It's time for all kinds of draft talk with the NBA lottery taking front and center stage as a variety of organizations look to change the course of recent history with one pick.
The 2014 class has solidified itself as one of the most hyped, but fans and teams won't find out for quite some time if it truly deserved all the attention.
That said, things certainly look good at the top. Before the official order is dished out, let's take another look at some of the top names to watch in the stock department.
Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
It's almost impossible to tell who the top overall pick will be come draft day, but it's safe to say the field has been narrowed to three: Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker.
There has not been much on the last two as of late in terms of stock fluctuation, but Wiggins is a different story. According to ESPN.com's Chad Ford, Wiggins has a firm grip on the top spot (subscription required):
Jabari Parker is the choice if they want someone who can help them win now. But I think the spot is still Wiggins' to lose. He's not the most NBA-ready, and he doesn't have the size or appeal of Embiid. But he has the highest upside of any of the Bucks and could be a monster on the floor next to Giannis Antetokounmpo.
In any other draft, Wiggins would probably be a lock, but the 2014 class is special. That's why it's significant to find out that Ford thinks he has the top spot on lock.
There's a lot to like about Wiggins, but if he can continue to distance himself in the court of public opinion, Ford's prediction may very well come to fruition. Wiggins is a stout defender, has great range and, overall, touts a skill set that makes him a complete package.
As far as stock goes, Wiggins just has to stay the course and it'll remain as high as it has ever been.
Dante Exum, Australia
Get ready—Dante Exum is the next global NBA superstar.
Even better, he may do so from the confines of Los Angeles, as it seems he wants to play for the Lakers. Per Ford, the Lakers have been "eyeing" the Australian star, but there's a chance he won't be on the board long.
Per Chris Mannix of SI.com, other teams aren't afraid to pull the trigger:
Exum has been working out in Los Angeles in preparation for the draft. There have been reports that Exum, who is represented by Kobe Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, may be angling for the Lakers to draft him. But two executives from lottery teams said that wouldn't stop them from drafting Exum if he's available. Scouts rave about the Australian's natural talent. Exum can play both guard spots, but his long-term future is likely at shooting guard.
Jessica Camerato of Basketball Insiders captured a quote from an NBA scout who explained the recent hype over Exum:
I have seen him play live a limited number of times, but I have to say that he’s really intriguing. He has a legitimate chance to go No. 1 in this draft. He’s that good. His upside is enormous. I won’t be surprised if he goes No. 1 on draft night. If we land the No. 1 pick, he’s a guy who we’re seriously going to look at.
It's likely a tough sell that Exum is only 18 years old and has not played against a matching level of competition to this point, but it's clear those in the know see a special player with a ton of upside.
This is good enough for NBA teams, especially if they miss out on Wiggins or other elite prospects. A few years down the line, don't look back and wonder how everyone missed Exum—because more and more folks are jumping on the bandwagon.
Adreian Payne, Michigan State
It is a popular caveat to knock Adreian Payne because he is 23 years old. But there will always be room in the NBA for a big man who can shoot from range, and the NBA world is beginning to come around to the fact that Payne is much better after staying an extra year in college.
CBS Sports' Gary Parrish, who mocks Payne No. 12 overall with the Orlando Magic, explains this notion well enough:
"It's rare for juniors who are projected as second-round picks to return to school and become lottery picks. But Payne, who could be a really good pick-and-pop forward, somehow beat the odds."
Payne morphed into an elite scorer as a senior and became a stretch forward who can knock down shots from any range. In today's NBA, which is asking more than ever of its bigs, Payne suddenly fits the perfect mold.
While it is rather simple to pigeonhole Payne as a finished product because of his age, his drastic improvement on a year-to-year basis suggests we haven't seen the best he has to offer just yet.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!