In an era dominated by star power, the San Antonio Spurs set the new standard by acquiring players willing to play team basketball. The question coming out of their NBA Finals destruction of the Miami Heat is whether their success will change the approach of other franchises.
The 2014 NBA draft represents the first opportunity to see if there's any notable shift in philosophy. Perhaps players who were previously overlooked will get another glance. More likely, however, teams will continue to take the perceived best player available and hope he fits in the system.
As a whole, this year's draft class is one of the deepest in years, with plenty of instant-impact prospects available. It should make for an interesting night with plenty of wheeling and dealing. Let's check out where to watch the action along with a look at some of the best players on the board.
Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York
When: Thursday, June 26 at 7 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Embiid is an interesting case. Viewed as a raw talent when he arrived at Kansas, he showcased some serious potential during his short stay with the Jayhawks. He then suffered a back injury, which forced him to miss the final stretch of last season, and a foot injury leading up to draft day.
He still doesn't have much experience against top competition. In turn, the development process will continue at the next level, and it's likely going to take a couple of seasons before he really starts to put everything together. He'll also be a little bit behind as he recovers from his foot ailment.
The combination of size and athleticism is off the charts, though. That's what intrigues the teams near the top of the draft, especially given the lack of reliable big men. And Embiid noted during the Finals that he's been watching one of the best ever as part of his preparation for the next level:
Embiid is not a sure thing given how much developing he still needs to do. His upside is the best in the class, though. There simply aren't many dominant post players, and that's what he should become if he remains on his current trajectory.
His development will be delayed 4-6 months due to the surgery required to fix his injured foot, according to ESPN.com. Chad Ford of ESPN.com (subscription needed) reported that, according to sources, Embiid is no longer in the running for the first or second overall pick.
Wiggins arrived at Kansas with plenty of hype. While there were nights when he looked like the next LeBron James or Kevin Durant ready to conquer the NBA, there were also plenty of games in which he failed to show the aggressiveness necessary to take over a game.
The task for whichever coaching staff lands him is getting him into a more game-changing mindset. They must convince him he can be the best player on the floor. If they can do that, his all-around game and his elite scoring ability will take care of the rest.
One other thing Wiggins must work on is adding bulk to his frame. He's got the same type of length as James and Durant, as illustrated in the measurements provided by Chad Ford, but he is 50 pounds lighter than James and 40 pounds lighter than Durant.
Not only would that size help add diversity to his game, but it would also help in terms of surviving the long grind that is the NBA season. Wiggins has all the tools to become a star at the next level, but there will probably be some growing pains as he learns his role as a leader.
Parker is another player who fits the mold of today's top players, although he's built better than Wiggins at this stage. He's a big, strong small forward with great scoring instincts who can also play in the post to give his new team some versatility.
He averaged more than 19 points per game during his only season at Duke. He did it by overpowering opponents in the post, attacking the rim off the dribble and knocking down outside shots. On that end of the court, there's very little he can't do.
The questions come on the defensive end. He doesn't have the quickness to defend the top small forwards, and he lacks the length to defend the top power forwards. He'll really have to work with his new coaching staff on technique to overcome those concerns.
If Parker can get to a point where he's simply an average or slightly above-average defender, his offensive game will be enough to overshadow any weakness on that end. He's ready to become a team's top offensive option right out of the gate.
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