The 2014 NBA draft's top prospects will know their fates in the near future, and those teams selecting in the early portion of the draft lottery will work hard to develop those prospects into the pro players that they currently mirror.
This crop of prospects have some high projections. The current comparisons put their potential on par with perennial NBA All-Stars—some of which are even Hall of Famers. Now, there's no telling what the future holds. Many things can happen in five seasons. But the potential is definitely there for greatness with these young stars.
Here are my top three prospects along with their NBA comparisons.
Andrew Wiggins: Vince Carter/Rudy Gay
Andrew Wiggins will likely be the top overall selection, and for good reason. The youngster is one of the most NBA-ready talents in the class, and his ceiling is quite high. NBADraft.net compares his skills to that of Vince Carter and Rudy Gay.
Any team taking Wiggins will be happy to get a player with the potential to be Carter. In his prime, Carter was one of the most exciting athletes in the sport. He was a perennial All-Star and one of the most recognizable figures on and off the hardwood.
In the worst-case scenario, I see Wiggins becoming a player like Gay—and that's not half-bad.
Wiggins is athletically dominant and can shoot from all over the court. His ball-handling needs some work, as turnovers might become an issue at the next level, but that's easily correctable with NBA coaching.
Wiggins might not turn into the high-flyer that Carter was (and still is, apparently), but he'll have his fair share of highlight dunks.
Jabari Parker: Carmelo Anthony
Jabari Parker is the most NBA-ready scorer in the class, and I could easily see him having a big impact on his new team right out of training camp. NBADraft.net points to Carmelo Anthony as a comparison, and I think that's accurate on so many levels.
NBA legend Reggie Miller agrees:
"I can see how his game can translate to the next level. He reminds me of a Carmelo Anthony (at that time)." –Reggie Miller on Jabari Parker— TurnerSportsPR (@TurnerSportsPR) May 20, 2014
The fact that both players simply know how to put the ball in the basket is an obvious connection between the two, but even their versatility to play either forward position makes the two very similar. Anthony and Parker are both best used as small forwards given their skills, but the two are also capable of sliding over to power forward.
Anthony made his home at the 4 for most of this past season with the New York Knicks. Parker could do the same with his team.
Parker can score from absolutely anywhere on the floor. He can spot up and shoot over defenders, run in transition and score in the paint. He's an ideal fit for every system because of his offensive versatility.
Of course, there are some potential negatives as well. Neither Anthony or Parker are known for their defense. Parker has the length to improve over time, but if he becomes a player focused strictly on scoring, his defense will never be up to snuff.
Joel Embiid: Tim Duncan/Hakeem Olajuwon
In discussing the loss of the "traditional" center, David Aldridge of NBA.com revealed why Joel Embiid would be a welcome addition to nearly any team:
And yet, there isn't a team in the league outside of South Florida and central Oklahoma that wouldn't delight in adding a skilled big man around which it could build. Most big men still operate near the basket, and shoot extremely high-percentage shots, and keep the opposition from doing the same. That's why the big guys still matter, in a league that's increasingly in love with small ball, that values corner threes more than rebounds.
Embiid can certainly impact most NBA franchises for the better. NBADraft.net loves him so much that they even went on to compare him to two Hall of Fame-caliber players—Tim Duncan and Hakeem Olajuwon.
Duncan and Olajuwon are the reason why both the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets enjoyed—or currently enjoy, in the case of the Spurs—so much success. It seems crazy to put those kind of expectations on Embiid at this point, but the similarities are obvious.
He excels with his back to the basket and is a great rebounder. The 7-footer is long and not afraid to bump bodies down low. This will make him a force on the boards in the NBA.
Nobody is expecting Olajuwon-esque numbers in Year 1 from Embiid, but down the line, I don't think anyone would be surprised if he put them up.