can change a game without the ball in his hands. 

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

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    Denis Poroy

    2014 NBA Draft Status: Expected to Enter

    We knew about Aaron Gordon's high-flying, video-game athleticism coming in. But we weren't fully aware of the intangibles and defensive versatility he brought to the table. 

    Though his offensive game is limited, Gordon still found ways to make a significant impact for what was one of the top teams in the country all year long. As a scorer, he's given his guards a high-percentage target around the rim, where he can finish strong from above or acrobatically from below. 

    Gordon is limited off the bounce, but if there's a lane to attack, he's capable of putting it on the floor and swooping to the rack. 

    Defensively, he's demonstrated the foot speed to effectively defend the wing, as well as the size and length to man the post. He actually led the country in defensive win shares, a reflection of just how valuable he really was to Arizona. 

    Forget about the Blake Griffin comparisons with Gordon, and start thinking closer to Shawn Marion.

    Gordon will ultimately need to improve his spot-up jumper and dreadful free-throw stroke, but at just 18 years old, time is on his side. 

8. Dario Saric, Croatia, 6'10", PF, 1994

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    Petr David Josek

    2014 NBA Draft Status: Undecided 

    It seems as if his status changes by the week, but Dario Saric made his most revealing remarks of the year in an interview with Jelena Trajkovic of B92.net, via Sportando, when he said “I think I will apply for the NBA draft but I need ten more days before making a final decision."

    Saric, who currently leads the Adriatic League in scoring and rebounding, has taken his game to a new level in 2014. And he's cleaning up abroad while building his draft stock in the process. 

    At 6'10", he's extremely versatile, with the ability to create off the dribble, shoot from outside, facilitate from the wing and control the glass. 

    The biggest question right now is whether or not he'll declare, and if he does, whether he'll continue to play abroad or come directly over to the States. 

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

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    2014 NBA Draft Status: Declared (per John Helsley of The Oklahoman)

    Despite a rocky year from a team and individual perspective, Marcus Smart remains one of the most promising and, ultimately, one of the safest, NBA prospects in the field.

    Smart averaged 18 points, 5.9 boards and 4.8 assists to go with 2.9 steals per game as a sophomore. He's shown that desirable ability to take command of a game, like he did early in the year with a 39-point effort over Memphis, or like when he dropped 20 second-half points in a win over Kansas on March 1. 

    His passing instincts, relentless attack game and overwhelming defensive presence were on display throughout the year. And at 6'4", 220 pounds, he's got the sensational basketball frame capable of initiating contact and playing through it. 

    Still, questions remain over his shooting ability, as he finished under 30 percent from downtown for the second straight year. And following the shoving incident with a fan that cost him three games to suspension, you can expect Smart to get grilled during the pre-draft process over his anger. 

    But based on his two-year body of work at Oklahoma State, scouts and executives should be pretty comfortable with what they've seen and what they're getting. A highly competitive, two-way playmaker who can handle either backcourt position, Smart should get looks from everyone outside the top three.

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

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    2014 NBA Draft Status: Expected to Enter

    Julius Randle was held in check against Connecticut in the title game, but he'd been a double-double machine for Kentucky all season long and one of the country's most dominant interior scorers and offensive rebounders.

    Though most of his damage was done right at the rim, Randle is actually the biggest threat when he can face his man and attack him off the bounce. He's just so quick, agile and strong attacking the hoop that few big men can keep up laterally. 

    Defensively, Randle is somewhat limited, as he averaged less than a steal and block per game. And scouts have expressed concern over his 6'11" wingspan, a small number for an interior-oriented big man. 

    Randle will eventually need to add a jumper (made just three of 18 shots from downtown) to his arsenal so he's not so over-reliant on his strength, but there's no doubting his natural talent and physical presence on the interior. 

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

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    2014 NBA Draft Status: Declared

    Noah Vonleh was quick to declare for the NBA draft, per Gary Parrish of CBS Sports, after failing to reach the postseason. The move was no surprise—Vonleh made the most of the limited opportunity he was given at Indiana, having led the Big Ten in rebounding playing just 26.5 minutes a game, while flashing some tremendous offensive promise in the process. 

    At 6'10" with a 240-pound frame and massive 7'4" wingspan, he's got a body built for the pros. And the skill set is there as well—from righty and lefty jump hooks to fadeaways and up-and-unders, Vonleh has the moves and instincts to score one-on-one in the post. 

    Later in the year, Vonleh started showing off his touch from outside, where he knocked down 16 of his 33 three-point attempts. 

    At just 18 years old, Vonleh already looks the part, yet he's still got so much room for growth. For a team that doesn't mind the wait, he should be worth the time it takes him to develop. Think Chris Bosh.

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

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    2014 NBA Draft Status: Declared 

    Dante Exum has been ready to roll for a few months now, as he waits to see who'll be challenging him for draft position in June. 

    At this point, Exum is right in the top-five mix, and if Duke's Jabari Parker or Kansas' Joel Embiid decline to declare, it would give Exum's stock a significant indirect boost.

    His potential is off the charts, given his 6'6" size, above-the-rim explosiveness and backcourt versatility as a point guard and scorer. He can really handle the ball and create, whether it's for himself as a shooter or attacker, or whether it's for a teammate with the drive-and-kick.

    Exum also projects as a serious defensive weapon with lockdown potential at both guard positions. 

    Though his body of work isn't completely convincing, considering most of it has come during two FIBA World Championship tournaments and an exhibition game like the Nike Hoops Summit, the upside and promise he's flashed is just too promising.  

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

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    2014 NBA Draft Status: Undecided

    There really aren't many holes in Jabari Parker's game—he quickly established himself as the most refined and versatile prospect, and arguably the most NBA-ready. 

    A 6'8", 235 pounds, he's a better athlete than advertised with long arms and deceiving mobility. 

    From an NBA standpoint, scouts really admire his ability to play from all over the floor, whether he's pulling up for a jumper on the perimeter or backing down his man in the post. He averaged 19.1 points a game this season while leading the ACC in rebounding.

    The concern with Parker centers around his limited defensive potential, where he lacks the size and technique to guard the post, as well as the foot speed to secure the perimeter. We've seen him give up position down low and get blown by around the arc.

    Regardless, Parker has the game to emerge as one of the league's toughest frontcourt mismatches. 

    However, the latest reports, per Chad Ford of ESPN, have scouts worried that Parker might opt to return to Duke. It would be hard to imagine him turning down top-three overall dollars, but if he does decline to declare, consider it a major blow to the top of the 2014 draft board. 

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

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    2014 NBA Draft Status: Declared 

    If Andrew Wiggins didn't meet your expectations, chances are you were misled entering the year. 

    Wiggins averaged 17.1 points a game for a premier team with a loaded lineup in a power conference—and he did so without the offensive polish, skills or strength of Duke's Jabari Parker, his potential biggest draft-day challenger.

    Just imagine what happens when Wiggins does improve his handle, shooting consistency and finishing ability around the rim. 

    He even made more three-pointers than Parker did this season, something few would have predicted back in November and December. 

    With an unstoppable attack game, a promising mid-range scoring arsenal and encouraging three-point range, he's got the skill set in place to match his elite athletic ability. 

    But after taking just six shots and scoring four points in Kansas' NCAA tournament loss to Stanford, questions continue to swirl over his lack of assertiveness. And while it's something he certainly needs to work on as he grows and matures, some blame should go to Kansas' talented lineup, methodical approach and inconsistent point guard play.

    Defensively, Wiggins projects as a tremendous asset and weapon, given his ability to guard three to four positions and probably lock down a few of them. 

    I wouldn't put too much stock in Wiggins' passive mentality as a freshman. As his game evolves and his comfort level builds, I'd imagine his confidence will as well. 

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

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    2014 NBA Draft Status: Expected to Enter

    Joel Embiid was the top dog on our board for the majority of the year, and assuming the results on his pre-draft physical don't reveal any long-term concerns with his back, he'll remain our No. 1 prospect. 

    Embiid's appeal and potential are driven by his two-way upside—there isn't another prospect in the field capable of making such a profound impact on a game.

    And at 7'0", 250 pounds with a 7'5" wingspan, Embiid is an incredible physical specimen built to anchor an interior. 

    Offensively, he's flashed a post game advanced enough to go to in the half court. Jump hooks, up-and-unders, dream shakes, spin moves, fadeaways—Embiid has developed the footwork to create his own shot and the touch to convert at an excellent rate. 

    He's even shown some mid-range touch and a promising 68.5 percent free-throw stroke that improved from day one. 

    Defensively, Embiid has the ability to change a game by shrinking the size of the rim he's guarding. He had the highest defensive rating (and PER) of any player in the Big 12, thanks to his 2.6 blocks in only 23.1 minutes per game. 

    Between his immaculate physical tools, the skills he's flashed and the room he still has for growth, there isn't much more you can ask for in a 7-foot center prospect. 

    Unless doctors red flag him, Embiid is no doubt the guy I'd choose to build around if I were starting a franchise from scratch. 

    Though he hasn't made it official, expect him to eventually declare.

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