2014 NBA Mock Draft: Jabari Parker Overtakes Andrew Wiggins
The time has come.
Andrew Wiggins' seemingly bulletproof draft stock has taken a small hit, and in a pool with standout talent, someone else was ready to capitalize.
Jabari Parker is our new No. 1 prospect—not just based on what he's done so far compared to Wiggins but based on his long-term outlook as a potential NBA centerpiece.
Consider this more of a promotion for Parker than a demotion for Wiggins, who still offers No. 1 overall upside—just with a smaller chance of hitting it.
Parker isn't the only one gunning for that top spot, as Kansas' Joel Embiid has also made a strong case for No. 1.
If you ask me, this draft class appears as good as advertised. Regardless of how it plays out, the top five or six teams are going to land a sure-fire NBA stud.
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker, Duke, 6'8", SF/PF, Fr.
He's earned it.
Jabari Parker has been the most impressive prospect in the country.
To start the year, Andrew Wiggins and his supporters have been leaning on his long-term potential. There's no question it's through the roof, but he seems a lot further from reaching his ceiling than Parker, who has the physical tools and a superior, more NBA-ready offensive game.
So far this year, we've seen Parker light up the perimeter (47 percent shooting from three), take over in the mid-range, fly in transition and control a game from the post, something he did in a win over Michigan.
A terrific passer and strong rebounder, he's clearly the most complete prospect in the draft.
He's averaging 22 points and 7.6 boards on 55 percent shooting as Duke's go-to offensive weapon, something he projects as at the next level. We really haven't seen Wiggins take on that type of role for Kansas, as he just doesn't seem to possess those natural leadership skills.
Parker might not be able to match Wiggins' athleticism, but it's not like he's a stiff out there. Compared to Wiggins, Parker offers similar superstar upside, only he's a lot closer to getting there. The No. 1 pick might ultimately come down to the team that gets it, but with the way things are going, the odds appear to be shifting in Parker's favor.
2. Utah Jazz: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, 6'8", SF, Fr.
At some point, you just have to believe your eyes.
Andrew Wiggins isn't the player Jabari Parker is at the moment. That could change 10 years from now, but would you be willing to risk a No. 1 pick on it with Parker on the board?
That's a question general managers will have to ask themselves, as Wiggins' lack of polish and assertiveness has hurt his image as a prospect.
His breakout 26-point game against Florida should come with a bit of an asterisk, as he went 14 straight minutes without a field goal.
The fact is, there are more questions surrounding Wiggins than Parker.
Wiggins still offers No. 1 overall upside. He's obviously a one-of-a-kind athlete who can get to the rim unlike anyone else. But he just doesn't have Parker's complete game or intangibles.
Wiggins is going to be a fantastic NBA player one day. A probable All-Star. But right now, it looks like Parker has the ability to make a bigger impact on a franchise.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid, Kansas, 7'0", C, Fr.
Joel Embiid is really making a strong case for being the top prospect in the land.
He put on a clinic in a recent win over New Mexico, going to town on his man in the post with a number of razzle-dazzle moves. Embiid's footwork and feel for the rim are extraordinary for a kid who just started playing organized ball a few years ago.
He finished with 18 points, six boards and four blocks in 25 minutes against the Lobos. He was unstoppable on offense and seemingly everywhere on defense, where his gigantic body and arms take up an inordinate amount of space.
Embiid is getting better by the day, and if you think No. 3 overall is his draft ceiling, think again. He has a real shot at going No. 1 if the right team wins the lotto.
4. Sacramento Kings: Dante Exum, Australia, 6'6", PG/SG, 1995
You can almost feel the buzz from Australia.
Though the competition isn't exactly considered world-class, Dante Exum averaged 27.6 points, 10.6 assists and 9.6 rebounds over his final three contests in the Australian School Championships, including a 19-point, 15-assist performance in the gold-medal game.
He's a can't-miss prospect. When Exum is on the floor, it's just tough to look away.
At 6'6" with the ability to take over the offense as a point guard or take over the game as a scorer, he's a complete and utter mismatch in the backcourt.
Exum is our top guard prospect on the board, and I'm not sure there's anything Marcus Smart can do about it.
5. Orlando Magic: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma St., 6'4", PG/SG, Soph.
His numbers have fallen off lately, although the Cowboys are coming off three straight wins by 15 points or more.
Whether Marcus Smart's stats rise or fall, he's not moving too far from the No. 5 spot on anyone's board.
Smart is as tough as any guard in the country and raises minimal questions and zero red flags. Whoever selects him will be getting a steal, assuming a team doesn't reach in the top three.
His draft outlook might come down to needs, as most teams are set at the point. But if Australia's Dante Exum is off the board and I'm looking for a new lead guard, Smart is the obvious answer.
6. Denver Nuggets (via NY): Julius Randle, Kentucky, 6'9", PF, Fr.
Julius Randle is coming off his worst game of the year in a loss to North Carolina, finishing just 3-of-9 for 11 points, four turnovers and a season-low five boards.
Defenses now know what to expect from Randle, and he's struggled to counter. He relies so much on strength and touch in the paint, while his ball security away from the rim has been poor. Randle continues spinning into traffic instead of working away from it—he's actually coughing it up 3.5 times a game, an awfully high number for a big man.
He's still an animal out there, but his questionable basketball IQ and lack of defensive presence have him falling a bit behind in the draft race.
Randle isn't leaving our top seven and still maintains an All-Star ceiling. There just might be safer options at the top of the board.
7. Atlanta Hawks (via Brooklyn): Aaron Gordon, Arizona, 6'9", PF, Fr.
Aaron Gordon had a nice day at Michigan, where he helped the Wildcats escape with a two-point win after going for 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
He's been reliable, productive and efficient to start the year, averaging 12.1 points and 8.2 boards on 48.6 percent shooting.
While everyone was aware of his wild athletic ability, Gordon has shown he has more to his game. He's a hustle guy who makes the right pass, the sneaky cut and the tough rebound in traffic.
Gordon's skill level isn't up to par with some of the other top prospects, but he's proven to be a guy who can contribute in other ways than scoring.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Rodney Hood, Duke, 6'8", SF, Soph.
His shooting stoke has finally cooled off, but his game continues to cook.
Rodney Hood is some type of mismatch out there. At 6'8", he's a legitimate small forward who can take his man off the bounce, rise up for a jumper or post him up on the block.
Even though he's made just five of his last 19 threes, Hood is still shooting 45.7 percent from downtown.
With his ability to play inside and out, facing up or back to the rim, he has the potential to be a serious offensive weapon at the NBA level. Hood is averaging 18.9 points and five boards on 56.5 percent shooting on the year.
9. Chicago Bulls: Noah Vonleh, Indiana, 6'10", PF, Fr.
Sometime, a guy just stands out.
Noah Vonleh aces the eye test at 6'10" with strong shoulders and a massive 7'4" wingspan. And though he's raw offensively, he's proven he can really go to work in the post. With quick feet, overwhelming length and terrific interior-scoring instincts, Vonleh is a handful for most defenders around the key.
He's not exactly featured in Indiana's offense, so his offensive stats won't blow your mind. But he's bringing in 9.6 boards a game in only 22.9 minutes and shooting 54.5 percent from the floor.
Look for a team to reach on Vonleh and select him based on long-term potential and immediate toughness.
10. Memphis Grizzlies: James Young, Kentucky, 6'6", SF, Fr.
The NBA loves sizable athletes who can shoot, and James Young fits that description.
However, Young hasn't quite balanced his use of shooting and athleticism. He's now taken 76 three-pointers compared to just 45 two-pointers.
There's no doubt he can knock them down from deep, but it would be nice to see Young work on getting himself some easier buckets inside the arc.
Still, at 6'6" with a handle and stroke, Young has appealing two-way potential on the wing.
He's averaging 14 points a game, an impressive number for a freshman in a loaded rotation. But if he wants to pick up that sub-40 percent shooting percentage, Young might want to alter his offensive approach.
11. Philadelphia 76ers (via NO): Jerami Grant, Syracuse, 6'8", SF, Soph.
He's not the most skilled wing in the field, but Jerami Grant sure knows how to locate and make plays on the ball.
Grant seems good for a highlight-reel tip-in dunk a night.
He's tough slashing to the basket, where his size, length and athleticism are simply overwhelming. Facing the rim, Grant has the foot speed to beat his man and make a beeline to the rack.
Grant isn't much of a threat from more than 15 feet away, but he's a nightmare from 15 feet in.
With tremendous defensive potential and plenty of room to grow offensively, Grant is a nice upside pick toward the back end of the lottery.
12. LA Lakers: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, 7'0", C, Soph.
That's 33 blocks over the last five games, if you're still keeping track.
Willie Cauley-Stein looks possessed out there, and not because he went with the Wesley Snipes Demolition Man haircut.
He has found a way to tap into his motor and make an impact on a game without a refined skill or go-to move.
Offensively, he's limited to picking up points via tip-ins, alley-oops and catch-and-finishes off dump passes. And that's probably going to be the case for the foreseeable future.
But Cauley-Stein can still justify lottery value by dominating the interior as a rebounder, rim protector and finisher above the rim. And that's just what he's doing now for Kentucky.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Zach LaVine, UCLA, 6'5", PG/SG, Fr.
Zach LaVine isn't quite NBA ready, but that's never stopped teams from reaching on potential before.
His upside is tough to ignore. At 6'5", LaVine is an electric athlete with a lights-out jumper.
He's averaging nearly 14 points and two three-point makes on 46.5 percent shooting from three off the bench.
LaVine is like a human microwave out there. He'll have to expand his shot creativity over time, as he doesn't get to the rack much in the half court, but at 18 years old, he's already established his upside.
14. Utah Jazz (via Golden State): Dario Saric, Croatia, 6'10", SF/PF, 1994
Dario Saric is getting some good run for Cibona in Eurocup play and the Adriatic League, where he's averaging a combined 12.8 points and 7.6 boards on 55 percent shooting.
It's noteworthy, given that most international prospects play a limited role on their respective teams.
Saric's versatility had scouts buzzing around this time last year. At 6'10", he can put it on the floor, make the savvy pass, knock down outside shots or control the glass.
He's pretty much solidified his place on the first-round board. Saric's challenge will be getting a general manager to bite in the lottery of a deep draft.
15. Toronto Raptors: Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, 6'8", PF, Soph.
Louisville hasn't played anyone of substance as of late, so we won't dive into Montrezl Harrell's recent numbers.
He's been a beast on the low block and a high-percentage finishing target. He's converting 64 percent of his shots, with just about all of them within 10 feet of the rim.
On occasion, he's shown some nice touch from the elbow, but Harrell does most of his damage in the open floor and above the rim.
There's no mystery about what Harrell brings to the table. Interested NBA teams will be targeting him for his size, explosive athleticism and the interior activity he offers.
16: Phoenix Suns (via Washington): Doug McDermott, Creighton, 6'7", SF, Sr.
Nothing new to see here.
Doug McDermott has now put up at least 20 points in nine of his first 10 games and is averaging 25 per game on the year while shooting 44 percent from three.
Scouts know what this kid is capable of already. They've been seeing him do it for a couple years now.
McDermott looks like Wally Szczerbiak out there, with the ability to score from any spot without the use of jets or big-time hops.
Consider him a borderline lottery pick from now until late June.
17. Chicago Bulls (via Charlotte): Gary Harris, Michigan State, 6'4", SG, Soph.
Gary Harris has struggled a bit since his hot start, and he's now dealing with an ankle injury that's kept him out the past two games.
Prior to that, his outside touch had completely cooled off, as he's down to just 27.6 percent from three on the year.
It shouldn't put much of a dent in his draft stock. Harris is still averaging 17.6 points a game and seems as complete and disciplined as any pure 2-guard in the country.
Without top-flight athleticism and size for his position, his upside might be limited. Either way, mid-first round seems like a likely landing.
18. Charlotte Bobcats (via Detroit): Adreian Payne, Mich. State, 6'10'', PF, Sr.
Adreian Payne has been one of the more pleasant surprises of the year after he chose to return to school and put in one more college season.
It's going to pay off. Payne looks terrific out there. He's raised his scoring average six points to 16.6 a game and has already hit 14 threes—three fewer than what he totaled as a freshman, sophomore and junior combined.
He always had the NBA size and frame, and now he has the game to go with it. Payne looks to have secured his spot on first-round radars with such a promising start to the season.
19. Boston Celtics: Jahii Carson, Arizona State, 5'10", PG, Soph.
Jahii Carson is putting up big numbers as a sophomore, averaging roughly 20 points and 5.2 assists per game. With a lightning-quick first step, he's as tough to stay in front of as any player in the country.
However, he's struggled at times with his decision-making, most notably balancing scoring with facilitating. Carson finished with five turnovers and four assists in a brutal loss to Creighton, and he shot only 2-of-14 in another loss to Miami.
At this point, scouts know that Carson is like a ball of offensive firepower. How he channels that firepower will ultimately determine his value.
20. Boston Celtics (via Atlanta): Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado, 6'5", PG/SG, Jr.
Spencer Dinwiddie has done a much better job this year as lead guard. He's balancing scoring with playmaking at a more efficient rate.
His field-goal percentage, three-point percentage and assists are all up while his turnovers are down.
As a pure scorer, I'm not sure he's deadly enough to generate top-20 interest. But the fact that he's a capable, willing and effective distributor bumps up his NBA value.
He's averaging 15.5 points and four assists on the year on 40 percent shooting from three and 86 percent from the stripe (7.8 attempts per game). With an intriguing package of size, playmaking skills and basketball IQ, Dinwiddie should find himself in first-round conversations.
21. Orlando Magic (via Denver, Via NY): P.J. Hairston, North Carolina, 6'6", SG
P.J. Hairston must be itching at a chance to hit the floor with his Tar Heels playing some high-quality basketball.
But he's still ruled ineligible after a few off-the-court incidents this summer. Ryan Fagan of Sporting News highlights why the NCAA has once again taken advantage of its power.
Yahoo! Sports also just released a report saying there's a good chance his career at North Carolina is over.
Whether he plays shouldn't affect his long-term outlook as an NBA prospect. All reports have been positive so far regarding Hairston's behavior this year, as he's been allowed to practice with the team.
"P.J. has done, to this point, everything he's been asked to do, and done it with an outstanding attitude and a sense of remorse for his actions which put him in this position," coach Roy Williams told Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports.
At 6'6", he's an explosive athlete who can really shoot the rock, get to the rim and defend the perimeter. If he can convince NBA decison-makers his immaturity issues are behind him, the first round shouldn't be tough for him to crack. There's just too much talent here.
22. Phoenix Suns: Jordan Adams, UCLA, 6'5", SG, Soph.
Jordan Adams is climbing up our board, given nobody has been able to slow him down.
He's scored at least 16 points in every game so far. Adams has an incredible feel for the game, with the ability to get buckets at will despite lacking legitimate bounce or above-the-rim athleticism.
His shooting percentages are on point to start the year—he's at 53 percent from the field, 38 percent from three and 86 percent from the line.
In between, he continues to showcase the ability to create his own shot and generate offense from scratch.
Just to top things off, he's also third in the country in steals, at 3.5 a game.
I'm not sure he's a future All-Star, but for a team looking for some backcourt life, Adams is a nice option.
23. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Dallas) Sam Dekker, Wisconsin, 6'7", SF, Soph.
He's consistently steady and rock-solid fundamentally. Sam Dekker has one of the more complete games of any prospect in the country, with a beautiful outside stroke and the skill set to put it on the floor.
Last season, Dekker did most of his damage as a shooter, hitting 1.4 threes in 22 minutes per game. This year, he's expanded his offensive arsenal to the point that he's making the same amount of threes (1.3) but averaging almost five more points a game.
Dekker has become a bigger threat off the bounce and a tougher finisher at the rim.
A high-IQ wing with deceptive athleticism and a refined scoring repertoire, Dekker's only drawback is his lack of upside and questionable defensive potential. Regardless, his talent alone is worth a look in the late first round.
24. Houston Rockets: Andrew Harrison, Kentucky, 6'5", PG, Fr.
Andrew Harrison seems to be pressing a little this season. No longer does he have the freedom to take over games, and it's affected his decision-making and approach.
He gets easily frustrated out there. Harrison missed seven free throws against North Carolina and looked visibly flustered after a few of them.
Credit him for getting to the line 17 times, though. He's trying to figure out ways to score, something of which he hasn't done much as a freshman.
Harrison is shooting below 40 percent from the floor while averaging just 3.8 assists per game.
His upside is still intact; Harrison just appears to be a lot further from reaching it than we initially anticipated.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Chris Walker, Florida, 6'9", PF, Fr.
Chris Walker, who's been ineligible to start the year, will finally get his chance to practice with Florida this weekend. And the feeling is that his first game action might be just around he corner.
A highly touted recruit coming in, Walker could be one of the top three pound-for-pound athletes in the country.
His physical tools are ahead of his skill set, but there's no denying his long-term potential. It's high enough to think that someone will take a chance on him in Round 1, even if Walker's freshman year turns out to be a disappointment.
26. Miami Heat: Markel Brown, Oklahoma St., 6'3", SG, Sr.
If you ask me, Markel Brown's strengths are strong enough to compensate for his deficiencies. Sure, he's undersized for a natural 2-guard, but his lights-out mid-range game and elite-level athleticism are both tough to argue against.
He's really improved his jumper to the point that he's almost automatic with room to release. Brown also gets crazy elevation, which helps make up for the inch or two he lacks in height.
This season, he's become a lethal long-range threat, shooting 42.9 percent beyond the arc.
Brown is blocking 1.3 shots, dishing out a career-high 3.1 assists and scoring 15.7 points a game. It took four years, but Brown now looks like a legitimate first-round prospect.
27. San Antonio Spurs: Jordan Clarkson, Missouri, 6'5", PG, Jr.
Jordan Clarkson has emerged as arguably the most under-the-radar prospect in the field.
After transferring from Tulsa, he's now blowing up at Missouri, where he's averaging 19.4 points and 3.9 assists on 51 percent shooting from the floor.
Clarkson is playing the lead guard by facilitating the offense from the point and scoring from the wing. Though he's more of a shoot-first offensive player, Clarkson has shown a nice feel for getting his teammates involved, whether by making the simple pass or creating an opportunity for them off the bounce.
The NBA guys love big guards who can handle the ball and play off it. If he keeps putting up numbers, look for Clarkson to start generating some legitimate draft buzz.
28: Charlotte Bobcats (via Portland): Glenn Robinson III, Michigan, 6'6", Soph.
The pros and cons of Glenn Robinson III were on full display against Arizona.
He went off in the first half, shooting 7-of-7 from the floor. Robinson looked awesome—he was hitting step-backs and pull-ups as a perimeter scorer. At one point, he faced his man up, beat him off the dribble and swooped in for a layup.
Robinson also made his usual plays as an off-ball slasher, finishing below the rim and above it following backdoor cuts to the rim.
But then he disappeared. Robinson took two shots in the second half of a tight game against the No. 1 team in the country.
He has boatloads of potential, but Robinson still hasn't figured out how to consistently tap into it.
29. Phoenix Suns (via Indiana): Kyle Anderson, UCLA, 6'9", PG/SF, Soph.
It's like the game just slowed down for Kyle Anderson, who's now running the point in his comfort zone, as opposed to playing off the ball like he did last year.
At 6'9", he's averaging 6.7 assists a game. He has sensational vision and passing skills, and with the ability to tower over the defense, it's easy for him to execute.
Anderson has also looked much more confident as a shooter. After hitting just eight threes all of last year, he's already made nine so far.
It's just hard not to be intrigued with a guy who can run the point at this size. At this rate, he's making the potential reward seem worth the risk toward the end of Round 1.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder: Mitch McGary, Michigan, 6'10", PF, Soph.
Arizona shut down Mitch McGary, limiting him to just eight points and four boards in a Michigan loss. It was a bad look, given he was going up against other big-man prospects like Aaron Gordon and Kaleb Tarczewski.
From a draft-stock standpoint, this is why McGary was better off leaving last year and striking while the iron was hot. We just haven't seen much improvement this season, and that can leave a stale taste in scouts' mouths.
He's averaging 9.5 points and 8.3 boards per game, but he'll have to become a bigger scoring threat with the ball to justify a spot in the top 20.