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Defend Cleveland 2014 NBA Draft Top 10 Big Board

2014 NBA Draft Top 10


A quick explanation: This is a big board mostly in order of highest graded talent and not at all a mock draft trying to guess who teams will select. With it being Cleveland-centric there is some consideration given to how these talents would fit into a Cavs uniform, but it’s mostly a best guy first, situation. Also, poor Embiid. His not being #1 overall on this board is due to his bad back and bad feet, if not for those things this list would have likely just been the top 10 things I love about Embiid. It’s too bad, really. Big guys like that are so rare and part of the reason is finding a healthy one can too often be the hardest part. One other aspect to this is a slight consideration given to the notion of a possible trade, i.e., why I did a Top 10 when the Cavs select #1 overall. I so hope the Cavs don’t trade this pick away for anything less than LeBron James…or whatever that would take…but you never know. If they do trade and say move back a few spots, I believe they would be fools to drop out of the Top 5 and absolutely crazy to drop out of the Top 10…unless of course it led to them landing LeBron. And thus the top 10 because this is Cleveland so I’ll account for the possibility of being foolish in a draft, but I’m not willing to go beyond crazy. Unless, again, it’s for LeBron. Here’s the Top 10 Big Board for your Cleveland Cavaliers:

1 – Andrew Wiggins: 6’8 with a wingspan of 7’, elite first step and quickness, and a vertical lift that would impress NASA. This is where you begin with the pluses for a guy many have been calling the consensus #1 pick for most of the last year and a half. Sure there’s some slight ball control concerns and a lack of creativity and intensity at times, and he favors his right hand too much and doesn’t finish at the rim near as strong as his talent suggests, but these are the only knocks. Given those flaws many are wont to compare him to Ben McLemore last year (a guy who I was not high on at all) and given that and their comparable athleticism, as well as the fact they both played for Kansas, and you can easily see where this comparison is drawn. However, McLemore is 6’4, is line drive to the basket or bust and struggles mightily to shoot off the dribble, and he also was a year older than Wiggins in entering the draft. Simply put, they are not the same. Actually, I feel it’s almost laughable to compare the two. After one look at Andrew’s overall size and athleticism, his jumper which looks to only improve is solid both catch and shoot and off the dribble, his ability to step back left or right to get off his shot looks like it will be nearly unblockable, all added to how he’ll immediately be an impact player defensively capable of guarding nearly every position on the court, and it’s pretty clear how he’s been considered a top tier prospect by scouts and GMs around the league from day 1. His high end comparison is really unknown at this point, but my low end comparison would be that of Paul George and Tracy McGrady. Which if at the worst he ends up being in that class, this is high praise indeed…

2 – Jabari Parker: The NBA size is there and his offense is unbelievable as he literally seems able to score in ways most veteran scorers in the league will be jealous of… but there is a flaw. And it’s one that other heavily skilled scores Parker’s often compared to in Carmelo Anthony and a young (pre Garnett and Doc Rivers) Paul Pierce struggled with. No defense. Seriously, watching this guy get lost on screen and rolls as if he were spellbound is almost as bad as watching him all too often act like he’s just a bystander to the goings on of the other team’s offense. And then there’s the lateral movement that’s so slow, at times you wonder if his shoes are tied together. Make no mistake, Jabari will be a superstar. He can score at ease in a variety of ways and he’ll probably end up being a little quicker than some suspect and be able to play both the 3 or 4 given the situation, but adding him to the defense on a team led by one of the league’s worst already in Kyrie would seem to me a poor recipe. Given that and an overall higher ceiling for Wiggins and my bet is that Wiggins continues to grow into a bigger superstar who can dramatically affect both sides of the game where Parker will likely only truly make his mark on the offense. It’ll be a heck of a mark, but one impressive mark isn’t as many as two no matter how impressive it is.

3 – Dante Exum: So begins the next tier of talent in this draft. Just ever so slightly. We’re still well above anything in last year’s weakness though. That said, I love this 18 year old Australian and think he can’t help but remind of former #1 Derrick Rose. Penetrates at ease, can score with the ball or by cutting without it which makes him capable of playing either guard position, and at 6’6 with a huge wingspan he’s more than big enough for shooting guard, and he’s simply a giant at the point. I love tall point guards, it’s such a clear advantage and it’s also why I loved last year’s Michael Carter-Williams who of course went on to Rookie Of the Year honors. Looking back I wrote that if Carter-Williams was a better pure scorer I’d have him #1 overall. Dante is just that and also he’s even slightly bigger than MCW. If it weren’t for Wiggins and Parker (and a fractured Embiid) I’d have him #1 this year. I am so certain great things loom for Exum that I would give a most thorough consideration for him at #1 overall if I were the Cavs, and I truthfully wouldn’t be upset if they went ahead and picked him.

4 – Noah Vonleh: Another 18 year old talent, and another talent whose ceiling might be his largest selling point. Like most big men, Vonleh is going to take more time to develop than #’s 1-3 on this list, but there’s no reason to suggest that within 4-5 years he won’t end up one of the elite power forwards in the game. Solid size for the position with tremendous length and athleticism, moves incredibly fluid and possesses an excellent developing outside touch for a big man, though he’s still raw and suffers some from Tristan Thompson disease of lowering his head with the ball in the post and plowing forward like a bull, he still has all the qualities NBA scouts fawn over and projects to be an eventual All-Star.

5 – Marcus Smart: Kid’s a beast. He competes so hard he gets a little wild at times which some fans in the stands, opposing teams and his own teammates know all too well. But that’s what beasts do. Tenacious defensively which isn’t stated enough with this guy, and though he’s just under 6’4, his wingspan is actually equal to Exum’s who’s a full 2 inches taller. Reining him in from the stands shouldn’t be too much of a concern, Marcus is not dumb, he’s just an ultimate competitor and his brand of aggressiveness will find a much better home in the NBA than it ever could in the NCAA. He has to improve his shot if he wants to be a can’t miss superstar at the next level but it doesn’t look like that’s something he’s not going to be capable of, and in the meantime you have a never die attitude and talent who can take over a game. Sleeper for ROY is my bet.

6 – Joel Embiid: I was so excited for Embiid to be in a Cavalier uniform, so excited I was looking for any reason or justification to look past the stress fracture in his back. He has since had two screws inserted in his foot from another stress fracture that was reportedly discovered by Cavaliers doctors. And now it’s impossible to look past both injuries. Such sadness. Healthy and this is a no brainer, as Embiid’s comparisons you’ve heard to Hakeem Olajuwon are outright scarily accurate. And it’s not just the, “from Africa, hadn’t played organized basketball till their teens, both 7’ and incredibly graceful and athletic”, comparison, it’s straight up their similarities in style, effectiveness on both ends of the court and ability. Beyond that, it’s the point where Joel readily admits to idolizing and patterning his game after the Dream’s, and it shows. See all the running left and right hand hooks in the lane, moving more like a guard than a center, and hell, Joel even breaks off Hakeem’s patented shake move on occasion. On top of that when you compare Hakeem’s PER 40 numbers in his first year at Houston to Embiid’s one year at Kansas (where in their respective first year’s they both played relatively the same amount of games and minutes), you find the numbers align very closely, in fact outside of a slight edge to Olajuwon on blocks and steals, they favor Embiid across the board. The two are similar. Eerily. The big difference? One went on to become a Hall of Famer and the other starts his career with multiple stress fractures. The kind of fractures that will have cost Embiid millions by Thursday night because they make it too hard to take him in the top 5 with the other talent that’s available. At #6 though, it will be hard for any team to pass him up.

7 – Dario Saric: A truly gifted offensive Euro superstar forward, this 6’10 Croatian prospect unfortunately might still not be done with his overseas play. Though his agent is saying they’re keeping his name in this year’s draft, there’s no guarantee he won’t end up playing abroad another year, and so 7th overall is the deal, and having to likely wait him out is the script. Waiting another year on a talent to move stateside doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense for a team with a Lottery pick in this year’s loaded draft party, however, whenever it is that Dario does make it over to the NBA, his point guard level ability with the ball and scoring all wrapped up in a power forward’s body is a rare and very real talent, and will very much look like a top 3 player in the draft that some team will have likely gotten for a steal. Whenever it is he joins the elite man’s game of the NBA, that is.

8 – Julius Randle: Early on last year I felt Randle was the best looking prospect in the NCAA, but I just didn’t see the development throughout the year the way I felt the other college players before him on this list exhibited. No question he can score in the post but his moves are so far pretty much limited to leading with his right into a spin move. A move that he goes to over and over again. He rebounds well, especially with offensive put backs, has a great handle and is explosive quick, but his mostly not being an outside threat relegates him as too predictable to be able to consistently beat NBA defenses in the interior. Factor that with a defensive approach that’s best described as passive (and at other times is simply non-existent), and with a surgically repaired foot which some teams have reportedly expressed concerns about, and though the total distance between #’s 4-8 on this board may not be much, I have a hard time justifying putting Randle up any earlier than right here.

9 – Aaron Gordon: If Wiggins and Parker represent Tier 1 and certain NBA stardom level talent, and the others so far represent Tier 2 with a chance for NBA stardom, then Gordon begins the Tier 3 category and players who should be solid starters but aren’t likely to be looking at too many, if any, All-Star nods in their careers. In other words, Aaron would have been considered for #1 overall in last year’s draft but in this deep dive of 2014, he breaches the top 10 just barely. Aaron’s an elite athlete that somehow didn’t translate as well as you’d expect numbers wise at Arizona, but if he could shoot at all he would have been more likely to be a Tier 1 type talent. Problem is he can’t shoot at all and it’s so bad (42% from the free throw isn’t good at any level of basketball) it looks like it’s something he’ll never be a threat at. Bottom line here’s a guy whose athleticism and size will keep him well valued in the league, and if he focuses more on defense and rebounding he’ll end up a very good starter if on the right team where being a scorer isn’t demanded of him.

10 – Tyler Ennis: If pure point guard is your thing and you believe the look of facilitator first and scorer second is  how an offense should be run from the position, Tyler should be your vote for best pure PG in the draft. Rarely turns the ball over, just as good operating in the two man game as he is in directing a half court set, though he’ll have to improve his scoring to really be a game changer, considering how he looked as a freshman at Syracuse it’s pretty clear this 19 year old talent projects quite well to the next level. Physically he looks a lot like Damian Lillard, but his play offensively and defensively at the position will mostly remind you of a mix between Rondo and a poor man’s Chris Paul.
– Mike James

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Posted by on Jun 23 2014. Filed under Featured, Show Reports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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