Top 5 NBA Draft Prospects
1. Joel Embiid (NBA Comparison: Tim Duncan)
Joel Embiid wasn’t considered a draft prospect for this summer before the season started. That wasn’t the case after the way he played at Kansas. Embiid’s star shined brighter than Wiggins, Parker, and Randle, and he displayed ability that doesn’t come along often in big men.
He has impressive leaping ability, but he also shows immense touch around the basket. He combines that with great body control and footwork, and he’s proven to be very difficult to guard at the college level. His ball skills are impressive too—he shows the potential to be a high post passer, which allows coaches to be creative in the ways that he’s used. Defensively, he’s a stalwart—long, disruptive, and quick off his feet. Embiid’s biggest question mark is his health.
He ended the season injured with a stress fracture in his back. Scouts aren’t sure how serious the injury really was, and Kansas coaches contend he was ready to play in later rounds of the NCAA playoffs. But weight bearing injuries in young big men are always concerning. Still, if Embiid is healthy, his ceiling is the highest amongst this draft class.
2. Andrew Wiggins (NBA Comparison: Scottie Pippen)
Wiggins is a breathtaking athlete who has been considered the best player in his class for the better half of a decade. He’s freakishly long, and he uses his athleticism to “glide around the court.” His defensive potential is off the charts, and his athleticism gives him incredible ability on the offensive end as well. His 41 point outburst this seasons showed just that.
Wiggins doesn’t have the offensive refinement of Parker, but he still has a higher ceiling. The question with Wiggins is, does he have the heart? There have been games where Wiggins looked disengaged. Can he take over games? His potential will get him drafted high. His tools will determine how far he goes.
3. Jabari Parker (NBA Comparison: Carmelo Anthony)
Jabari Parker has all of the offensive skills you’d like to see from an NBA swingman. He can hit the three, he can post up, and he’s good in transition. I think Parker will be an unbelievable scorer in the NBA, but as we’ve seen with Carmelo, scoring doesn’t always equate to winning. Parker takes a lot of low percentage shots, and there are real questions to whether or not he’ll be an efficient player in the NBA.
He’s not particularly explosive, which is why many feel he’ll have difficulty creating high value shots on the next level. He also doesn’t create for his teammates off the bounce—something he’ll definitely have to improve.
4. Julius Randle (NBA Comparison: Zach Randolph with more athleticism)
Being a standout on a team full of McDonald’s All Americans isn’t always easy at the college level. But Randle did just that. He has impeccable footwork in the post, and he combines that with top end strength. He isn’t particularly long or explosive, which troubles some scouts. But he is a reliable scorer in the post, and he has underrated perimeter skills—he’s a good ball handler and a good passer.
The question with Randle is will his lack of explosiveness hold him back? Will it stop him from being a #1 option on the NBA level? Only time will tell.
5. Marcus Smart (NBA Comparison: Dion Waiters with less perimeter skills)
Marcus Smart would have been the unquestioned #2 pick in last year’s draft. He definitely cost himself some money by coming back to school. Smart has some noticeable flaws—he can’t shoot, and he hasn’t shown any major progression in efficiency. Smart shot 42% from the field his freshman year, and 40% from the field his sophomore year.
Still, it’s impossible to deny Smart’s physical tools. He can get anywhere he wants on the court due to his strength, and he often bulldozes defenders on the way to the rim. Has to improve as a passer and a ball handler, which is a little troubling for a point guard. But he’s very explosive.
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