Tag Archives: 2014 NBA Draft

Risk or Reward: Top 5 NBA Draft Prospects

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We are just a few days away from the 2014 NBA Draft, many prospects have made themselves a household name during team workouts which has improved their draft stock. It is casual for general managers and talent scouts to get caught in the moment of what a player is capable of when nobody impedes their progress. Here are the top five players to keep an eye on while we await draft day.

 

Bleacher Report

Bleacher Report

 

5. P.J. Hairston

 

During his time span at North Carolina, sharp shooter P.J. Hairston was becoming a focal point of the Tar Heels’ success. Many would believe Hairston was sorely missed by the Tar Heels in powder during the early portion of the season. However, off-season troubles would derail his college career where the repercussions led to the dismissal from the team this past season. Making the leap to the NBA D-League, Hairston has shown his talents that may translate well to the next level averaging 21.8 points per game in 26 games with the Texas Legends. His ability to perform will not be in question, rather the growth of maturity are bound to raise caution flags to teams.

 

Christopher Hanewinckel- USA Today

Christopher Hanewinckel- USA Today

 

4. Aaron Gordon

 

Freshman phenom Aaron Gordon has made himself a hot commodity in the draft process with his athletic abilities that has drawn many comparisons to Blake Griffin. Is that enough to qualify him as a potential lottery pick? The Pac-12 Freshman Player of the Year has displayed his exceptional work ethic along with his versatility as he shows promise to excel at the next level on both ends of the floor. In order to succeed that, he must improve his offensive repertoire outside the paint and a much needed tune up at the free throw line. Can Gordon become a franchise player, or a role player that never could become a star is the question surrounding this Wildcat.

 

Jim McIsaa- Getty Images

Jim McIsaa- Getty Images

 

3. Zach LaVine

 

Coming off the bench for UCLA Bruins this season, Zach LaVine would show flashes of talents in spurts early in his one and done season, averaging 10 ppg on 45% shooting. He has appalled us with his leaping ability at NBA Draft Combine and workouts that has put his name into the lottery discussion. It would not be the first time a player coming off the bench would go on to be selected as a lottery pick. It happened with Cleveland’s Dion Waiters. Even though inconsistency was on display, you could expect changes in the NBA with the  right coaching and playing system to fit LaVine’s open court uptempo game, he can flourish as a combo guard at 6’5″. Or perhaps become the next Austin Rivers. Patience will be key with LaVine because of being a raw talent.

 

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2. Dario Saric

 

The name Dario Saric has surfaced throughout the NBA Draft process of being a top 10 pick. In fact, just before last year’s draft he pulled his name off the big board.

What do we know about him?

He is a 6’10” swing man who can play both forward positions  at an efficient rate while being able to handle the ball. Averaging 15.4 ppg and 9.4 rpg in 47 games overseas, the Croatian playmaker is fluid offensively along with a great feel of what’s going on at all times on the court. However, his inconsistency on offense and being a liability on defense may cause his stock to drop. Winning a championship and MVP at the age of 20, his experience and youth will not be undervalued in the NBA going forward.

What we do not know about Saric is the role he will play on a NBA team or when we will make his NBA debut when drafted after recently agreeing to remain in Europe for two more years. It will take the perfect system for Saric can utilize his skill set at the next level. It will be interesting to see what NBA team will commit to him with no certainty of when he will come to America to play. Think of Danilo Gallinari when you hear Saric’s name and ceiling as a player.

 

Denny Meddley- USA Today

Denny Meddley- USA Today

 

1. Joel Embiid

 

Joel Embiid has the potential to become the best player in this draft in many years to come. Being a game changer on defense now, his offensive game showed improvement throughout the college basketball season. With the back injury and now recently suffering a foot injury, red flags are raised around Embiid that could derail his draft stock. The names of Greg Oden, Yao Ming, and Bill Walton have been mentioned when talking about big men with injuries when it comes to drafting Embiid first overall. Yet, many teams should be weary of missing out on an opportunity to change a franchise around a position that has diminished over years.

 

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Ode to Los Angeles Lakers

 

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

 

Finally there is an end to what has been a nightmare saga for the Los Angeles Lakers. To the dismay of many fans, this season has abruptly come to an end after the worst finish in franchise history. Whether the it was the normal attrition rate due to injuries, subpar coaching, or lackluster talent on the court, this season resulted in mediocre productivity as the Lakers front office management is left searching for the solution to rebound next season.

 

Finishing 27-55, 14th in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers will own at least a top 9 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft where they would have options to select from, including freshmen phenoms Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins. Player personnel obligations will be a main priority to attend to. With Kobe Bryant and Robert Sacre guaranteed to return to the roster next season, the contract of Steve Nash should be in consideration of termination. The 40 year old point guard has $9.7 million dollars on the current contract for the 2014-15 season; however, he has only played 65 games total in the last two seasons for Los Angeles.

With Pau Gasol becoming a free agent and Nick Young likely to opt out of his current contract for a lucrative deal, the summer of free agency will be intriguing to follow as the Lakers will look to improve their roster while looking forward to the following offseason in 2016.

 

The coaching decision to obtain or fire head coach Mike D’Antoni will be a tedious process for Los Angeles as well. The hiring made of D’Antoni over former Lakers head coach Phil Jackson made many fans furious of the decision made by Jim Buss. It has not paid dividends for Los Angeles with the coaching record being 62-87, which is below average to the Lakers championship standard that we are accustomed to seeing. Many of the Lakers players have been critical of D’Antoni including Kobe Bryant. Some of them have admitted that they might not return if he is still the head coach. While the roster has became a revolving door of various lineups due to injuries, a key component to the Lakers woes could be the frenetic offensive pace D’Antoni has taught throughout his career. Giving up 120+ points to opponents in 16 games, his pace has led to career nights for various players.

 

The front office of Lakers management have many questions to answer going into the offseason swirling around the historic franchise. With uncertainty of who might end up running the organization in Jim and Jeanie Buss, the debacle of this season will not be acceptable next season to the fans and to themselves. It is time for the soap opera in tinsel town to come to an end and write a new chapter in order to regain the title. The Los Angeles Clippers have risen during these dark times for the Lakers.

Top 10 2014 NBA Draft Prospects

     We live in a NBA state of mind where teams are preparing to set themselves up for the future. Whether it is acquiring draft picks in exchange for feature players, or teams “tanking” in order to position themselves for a potential lottery pick for this years upcoming draft.  With many talented prospects preparing for the 2014 NBA Draft, we take a look at the top 10 Draft Prospects.

10. Gary Harris- Michigan State

Gary Harris is a player who can play on both sides of the floor, which is not found in many college players transitioning into the league. He’s not a player who will excite you with athleticism, however, he can score the ball in various ways that will benefit a NBA team in the future. Harris might have been drafted higher a year ago, but he will have less expectations wherever he is drafted. Returning to school may have been the best decision because as he prefers to let his game speak volume.

9. Rodney Hood- Duke University

The transfer from Mississippi State has been an incredible acquisition to Duke this season. Rodney Hood can score the ball at an efficient rate, shooting 51% from the field. He is not the type of athlete who is willing to defend the best perimeter player, but has the opportunity to flourish at the next level with his size and ability on the offensive end.

8. Noah Vonleh- Indiana University

Noah Vonleh is an outstanding freshman who has a lot of promise to his game. While being a raw talent on offense, Vonleh’s athleticism combined with his length and versatility makes him a hot commodity providing defense and rebounding to his team. He will only get better as the season progresses and adjusts to the speed of college basketball.

Southern University v Arizona

7. Aaron Gordon University of Arizona

Aaron Gordon is arguably the most athletic prospect this season. Gordon draws many comparisons to All-Star forward Blake Griffin with his high motor on both ends of the court, posting 5 double doubles thus far. However, Gordon’s true position may be in question in the NBA being undersize as a power forward and perimeter play being a detriment to his game. He hardly handles the ball for Arizona, so the combine and private sessions with teams will determine where he will play.

6. Dante Exum- Australia

Dante Exum can play both guard positions while possessing the combination of athleticism and finesse skills. The Australian point guard is explosive as a scorer and ball handler that many rave about. His perimeter jump shot is still improving, being a huge weakness for Exum. It also helps that he is 6’6 adds an element to his game giving him the advantage to look over defenders at the point guard position.

5. Marcus Smart- Oklahoma State University

Marcus Smart has became the best combo guard in College Basketball. The 6’4″ sophomore guard has exceptional size and strength that will serve him as an asset at the next level. While needing to improve his court vision and jump shot, Smart is a crafty scorer who can also defend both guard positions very well.

4. Julius Randle- University of Kentucky

You can make the argument that Julius Randle may be the most ready to play in a NBA game today amongst these prospects. Having similarities to Zach Randolph, the dominant freshman can score and rebound the basketball with his athleticism and strength around the basket. Standing at 6’9″, Randle may be undersized to play the power forward position in the league. His athleticism, sheer strength, and bulldog demeanor will allow him to contend with the NBA’s big men.

3. Joel Embiid- Kansas University

Joel Embiid is the most coveted center in this season’s upcoming draft. While improving his offense, Embiid has shown flashes in the low post area that has became a lost art in today’s big men. He has also proven to be an anchor on the defensive end with his length, size, and potential drawing comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon. He has a slight frame, but he is young. Working with NBA trainers will allow him to improve his strength and be able to withstand the rigors of an 82 game season.

2. Andrew Wiggins- Kansas University

Andrew Wiggins is the most coveted college player to enter the draft this season. Wiggins has the athleticism and length that has NBA scouts salivating. He is a great defender who can guard both wing positions. His offensive game is predicated on slashing to the rim, but he has also shown that he is able to knock down the three point shot. However, he will need to knock that shot down at a consistent rate to keep opposing players on their heels on defense.

1. Jabari Parker- Duke University

Parker is ready to play in the NBA right now. He is a high volume scorer while being a blue collar hard nosed player who leads by example. He goes through shooting slumps during games, but is never hesitant to rise to the big occasion. On the other end, Parker will not change the impact during the course of the game on the defensive end as he continues to improve as a player. Still, Jabari Parker is one of few players who can have an immediate impact on a NBA team today.

Class in Session: A Look ahead at College Basketball

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     We have come to a point in the sports calendar where a motion picture can not be scripted this well. Where NBA executives salivate over talent that is being showcased at the amateur level, almost to the point where tanking becomes an option to obtain the future franchise player. While over time, we find our cinderella that matches the lost glass slipper that fits perfect. Welcome, to the 2013-2014 Men’s College Basketball season.

     You can take a spin at the wheel for teams to watch this season that is headlined by an incredible freshman class featuring Andrew Wiggns of the Kansas Jayhawks, Jabari Parker representing Duke Blue Devils, and Julius Randle headlining the Kentucky Wildcats recruiting class that consists of 6 players ranked in the ESPN 100. The freshmen class of 2014 for Men’s College Basketball has fans and NBA GMs excited about what this season has in store.

However, the freshmen phenoms that are playing for their premier schools are facing the challenge of teams with veteran leadership of teams such as: the defending champions Louisville Cardinals, Michigan State, and Ohio State who primarily have backcourt leadership as an asset. In addition, the Creighton Blue Jays are being led by Preseason All -American Forward Doug McDermott. We have seen, late in the season, that talent is not equivalent to experience that takes place in clutch situations.

The hunted will be Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals as they will be led by Preseason All-American Guard Russ Smith as they look to repeat as back to back national champions. On the other hand, fans across the nation will take a look at the comeback of Guard Kevin Ware after the horrendous leg injury that left many appalled from what we witnessed.

All eyes will be on first year player and potentially one and done Andrew Wiggins as he is only the second freshman to become a preseason All-American selection. Wiggins is already looking forward to his last season in school, meanwhile people such as Marcus Smart do not believe in the hype. Wiggins, who is drawing comparisons to LeBron James, has not played against top tier competition in the early part of the season. He will get his chance to showcase his talents against another potential No. 1 overall pick in Jabari Parker and the Duke Blue Devils.

Tis the season to court storming upsets and incredible highlight plays from across the nation as NCAA Men’s Basketball as the season begins.