The lesson that Marcus Smart, Jared Sullinger, and Terrence Jones can teach all future college stars is: go to the draft when your stock is high. For, Jones the decision to come back for his sophomore season worked out well, as he and the Kentucky Wildcats blitzed through everyone and won the national title in 2012. However, not everyone is as fortunate.
This year in particular college basketball will see many one and done players enter the NBA draft. It’s difficult to determine exactly who the number one pick will be, because of the lottery system. We’ll take an educated guess anyway. If the season ended today the Milwaukee Bucks would have the highest percentage of receiving the number one pick because they have the worst record in the NBA. As always the team with the number one pick isn’t looking for a good player, they are looking for a superstar. Here are a few good candidates from this year’s pool of college basketball players that all could go number one in this year’s draft.
#4 Andrew Wiggins- Before he even played one minute of college basketball, Andrew Wiggins had all the hype money could buy. Many people already considered him to be the number one pick for this year’s draft, last year. Andrew Wiggins has had to live up to some unbelievably high expectations. When Kevin Durant is singing your praises, you are one fine basketball player. However in watching Wiggins play this year, he does have a tendency to disappear at times during the game, not exert himself as much as he should, and he can be bothered offensively when he is be guarded by someone as athletic as he is. I think Wiggins has a high ceiling, but is that a risk you want to take with the number one pick?
#3 Tyler Ennis- Is Tyler Ennis the most talented player in this year’s draft? The answer to that would be no. But, I’ve ranked him third because he can provide any NBA team with a composed, skilled, pure point guard. Pure point guards are resources which are incredibly valuable in the NBA. Look at where John Stockton led the Jazz in the mid 1990’s or what happened to the Thunder in last year’s play-offs when they lost Russell Westbrook. Jay Bilas is singing Ennis’ praises when he tweeted that Ennis is the best point guard by far. Ennis has helped anchor the Orange to an impressive 25 wins in a row to start the season through a rigorous ACC schedule. Ennis impressively has only turned the ball over 24 times, has dished out 5.6 assists a game, scored 11.8 points a game, and records 2.1 steals a game. Ennis is the total package, and if he beefs up and improves his free-throw percentage he will be an elite point guard in the NBA.
#2 Joel Embiid- I will say this, I think Embiid should stay at Kansas. But, I don’t think his draft stock will be higher next year at this time. I could be completely wrong about that as well. In a time when there aren’t many pure centers in the NBA, Embiid can be a huge asset to any team. Embiid hasn’t put up amazing numbers this year: 10.7 points per game, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks. But, if you figure Embiid has only been playing basketball for a few years and he’s putting up those numbers at Kansas, I’d say he isn’t doing all that bad. Embiid will make his presence felt next year for sure on the defensive side of the ball in the NBA. He will need some coaching to develop and improve his offensive moves. Embiid as a lottery pick is a gamble in my opinion, but I know that’s a gamble many teams are willing to take.
#1 Jabari Parker- Three of Duke’s five losses have come from Kansas, Arizona, and Syracuse. The Blue Devils are well tested. With that being said, Jabari Parker is the best player in the country. He’s averaging 19.3 points a game, 8.5 rebounds, shooting almost 50% from the field, and he has to go up against the opposing team’s best defender every single night. I will say he is probably on the same plane as Wiggins and Julius Randle, but Parker’s season has been more impressive because he doesn’t have the quality supporting cast Wiggins and Randle have. The Blue Devils are good, but the Kentucky Wildcats can start five McDonald’s All-Americans every single night, Duke does not have that luxury. The Blue Devils will go as far into the tournament as Jabari Parker will take them, and then he should move to being the top pick in the 2014 NBA draft.