Wolf's Top 10 Big Board
My most recent top 10 Big Board has one very noticable exlusion, Dante Exum. To be honest, it's just because I haven't personally seen him play an entire game. People more knowledgable than I seem to have him ranked highly, but until I can't exactly do a write up on him based off of mix tapes.
1. Joel Embiid - Kansas
I am a firm believer in Joel Embiid. A 7 footer with his mobility and natural feel for both the offensive and defensive flow of the game is extremely rare. His offense arsenal at this stage in his development is a fantastic building block going forward. When Joel Embiid stepped on the court, he was such a presense that forced teams to double and triple team him on offense, and deterred guards driving the lane on defense. I watched the majority of his games, and he flat out changed them all.
Unlike many "projects'' or "potential'' guys, Embiid was a strong producer all year. Joel shot 63% from the field, 68% from the line. He was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, his season production rose during the conference season, in which he was a tad banged up for. Embiid has great defensive instincts, sometimes looked like Jo Noah out there defending pick and rolls on the perimeter, and others looked like Roy Hibbert swatting shots and playing mean on the interior. Self started showing him clips of Jeff Withey in December and as a result his shot blocking numbers shot up, the kid is a quick study, especially for rim protection being considered one of his weaknesses in high school. 11.4 ppg 8.9 rpg 2.6 bpg were his conference numbers, and his efficiency was notable. His 11.2 ppg season average doesn't jump off the page, but Embiid never took more than 9 shots all season.
His biggest weakness, in my mind, was just his physical immaturity. Joel is well built, has the ability to add muscle, but doesn't have that strength that he'll need to hold his ground in the NBA. His finesse was often jaw dropping, but he'll need to spend a lot of time in the weight room during now and the day he steps on an NBA court. His back is an issue, but I don't think it's a big one. As more information arises, it may hurt his stock, but as of now it's not enough to drop him on my big board.
Joel Embiid is just the guy, in my mind, he could potentially change a franchise, and is a natural when it comes to picking up the game. He'll have an adjustment period, but in my mind, this is not a guy you pass on.
2. Andrew Wiggins - Kansas
Hype, and lofty expectations aside, Andrew Wiggins had a great freshman year. He broke KU's All-Time freshman scoring record, was a 2nd team All-American, Big 12 Freshman of the year, and before a disappointing final game, really came on strong towards the end of the year. The glimpes of his potential were there, a laid back attitude was also seen, but Wiggins had a great year and his athletic prowess, and potential as a two way player still gives him the SLIGHT edge on Jabari Parker, in my mind.
Wiggins' athletic ability wasn't in full display in an in your face fashion like Blake Griffin, but Andrew's length paired with his second jump is one of the most applicable and translatable things about his athletic ability. After a miss, he was often up at the rim off a second jump faster than guys that that were reacting to him in the first place. He's also a good, although not great, shooter, who when compared to his positional peers is on par, or ahead of Jabari Parker, T.J. Warren, James Young, and Marcus Smart. Andrew just turned 19, his offensive game isn't fully mature, but I think that his building blocks on both ends of the court are enough to make him productive out of the gate, and give him the potential to build on. I think Wiggins can be a who can play and guard both the 2 and 3 positions in the NBA.
I feel Wiggins' biggest weakness is his grasp of his capabilities. Wiggins could also stand to hit the weights, his lean athletic body type won't lend him to playing at 250 lbs, but I think he'll play at around 225 lbs, which is fine for a 2/3 swingman...especially with that 7' wingspan. The game is slow for Wiggins, it's pretty evident that things come easy to him, but I don't think he truly knows how to maximize his own talent. Andrew has a good natural feel for the game, and can do a lot just going out there and playing. He's unselfish, but doesn't know when it's time for him to be the guy who throws his team on his back and gets a win. That's the nature of his potential, if he puts it together, he can be a great two way player. I think he's got enough natural talent and feel, his floor is high. I think Wiggins has very low bust potential, but if for some reason he doesn't put it all together, he could just be above average.
I personally think experience will help him get past this, but it is a concern when picking very high. 20 ppg two way wings don't come along that often, I think Wiggins has a better chance of becoming this type of player than he does falling short.
3. Jabari Parker - Duke
Jabari is as polished as a scorer as anyone in this draft not named McDermott. For a guy with athletic concerns, he proved to be deadly running the court and in the transition game, played out of position for much of the season and held his own in the paint collecting rebounds. Jabari Parker is just a flat out basketball player, and I have little doubt he can hit the league and find success scoring the ball right out of the gate. In my mind, he and Wiggins are very close, but I feel Wiggins' potential as a two way player gives him the edge on Parker.
Parker has long arms, can handle the ball, throw his body around in post ups, and shoot from the outside, which I think gives him a very nice well rounded offensive skillset for an NBA small forward. At 235 lbs, he could also play a little stretch 4 if his team needed to try to draw a defensive PF away from the hoop. Jabari also sports a high court IQ on both ends of the court, and has a strong competitive spirit. I think Parker is going to stroll into the NBA and be able to put up 15 + ppg out of the gate, and I feel his ceiling could be a 24 or 25 ppg scorer.
I feel Parker's greatest weakness his his defensive translation. Jabari is not a bad defender in college, he's smart, has good footwork and fundamentals and knows where to be...in a good team system this could be hidden, but I his lateral quickness isn't very good and I think in one on one situations with him away from the hoop on the perimeter he'll be exposed defending 3's. I also think his experience playing the post in college will help him defending 4's, but when push comes to shove, I don't think he's strong or big enough to have great success there either. Essentially I view him as a very good two position offensive player, and a guy who could work his way into being average as a defender. Parker would also benefit from re-working his body. If you look at pictures of him from 3 or 4 years ago, he was a pudgy kid, and has that body type, he's come a long way, but I think he'd help his overall athletic ability to keep working.
Jabari Parker and projects as a scorer, and a high IQ one at that. I think his defensive ability will be average, when all is said and done. With his work ethic, Parker will most likely continue to improve in all aspects of his game. That is why I view him and Wiggins so close. I see Wiggins as a guy who could be really good on both ends, and Parker as a guy who could be really good ( probably better ) on one end, but most likely worse on the other. Still, I see multiple All-Star games for this guy.
4. Noah Vonleh - Indiana
Vonleh is a potential guy for me, and in my mind the riskiest rank yet. Julius Randle and Marcus Smart are guys I like a lot, but I'm very intrigued by Vonleh, who at 6'10'' 240 lbs with a 7'3'' winspan has both the ability to guard the interior and also has shown nice face up potential for a college freshman.
Like Embiid, I think Vonleh has great defensive instincts, and his ability to swtich off of pick and rolls on the perimeter at such a young age is very valuable, considering a lot of NBA centers are either too slow to do it well, or lack the defensive IQ. He's also a terriffic rebounder and his physical traits will help that translate to the next level. The way power forwards are used these days, Noah's ability to face up will give him a definite offensive role in the pick and pop game, despite not being an advanced post player. I watched LaMarcus Aldridge a fair amount in college, and I see a lot of similarities. I also think his floor is high because he has an NBA role on both ends of the court, but the real risk is if he doesn't reach his potential, you're essentially drafting a guy who plays a lot like Taj Gibson in the top 5.
Noah's biggest weakness is his post game. He's just a long ways away there, and just doesn't do much with his back to the basket. I feel Noah's development in this aspect of his game with be the difference between him making All-Star teams and him being a nice two way starter. He also needs more reps on his jumper. His 3 point percentage was excellent, but it was a low sample size. That is both a testiment to his shot selection, but also not as accurate of an indicator of how good his shot really is.
Vonleh will need more reps as well, but I feel with him, continued offensive development is my riskiest assumption of him going forward, but one that could also pay huge dividends, if correct. High floor, has a definite role, could be really special if he puts it together.
5. Marcus Smart - Oklahoma State
Marcus Smart is perhaps the strongest willed player I've seen in college basketball in recent memory. He is not the perfect player, or a finished product, but what I love about him is his intagables, and the fact he almost relishes being disliked. There's not a lot of top 10 college prospects that flop, get in people's heads, and do the kind of dirty work he's willing to do to help his team. He's not just Brian Cardinal either, this is a strong, athletic, guy who has a lot of translatable skills to the next level. I think he's Metta World Peace in a combo guard's body.
I think Smart has All-Defensive team potential in the NBA. He's already showcasing them at a college level, and he's a beast who is more than capable of imposing his will on the vast majority of NBA point guards and shooting guards. He's an above average athletic who is a terriffic rebounder, shot blocker, and perimeter defender. Although I don't see Smart being more than a 3rd option on offense, he's great in transition, getting 2nd and 3rd opportunities and has the bulk and crafyiness to finish at an NBA rim.
Smart needs work on his jumper. Shocking, huh? It's better than it was last year, and it's probably more accurate than he showed this year. I suspect his shot percentages were driven down by questionable shot selection because he needed to a larger load for OSU than he will ever have to do in the NBA. Still, even with a smaller offensive load, he needs work in that area. He also needs to re-evaluate his shot selection, at best he was trying to do too much in college, but at worst he could be a bit of a chucker.
I think Smart has great defensive potential, and enough offensive ability to be effective, but he'd greatly benefit from some shooting refinement. I view him as an All-Defensive team type guy who does a lot of little things and still gets you 15 points per game. A player like Smart is hard to pass on in my mind.
6. Julius Randle - Kentucky
I've loved watching Kentucky play during this NCAA tournament, and Julius Randle has been no exception. I've always liked his motor, and relentless nature on the glass, but have also been impressed on how he moves in the open court. I've never been sold on him as a 3 in the NBA because I don't think he has the range or ball handling, but watching him run on the break, he looks like one. People really wanted to make LJ comparisons to Bennett last year because they went to the same school, but I see way more of Grandmama in Randle.
Effort translates. Julius Randle will not be the biggest baddest dude in the NBA like he is in most college matchups, but he's very strong and his attitude gives me little doubt that he can be a 8-11 rpg player in the NBA. This trait of his will also give him opportunity for put backs on the offensive end. He's also creative in the post, and although I feel NBA length will give him some trouble in post up situations, I feel his skillset and it's continued development of that will aid him in getting the most of his post ups.
I think Randle's biggest weakness is his lack of perimeter skills. I really don't buy the "but he did it in high school" reasoning as to trust he can shoot 3's. What guys are comfortable doing in games trumps practice skills and what they were able to do against kids my size playing high school power foward. He's 3-18 from 3 this year, and if he sells someone on his shooting ability in open gyms, I think a team will make the same mistake Charlotte did when they trusted Cody Zeller's pitch that he was used differently in college, and that he is in fact a stretch 4 ( he's currently shooting 26% on his jumpers for the Bobcats ).
Julius is a gritty low post talent that has translatable skills, but I think he definitely needs work on operating away from the goal to overcome a relatively short wingspan and larger post players defending him. I have confidence Randle will be a steady and good producing starting power forward, but for him to be that All-Star level player he has the potential to be, he'll need to expand his range.
7. Gary Harris - Michigan State
Gary Harris is a major talent at shooting guard. Harris has a nice outside shot, is athletic, plays both ends of the court, and even has shown improvement this season creating for others. He's clearly shown improvement since a strong freshman campaign and his speed and quickness set him apart from many shooting guard prospects in this and drafts past.
At 6'4'' he's not tall for a shooting guard, but his 6'7'' wingspan, quickness, and athletic ability don't really raise any flags for him being able to keep up defensively with NBA twos. Although Gary's 3 point percentage has dropped a tad since last season, it doesn't strike me as a red flag due to the fact that over two seasons and 379 attemtps he's shot .375%. I don't know if I see All-Star potential in Harris, but I think he can be a very productive starting shooting guard who can play both ends of the court.
I think Harris' could continue to work on his iso game, and ball handling. He's shown improvement in that area as well as creating for others, but for him to maximize his potential and possibly surpass my expectations he needs to keep working in that area. Gary is also not a good rebounder despite his athletic ability. His 4.1 rebounds per 32 minutes doesn't exactly bode well for the next level, but as a shooting guard, being a good rebounder is more of an "extra plus" if you're good at it, not exactly a make or break trait for a prospect.
I think Gary Harris projects as a guy who floats a middle to high teens scoring average on his career, and defends well at the same time. He has All-Star potential, but I think that will hinge on what else he does besides scoring. A lot of guys average 15-17 ppg and defend, but the All-Stars are usually excelling in another area as well.
8. Tyler Ennis - Syracuse
For much of the year, Tyler Ennis acted as the floor general for the #1 team in the country as a true freshman. He and displayed poise beyond his years. Although he doesn't look like a modern 1st or 2nd scoring point guard, Ennis, in my opinion fits the mold of a Mike Conley style NBA point, although lacking Conley's elite athletic ability. Conley was drafted too high after a NCAA run to the title game, but I think Ennis has a lot to offer and in the middle of the lottery is a good time to start looking at him.
At 6'2'' and sporting a 6'5'' wingspan, Ennis has good size for an NBA point guard, and boasts both a nice shooting touch, and a very good general understanding of the flow of the game and what he needs to do to help his team. He's shown the ability to score when needed, and he can both create for himself with his ball handling ability or act as a spot up shooter as the benefactor of good ball movement. That kind of versitility, in my eyes, seems like a very translatable skill in NBA offenses that are very pick and roll friendly.
I think Ennis' biggest weakness is his lack of elite athletic ability, which may give him problems on the defensive end. By no means is he slow or unathletic, but being so young, this could also be improved by some physical maturity and continued training. I also don't feel like he has a lot of star power, I feel his upside is more along the lines of getting a guy to start at point for the next 10 years, and not necessarily a 5 time All-Star.
I think Ennis is a high floor player, who is worthy of a top 10 pick, especially when the this tier of prospects is filled with some guys with high bust potential in my mind. I'd go with the safer bet at 8, and risk a little more at 10-14.
9. Rodney Hood - Duke
Rodney Hood found a nice home at Duke after transferring out of Mississippi State, and was able to act as a floor spacer for Jabari Parker, and he had a lot of success in this role, which translates a lot to an NBA ISO friendly offense, or giving a lotto team another scoring puch to go along with a young scoring option. Hood hit a lot of shots, at 6'8'' he shot great percentages of 46/42/80 and at the next level I think he's going to do a lot of the same thing.
At 6'8'' with about a 6'8'' wingspan and 215 lbs, Hood projects more as a guy who can give minutes at the 2 and 3 at the next level doing a lot of what he did at Duke. He's got a great stroke, can shoot off screens, or spotting up and be that guy to spread the floor, either in your first or second unit. He's also a capable defender, who doesn't project as elite, but does seem like a guy who will be able to be a two way player.
I think Hood needs to work on his handle, he can shoot, but it's beneficial when creating your own shot. He's also a pretty lanky guy who could stand to bulk up to 225-230 lbs in order to be more effective on defense against NBA small forwards. This lack of strength has also effected him finishing at the rim at an NCAA level, and that will continue until he gets stronger.
Hood is a nice prospect, he looks to be a two way player, one who can greatly help out a team who already has a player who takes advantages of ISO opporunities, and a guy who can do a few things, but has a signature trait. If his potential isn't maximized, he could be a career 2nd unit shooter, but I feel he has enough to offer and enough upside to warrant this spot.
10. Aaron Gordon - Arizona
Aaron Gordon has shown jaw dropping athletic ability, intriguing potential, and the stange trait of almost shooting as well from the 3 point line as he does from the free throw stripe. I do; however, feel a little more comfortable rolling the dice outside of the top 10.
Gordon has had a productive freshman year, and by using that aformentioned athletic ability has influenced a lot of games, for a very good team, in a positive way. At 6'9'' 220 lbs and a lot of spring, Gordon has translatable rebounding skill, he looks with some weight training to be able to guard 3's and 4's, and faced many high caliber NCAA teams this season, and has continued to produce well. Aaron is also extremely young for his grade, and has done this at only 18 years old ( He won't turn 19 until a month before the NBA season starts)
Aaron is a young kid with a lot of potential, he doesn't have the longest arms, but he has the hops to make up for it. He has a few things he needs to work on, as he is most raw player on the list. He needs to fill out his frame, continue to work on his shot, and offensive understanding, but I like his potential over a guy like LeVine who is someone I also considered at this spot.
I was a little hard on him earlier in the year, but have lightened up afer his continued strong play and the fact he's was freaking born Sep 16th 1995! I think he's not quite sure whether he wants to be a 3 or a 4, but with the right tutleage, he can probably do both. There is some bust risk with a guy this raw, but at 10, I can live with taking a young guy and hopefully surrounding him with the best chance to succeed.
I worry about Embiid's back. Not the first time it has given him trouble. If anyone has had back problems, you know how terrible it can be.
I beleive that Enis will have a hard time getting on the floor. I only say that because Cuse PGs have a terrible time trying to defend. MCW manages because he is huge for a PG.
Interesting snub on Exum.
Read the 1st paragraph. I left him off because I don't know enough about him to do a write up. I assume he'll be a high pick, but I've found evaluating players you haven't seen generally makes you look dumb, so I stuck with the American pool.
I am a big Wiggins believer and I agree his biggest weakness could be his grasp of his capabilites. However I think a lot of that has to do with his below average ball handling. This was another reason his athleticism isn't always on display like you would hope. He usually shows more of it on the glass and catching lobs than he does off the dribble. If he can improve his dribble (which is possible but how much because ball handling is a natural skill to an extent) to maybe a Paul George level he can be a star if he asserts himself.
I actually have him ahead of Embiid but just marginally and honestly most of that has to do with the fact that Embiid didn't play in the tourney and backs can be iffy and I am a Sixers fan so I look at it through the who I prefer they would draft as well. I have Embiid 2nd and Parker clearly 3rd because his lack of two way potential.
I would probably switch Randle and Vonleh even though Vonleh has better size to play the 4 (which I assume Randle will be doing primarily in the NBA). I just love his tenacity and energy and even though he is all left hand he still projects as a better offensive post player than Vonleh in my mind.
Ennis I am not sold on and as a Sixers fan I'm not sold on R.O.Y. MCW who hopefully doesn't have a Tyreke Evans like career path like I fear. I think he has the exact opposite issues as MCW who is a great athlete and not so great shooter. I just don't see him as a top 10 level pick as a potential NBA PG when I look at other guys like Smart and Exum and the level of athlete at point in the league. I don't have him as low as 18 like the latest Mock here but I do think he fits better around 15th.
10. James Young
11. Kyle Anderson
I would imagine Exum fits in the top 7 ahead of Gary Harris at least from what I have heard but like JoeWolf I don't have much to say about him since I haven't seen him much.
That's interesting. I have never really hard of ball handling as a natural skill. I believe that can definitely be improved but I get what you're saying. It takes a sort of natural creativity to be a good ball handler.
Honest question is this a common thought among others? That ball handling is natural?
I think you can always improve yourself as a player to an extent but I question his ability to become a really good ball handler if he is below average at his age. I know he played a lot more inside and could just use his first step and athletic ability against lesser competition. I still have him ranked 1st because he has gotten better as the season went on despite his no show in his last game and he has huge upside. The number one thing I think will hold him back will be his ability to get his own shot in the half court because his dribbling. If he wants to move from the 17PPG range to the 23-25 PPG range he will have to improve a lot.
Look at guys like Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving who come into the league and instantly are some of the best ball handlers. I don't know think it has as much to do with how much more they have practiced than the average player than it does their natural ability in things like hand eye coordination, vision and a general feel for the ball.
Even look at bigger players like LeBron and Durant they have certainly improved big time as players but I don't know how much their overall ball handling has improved. Durants has improved for sure but he was already a very good ball handler for a 6-10 player. I think more of their offensive improvements came from overall awareness and knowing when to be assertive as well as adding strength and fine tuning their already existing games to a degree. This is why I hate the LeBron and Durant comparisons for Wiggins but I just brought them up for the sake of this ball handling discussion. I see a lot of Paul George in Wiggins which is potentially a 22 point 7 rebound player that gives you great defense and effort on both ends. That isn't bad at all for the #1 pick but if Embiid really is the next Hakeem (more like Joakim with a bit more offense which is one of the best centers in league currently) he would be more of a game changer to most teams.
Not bad, but I think Vonleh and Randle should swap places, as well as Parker and Wiggins but that is debatable. Embiid at #1 is reasonable but his health is a bit concerning.
I don't think that Embiid will go number 1 after how this season ended.
Fair or not, the back questions will come up. No one wants to pick the next Greg Oden, and I think a lot of teams were already 50/50 on who the No.1 pick should be this year.
I'm not saying its impossible, just unlikely. And honestly, almost everything you said about him is true....except one point. I'm not sure he will ever be a great offensive player. Yes he was efficient, and effective, but a lot of big men are efficient and average 13-14 PPG. There is no question in my mind if he's healthy he will be a long-term starter in the NBA, who can have a Noah/Hibbert level affect on the game defensively and be a top 3 player on a contender. I just don't know if he pushes the envelope for a team. I don't think he's going to average 20+ points and be a superstar that is unstoppable in the paint. You can youtube a post move he did, or a putback jam, or something like that, but overall on a game-to-game basis, I didn't think he was someone that can impose his will on a defense. And of course he will improve, but all of the guys in the conversation at the top of this draft are 18-19 years old. They all have a great chance to improve and part of drafting is to pick the guy who will improve the most. Maybe that is Embiid, maybe it's not. I just don't love it as a "This guy is going to lift my franchise up" guy because of the offensive tools he has. I'm not sure Wiggins or Parker are that guy either I just like their chances a little better.