Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker are the headline-makers heading into the 2014 NBA draft, but what about the guys who will get them the ball in the offense?
There are plenty of talented playmakers on the perimeter available, and one may even hear his name called before the aforementioned triumvirate.
Perimeter player is admittedly a loose term. It could mean point guards and shooting guards only, it could include stretch forwards who dominate both college basketball and the NBA in today’s game, and it could even include some of the big men who shoot three-pointers.
For the purpose of this exercise, we are going to limit it to strictly guards. Otherwise, we would be breaking down seemingly everyone except for Embiid and Julius Randle. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top perimeter threats available in the 2014 draft as well as some of the important information about the actual draft.
NBA Draft Basics
Date: June 26
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Full Order of Picks:
|2014 NBA Draft Order|
|7||Los Angeles Lakers|
|21||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|28||Los Angeles Clippers|
|29||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|30||San Antonio Spurs|
Top Perimeter Players
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
Marcus Smart posted an up-and-down 2013-14 campaign for Oklahoma State.
His team found itself on the bubble for much of the year after astronomical expectations heading into the season, Smart was suspended for an incident with an opposing fan, he wasn’t seen as the surefire top pick that he was the year before, and the Cowboys lost early in March Madness.
Still, it’s not like all that talent is going anywhere.
Smart may be the best perimeter defender in the entire draft, which is imperative for a number of teams that value that side of the ball. His lateral speed and quick hands give opposing ball-handlers plenty of trouble, which can lead to easy baskets on the other end.
Smart also has the potential to be a solid three-point shooter if he limits his attempts to open looks.
He can create off the dribble and finish at the rim, and he has the versatility to play either the shooting guard or point guard spot. Look for Smart to be an instant contributor for whichever team selects him early in the draft.
Dante Exum, Australia
Dante Exum didn’t grace television screens across the country during March Madness as he was busy lighting it up in Australia, but American fans are gradually becoming more familiar with his game in the predraft process.
He is an incredible ball-handler who can slice through opposing defenses and find open teammates when those defenders collapse. What’s more, he has a smooth shooting stroke from the perimeter and can get to the rim with an explosive first step.
Chad Ford of ESPN pointed out that Exum’s measurables will do nothing to quiet the notions that he is a top-five pick:
Exum is a playmaking point guard who is tall enough to be a forward. There are probably just a few teams that could use someone like that.
Gary Harris, Michigan State
If a potential top-10 pick can be under the radar, Gary Harris has figured out a way to accomplish it.
He isn’t a flashy dunker and played alongside Adreian Payne and Keith Appling in college, but he still found a way to be incredibly productive in Tom Izzo’s system. In fact, Harris became only the third Michigan State player to score more than 1,000 points in two seasons, joining Mike Robinson and someone named Magic Johnson.
Harris also won Big Ten Freshman of the Year in his career and earned the good graces of Izzo in his decision to turn pro, via NBA.com:
"Not only do I fully support and celebrate Gary's decision, but after my information gathering process, I recommend it. I expect Gary to be a high pick in the draft, but more importantly, I know that he is well prepared for a long career."
Harris’ ideal fit would be somewhere with an attention-drawing penetrator to open up looks from behind the arc. Harris will certainly help the given player rack up assists with his pure stroke from three-point range, and he can also attack any open lanes if the defense is slow to rotate.
Harris, like most former Spartans, is also a solid defender, so the team that selects him will get much more than just a scoring threat.
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