2014 NBA Draft Prospect Rankings

While most teams rank based on talent, I base it on toughness, IQ, hard-work, skill, and such as well.  This generates a different list than the herd.  There are players I left off such as Ennis that are much safer (others include McDaniels, Clarkson, Grant, Warren, etc..) and will make the league over players listed below. 

Some of the players listed below won’t last very long in the league.   However, I rank these players as prospects (not as players most likely to make it).  It is a very deep draft as there will be many steals outside of the top 3 and many bad picks this year.  

1)  Jabari Parker (SF, 6’8, 240 lbs., Duke, Freshman) – While Wiggins is more hyped and a better talent, I feel Parker is a safer pick and with appropriate development, can be a Paul Pierce type.  Parker is not afraid to take the big shot, can shoot from anywhere, is a high IQ player, and plays hard.  While limited defensively and developing a go-to-move is a priority, I really think Parker can shine at the next level.  With the bloodlines of his dad and a very mature mindset, I really think he should be a perennial all-star.  In time, I think he can play power forward too.

2)  Dante Exum (SG, 6’6, 200 lbs., 18 years old, Australia) – It is hard to get a read on this kid with limited exposure.  However, he has a very mature game, is a very good athlete, can create for himself and others, has a very high IQ game, and plays hard consistently.  Exum must add weight and develop a jumper.  He has the game of a combo guard, comes from a father that played college ball, and reminds me some of Penny Hardaway.  If he can develop his game, he could be the best player or just an average player.  I’m taking a risk putting him above Wiggins, but I believe in his game.

3)  Andrew Wiggins (SF, 6’8, 200 lbs., Kansas, Freshman) – Wiggins has the most talent in the draft.  He can fly defensively, has a great vertical, and great lateral quickness.  Wiggins has a great spin move offensively, has somewhat of a dribble drive game, and a developing perimeter shot.  The tools are there.  He should be one of the better players in the game and reminds me of Paul George.  The issue for me is that he does not always play tough, shies away from contact, and is not consistent.  Is this because he needs to add weight or simply lacks an edge?  If he develops that nastiness, he probably will be the best player in the draft.  It is just very rare that players develop that edge.

4)  Joel Embiid (C, 7’0, 240 lbs., Kansas, Freshman) – Embiid has everything you want in a Center.  He has good footwork, is a good defender in that he has good lateral quickness, can react and block shots, can rebound, has a good wing-span, has multiple post moves, plays nasty, and a developing mid-range jumper.  He's developed all that despite playing only a few years.  The obvious concern is his health.  Embiid has obvious foot issues and back concerns that have come in the last few months.  To me, not many centers recover from either very well.  If his health checks out, he could be the best player in the draft.  However, I sincerely doubt he will remain healthy over a long career.  He is however a risk I would take after the top 3 picks and without injury concerns would be my number one prospect.

5)  Elfrid Payton (PG, 6’4, 185 lbs., Louisiana Lafayette, Junior) – I am taking a big-time risk that he will max out his potential.  As mentioned in the article I wrote, this guy should be elite defensively from the start.  Payton can get to the lane at will has good height at 6’4, is very fast, and has a good basketball IQ.  The only issue from being an elite prospect is his perimeter jumper.   If Payton can overcome his lack of a jumper by finding ways to score in the lane, he can be very good.  If he can add a mid-range jumper, he can be a perennial all-star.  His game at his best would be similar to a Gary Payton type.  If he maximizes the rest of his game including craftiness around the rim, but not much of a perimeter jumper, he is Rajon Rondo.  If he can’t play offensively, he is basically a better defensive version of Patrick Beverley.  Special talent.

6) Marcus Smart (PG, 6’3, 230 lbs., Oklahoma State, Sophomore) – Smart is a bulldog that gets after it all the time, great NBA body, good understanding of the game, and can set up others or self.  Smart is great defensively and can guard point guards or shooting guards.  With great anticipation, good body, and good understanding, he can bully opponents.  Offensively, if playing point guard, Smart can post up or bully way into the paint.  Smart really needs to develop somewhat of an offensive shot because some of his other skills will not work until he does.  He does not have the blow-by speed like an Elfrid Payton nor does he possess the raw point guard skills.  However, he is just a basketball player, and should do very well at the next level.

7) Gary Harris (SG, 6’4, 205 lbs., Michigan State, Sophomore) -  Harris is not likely to be as good as some people I put below  him, but he should be at the minimum an elite 3-and-D guy.   While slightly undersized, Harris started to develop more of a slashing game at the end of the this college season.   A concern, even though they are unrelated, have been his injuries that seem to pile up.  However, recently, it was reported that Harris posted a 40’ vertical.  My anticipation is that he is better than he showed even though he was very good his first two years.  He plays hard and is a smart player.

8)  Jusuf Nurkic (C, 6’11, 280 lbs., Bosnia, 19 yrs. old) – I’m concerned to put him here due to his conditioning.  However, Nurkic is an intriguing talent to me due to his ability to seal off players, finish in the post, and show surprising agility.  If he can keep his weight as is and keep developing, he will be a load to handle, particularly where the NBA is weak at center position.

9)  Julius Randle (PF, 6’9, 250 lbs., Kentucky, Freshman) – A physical and relentless specimen, Randle gets after it all the time.  A beast in the low block, Randle played bully ball against college opponents.  While relentless, he struggled against height and there will be more height consistently at the NBA level.  Occasionally, Randle showed the ability to take opponents off the dribble to get to the rack.  The big key between being a player off the bench and being a player that can be really good will be developing a mid-range jumper.  There were some concerns on what he showed, but I also have concerns on how Coach Cal coaches also.  If Randle adds a mid-range jumper, he will be a top 5 player in this draft.

10)  Nik Stauskas (SG, 6’7, 210 lbs., Michigan, Sophomore) – The best shooter in the draft with the ability to handle the ball.  He is a super-charged Marco Bellinelli to me.  Can he be more? Is his defense and lack of foot speed too much to overlook?

11)  Noah Vonleh (PF, 6’9, 250 lbs., Indiana, Freshman) – Coach Crean did not use Vonleh the right way at all. Vonleh has a great amount of skills, size, and length to be a very good player.  I see many skills, but I don’t know one particularly well that he is dominant at.  If Vonleh is coached well and developed, he could be a star.  He can shoot from three, but it was few attempts, he can post, but only has one move right now, and he is built.  However, I can’t tell if it was lack of coaching, being raw, or knowing his identity, but I just see a player that showed he doesn't know the game yet.  There are also reports that he came to some of the workouts out of shape.  To me, Vonleh is a boom or bust player.  The only truly consistent thing I see besides potential is rebounding.

12)  Doug McDermott (PF, 6’8, 235 lbs., Creighton, Senior) -  To me, the second best shooter in the draft.  McDermott is one of the best scorers in college history.  He can shoot all over, post up smaller opponents, or take opportunistic times to take players off the dribble.  He is somewhat slow and will have big-time struggles defensively.  Very smart player that is one of the safer players in the draft.  Players below might be more successful, but McDermott will be more consistent.

13) Kyle Anderson (SF, 6’8, 230 lbs., UCLA, Sophomore) – Anderson to me is a little bit of a riser.  He is so skilled and is a slo-mo player.   Anderson is able to use angles to create for others and himself.  He developed a perimeter shot this year and is one of the best ball-handlers in the draft.  If he can put on weight to be a smaller Power Forward, I think he can make winning plays for a winning team.  However, he is a tweener right now with many great ball skills but atrocious defensive.  That said, I just like his ball skills and would take that risk for the right team.

14) Shabazz Napier (PG, 6’1, 175 lbs., UConn, Senior) – I keep going back and forth on this cat.  I never underestimate this guys heart and he has some skill.  My concerns are will he cause friction in a locker room or will teams like his competitiveness.  The guy can score, shoot, and is feisty defensively.  I don’t think he will be a star, but I do think he can be a good point guard.

15) Jarnell Stokes (PF, 6’9, 260 lbs., Tennessee, Junior) – This guy is a load on the boards and is very skilled.  He will set smart screens and has quick lateral speed for a guy his size.  I think he will be a good system player, but other players show more potential.  I would still take him as the more I study his play the more I like him.

16)  Dario Saric (PF, 6’10, 220 lbs., Croatia, 20 yrs. old) – A very skilled player that can play power forward and small forward.  Saric can handle the ball solidly, is a feisty competitor, and plays hard.  He can defend a little but being 220lbs and an average athlete may struggle to transition his defense to the NBA.  Down the road, the potential along with a good basketball IQ is tremendous.  I just wonder if he can get bigger to being a mismatch or will he always be a tweener? Teams will also have to wait at least two years on him after he recently signed a new contract to stay in Europe.

17) Aaron Gordon (PF, 6’9, 220 lbs., Arizona, Freshman) – Probably should have this guy ranked higher, but his tweener status and desire to be a small forward concern me.  Defensively, this guy could wreak havoc against small forwards with his length, speed, and basketball IQ.  Offensively, Gordon does not really show much outside of passing.  However, if he can get his mindset to be a power forward and develop a mid-range jumper, he could be dangerous.  If he sticks to power forward and uses that mentality, he is a top 6-7 player in this draft.  Will he do that? I’m not interviewing him, so I don’t have the answers.

18)  Bogdan Bogdanovic (SG, 6’6, 205 lbs., Serbia, 21 yrs. old) – The more I study on him, the more I like him.  Very savvy player that plays hard.  I think the fact that he can handle the ball, has defensive potential, and is a solid shooter, has me intrigued.  Can he develop the skills to become above average in the league?

19) Jabari Brown (SG, 6’4, 205 lbs, Missouri, Junior) – A capable 3-and-D guy.  Brown showed vast improvement in his ability to put the ball on the ground but some of his finishes will not translate to the NBA.  He is also a little bit of a black-hole.  However, I see a 3-and-D guy and a good pick later in the draft.

20)  Adreian Payne (PF, 6’10, 240 lbs., Michigan State, Senior) – I am intrigued by him, but don’t think he will ever be more than a solid role player.  A guy that at 6’10 has good lateral quickness, can shoot the 3, and has a post-up jump hook, he shows solid tools.  He plays hard, but can only play so many minutes due to health concerns.  He makes questionable decisions and can be too weak in guarding power forwards.  I still see a guy that can provide spacing, toughness, and good d on pick-and-rolls.

21) Mitch McGary (C, 6’10, 265 lbs., Michigan, Sophomore) – Presents great size, sets hard screens, can rebound, great passer, solid lateral quickness defensively, is a smart basketball player, and can hit a mid-range jumper.  What is not to like?  I like McGary more than several prospects listed above him.  He also has major back concerns and supposedly some major maturity issues.  If he can correct the maturity and the back is not an issue, this kid is a winning ball-player.  I just have concerns for big-guys that take a whole year to recover  from back issues at an early age.

22) C.J. Wilcox (SG, 6’5, 200 lbs., Washington, Senior) – The more I’ve studied the more I like him.  He is mainly a 3 point shooter, but an elite one at that while being a solid athlete.  I think in the right system, he has potential to be an elite shooter off the bench while not being a liability defensively.

23) Rodney Hood (SF, 6’8, 210 lbs., Duke, Sophomore) – I like Hood and I love his shot at his size, solid athleticism, and solid basketball IQ.  He also shows a good dribble off the bounce to get to mid-range.  Hood, however, gets blown by regularly defensively and struggles with toughness. The skill is there, but there are reports that he struggles with anxiety recently.  My concern is can he play through that when things get tough.  If he does, he will be a good player.  If not, he might have some major concerns at times.

24) Jordan Adams (SG, 6’5, 210 lbs., UCLA, Sophomore) – Very skilled player offensively that can create a little, shoot the ball above average, and get to mid range.  Adams is a very savvy player.  He also has some major concerns with lack of foot speed and major lack of vertical.  Is he skilled enough to overcome his weaknesses?

Sleeper

Russ Smith (PG, 6’1, 165 lbs., Louisville, Senior) – Smith may never make it in the league, but I just love his heart, being an average shooter, but mainly his aggressiveness and speed in the game.  Smith will never be a point guard in this league.  However, he has a chance to be an elite bench player that can score in bunches while harassing opponents defensively.

Comments

Leave a comment
  • LeBron opted out of his contact with the Heat and is now an unrestricted free agent. Of course, we are not sure how serious LeBron (or Melo) is about leaving their team, but there are now TWO All-Star SFs available as unrestricted free agents.

  • In reply to Edward:

    The big difference is that LeBron is probably opting out for a 2 yr deal and less money (with another option out after 1), while Melo opted out for a 5 year max deal (either with NY or sign and trade with any team dumb enough).

  • Latest Yahoo! mock draft had the Bulls taking Napier and Harris with their picks at 16 and 19, respectively. If Harris is there at 16, I hope the Bulls take him, I think he's going be a great SG next to Rose. I don't see why the Bulls take Napier, a backup PG for the Bulls and likely for his career, IMO. At 19, I would go with the best big man available but who knows, could be draft-and-stash for salary purposes. Payton's stock appears to be rising with Harris' falling, and that's good for the Bulls since they need shooting not a play-making PG.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Harris and Payton are an interesting pair to compare, they are both 6'2.5", one a pure point, the other a 2 or combo guard at best. The more I read about Payton, the more that I like him, even though he can't shoot. My gut call would be Payton over Harris despite the shooting issues. I guess that makes me a perfect Bulls fan, all D and no shooting. Harris seemed to be a lock for the lottery and now Payton seems to be also.

  • Keep seeing reports/hearing that the Bulls are trying to trade one or both picks for either trades for stars/veterans or payroll purposes to clear room for such. Sources include supposedly wired in K.C. Johnson. At most I think it sounds like they use/keep one pick and if they can't trade the other then it will possibly be a Eurostash.

    If they secure an Afflalo using a pick I'll be pleased, but also very surprised again due to their(Gar/Pax's) history and as it's reported others are offering more. Also trying to consolidate their picks for say No.11 and a Gary Harris or Nik Stauskas. Again, doubt they pull that off.

    Talking prospects has been fun, but in the end, Gar/Pax are going to do what they're gonna do. The guys I like as my top three or four I'm just going to watch their careers the next few years and see who is successful. If the Bulls happen to pick one of the guys I like of course I will be happy about it, but I'd say the odds are just as good they pick somebody else. Hood, Payne, Young, Early, or C.J. Wilcox(honorable mention T.J. Warren if he can grow into PF) to the Bulls..? Not going to hold my breath.

    Also, the second round has way more talent then usual. If Jabari Brown is available or Deonte Burton either of those guys could end up as solid rotation guys/nice offensive compliments. Draft will be interesting that's for sure. Latest though is nothing is happening with Love until well after the draft if at all this summer.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    If the Bulls get Harris, will they need Afflalo? He will be a 1-year rental for $7.5 million, an excellent SG, but no rush on him until we see the draft and the Melo/Love/LeBron sweepstakes.

    The Eurostash is great if it's Saric or Nurkic. Two years from now these guys could be rated as high lottery picks! Like Mirotic.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Saric just signed a 3 year deal to stay in Europe( 2yr buyout), so that might take him out of the lottery altogether unless one of the teams with 2 picks(Philly and Orlando) ahead of us snag him. Interesting to see if he makes it to 16 or 19 and the Bulls Eurostash him. It is a nice way to create a delayed pipeline of better talent than your draft position would normally allow you to acquire.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    @ RoadWarrior...

    Definitely looks the Bulls pursue one of three strategies:
    1. Trade one or both picks as part of a deal for a higher 1st round pick (Stauskas, McDermott, Smart seem to be the targets)
    2. Trade one or both picks as part of player trade (Anthony, Love, Afflaloe etc)
    3. Draft one of two draft picks to be Eurostash
    4. Trade one 1st round pick for high second round picks - this is just me thinking out loud here - 2nd rounders are becoming more and more valuable because of their unguaranteed contracts and their low cap number. With a deep draft this year, you could pick up 1-2 young guys to develop as 2nd rounders who would come in at a cap number less than the vet minimum. Think of why Bulls kept Murphy on their roster this season.

    But there's no way the Bulls take both the #16 and #19 and allocate two roster spaces and cap spaces for this season. Especially with FA period happening after the draft, the need to leave as much cap space as possible is even more critical.

    3.

  • In reply to ripiceman:

    I agree with your summary. There's no way they keep both picks unless one's a Eurostash.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    We need to make some trade this year. Hope it is the right one.

  • Thanks Kevin for all your hard work I have enjoyed reading your posts!

  • In reply to Chad:

    Appreciate it man!

  • fb_avatar

    It never ceases to amaze me how smart these guys are based on mock draft sites. When I said Elfrid Payton was a good choice a mth ago they told me how he was a mid 2nd rd'r. Now they have him listed as a lottery pick. Hum?! Jusuf Nurkic was another no named player who suddenly blossomed on everyone's radar.
    I still don't get why Adreian Payne isn't projected to go higher in mock drafts. He has the athleticism, height, length, reach, offensive, and defensive game to be a good pro, and his body has yet to fill out. The team that drafts him will have a solid player on their roster.
    I was high on Kyle Anderson at 1st but have since come back down to earth on him. He doesn't move around the court well, and his hustle on both ends is questionable. I like his length, but if he doesn't use it to block shots, and rebound his career as a NBA player will be short lived.
    I like Dante Exum, but I can't understand why he's so high on mock draft list. I don't see how he'll be able to attack the basket off of the dribble at the next level, and he's not a good assist guy or sharp shooter. At most he'll be a good player on the fast break w/ his speed, but how many fast break opportunities are there in a game?
    I like both Nik Stauskas, and Doug McBuckets, and would list them as 1a and 1b as shooters. Actually, Doug McDermott is the better shooter cause he can shoot from all over the floor, but what give Nik the edge over Douggie, is his quickness, and ball handling skills which makes him a better set up guy.
    I could go on but I won't. Thanx for your post.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    The latest NBATV draft special with three former NBA execs as the panel had Adreian Payne listed as the 12th best talent in the draft. 7'4" wingspan combined with outstanding hops he could be a destroyer down low even if he's a 28-30mpg guy. Not to mention he has huge hands, skilled, shoots the three exceptional from the line etc. If he's there at 16 I certainly will not be disappointed if the Bulls take him. He might be gone though.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I agree with you with Payne - I just wonder about some things with him. However, would be elated to have him if available.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    Appreciate your feedback man - people hit/miss. I agree with you on Elfrid. I disagree on Exum - this guy has some talent.

  • There's some gossip about the Kings trading the #8 pick, it involves a veteran and draft picks going back to the Kings. Would they take Taj and the #16 pick back for #8? Would it take 16 and 19? I would do it if Julius Randle was there.

  • In reply to nolebron:

    This is a good idea in principle, but it would take a few years for Randle to become Taj's equal. However, if you are doing it to move salary as well, that's another matter.

    What about for Saric? True, he won't come over for 2 years, but when he does he could be dynamite! I would trade #19, the King's own pick next year, and maybe one of the expiring contracts for #8, taking or Saric or McDermot. Probably add Dunleavy if necessary.

  • In reply to nolebron:

    I would not do it unless for someone like Smart. I would trade pick 19, but not pick 16 if giving them Taj. However, they would have to trade pieces back since Rudy opted in.

  • In reply to kevinstates:

    I'd have a hard time trading Taj for 8 straight up, but I'f probably swallow hard, bite the bullet and do it, even though it would likely be a setback basketball wise this season.

  • Side note: Again, as another poster noted, thanks for all your hard work Kevin. It's greatly appreciated. I don't know how Kevin feels about this, but one thing most people/fans don't take the time or interest in looking at is these guys on court/sideline demeanor as in personality and also interviews. Not that I would expect people to do that unless this was a serious interest/hobby so to speak or their job.

    If you were hiring someone to work for you or run your company, you would certainly want to interview them to get a feel for them as a person. No different here. Granted some interviews are poorly timed, centered around an overly covered topic, interviewer is himself(herself) non-dynamic turn off presence etc. Still, if you sift through them(DraftExpress, Youtube etc.), usually you can catch a glimpse of who that person is. Especially when you confirm either positive or negative rep such as scouting reports. P.J. Hairston for example getting ripped for laziness at the NBA combine drills and looking disinterested in interviews. Of course these impressions can be inaccurate. Myself, I would not draft the guy in this loaded draft anywhere before late first round(if at all). Yet by talent he should be a top 20 player at least.

    One thing I find interesting in the days leading up to the draft is watching past drafts which are shown on NBATV. Sure you can say you're talking yourself into this notion of "presence" as hindsight being 20/20, but honestly guys like Kobe, Ray Allen, even a short term success like a Kerry Kittles. The smile, confident demeanor/presence; these guys stand out. They're guys you would want to work(play) for you. If you get a chance watch the 1996 and/or 1998 drafts shown on NBATV.

    I know there are a lot more young kids now who are not as developed being drafted, and that's a valid point. Still Kobe was what 18-19 at the 1996 draft? Ray Allen at 20 a very impressive young man. Granted a guy like Kawhi Leonard looks fairly stoic, stone faced maybe. Plus you can have a great personality, but just not have the talent/tolls to do the job. You can't always tell with people their make up by how they appear, but often I believe you can, to some extent anyway. Not foolproof, but personal glimpses, as one of several factors, I personally think can be the crucial in deciding who "you" are going to "hire."

    Sadly, the guys you target early in the college season by basic credentials(stats), often end up not being the guys who are the best available players. Damian Lillard, barely saw the guy play. Yet aside from stats, scouts, and highlight packages, I did watch some interviews as well. This year James Young, Cleanthony Early, Gary Harris, Adreian Payne, I barely got to watch them play. Of course NBA franchises rely on scouts and top decision makers have not been able to watch some or many of these guys in person either. Or if so maybe one time. Of course there is Synergy for top execs to "check out" the finalists. Anyhow, you might want to take a look at your top five say players off the court. It might just give you a different outlook.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Appreciate your feedback and you are correct on this. Which is why I'm high on players such as Exum, Harris, etc.... Appreciate your feedback as always!

  • Thanks to Kevin as always, even if we vehemently disagree on how tall each and every prospect actually is, your effort and insight is greatly appreciated.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Laughing, thanks man!

  • Chad Ford(ESPN) latest mock has the Bulls getting Payne at 16 and Hood at 19, which is certainly better than Teague and Snell. He also has Saric and LaVine going 17, 18, which would give the Bulls 4 great choices at 16.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Not high on Lavine, but agree with the rest of the post. We can get some really good players. Agree with you on Teague. Wish we went with Gorgui Dieng last year (he would be a great backup or significant trade piece).

  • As stated, unlikely we are using/keeping both picks unless one is a Eurostash. That said, if the Bulls somehow used both picks for themselves and got Payne and Hood, I would be extremely pleased.

  • Sporting News says Bulls may be in play for Sac's No. 8 - the target: Doug McDermott.

  • ESPN experts of where Carmelo and LBJ will go.....

    Carmelo...
    #1 - Stays in New York
    #2 - Signs with the Bulls
    #3 - Signs with Houston

    LBJ.....
    #1 - Stays in Miami
    #2 - Signs with Bulls
    #3 - Signs with Lakers

Leave a comment