Team executives and talent evaluators across the league are in scramble mode as they continue to try to narrow down their wish lists for the 2014 NBA draft.
While every draft has the potential for crazy trades and unforeseen selections, there is a general consensus that the top three picks this year will feature Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins. However, questions remain about the order.
Let’s take a look at the latest buzz surrounding the ultra-talented trio.
Cavs impressed by Embiid
Joel Embiid is a physical specimen. He is 7’0” and 240 pounds and had a very productive season at Kansas despite limited playing time. Although the 20-year-old played only 23.1 minutes and attempted six shots per game, he averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks on 62.6 percent shooting from the field.
The Cameroonian has a daunting 7’5” wingspan and uses his length as a game-changing presence around the rim. He has terrific footwork, a soft touch and an improving jumper. These attributes make him a tantalizing top prospect for the NBA, especially the Cleveland Cavaliers, who hold the draft’s No. 1 pick.
However, Embiid only played 28 games at Kansas and missed the conference and NCAA tournaments due to a stress fracture in his back. The former Jayhawk is supposed to be healthy, but teams will be extra cautious evaluating the big man, especially after Greg Oden’s knees failed him and spoiled his career.
According to Fox Sports’ Sam Amico, the Cavaliers worked out Embiid hard and there were no lingering back problems:
ESPN’s Chad Ford (subscription required) adds that Cleveland was extremely impressed by the center’s workout, but there are conflicting reports as to whether issues arose with his physical, per Ford’s latest mock draft:
Embiid's workout and interview in Cleveland last week were major successes, according to sources close to the Cavs. Embiid did a full workout there in front of the Cavs' front office and owner Dan Gilbert. Multiple sources said that the team was blown away with the workout. Embiid even ended one session by launching and nailing a series of 3s. Directly after the workout, two different sources told me that Embiid was the strong favorite to be drafted by the Cavs. Even Gilbert was on board.
However, there have been conflicting reports coming out of Cleveland about Embiid's physical, with one report stating the Cavs found multiple red flags. That's been strongly disputed by the sources I have, but getting accurate information this time of year is especially challenging. I don't see the incentive for the Cavs to leak that the physical was bad. It lessens the value of the No. 1 pick, especially considering that they are still looking at multiple trade options. The only way leaking it makes much sense is if they are thinking of swapping picks with the Sixers and want Embiid to fall to them there.
It will be interesting to see what the Cavaliers do with the No. 1 pick. They could trade it in hopes of securing a big-name free agent, they could roll the dice with Embiid and his sky-high potential, or they could opt for a slightly safer route in Wiggins or Parker.
Will Parker land in Milwaukee?
Jabari Parker is arguably the most skilled offensive player in the draft. He knows how to score—he averaged 19 points per game at Duke—and can do so in a variety of ways. He isn’t overly athletic, but he can find his way to the hoop, use his body well in the paint, hit mid-range jumpers and even connect from deep.
The 6’8” former Blue Devil has twice worked out for Milwaukee—which holds the second pick in the draft—per Ford:
The Bucks are in an intriguing position in the draft. They have worked out Embiid, Wiggins, Parker and Dante Exum and are impressed by those players and the unique skills each could bring to the team. In all likelihood, one of the aforementioned athletes will be chosen by Cleveland—presumably Embiid—leaving the Bucks with a tough decision between three of the draft’s best players.
According to Ford, Parker may be their top choice: "If Embiid is gone or if the physical is a problem, I believe Parker has the slight lead over Exum and Wiggins. Not only is Parker the most NBA-ready of the prospects, but the team was impressed with his maturity and desire to play in Milwaukee. But this one is still very much up in the air."
Parker would make for a nice fit in Milwaukee at the small forward position. The Bucks need another offensive threat in the lineup alongside Brandon Knight, and Parker has the ability to be a 20-point scorer right away.
Wiggins remains Philadelphia's top choice
Andrew Wiggins is a freak of an athlete. He has a seven-foot wingspan, he can jump out of the gym, and he is a tenacious defender who can contribute on that end of the floor right away in the NBA. His offensive game is solid and will need some polishing, but his athleticism is what really grabs the attention of the league.
Per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Sixers really want Wiggins with their No. 3 pick: “According to sources, the Sixers are trying to do whatever they can to draft him. And there's a sense that he wants to become a Sixer.”
Wiggins would be a terrific addition to the Sixers. He would join NBA Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams and 7-foot center Nerlens Noel, which would make for an incredibly athletic and dynamic young trio that could entertain Sixers fans for years to come.
While the 6’8” shooting guard could very well be available when Philadelphia is on the clock, it isn’t a sure thing. If the Sixers feel like it is too much of a risk to wait and see if Wiggins falls to them, they could potentially work out a trade with Cleveland and secure the No. 1 selection due to their abundance of draft picks. Not only does Philadelphia have the third pick, but it also has the 10th selection and five second-round choices.
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