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2014 NBA Draft Preview: Top Ten Players in five years?

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source: AP

The NBA Draft is on June 26th, meaning that there are less than two weeks until the next crop of potential NBA all-stars find out where they will be headed to begin their professional basketball careers. Over the course of the next few days, we will be using the expertise that we’ve gained from watching far too much college basketball to give you our insights on some of these prospects.

Today, we take a guess at who from this draft will be the ten best NBA players five years from now:

RELATEDUnderrated Prospects | Overrated Prospects | 2014 NBA Draft Preview

1. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 1), Chad Ford (No. 2)
  • Raphielle Johnson: “I’ll take Wiggins over any other player in the pool. The offensive skills are there, and removing Embiid he’s the prospect best equipped to actually defend his position.”
  • Rob Dauster: “Wiggins had a very, very good season that was lambasted because he wasn’t Kevin Durant or Michael Beasley. Consistent effort and a ‘killer’ mindset are red flags, but he already carries himself like a pro: he knows what nights he can take off and what nights he needs to take over.”
  • Scott Phillips: “Wiggins can defend up to four positions at a high level, has elite open-floor ability and was underrated as a jump shooter last year, despite living under a microscope in Lawrence. His ceiling is absurd.”

2. Jabari Parker, Duke

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 2), Chad Ford (No. 1)
  • RJ: “Offensively his skill set is second to none, and that will make him an impact player. Defensively, the hope has to be that he ends up on a team that can cover for his deficiencies as he learns the ropes and (hopefully) improves in that area.”
  • SP: “Your 2015 NBA Rookie of the Year. Parker is one of the most NBA-ready scorers the drafthas seen in the last few years but he still has to improve on the defensive end to really be among the game’s elite.”
  • RD: “He can score like no one else in this draft. He was benched as a defensive liability against Mercer.”

3. Julius Randle, Kentucky

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 7), Chad Ford (No. 7)
  • Terrence Payne: “If his foot stays healthy, he should be a productive forward, who can develop his skillset around his physical style of play.”
  • RD: “Randle seems assured of having a long, productive career, but I’m not sure he’s a franchise-changing talent like a Wiggins or Parker can be. He’s somewhere between the next Zach Randolph and the next David Lee.”
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4. Joel Embiid, Kansas

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 4), Chad Ford (No. 6)
  • RD: “The concerns with Embiid’s health are obvious, which is why he ended up at fourth on this list despite being arguably the best prospect in a loaded draft class. He’s got foot and back issues, which is not a good thing for a big man, but Yao Ming made eight all-star teams with foot issues. Michael Jordan broke his foot. Zydrunas Ilgauskas had a long, productive career after breaking his foot. It’s risky, but Embiid’s career isn’t over just yet.”
  • SP: “You have to remember that Embiid is still rather new to the game and the learning curve is incredibly steep in the NBA. It could take much longer than five years to learn how good Embiid really is. And what if Embiid is drafted by a franchise that doesn’t do a good job of developing big men, or get him a point guard that can get him the ball?”

5. Dante Exum, Australia

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 3), Chad Ford (No. 3)
  • SP: “The only player on this list I’ve never seen extensively in-person, I did get a chance to see Exum take part in the Combine drills and he’s a long and fluid guard who has a ton of upside. He immediately passes the ‘look test’. How Exum acclimates to the American game could determine how quickly he ascends in the league.”
  • RD: “Exum is talented. He’s also untested. We’ve yet to see him spend a full season going up against elite competition.”

6. Noah Vonleh, Indiana

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 5), Chad Ford (No. 4)
  • SP: “I might be a tad high on Vonleh, but his upside is just so tantalizing, given his size, skill level and age. Vonleh worked hard enough to add 25 pounds of muscle in one summer at Indiana and his jumper has improved immensely as well, to the point where he could be a pick-and-pop or maybe even a catch-and-shoot option in the NBA.”
  • RD: “Full disclosure: I had Vonleh as No. 3 on my list. I think he’s a perennial all-star.”

7. Aaron Gordon, Arizona

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 10), Chad Ford (No. 5)
  • TP: “Will be a solid team player given his defensive abilities. Hard to believe he wouldn’t improve his offensive skills in that span, as well.”
  • SP: “I really don’t get why teams aren’t higher on Aaron Gordon? He’s a tremendous athlete and defender, ultra competitive and he doesn’t try to do too much at this point with the ball in his hands. His development on the offensive end will be a big key in how good he’ll really be.”

8. Nik Stauskas, Michigan

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 9), Chad Ford (No. 10)
  • RJ: “The gains Stauskas made from his freshman to sophomore year with regards to his skill set, physical build and athleticism bode well for his future in the NBA.”
  • SP: “His shooting percentages are ridiculous, he’s improved each of the last two years and he’s deceptive as a ball handler in pick-and-roll situations. The body fat percentage and lack of lateral quickness is a bit of a concern on the defensive end, but you know what you’re getting out of Stauskas as an offensive player and there’s a lot to like.”

9. James Young, Kentucky

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 17), Chad Ford (No. 14)
  • RD: “He can score, he’s a better shooter than he showed last season, and he’s a lefty, which always seems to give people problems. The biggest issue is whether he’ll learn to defend at the next level.”
  • SP: “Young is so smooth and so skilled on the wing that it’s hard for me to believe that his shooting percentages will remain as low as they were at Kentucky. Again, as with Julius Randle, Young could benefit from playing around teammates that aren’t so ball-dominant and playing with guards that can put him in a better position to score.”
  • RJ: “He was Kentucky’s best player in the national title game, and his ability to score from the perimeter and put the ball on the deck will help with the transition.”

10. Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette

  • ProjectionsDraft Express (No. 12), Chad Ford (No. 12)
  • RD: “The NBA is infatuated with big, athletic, aggressive guards, and that’s precisely what Payton can do. He’s got the length and quickness to be a defensive menace at the next level as well. Now he just needs to learn how to shoot.”
  • TP: “I think this is going to be the mid-first round pick who has the greatest impact. He’s still very young for being a college junior. Has the tools to be a good on both ends of the floor, and that’s without a consistent 3-point shot.”

Also receiving votes: Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), Gary Harris, (Michigan State), Tyler Ennis (Syracuse), Doug McDermott (Creighton)

Las Vegas sports books give Andrew Wiggins best odds of being top pick in NBA Draft

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Now that the order of the 2014 NBA Draft lottery is known many have let their feelings be known as to who the top pick in next month’s draft should be. And so have the sports books out in Las Vegas, with former Kansas wing Andrew Wiggins being the early favorite to be the first player taken.

Bovada’s given Wiggins 4 to 5 odds of being the top pick, with former teammate Joel Embiid having 7 to 5 odds and former Duke forward Jabari Parker coming in at 5 to 1. And if you’re into taking the longest odds in hopes of scoring a nice payday, the field has odds of 15 to 1. As for Sportsbook, Wiggins is an 11 to 10 favorite to be the top pick with Embiid (3 to 2) and Parker (3 to 1) falling in line behind him. And a bet for a player other than those three being the top choice is getting 15 to 1 odds at present time.

With there being just over a month to go before the June 26 draft there will be changes, thanks to pre-draft workouts, physicals and the “rumor mill” that tends to get going throughout the pre-draft process. Will Wiggins still have the best odds come late-June? We’ll see.

Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins not expected at NBA Draft Combine

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For the best prospects in the NBA Draft pool the two-day NBA Draft Combine (May 15 and 16) is unlikely to include much work in the way of on-court drills. Given their status as likely lottery selections, those players tend to not go through the agility, jumping and strength (185-pound bench press) drills that the other attendees will have to navigate.

Generally that means going through the physical examination, with the results being given out to the 30 NBA teams.

However Duke’s Jabari Parker and Kansas’ tandem of Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, considered to be the top three prospects in this year’s draft pool, have decided to take it a step further: none are expected to even be in Chicago for the combine, according to both Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and Jeff Goodman of

For some that may be seen as a “red flag” of sorts, especially in the case of Embiid given the lower back injury that prematurely ended his freshman season. But an unnamed general manager quoted in Wojnarowski’s story didn’t take that stance at all.

“To be honest,” one general manager told Yahoo Sports, “I’m surprised more guys don’t do this. It’s the only thing they can really control.”

Whether or not a prospect goes through the NBA-administered physical, they’re still going to have to be checked out by the teams they visit/work out for during the pre-draft process. And in the case of these three, their status as the top prospects in the draft will allow them to choose which teams to undergo a physical for once the NBA Draft lottery is held according to Wojnarowski.

The decisions of these three to eschew the NBA-administered physical is a surprising turn of events given the history of elite prospects at the very least showing up at the combine to be examined. If anything, it will be interesting if other elite prospects in the years to come choose to do the same.

Kansas’ Joel Embiid still undecided on entering 2014 NBA Draft

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Thursday morning it was reported by Yahoo Sports’ Adrain Wojnarowski that Kansas freshman center Joel Embiid has decided to enter the 2014 NBA Draft. Embiid, who missed the final six games of the Jayhawks’ season due to a stress fracture in his lower back, has been regarded as a lottery pick should he enter June’s draft.

However according to a report from the Lawrence Journal-World, no decision has been made regarding Embiid’s status with head coach Bill Self refuting the reports himself.

“I have Jo in my office right now…. He didn’t know where that came from,” Self said of the report. “No decision has been made on what he’s going to do next year at all. I’m telling you, no decision at all has been made. I think he’s still a little ways away from that. That information that was reported did not come from Jo.”

Self was asked if any news regarding Embiid’s future was imminent and said no.

“As of now, this kid has not made any decision yet. He needs some time to make a good, informed decision,” Self said.

This doesn’t mean that Embiid has ruled out entering the draft and will definitely return to Kansas for his sophomore season, with Self saying as much in the article. But it does mean that a decision has yet to be made, and it’s anyone’s guess as to when Embiid will announce his intentions.

As a freshman Embiid averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game for the Big 12 regular season champions. In its front court rotation Kansas will lose senior Tarik Black, but they’ll add Arkansas transfer Hunter Mickelson and five-star power forward Cliff Alexander.

Report: Joel Embiid to enter the 2014 NBA Draft

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Kansas center Joel Embiid has reportedly made the decision to enter his name into the 2014 NBA Draft, according to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski.

Embiid is projected as a consensus top three pick in the draft and could go as high as No. 1 overall.

Embiid’s season was cut short when he aggravated a back injury in a loss to Oklahoma State on March 1st. He had dealt with back issues all season long, and it was determined that he had a stress fracture in his spine. He did not play the rest of the season, although he told reporters after No. 2 Kansas was eliminated in the Round of 32 that he would have played in the Sweet 16.

MOREThe entire list of players entering the 2014 NBA Draft

The 7-foot Cameroonian was toying with the idea of returning to school, but it’s hard to pass up the guaranteed money that is coming his way, particularly when he’s already dealing with injury issues. A bad back is a scary thing for an athlete, especially for a 19-year old 7-footer.

Embiid averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 23 minutes a game for the Jayhawks this season.

Joel Embiid’s back costs Kansas their shot at greatness

Joel Embiid
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Injuries have taken their toll on college basketball more this season than in any season that I can remember, especially when it comes to those teams that are chasing Final Fours and national titles.

Michigan’s Mitch McGary had back issues all offseason and finally decided to get surgery, effectively ending his season, back in December. Arizona lost Brandon Ashley for the season when he broke his foot in January. Michigan State ended up as a No. 4 seed in large part because their four stars spent the season bouncing in and out of the lineup. Oklahoma State center Michael Cobbins ruptured his achilles tendon, leaving the Cowboys with a severe lack of depth in their front court.

Most recently, Iowa State suffered a massive blow when Georges Niang, their third-leading scorer and one of their most important pieces due to his ability to create mismatches for opponents, broke his foot in their opening round NCAA tournament game.

It’s a shame, really.

MOREKansas loses to No. 10 Stanford | Bill Self’s fifth tourney loss to No. 9 seed or lower

Four of those teams were in the preseason top ten, and the only one that wasn’t, Iowa State, was in the top ten as we entered the tournament.

Four of those teams entered the NCAA tournament as national title contenders, and the only one that didn’t, Oklahoma State, was a trendy Final Four sleeper.

But none of them compare to the importance of Kansas missing Joel Embiid.

For those that don’t know, Embiid was the projected by many as the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft for much of the season, only losing his grip on that consensus tag when a stress fracture in his spine started acting up. He aggravated the injury in a fall three weeks back against Oklahoma State, sat out the last two games of the regular season, missed the Big 12 tournament and was not available this weekend in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.

And without Embiid, the Jayhawks struggled against No. 15 seed Eastern Kentucky before ultimately getting bounced by No. 10 seed Stanford on Sunday afternoon.

You may not agree, but I have no problem saying this: Kansas would not have lost to Stanford if Joel Embiid was in the lineup.

You don’t need to be the second coming of John Wooden to figure out that Kansas was nothing more than good without Embiid in the lineup.

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He was their anchor defensively, a shot blocker that cleaned up a lot of the mess caused by the mediocre perimeter defense this Kansas team had a habit of playing. He was their best low-post scorer, a guy that could get a bucket with his back to the basket and had the length and athleticism to be an option at the rim when the Kansas guards drove the lane. He brought a toughness and a tenacity to this group that some of their other stars seemed to lack; there were a number of times this season where Embiid was charged with a flagrant or a technical for emotional outbursts, and while those can hurt a team in the moment, that passion is not a bad thing for a team to have on the floor.

And if that wasn’t enough, Stanford just so happened to have the kind of personnel that could take advantage of Embiid’s absence. Johnny Dawkins has a seemingly endless string of seven-footers on his bench, all of whom were talented enough offensively to create problems for the suddenly-undersized Jayhawks. There’s a reason Tarik Black fouled out. There’s a reason that Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor were a combined 4-for-18 from the floor, the majority of which came around the rim.

That’s not the entire reason that the Jayhawks stumbled through Sunday’s loss. Andrew Wiggins finished with as many turnovers as points and only managed to get six shots up. Other than Conner Frankamp and Tarik Black, the Jayhawks shot 9-for-42 from the floor and just 1-for-9 from three.

Those numbers aren’t good by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not trying to argue that they are.

But it is worth noting that despite all of those bad basketball, Kansas lost by just three.

Embiid would have been the difference.

And if he were healthy — or if Kansas had been able to make it through to the Sweet 16, as Embiid told reporters after the game he would have been back on Thursday — we would have had a chance to see a team with potentially the top two picks in the NBA Draft try to make a run through the NCAA tournament.

Instead, Kansas is heading home.

And with all due respect to Johnny Dawkins and his Stanford team, that’s a shame.

At their best, at their healthiest, the Jayhawks are as probably good as anyone in the country.

But we’ll never get the chance to see them prove it.