LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan and Carmelo Anthony may be dominating the NBA now, but there will be a time when the next generation takes the torch. Given the amount of talent available in the 2014 draft, there is a very good chance some of those next superstars will hear their names called at the Barclays Center Thursday.
With that in mind, here is a look at some of the NBA draft basics and then a few first-round predictions.
NBA Draft Essentials
Date: Thursday, June 26
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Full Order of Picks:
|7||Los Angeles Lakers|
|21||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|28||Los Angeles Clippers|
|29||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|30||San Antonio Spurs|
Andrew Wiggins Picked Ahead Of Jabari Parker
Joel Embiid may end up being the first pick in the 2014 NBA draft despite his injury concerns, given his status as an elite athlete who also happens to be seven feet tall, but the names Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker have been linked together since before the 2013-14 college basketball campaign tipped off.
Wiggins and Parker played each other during the regular season, and everything they did was framed in the context of the upcoming draft. The thought here is that Wiggins gets picked ahead of Parker, even if it is only by one spot.
Wiggins simply brings better two-way upside to the table. He is incredibly athletic, which helps him get to the rim, rebound, explode past defenders off the bounce, finish in impressive aerial displays at the basket and dart into passing lanes on the defensive end. He can score from the outside or on the block and will be the centerpiece of whichever team drafts him.
Who would you rather have?
Still, Parker may be the better offensive prospect.
The Duke product can score from anywhere on the floor, including on the post, and is a terrific rebounder. Plus, playing under Mike Krzyzewski means he is one of the most polished prospects heading into the draft, even if he was only in college one season.
Yet it is Wiggins’ defense and athleticism that separates him in terms of NBA potential. With players like Kawhi Leonard and Paul George making waves with their ability to defend some of the league’s best players, defense is highly valued. Wiggins will fill that role at the next level much better than Parker.
C.J. Wilcox Sneaks Into The First Round
C.J. Wilcox was under the radar for most of the college basketball season because he played up in the Pacific Northwest, but someone in the middle or late first round with a pass-first point guard or high-scoring penetrator will gobble up the Washington product.
He is a deadeye three-point shooter who is never afraid to hoist it from long range and scored nearly 20 points a night last season. The three-point shot is so much more common in the NBA than it used to be (anyone catch the San Antonio Spurs in the Finals?), and there is plenty of value for a high-volume shooter like Wilcox who will make defenders pay for helping elsewhere.
Especially when that prospect can also play defense and contribute on the boards.
Wilcox may not be on the radar of many fans, but NBA scouts are paying attention, via Doug Haller of Azcentral.com:
ASU coach Herb Sendek recently told reporters a Pac-12 player NBA scouts are asking him about is Washington's C.J. Wilcox.— Doug Haller (@DougHaller) June 14, 2014
Elfrid Payton Is The First Point Guard Taken After Dante Exum And Marcus Smart
Dante Exum and Marcus Smart are going to be taken in the top 10 in all likelihood, but there are plenty of other point guards available in this draft.
Still, Elfrid Payton will be taken ahead of more established power conference names like Tyler Ennis, Shabazz Napier and Spencer Dinwiddie. Payton, who played at Louisiana-Lafayette, just has a higher ceiling as an all-around NBA player, not just as a floor general.
He was the only player in all of Division I who averaged at least 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals a night, but it’s not just his statistics that jump out. Payton’s speed will be incredibly difficult to contain, especially when he is on the fast break, and his passing prowess and ability to play above the rim at 6’3” will lead to easy opportunities.
He is also a terrific defender, as evidenced by his Lefty Driesell Defensive Player of the Year Award, who stays in front of ball-handlers with his quickness and wingspan.
There is a level of self-confidence as well, which is critical at the NBA level, via Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated:
I always felt kind of underrated -- nothing is wrong with that. But I always tried to play with a chip on my shoulder. It was all about trying to prove to them and also to myself that I can play on that level. I always thought I could, but it was all about going out there and showing it.
There is definitely room in the NBA for a point guard with that kind of fire.
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