I know the NFL Draft is now less than one month away, but quietly and discreetly the NBA Draft is forming into one of the best in years. With today’s announcement that Duke’s Jabari Parker is leaving early, NBA teams will have more choices than ever to land an impact player to help turn around a struggling franchise.
Not that it came as a surprise, because most thought he was going to be one-and-done in college, but Parker is yet another elite talent that lottery teams crave. At 6’-8”, he can score around the basket, handle the ball, shoot from the perimeter and make everyone else on the floor better. The truly amazing thing about Parker? He might not even be the best player available on June 26th.
Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins leads the list of 32 players that have currently declared their intentions to leave college early and enter this year’s NBA Draft. With a league that drafts on potential over production, Wiggins might have the highest ceiling. He projects as a dynamic scorer at the next level and length that gives opponents fits offensively and defensively. A year removed from high school, Wiggins has plenty to learn, but it won’t take him long to adjust to the NBA game.
With all due respect to Kyrie Irving (’11), the 2014 NBA Draft might have more top-end talent than the three previous drafts combined. In addition to Wiggins and Parker, the Class of ’14 includes Kansas’ Joel Embiid, Arizona’s Aaron Gordon and Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart. Any of which would have been taken No. 1 instead of UNLV’s Anthony Bennett last year.
Kentucky’s Julius Randle (6-9, 250) is among the names that hasn’t made an official announcement yet – he’ll have until April 27th – but will likely not return for his sophomore season. Anyone that watched the NCAA Tournament this year knows that Randle is legit and will make a seamless transition to the pros. Oh, and he’s only 19-years old.
Although the Draft Lottery order won’t be revealed until May 20th, the Milwaukee Bucks have the best chance at landing the No. 1 pick (25%), followed by Philadelphia (19.9%) and Orlando (15.6%). And if you saw any of those teams play this season, you’ll know that they’re in desperate need of a superstar. Amazing that the once-mighty Celtics (10.3%) and Lakers (6.3%), who went a combined 50-114, were two of the six worst teams in the NBA this season. Their fans are in luck – they will also get an impact player.
With LeBron James and Kevin Durant carrying the torch for the NBA for the last couple of years (get well soon Kobe), the league is in dire need of some fresh, young star power. Hang in there basketball fans. You’ll get it about two months.