The 2014 NBA draft is going to produce plenty of star power. The tough part for front offices around the league is separating the hype from reality in order to avoid selecting one of the few busts that always emerge in every class.
Although most of the focus has been on the top three picks, the depth extends well beyond that point. In fact, even teams making their pick in the latter stages of Round 1 should be able to find a player ready to make a bench impact sooner rather than later.
It should make for an interesting night for fanbases around the league. Let's check out all of the important details for the marquee offseason event, followed by a breakdown of the consensus top trio of prospects and where they may land.
Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York
When: Thursday, June 26 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Predicting Top Picks
Embiid was in the running to become the first overall selection before suffering a foot injury. Now his draft stock is very much up in the air. Furthermore, it's likely going to force the Philadelphia 76ers to make a tough decision, as Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick notes:
76ers hurt worst by the Embiid news. They already stashed Noel for a year, now they likely won't get Wiggins or Parker.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 19, 2014
With Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker the probable first two picks, Philadelphia must decide whether to take the talented Kansas center despite the injury concerns, go in a different direction or potentially trade the pick to a team willing to take the risk in exchange for other assets.
Ultimately, taking a chance on Embiid is the right move, since the 76ers also own the 10th pick. They can get an instant-impact player there and wait on the center to get healthy. The combination of Embiid and Nerlens Noel in the post has a huge amount of upside—health willing.
Prediction: No. 3 to Philadelphia 76ers
If Parker played even average defense he would likely be the consensus top overall selection. He's struggled to find his niche defensively, however, in part due to his lack of length. It's an area where he hasn't shown a major effort to improve, either, at least not so far.
Yet he's still one of the best players available because he's a truly special scorer. The Duke product has showcased the ability to score in virtually every way possible. It's that offensive talent which will make him a major asset. And he has high expectations, as he laid out in a piece for Sports Illustrated:
I realize how much of a privilege and an honor it is to join the ranks of the NBA. I will do everything in my power to help deliver championships to the franchise that drafts me. At the same time, I recognize the obligation to represent the league in an admirable way off the court.
Whether it's in the post, attacking the rim off the dribble or from beyond the arc, he's going to find a way to light up the scoreboard. That's exactly the type of player the Milwaukee Bucks need after lacking efficiency on the offensive end last season. It's an ideal fit.
Prediction: No. 2 to Milwaukee Bucks
The difference between the top prospects is minimal. So while Wiggins goes No. 1 in this scenario, it's hardly a lock given the number of possibilities on the table. That said, he's probably the most well-rounded player available this year.
Which 2014 prospect is closest to a sure thing?
He needs to bulk up, but his combination of length, athleticism and ability on both ends of the floor is a rare package for a player of his age. If his new coaching staff can get him to develop more of a mean streak, there's nothing stopping him from becoming a serious force at the next level.
The Cleveland Cavaliers already have one building block in Kyrie Irving and shouldn't give up on Anthony Bennett despite his poor rookie campaign. Adding Wiggins would give them more reason for optimism, and the light at the end of the rebuilding tunnel would finally come into focus.
Prediction: No. 1 to Cleveland Cavaliers