The jury has been fairly split on these two since their one and only meeting in November. Kansas' Andrew Wiggins entered the season with higher expectations, but Duke's Jabari Parker came out firing. Parker eventually plateaued, which allowed Wiggins to make his move about midway through the year.
And then they both put up duds in losses that ultimately ended their seasons early.
I still think if you asked 100 people who they prefer, we'd get pretty darn close to a 50-50 response.
Personally, I had been on the fence throughout the year with my weight shifted toward Parker for most of it. And that's just no longer the case.
There wasn't one play or specific moment when it happened. But based on each prospect's development from day one until April, combined with their projected NBA strengths and weaknesses from a physical standpoint, it's Wiggins who now has to be the answer to the toss-up.
He always won the upside argument. If both Wiggins and Parker hit their NBA strides and maximize their potential, it's Wiggins who'll come out on top thanks to his superhero athletic ability.
But Parker quickly established himself as the more refined player at this stage. Throughout the year, he showcased his polished offensive repertoire with an extremely high comfort level in terms of his delivery. He took NBA shots and made NBA moves, from pull-ups on the perimeter to fadeaways in the post.
And this is what ultimately gave Parker an edge over Wiggins, whose game was mostly fueled by quickness, explosiveness and absurd high-flying hops—not consistent perimeter scoring or one-on-one play.
While Wiggins had the higher ceiling, he looked a lot further from reaching it. But over the course of the season, he's made up some serious ground.
One of the arguments against Wiggins was that his skills were just too far behind Parker's. Wiggins was all about potential, something that might seem scary to some, given the uncertainty attached to it.
But as the season progressed, so did Wiggins' game and fundamentals.
Since November, Wiggins' elevator has risen a few stories and gotten closer to that ceiling. Parker's elevator didn't budge. Though fairly steady with regards to his production throughout the year, he pretty much looked like the same guy in March as he did to start the season.
We really didn't see much improvement in Parker's game, while he actually regressed in an area where he initially appeared to have a significant advantage.
And at the same time, Wiggins improved dramatically in that very category.
Shooting was always considered one of Parker's strengths and Wiggins' weaknesses. It might be tough to make that argument now:
|True Shooting Percentage (takes into account two-point field goals, three-point field goals, free-throws)||Three-Pointers Made|
If you would have told me after the first month of the season that Wiggins would end up with more three-pointers and a better true shooting percentage than Parker, I would have told you to take a hike.
Wiggins' shooting stroke and shot-making ability now look rather promising. It's not just that he was knocking down more shots—he began getting into them a little cleaner, which ultimately allowed for more accuracy.
Even if he did mix in the occasional stinker this year, Wiggins has really sharpened his game since the start. He's not at Parker's level yet skill-wise, but he's gotten close.
Despite seeing a ton more touches and scoring chances in Duke's lineup, Parker only averaged two more points per game than Wiggins did:
|Usage Rate versus Production|
|Percentage of Possessions Used||Percentage of Shots Taken||Points per game|
|Parker||31.8 percent (No. 24 in country)||32.3 percent (No 41 in country)||19.1|
|Wiggins||25.5 percent (No. 312 in country)||26.8 percent (No. 284 in country)||17.1|
Wiggins' scoring average gradually rose, as he became a bigger threat with the ball with each month of the season. He flashed the entire package consisting of pull-ups, step-backs, three-point range, floaters and explosive drives to the rack. From here on out, it's going to come down to putting it all together and execution for Wiggins, something he's likely to improve with more reps and confidence as he matures.
And don't forget about the huge difference between both players' defensive outlooks. Wiggins projects as an elite defender—at 6'8" with long arms and lightning-quick feet laterally, he's got the potential to lock down point guards, shooting guards and small forwards.
Parker was benched for defensive possessions down the stretch of Duke's biggest game of the year in the NCAA tournament. While Wiggins offers invaluable defensive versatility, Parker is a potential liability without a defensive position. He struggles to contain dribble penetration or close out on shooters on the perimeter, and he offers little resistance as a post defender down low.
It's tough to blame you if you're turned off by Wiggins' passive approach and occasional disappearing acts. Many would note his final game against Stanford in the NCAA tournament, when he took just six shots in 34 minutes. But if you review the tape, the ball just never found him, which happened frequently throughout the year thanks to Kansas' methodical offense, weapons at every position and point guards who struggled with decision-making.
A lack of assertiveness is something he'll need to address, but if that's the only concerning hole in his game at 19 years old, I can live with it.
Now that he's narrowed the gap between him and Parker in terms of skill, the risk associated with taking Wiggins based on potential has diminished.
Between his jaw-dropping athleticism and natural talent, the progress he's made fundamentally, his monster defensive advantage and the room he still has to grow, Wiggins has officially surpassed Parker on our board.
|2014 NBA Draft Big Board|
|7||Marcus Smart||Oklahoma State||PG/SG||Sophomore|
|13||Adreian Payne||Michigan State||PF||Senior|
|18||Cleanthony Early||Wichita State||SF||Senior|
|19||Gary Harris||Michigan State||SG||Sophomore|
|22||P.J. Hairston||Texas Legends (D-League)||SG|
|26||T.J. Warren||North Carolina State||SF||Sophomore|
Dario Saric, Cibona, 6'10", SF/PF, 1994
With rumors swirling left and right regarding his future, Dario Saric decided to hire an agent, who apparently will be clearing the air for us very soon:
Having hired an agent, along with his most recent comments to Jelena Trajkovic of B92.net, via Sportando, saying, “I think I will apply for the NBA draft but I need ten more days before making a final decision," it seems safe to assume that he'll be declaring.
Despite the buzz surrounding him, Saric still continues to ball, with his latest gem resulting in a 20-point, 13-rebound, 10-assist triple-double.
He currently leads the Adriatic League in scoring and rebounding with his offensive versatility on display game after game. Saric should be a top-10 pick should he choose to enter. The only question is whether or not he comes right over or stays in Europe.
Here are the full highlights from Saric's most recent triple-double:
Vasilije Micic, Mega Vizura, 6'5", PG, 1994
Micic, the No. 2 international point guard on our board, broke his hand this week, an injury with a four- to six-week recovery timetable. He's already declared for the draft, and he should be good to go for workouts around June.
Prior to going down, he was third in the Adriatic League in assists, a reflection of his passing and facilitating instincts. Consider him a fringe-first rounder.
Clint Capela, Chalon, 6'11", PF, 1994
Clint Capela received his invite to the 2014 Nike Hoop Summit (April 12), a showcase event that features the top worldwide prospects 19 years old and under. He's already made some waves during the measurement portion of the event—Capela measured incredibly well at 6'11" in shoes and 222 pounds with a ridiculous 7'4.5" wingspan.
At this point, his game revolves around his tremendous physical tools he uses to finish everything around the rim and protect the paint on the defensive end.
He's still raw, but the potential impact he's capable of making down the road is just too appealing.
- Kansas' Joel Embiid held a press conference to announce he'll be entering his name in the 2014 draft. And I ain't mad at him—assuming his back checks out and his physical comes back clean, Embiid should be locked in to the top three spots on the majority of boards. If I'm starting a franchise from scratch, this is my guy. The only problem is that the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic all have centers in place. The lottery is likely to play a huge role in where each prospect ends up.
- Florida's Chris Walker tweeted that he'll be returning to Florida as a sophomore after playing just 4.8 minutes a game as a freshman (academically ineligible). Walker, who's been on NBA radars for a few years now, had the chance to sell himself this June based on potential despite logging so few reps at Florida. Instead, he'll return with something to prove. There's risk attached to both options, but I think he chose the right one. Walker needs to add some skills, weight and confidence before stepping onto an NBA floor.
- Per Brendan Quinn of MLive.com, Michigan's Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary all sent in for their evaluations from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee. If you ask me, Stauskas needs to go—I'm not sure he could have a better season than the one he just had. And Robinson needs to stay—he probably won't get a first-round guarantee, but he still has potential and room to improve his stock as a junior. The tough call is McGary, who missed most of the season with a back injury. But at the end of the day, McGary will be 22 years old by the time of the draft. And God forbid he returned and tweaked that back, it could destroy his stock. We'll know within the week, but don't be surprised if McGary bolts.