With the season underway, these young stars look to get a strong start to their career
By Andrew Liberatore
The 2014 NBA Draft was one of the deepest drafts that the league has seen in a while. Many believe this could be the best draft that the NBA has seen in a long time. Guard Andrew Wiggins from the University of Kansas along with Forward Jabari Parker from Duke University were mostly the two names that headlined this draft class. Lets take a look at some of the top young talent in the league to look out for this season.
Andrew Wiggins, Shooting Guard, University of Kansas, Minnesota Timberwolves: With the first pick overall in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Andrew Wiggins before trading him to the Timberwolves for Kevin Love. Wiggins probably has the highest ceiling of any player drafted, not only in this draft class, but in a long time. He can do it all. Wiggins is a freak athlete who can take you inside as well as shoot the three with anyone. Wiggins may be raw, but look for him to make an immediate impact to take the league by storm.
Jabari Parker, Forward, Duke University, Milwaukee Bucks: If Andrew Wiggins is 1, then Jabari Parker is 1A. Parker is the most NBA ready player in this draft class. He can do it all and he can do it all right now. The Bucks needed a player who can score the basketball and they got one with Jabari Parker. Many compare him to Carmelo Anthony because of the way he can score the basketball inside with his strength as good as anyone and he can also take you outside and knock down a jump shot from just about anywhere. Look for Parker to be the favorite to win Rookie of the Year.
Joel Embiid, Center, University of Kansas, Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid could have just as easily been taken number one overall as he did number three overall. Embiid can score the basketball inside better than any big man in this draft and he can block shots better than any big man in this draft. The question on Embiid is whether or not he can stay healthy. Embiid will miss a majority of the season after having surgery on a broken bone in his foot which requires about 4-6 months of recovery. If Embiid can avoid the injury bug in his career, the Sixers could be set with him and Nerlens Noel controlling the paint.
Dante Exum, Point Guard, Australia, Utah Jazz: Dante Exum might just be the best playmaking point guard in this class. Exum has an advantage over many point guards as he is 6’6 and has a fantastic ability to dribble the ball, find the open man, and put the ball in the basket. There remains some questions around Exum as he is coming over from Australia and may not have played against the top competition. Don’t be distracted by that as Exum should be able to adjust fine because he is able to make plays and set his teammates up to get good looks. If Exum becomes the player they believe he can be, the Jazz could have one of the best young backcourts in the league with him and Trey Burke.
Marcus Smart, Point Guard, Oklahoma State, Boston Celtics: Many believed at a point last year that Marcus Smart was the best player in all of college basketball. There is no secret that Smart is one of the top players in this draft and is one of the most NBA ready players, maybe even more so than Andrew Wiggins the top pick, because of his physical ability to score. The only question is whether or not Smart can keep his head on straight. He did have an incident with a fan during a game last season at Texas Tech. If Smart can control himself it will be interesting to see how the Celtics use him. He could be playing point guard to start the year due to the Rajon Rondo injury, but the Celtics could also use him at shooting guard when Rondo comes back.
Julius Randle, Power Forward, Kentucky, Los Angeles Lakers: In about ten years, we could be talking about Julius Randle being the best player in this draft. Randle certainly has the body for the NBA and with his ability to rebound the ball at will and score, is almost unparalleled. Randle was able to take Kentucky to the NCAA Championship game last season where they fell just short to Connecticut. The only concern with Randle is that he may be too dependent on his left hand at times. If he can overcome that, this kid can be as scary as they come.