The 2014 NBA draft has the potential to be one of the best ever in terms of top-flight talent. With so many great prospects in the fold, though, some potentially deserving players are bound to fall.
Observers are surprised on a yearly basis when highly touted players inevitably last much longer than expected. That is often because those players aren't valued as much by NBA teams as they are by analysts, but positional needs play a role as well.
There is no question that the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker will fly off the board early, but here are three prospects who will have to wait a bit longer than anticipated.
Forward Aaron Gordon entered the 2013-14 season as one of the most hyped freshmen in the country. Gordon lived up to his billing in some ways as he helped Arizona earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, but it became blatantly obvious that plenty of improvements need to be made in his game.
Gordon made an impact as an interior player with averages of over 12 points, eight rebounds and one block per game. He also made his fair share of highlight reels due to his ability to throw down spectacular dunks. All of that is certainly impressive, but it can be argued that Gordon is somewhat of a one-dimensional player.
The 6'9", 225-pound Gordon is comparable to Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin, except he is a long way from reaching that level. Gordon's body is nowhere near as developed as Griffin, and he won't be able to dominate his competition in the paint like Griffin does.
Griffin doesn't have a good shot from the field or the free-throw line, but he is so imposing physically that he is able to thrive in spite of that.
Gordon shot a miserable 42 percent from the charity stripe as a college freshman, and while Matt Dery of New Detroit Sports 105.1 loves his potential, it is clear that he needs to add more to his offensive game as well:
Aaron Gordon is a baller. Can defend all five positions. Just needs a jumper and he's gonna be awesome. Future Piston?— Matt Dery (@dery1051) March 30, 2014
Being a poor shooter won't necessarily prevent Gordon from being a great NBA player, but it will make things far more difficult. Although Gordon may not fall outside the top 10, being taken in the latter part of the top 10 would still be considered a slide due to the fact that he was mentioned in the same breath as Wiggins and Parker entering the 2013-14 season.
Few players in the history of college basketball were as good for as long as Creighton's Doug McDermott. The 6'8" forward went against the grain by deciding to stay in school for all four years. He ended his collegiate career as one of the most prolific scorers in NCAA history, and while that may appeal to some teams, becoming a great scorer at the NBA level is a totally different animal.
McDermott averaged 22.9 points per game or better in each of his final three seasons at Creighton. He did so due to his great shot first and foremost, but he was also deceptively athletic and strong in the post. At the same time, McDermott didn't face a particularly high level of competition in the Missouri Valley Conference nor the revamped Big East Conference.
Going from that level to the NBA is a massive jump that could prove shocking to McDermott. He will no longer be able to manhandle and embarrass his opponents, and he'll have to work for each and every basket. He isn't necessarily incapable of excelling, but his ordinary showing against an athletically gifted squad like Baylor in his final college game may have been a precursor of things to come.
McDermott is the type of player who has a fairly high floor in that he won't bust and become a useless player, but his ceiling isn't as high as that of other players. According to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, former NBA head coach Stan Van Gundy worries about McDermott being a defensive liability at the next level.
He's a college four-man. Size-wise, you would think he would have to be an (NBA) three-man. I don't know who he is going to be able to guard in the NBA. I don't know if he can guard three's or fours. He'll certainly be an NBA player and a good one, but his ceiling could be a back-up type guy.
McDermott could very well be an excellent bench player in the NBA, and there is definite value in that. Unfortunately, teams may not be willing to spend a lottery pick on that.
After dominating the talent-laden ACC in 2013-14, conventional wisdom suggests that NC State forward T.J. Warren should be under consideration for one of the top picks in the NBA draft. As good as Warren was as a sophomore, though, there are definite deficiencies in his game that could prevent him from becoming a great NBA player.
Which player is most likely to slide in the first round of the NBA draft?
With averages of 25 points and seven rebounds per game, Warren was among the most productive players in college basketball this past season. Warren was also an efficient scorer with a field-goal percentage of 52.5 percent. That number is certainly impressive, but it could have been far better.
Warren actually shot over 62 percent from the field as a freshman due to the fact that most of his attempts occurred near the rim. Warren attempted to increase his range and attempted over three trifectas per game. Unfortunately, Warren wasn't a particularly strong shooter from that distance.
He shot 26.7 percent from long range, and Seth Davis of CBS Sports believes that he must improve in that regard at the NBA level:
NC State announces TJ Warren will enter the NBA draft. Has potential at next level but needs to improve his long range shooting.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) April 8, 2014
Making shots from downtown won't get any easier for Warren in the NBA, so there is some concern about the sustainability of his scoring. Since he won't be able to dominate NBA opposition around the basket like he did in college, Warren will most likely drop out of the lottery.
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