Sneak peak at the 2014 class by Chad Ford
PORTLAND, Ore. -- In the past few weeks, a huge contingent of NBA scouts and general managers have traveled to Chicago, Brooklyn and Portland to attend practices and games at the McDonald's All American, Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit to get a closer look at the prospective 2014 NBA draft class.
This past weekend, as many as 10 potential 2014 first-rounders played at the Nike Hoop Summit -- most of them possible lottery picks.
I spoke with a number of NBA scouts about which players from the high school Class of 2013 might someday be NBA players. The consensus was this is one of the strongest classes of the past decade. In fact, some GMs believe the 2014 draft could be historic.
Here's a sneak peek at the country's top 10 high school NBA prospects we saw the past few weeks.
1. Andrew Wiggins | SG | Uncommitted
Wiggins is so highly thought of, it hardly matters what he does in games or practices these days. He's a 6-foot-8 shooting guard with a 7-foot wingspan and is an elite athlete. He's quick with the ball, is a solid shooter and can score from anywhere on the floor. He had 17 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists for the World Team at the Hoop Summit and moved just effortlessly up and down the floor. His 3-point shot could use some work, but the rest is terrific. He's the total package. He's the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft.
2. Julius Randle | PF | Kentucky
Randle is a physical specimen -- a 6-9, 250-pound big man who explodes off the floor like an elite guard. He has a very well-rounded game. He can score in the paint or take out players on the perimeter. He rebounds and is very competitive. Kentucky coach John Calipari might have to break him of his habit of drifting out to the perimeter, but like Wiggins, he's got the entire package. Right now, Randle looks like a lock to be a top-5 pick.
3. Jabari Parker | F | Duke
Parker might be the most difficult player on this list to project correctly. Everyone loves his game, his basketball IQ, his unselfishness and his winning attitude. He plays a lot like a less-athletic Grant Hill. It's the less-athletic part that gives scouts pause. Parker isn't particularly explosive, but he's a sneaky athlete. In the game against the World Team, he had 22 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals to lead Team USA. However, he will need to continue to work on his jumper. It was falling in practices the past few days, but he was just 1-for-9 from 3-point range during games at the Hoop Summit. I think he ends up going early in the 2014 draft, but if he slid to mid-lottery, it wouldn't shock me. And his skills do seem like a perfect fit for Duke.
4. Andrew Harrison | PG | Kentucky
Harrison is a huge point guard who finds great balance between scoring and dishing out assists. He is difficult to contain in the paint, has a great crossover and is a strong finisher at the rim. He is a competitor who loves a challenge. He had 19 points (10 on free throws) and led Team USA with five assists in the Hoop Summit game. He should battle Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart as the top point guard in the 2014 draft. Another potential top-5 pick, Andrew's twin brother, Aaron, also is a legit NBA prospect as a 2-guard and one to watch.
5. Aaron Gordon | F | Arizona
Gordon might be the second-best athlete in this class, behind Wiggins. He flies up and down the floor, explodes at the rim and excels in transition. But he's a bit of a tweener right now. He lacks elite size at the power forward position and doesn't have a jump shot or ballhandling skills yet to play small forward. But few players combine the athletic skills he possesses with the motor he displays. He had a quiet night at the Hoop Summit but was the MVP of the McDonald's game with 24 points and eight rebounds. Many compare him to a young Blake Griffin. Gordon, too, looks like a potential top-10 pick.
6. Joel Embiid | C | Kansas
Rich Graessle/Icon SMI
Embiid has intrigued NBA scouts with his elite, albeit raw, athleticism and size.
It might be a bit of a stretch to slot Embiid with the players mentioned before him. Maybe. He's a legit 7-footer with a 7-5 wingspan who is a great athlete and has a frame that should really fill out. It's rare to find players of his size with the athletic ability he possesses. He also happens to be quite skilled and has a soft touch around the basket, and he even can step out and shoot 3s.
The biggest thing holding him back? Embiid has been playing the game for just a couple of years, so his basketball IQ still is very low. He doesn't know what he's doing out there, and he doesn't always play hard. Still, you saw glimpses of greatness at both the Jordan Brand Classic and in practices for the Hoop Summit. He finished with seven points and seven rebounds in 16 minutes at the Summit.
Virtually every scout and GM I spoke with thought Embiid is in the perfect situation at Kansas, and Bill Self is the perfect coach for him. If he develops quickly? He could be a top-5 pick next year. If not, he could be one in 2015.
7. Chris Walker | F | Florida
Walker is one of just two players on this list who did not attend the Hoop Summit. However, he had 14 points and seven rebounds at the Jordan Brand Classic and is widely regarded as a potential lottery pick because of his length and athletic ability. He also has a developing face-the-basket game, and many believe he'll make the transition to small forward at Florida this fall. He needs to add strength, but there are a lot of things to love about Walker. He's another potential top-10 pick in 2014.
8. Dante Exum | G | Uncommitted
Exum might be the most interesting case of all. He's from Australia, where he currently plays in high school. He's talking to a number of colleges, including Indiana and Louisville, about coming for the 2014-15 season. However, he graduates in November and could make the jump earlier if he wants to. He might want to consider it after the dominant second-half performance he put on at the Hoop Summit. Exum was balling down the stretch, ending with 16 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a terrific block on Gordon. He did it all in just 22 minutes. Given his size (6-6, 188 pounds), athletic ability, length and versatility, he could be a lottery pick in 2014.
9. James Young | G/F | Kentucky
Young is another member of that coveted Kentucky class. He hasn't gotten the same buzz as the Harrison twins, but he is a long, athletic scorer who thrives as a penetrator. He's a workhorse, and many scouts believe he could be Calipari's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist this season. His jump shot is a work in progress, but he also is a potential lottery pick.
10. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson | SF | Arizona
Hollis-Jefferson isn't a particularly polished offensive player, but he's a hound defensively. He can guard multiple positions, rebounds and plays with great athleticism and toughness. Like Young, his jump shot still needs major work, but he clearly showed his value in the Hoop Summit game, playing great defense, scoring 17 points and grabbing six rebounds. He's a sleeper first-rounder.
Others to watch: Aaron Harrison, SG, Kentucky; Noah Vonleh, F, Indiana; Dakari Johnson, C, Kentucky; Kasey Hill, PG, Florida; Bobby Portis, F, Arkansas
Am I the only one who doesn't see the "average athleticism" in Parkers game? I mean I get that he's not super explosive but his athleticism is above-average. I can't see any scenario(barring injury or just flat out horrible play) that he falls past 3 in next years draft.
I completely agree. I also believe he will be the best player in the draft. If there is a real scenario where he falls to mid-lotttery I hope the Jazz are bad enough to get him.
I think he did a dunk at the Mcdonald's dunk contest where he took off with his foot just inside the freethrow line. I guess that's considered average athleticism these days lol
"Like Young, his jumpshot still needs major work"
I have consistently heard that Young had a really good jumper. How can most people say it looks so good but he thinks it needs a lot of work? Is it range? Consistency? His form looks good to me so..?
I really hope Joel Embiid plays 2-3 years at Kansas. I really feel he has a lot of potential and should take his time to develop a solid game. He can be very special, he just needs to stay at Kansas.
this article is ridiculous. james young is known to be one of the best pure shooters in the class. its like people at espn just write articles out without any research at all.
Agreed. I think people sleep on just how advanced his offensive game is. I mean I'm no scout but seriously he IS Carmelo Anthony with a better "attitude" or IQ I suppose for lack of a better word.