Kansas Jayhawks Offer NBA a Trio of Draft Riches

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterJanuary 12, 2014

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Kansas rolls deep this year with NBA talent. Kansas State found that out the hard way Saturday afternoon when it got waxed off the floor by a trio of dynamite freshmen.

Forward Andrew Wiggins, center Joel Embiid and off-guard Wayne Selden put on a show for scouts in an 86-60 rout over the Wildcats. Each flashed appetizing upside in his own special way, confirming why so many have them pegged as future NBA studs.

Versus Kansas State
Andrew Wiggins7-of-13225203-of-4
Wayne Selden7-of-10204303-of-5
Joel Embiid5-of-7119221-of-2

Wiggins had arguably his best all-around game of the year against Kansas State, erupting in the second half by putting points up in bunches.

He was Kansas' go-to guy the last 20 minutes, a job title he previously hadn't fully taken on. It's noteworthy considering he went scoreless in the second half against Oklahoma a few days earlier.

Wiggins looked scary good once in the zone—a zone he found by looking for his shot and building in-game confidence. When he has confidence, that jumper becomes a weapon.

He nailed back-to-back threes at one point, showcasing takeover ability as a perimeter scorer.

via ESPN

This is the part of his game that will put him over the top at the next level. Step-backs, pull-ups, spot-ups—being able to separate into balanced shots on the perimeter is what makes the top NBA scorers who they are.

Wiggins will blow your mind a few times a game with a play that highlights his superstar upside. Usually it comes in the open floor or on a take to the rack, where he finishes above the rim. But can you imagine if he's able to start lighting up defenses away from it?

via ESPN

Wiggins has had his ups and downs this season, but when he's locked in, forget about it. He's capable of making shots from every spot or angle on the floor, and with the quickest first step around and the ability to rise and fire over anyone, Wiggins offers opposing defenses a pick-your-poison option.

If he's able to play like he did against Kansas State on a more consistent basis, he'll win back some supporters he might have lost to Jabari Parker.

Jan 11, 2014; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks center Joel Embiid (21) dribbles the ball as Kansas State Wildcats forward Thomas Gipson (42) defends during the second half at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas won 86 - 60. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

A monkey can pick up on Joel Embiid's upside, which is obvious whenever Kansas takes the floor. Embiid shows us something new every game. Against Kansas State, it was a jumper.

That's right—Embiid opened the contest with a fluid 18-foot jumper and even knocked down his first three-pointer of the season later in the second half.

He's astounded over the past month with his post game. Embiid's moves and footwork are sensational, allowing him to create high-percentage looks whenever he gets the ball on the block.

Kansas State, like each of Kansas' opponents, sent double-teams down on Embiid for just about each one of his touches. When the double-team comes, Embiid has shown the poise and recognition to find the open man, and if defenses play him straight up, he scores on them.

A jumper would only add to the already dangerous threat he poses, given you can't send double-teams at him 20 feet from the hoop.

Between his advanced offensive skill set and game-changing defensive potential, Embiid's ceiling might ultimately exceed that of Andrew Wiggins.

LAWRENCE, KS - JANUARY 11:  Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Kansas Jayhawks celebrates with Wayne Selden, Jr. #1 after scoring during the game against the Kansas State Wildcats at Allen Fieldhouse on January 11, 2014 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Wayne Selden has been money as of late and has found an offensive rhythm after a quiet start to the year. Before dropping 20 on the Wildcats, he went for 24 points against Oklahoma, and he's now hit eight of his last 15 from downtown.

"It was the confidence my teammates and coaches have in me," Selden told Murray Evans of the Associated Press. "I was out there just playing and not thinking."

From an NBA standpoint, Selden's appeal stems from his strong 6'5", 230-pound frame and smooth offensive approach. Though he isn't overly explosive or athletic, the game just slows down for Selden, who has Matrix-like body control attacking the rim in the open floor.

via ESPN

Against Kansas State, he hit his open looks and worked the mid-range game. As a shooter, Selden has clean mechanics, and despite some early inconsistency, he projects as an outside threat at the next level.

Selden isn't in a position at Kansas to shine on an everyday basis—there's just too much structure and too many weapons in the offense. Scouts have been aware of upside since his McDonald's All-American days, though, and as long as he sprinkles in a few of these scoring outbursts, that perceived upside will remain intact.

The trio of Wiggins, Embiid and Selden has made Kansas a routine must-watch for NBA scouts. Wiggins and Embiid will likely compete for the No. 1 overall pick until June, with the lottery a more realistic best-case scenario for Selden (either this year or the next).

There are bound to be plenty of winners on draft night when it eventually rolls around. Regardless of how it plays out, the Kansas basketball program is likely to be one of them.


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