NBA Draft 2014: Top 5 Prospects at Every Position

Daniel O'BrienFeatured ColumnistMay 19, 2014

NBA Draft 2014: Top 5 Prospects at Every Position

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    With all of the big names declared and the NBA Draft Combine complete, it's time to update the top five 2014 draft prospects at every position.

    The backcourt doesn't lack talent by any means, but the small forward and power forward positions are stacked. Who just made the cut, and how did we narrow down our top five?

    Just as the overall draft rankings and projections have changed since the winter, the hierarchy at each position has taken different shape.

    We broke down each position and ranked the prospects according to how productive and successful they'll be in the Association.

    Who are the top studs at each spot on the floor? Read on to find out.

     

    NCAA statistics courtesy of Sports-Reference.com/CBB. International statistics courtesy of FIBA.com and DraftExpress.comCombine measurements courtesy of NBA.com database (height with shoes rounded up/down).

No. 5 Point Guard: Shabazz Napier, Connecticut

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Vitals: 22 years old, 6'1", 175 pounds, 6'3.25" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats: 35.1 MPG, 18.0 PPG, 4.9 APG, 5.9 RPG, 43% FG, 41% 3FG

    After a brilliant career at Connecticut, highly decorated point guard Shabazz Napier will bring his playmaking skills and competitive leadership to the NBA.

    But how effective will he be?

    The diminutive floor general cracks our top-five point guard rankings because he possesses the advanced skills required to create North-South and East-West along with shot-making prowess. When he earns opportunities, he'll put opposing defenses on their heels and serve as a crafty quarterback.

    However, Napier will face an uphill battle from a physical standpoint throughout his career. He measured 6'1" with shoes on at the combine, so he'll routinely face difficult matchups as a slasher and defender, as there's a huge crop of big guards that will prevent him from enjoying stardom in the league.

    That being said, his worst-case scenario has him looking like a rock-solid backup.

No. 4 Point Guard: Elfrid Payton, Lousiana Lafayette

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Vitals: 20 years old, 6'4", 185 pounds, 6'8" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats: 35.9 MPG, 19.2 PPG, 5.9 APG, 6.0 RPG, 2.3 SPG, 51% FG, 26% 3FG

    Mid-major dark horse Elfrid Payton didn't participate in the skills portion of the combine, but his 6'8" wingspan served as an eye-popping reminder of his physical tools.

    That expansive reach, coupled with playmaking instincts on both ends of the floor, makes Payton an intriguing prospect who could become a dangerous asset. Ever since he played for Team USA's U19 squad last summer, the Louisiana-Lafayette standout has been on scouts' radars.

    Given his size, quickness and nose for the ball, he should be a prolific perimeter defender who can guard both backcourt spots. On the other end, his ability to penetrate and finish deftly will establish opportunities for him to score and distribute.

    USA Basketball men's team director Sean Ford told Sports Illustrated's Jeremy Woo that improved jump-shooting is the key to Payton becoming an all-around threat: "To be successful in the NBA you have to open yourself up to more options offensively, and shooting would really help him tremendously."

    If he can polish his jumper, he could start and excel in the Association.

No. 3 Point Guard: Tyler Ennis, Syracuse

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Vitals: 19 years old, 6'2", 182 pounds, 6'7.25" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats: 35.7 MPG, 12.9 PPG, 5.5 APG, 2.1 SPG, 41% FG, 35% 3FG

    A quick glance at Tyler Ennis' 2013-14 stats does not really explain why he ranks third among all point guards in this class.

    What the numbers don't tell you is that he displayed veteran-like court awareness as a freshman at Syracuse, patiently surveying the court and keeping opponents off balance with hesitation moves and deceptive quickness.

    For the past few months, no one doubted his potential to make the right decisions at the helm of an NBA offense. However, there were questions about his athleticism prior to the draft combine.

    In Chicago, he eased the concerns with a 36-inch max vertical leap and solid performances in both the lane agility drill (11.12 seconds) and three-quarter-court sprint (3.30 seconds). General managers won't have to worry about him being a defensive liability.

    Jeff Goodman of ESPN told Sirius XM NBA Radio that "Ennis is a starting PG on a bad team, backup on a good one," and that he's "D.J. Augustin-ish." That doesn't sound phenomenal, but it should translate to double-digit scoring and efficient passing numbers.

No. 2 Point Guard: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Vitals: 20 years old, 6'3", 227 pounds, 6'9.25" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats: 32.7 MPG, 18.0 PPG, 4.8 APG, 5.9 RPG, 2.9 SPG, 42% FG, 30% 3FG

    Nearly everyone, including myself, has already spent much of the winter and spring lamenting Marcus Smart's decision to stay at Oklahoma State for his sophomore season.

    But once you acknowledge the inconsistent shooting and overzealous acts of frustration, you realize he's still a terrific prospect and one of the best point men available in the draft.

    While he won't get drafted as high as he would have in 2013, he did improve his scoring numbers, assist-to-turnover ratio (1.8) and field-goal percentage. Smart is an aggressive, attacking guard who will likely become a better passer if he's not forced to carry a team offensively.

    And defensively, he's going to be a nightmare. In addition to his stingy mentality and 227-pound frame, he owns a 6'9" wingspan and, as noted by ESPN Stats & Info, recorded a superior lane agility time (10.82 seconds) to that of Russell Westbrook, John Wall and Chris Paul.

No. 1 Point Guard: Dante Exum, Australia

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Vitals: 18 years old, 6'6", 196 pounds, 6'9.5" wingspan

    2013 Stats (U19 Worlds): 29.6 MPG, 18.2 PPG, 3.8 APG, 3.6 RPG, 45% FG, 33% 3FG

    No matter how you look at it, Australia's Dante Exum is clearly the top point guard in the 2014 class. 

    He's got youth on his side. He has abundant size and athleticism. He's got star-like creativity and instincts. And most importantly, he possesses a maturity that surpasses most 18-year-olds and the moxie to become a leader in the NBA.

    Exum's ceiling, if he attains it, is extraordinarily high. With the size to play multiple positions on both sides of the ball, he will be a coach's dream from a versatility standpoint.

    A huge X-factor in him reaching his long-term potential is his perimeter accuracy. We didn't get to see him shoot at the combine, so only in team workouts will he reveal how much he's improved in this area.

    Either way, he'll be the first point guard plucked on June 26.

No. 5 Shooting Guard: P.J. Hairston, Texas Legends

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    Gary Dineen/Getty Images

    Vitals: 21 years old, 6'5", 229 pounds, 6'9" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats: 32.3 MPG, 21.8 PPG, 1.5 SPG, 45% FG, 36% 3FG

    Less than a year after P.J. Hairston's off-the-court shenanigans and eventual dismissal from UNC's squad, he's approaching the 2014 draft with favorable stock.

    He's highly valued, even in a deep group of wings, because he absolutely bombarded opponents from deep in the D-League. When Hairston got hot, he could hit a half-dozen or more triples and then capitalize off the dribble when defenses overcompensated on close-outs.

    The former Tar Heel boasts a sturdy, athletic frame in addition to his fluid shooting stroke. He's not lightning-quick, but he's certainly ready for the physicality and verticality of the NBA. 

    More importantly, it seems like he's truly learned from his mistakes and grown a lot during the past few months. Check out some of his polished pre-draft interviews.

No. 4 Shooting Guard: James Young, Kentucky

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Vitals: 18 years old, 6'7", 213 pounds, 7'0" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats: 32.4 MPG, 14.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 41% FG, 35% 3FG

    Although he didn't put up gaudy shooting numbers at Kentucky and is rather raw off the bounce, James Young is one of those guys who passes the eye test and has truckloads of potential.

    With his 7'0" wingspan, he can shoot over foes beyond the arc and finish among the towers in the paint. Young's smooth delivery was lethal at times for the Wildcats, and it will likely be even more valuable in the pros.

    Jeremy Bauman of SheridanHoops.com explained how Young could grow into a standout off-guard:

    He clearly has a natural release on his jump shot, which should continue to gain range as he adds strength and, hopefully, better habits...With even more space and even better playmakers in the NBA, I expect Young to excel as a scorer both slashing to the rim and from the perimeter. If he has the heart and basketball IQ to continue to learn to play solid defense, he could become a very valuable two-way player.

    He might be one of the more unrefined and one-dimensional wings taken in the first round, but his promising future is enough to grab the No. 4 spot in our 2-guard hierarchy.

No. 3 Shooting Guard: Zach LaVine, UCLA

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Vitals: 19 years old, 6'6", 181 pounds, 6'8.25" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats: 24.4 MPG, 9.4 PPG, 1.8 APG, 44% FG, 38% 3FG

    Speaking of high ceilings...

    During 2013-14, UCLA's Zach LaVine supplied head-turning athleticism, and he did so in small doses as a freshman reserve. Naturally, we were somewhat hesitant to give him glowing grades entering the draft due to limited playing time.

    But after his exploits at the combine, we're more comfortable with boosting his draft value. Not only did he shoot fluidly from all spots on the floor, but he also exploded for a 41.5-inch max vertical and the best lane agility time of the entire class (10.42 seconds).

    His combo-guard potential is exciting due to his speed and open-floor scoring talent, but there's no guarantee that he will become a polished playmaker. LaVine must tighten up his ball-handling repertoire and learn the intricacies of the game.

    For now, he's a thrilling 2-guard who will shine in transition and stretch the floor.

No. 2 Shooting Guard: Gary Harris, Michigan State

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Vitals: 19 years old, 6'4", 205 pounds, 6'6.75" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats: 32.3 MPG, 16.7 PPG, 2.7 APG, 4.0 RPG 43% FG, 35% 3FG

    If there's anything we learned from Gary Harris' two years at Michigan State, it's that he's talented on both ends of the floor. If there's anything we learned from the combine, it's that he'll be using those talents in a less-than-ideal frame in the NBA. 

    He measured 6'2.5" in socks and 6'4.5" with shoes while also registering a 6'6.75" wingspan in Chicago. That's below average for shooting guards, and it's not really what lottery-range executives wanted to see.

    Nevertheless, Harris will hold his own because he can score in myriad ways. His shooting skills are enhanced by his penchant for getting open, and he can also drive the lane. On defense, he'll exhibit terrific footwork and awareness, but those small measurements don't translate to versatility on that end.

    He may not be the No. 1 shooting guard in the class anymore, but he surrendered that title to a worthy rival.

No. 1 Shooting Guard: Nik Stauskas, Michigan

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    Kiichiro Sato/Associated Press

    Vitals: 20 years old, 6'6", 207 pounds, 6'7.75" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats: 35.6 MPG, 17.5 PPG, 3.3 APG, 47% FG, 44% 3FG

    Don't think of it as Gary Harris losing the No. 1 spot; think of it as Nik Stauskas earning it.

    The Michigan marksman has all the qualities a coach looks for in a shooting guard, including mid-range creativity, an ability to attack the rim and top-tier passing skills. His NBA coach can employ him in several ways, including as an initiator of the offense.

    Stauskas talked to CSN Philly's Dei Lynam about his multidimensional usefulness:

    I can be a guy who immediately stretches the floor and make shots. That is something I have always been able to do. But I think teams are going to be surprised when I have the ball in my hands, the plays that I can make for myself and others. I just feel I am a guy with a high IQ. I really like to make the right play out there.

    Stauskas also measured well and delivered great results during the athletic testing portion of the combine, which means he could be competent on defense in the Association.

    Given his body of work at Michigan and favorable pre-draft measurements, don't be surprised if he is drafted somewhere in the top 10.

No. 5 Small Forward: T.J. Warren, N.C. State

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Vitals: 20 years old, 6'8", 220 pounds, 6'10.25" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats: 35.4 MPG, 24.9 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 53% FG, 27% 3FG

    The small forward position in 2014 is absurdly stacked.

    In a group that included the likes of K.J. McDaniels, Cleanthony Early and Kyle Anderson, N.C. State's T.J. Warren emerged to grab the hotly contested No 5. spot.

    He can simply get buckets better than those contenders. In the right system, he could be a highly productive secondary scoring option because he possesses elite instincts and deft touch around the basket.

    The ACC's top points-getter made it look easy at times in 2013-14, even without a consistent outside shot. If he can sharpen up in that area, he'll be a starting-caliber wing who can take advantage of nearly any defensive miscue.

    He didn't make much noise at the combine, but that's all right; combine drills aren't able to quantify his intangibles and scoring prowess anyway.

No. 4 Small Forward: Rodney Hood, Duke

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Vitals: 21 years old, 6'8", 208 pounds, 6'8.5" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats: 32.9 MPG, 16.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 2.1 APG, 46% FG, 42% 3FG

    As talented as T.J. Warren is, he doesn't have Rodney Hood's sweet-shooting touch. Duke's stud transfer torched the nets all season, as he converted on countless spot-up jumpers and dribble-up three-pointers.

    Despite being in the shadow of Jabari Parker for most of the season, he managed to carve out his own draft identity and value. He was able to make the right plays and hit big shots within the natural course of Duke's offense, but he also generated buckets when the team needed it.

    Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com said that Hood upped his stock by fully participating in the combine. "I think Rodney Hood helped himself by playing here," Givony opined. "(He's) shown a very high skill level. Probably moves ahead of few guys that decided not to play."

    There's no real substitute for advanced skills. Hood may not be the shiniest small forward in the bunch, but he has the skills.

No. 3 Small Forward: Doug McDermott, Creighton

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Vitals: 22 years old, 6'8", 218 pounds, 6'9.25" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats: 33.7 MPG, 26.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 53% FG, 45% 3FG

    Doug McDermott turned in a mix bag of results at the combine; his athletic tests went well (36.5-inch vertical; 11.1-second lane agility time), but he also measured an underwhelming 6'7.75" in shoes.

    Those numbers are good to know from a matchup perspective next year, but they don't change his status as the third-best small forward in this group.

    What's more impressive than his collegiate statistics is the way he approaches every possession. He's a master at finding field-goal opportunities, even when defenses are targeting him—and it doesn't hurt that he owns exemplary footwork, a swift shooting release and in-the-arena range.

    His minutes and production in the NBA will ultimately depend on where he lands. Can his coach utilize him defensively and minimize his shortcomings?

No. 2 Small Forward: Jabari Parker, Duke

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    Bob Leverone/Associated Press

    Vitals: 19 years old, 6'8", 241 pounds, 7'0" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats: 30.7 MPG, 19.1 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 47% FG, 36% 3FG

    Although we're listing him as our second-best small forward, Jabari Parker could still be in play for the No. 1 overall pick in June; he's still in the thick of that discussion.

    He didn't attend the combine, and while that's disappointing, it shouldn't come as a shock. Parker's inside-out skill set and pro-ready physique did enough persuading throughout the season.

    If you followed his freshman campaign at all, you know he's the most polished underclassman of the bunch. He'll probably churn out better statistics than Andrew Wiggins next season and win Rookie of the Year honors.

    However, we slotted him second in this group because he doesn't project to be as much of a defensive force. In fact, Parker may have trouble keeping up with the quicker wings and contesting the springier, longer power forwards.

    If he does fall to No. 2 or No. 3 in the draft, though, his club will get outstanding value for that pick.

No. 1 Small Forward: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Vitals: 19 years old, 6'8", 200 pounds, 7'0" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats: 32.8 MPG, 17.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 44% FG, 34% 3FG

    Andrew Wiggins edged out Jabari Parker at the top of the the small forward mountain due to his incredibly lofty potential and greater defensive talent.

    The viral photo of his max vertical vividly displayed his jaw-dropping athleticism, but it doesn't tell the whole story of his physical tools. It's not always about how high he jumps; sometimes it's about how quickly he can get off the floor, his blinding first step or his midair agility.

    Then you must factor in his ball skills, which include a raw but encouraging handle and a dangerous outside jumper.

    His "feel for the game" gets a bad reputation because he didn't totally fit into the Kansas offense and coasted during some games. Wiggins must certainly show more consistent aggression than what we saw in college, but if he winds up with the right team a lot of his perceived question marks will take care of themselves.

No. 5 Power Forward: Adreian Payne, Michigan State

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    Young Kwak/Associated Press

    Vitals: 23 years old, 6'10", 239 pounds, 7'4" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats: 28.1 MPG, 16.4 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 50% FG, 42% 3FG

    Adreian Payne's placement at No. 5 illustrates how rich the power forward position is this year.

    As a senior at Michigan State, he continually showcased a knack for finishing forcefully above the rim and connecting from long range.

    Despite battling mononucleosis for the past few months, his stock remains robust entering the home stretch of the predraft phase. Scouts and analysts love his smart play and leadership in addition to his measurables.

    Brian Hamilton of Sports Illustrated explained how Payne's length fortifies his stock:

    Payne was pretty much as expected at the combine: Nearly 6'10" in shoes, weighing 239 pounds...and boasting the third-longest wingspan (7'4") among participants in Chicago. He didn't take part in the physical testing, but those numbers alone reconfirmed the value that has Payne coming off the board as early as the late lottery: A stretch power forward who will be able to hold his own on the glass and guard his position defensively.

    In a small-ball league, he could become one of the best young stretch-4s.

No. 4 Power Forward: Dario Saric, Croatia

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    Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press

    Vitals: 20 years old, 6'10", 223 pounds, 6'10" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats (Adriatic League): 32.9 MPG, 16.7 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 3.2 APG, 50% FG, 35% 3FG

    Dario Saric's final audition before the NBA was a grand one, as he earned MVP honors in Cibona's 2013-14 Adriatic League championship.

    His ability to handle the ball, pass and shoot fluidly at 6'10" is impressive, and he also competes hard for the boards. Calling him a "power forward" isn't really fair, because he's more of a "stretch-point-forward."

    It's difficult to pinpoint how he'll translate to the explosiveness of the NBA, but he gave everyone some food for thought when he explained that he's more polished than his stateside peers. After his Adriatic title, he told Draftexpress.com's Jonathan Givony that "all guys that are in this draft, Parker, Wiggins, etc. would not be able to do with this team, what I did this season."

    Let's hope he finally crosses the ocean so we can see his versatility firsthand.

No. 3 Power Forward: Aaron Gordon, Arizona

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Vitals: 18 years old, 6'9", 220 pounds, 6'11.75" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats: 31.2 MPG, 12.4 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 50% FG, 36% 3FG

    Arizona's Aaron Gordon has two important pieces to the NBA puzzle already in place: elite explosiveness and a mature demeanor. The elusive third piece is refined skill, which he's obviously working on.

    It's almost as if the combine was tailored to highlight his phenomenal combination of size and springs. No other 6'9", 220-pound player in Chicago posted guard-esque results like Gordon.

    We know he's going to rebound, thrive in transition and defend magnificently. We also know he'll make heads-up plays, with or without the ball. What we don't know is how well he'll shoot from anywhere on the court. 

    In pre-combine media sessions, Gordon discussed his rigid shooting, which included a 42 percent free-throw shooting rate. Utah Jazz radio man David Locke tweeted: "Gordon admitted (his) shot was all askew. Said he was shooting one shot from (three-point range), another from 15 and another at the free-throw line. Trying to streamline it."

    Best of luck to his opponents if he figures things out in that department.

No. 2 Power Forward: Julius Randle, Kentucky

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    Julius Randle
    Julius RandleAssociated Press

    Vitals: 19 years old, 6'9", 250 pounds, 7'0" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats: 30.8 MPG, 15.0 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 50% FG

    Of all the studs who made our top-five power rankings, Kentucky's Julius Randle is the one who resembles most closely a prototypical 4-man.

    He seeks out contact with his 250-pound frame, and his quick footwork and nose for the ball do the rest. Randle has the speed to face up and drive past opponents along with the strength to spar in the paint.

    You would think his Final Four run would cement him as the top power forward in the class, but it's not the case.

    When he irons out his shooting and low-post execution, he'll flirt with stardom, but for now the top spot goes to someone even more physically impressive.

No. 1 Power Forward: Noah Vonleh, Indiana

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    USA Today
    USA TodayUSA TODAY Sports

    Vitals: 18 years old, 6'9", 247 pounds, 7'4.25" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats: 26.5 MPG, 11.3 PPG, 9.0 RPG 52% FG, 49% 3FG

    Rounding out our exciting group of power forwards is an unbelievable specimen with promising skills.

    As if his grandiose wingspan and nearly foot-long hand width weren't enough, Noah Vonleh had to show off and catapult his 247-pound body 37 inches into the air.

    His mobility, soft touch around the rim and rebounding skills make him a prime double-double candidate in the NBA. Vonleh also has stretch-4 potential, as he flashed some three-point range while at Indiana. On the other side of the ball, he's got nice shot-blocking talent but must learn overall defensive discipline.

    As he gets more comfortable making reads and getting to the right spots quickly, his production will be more consistent. Vonleh's upside is squarely in the All-Star neighborhood.

No. 5 Center: Alec Brown, Wisconsin-Green Bay

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    Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

    Vitals: 21 years old, 7'1", 231 pounds, 7'1.5" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats: 30.3 MPG, 15.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG 3.1 BPG, 48% FG, 42% 3FG

    The best mid-major big man in the draft is also the best shooting center in the class.

    Wisconsin-Green Bay's Alec Brown arrived at the NBA Draft Combine with little to no fanfare, but he caught the attention of scouts and analysts with his crisp jump shot.

    Brown sank a whopping 18-of-25 NBA-range triples, and he also nailed 21-of-25 from 15 feet. Talk about a pick-and-pop weapon.

    He was technically a mid-major product, but the video evidence reveals he could have played for most upper-echelon NCAA programs. In a few short weeks, an NBA club will look past his small-school status and plug his shooting into its roster.

No. 4 Center: Jordan Bachynski, Arizona State

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Vitals: 24 years old, 7'2", 254 pounds, 7'4" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats: 30.9 MPG, 11.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG 4.0 BPG, 55% FG

    Likely the tallest player to be selected on draft night, Arizona State's Jordan Bachynski enters the NBA with the expectation to block shots and make opposing pivot men work tirelessly.

    He registered good numbers during the athletic testing at the combine, which is a good sign for his transition game and pick-and-roll offense. Defensively, he's poised to deter countless shots and reject others.

    B/R NBA Draft Lead Writer Jonathan Wasserman noted the tower's activity at the combine: "Jordan Bachynski looked good during run-the-floor big man drills. Contesting everything, shrinking the size of the rim defensively."

    Most of his offense must be spoon-fed to him, so he's not going to thrive too much in isolation on that end. Nevertheless, his imposing presence and nimble movements merit a spot on our center chart.

No. 3 Center: Artem Klimenko, Russia

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    Vitals: 20 years old, 7'1", 228 pounds, 7'4" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats (Russia): 23.1 MPG, 13.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 54% FG

    We ranked Russian center Artem Klimenko ahead of Alec Brown and Jordan Bachynski because he's younger and he possesses brighter two-way potential.

    He could be a dependable rotational post player if he adds another 15-20 pounds of muscle and makes modest upgrades to his low-block scoring moves. Klimenko already has the feel for where he needs to be offensively, as he's a terrific receiver in pick-and-rolls and secondary breaks.

    According to HoopsHype, he's agreed to a buyout with his Russian League team Avtodor, so it looks like his arrival is real and his draft stock is solid.

    There's always a hesitancy surrounding international big men, but Klimenko's end-to-end awareness will make it tough for him to be a bust.

No. 2 Center: Jusuf Nurkic, Bosnia

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    Vitals: 19 years old, 6'11", 280 pounds, 7'2" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats (Adriatic League): 16.6 MPG, 11.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 55% FG

    Bosnian big man Jusuf Nurkic needs to mature as a teammate and competitor, as he didn't see huge minutes for Cedevita of the Adriatic League.

    When you consider his per-minute production, though, you realize his long-term intrigue. He already has a back-to-the-basket game to pair with his thick build, and he can score deftly with either hand.

    Nurkic is not the quickest or bounciest center in the world, yet he's mobile enough to operate in pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop scenarios. He presents a big target and is often a size mismatch for small foes. An aggressive approach has yielded 5.6 free-throw attempts per night.

    Stardom is probably not in Nurkic's future, but his unique size and skill will make him a valuable draft pick and a critical role player in a couple of years.

No. 1 Center: Joel Embiid, Kansas

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Vitals: 20 years old, 7'0", 240 pounds, 7'5" wingspan

    2013-14 Stats: 23.1 MPG, 11.2 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.6 BPG, 63% FG

    After Joel Embiid skipped the combine, questions about his bad back resurfaced. It's tough to tell whether his absence was based more on agent caution or legitimate health concerns.

    It's an issue for the clubs in position to pick him. They don't want to draft an injury-prone bust, but they also don't want to pass on perhaps the draft's best prospect. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders said that NBA executives "point to Embiid's back as a red flag in this decision."

    Even with all of the uncertainty regarding his back, Embiid is still far and away the best center in this class.

    If he can stay out of the trainer's room, he'll be a monstrous chore for all challengers. His rapidly developing footwork, high release and shot-blocking instincts were too much for the collegiate level, and in a few years the same will be said for the NBA.