Tag Archives: Orlando Magic

Risk or Reward: Top 5 NBA Draft Prospects

https://i0.wp.com/barclayscenter.s3.amazonaws.com/img/nba-draft_532x290_v3.jpg

 

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.

 

 1329643

 

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.

 

Advertisements

Center of Attention: Top 10 NBA Centers

 

In today’s NBA, the center position has lost its significance as it has became diluted and heavy guard play in the association. The league lacks a true dominance at the center position and no consistent play unlike Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, or Patrick Ewing. The prerogative of a big man on majority teams is to set screens and rebound as opposed to being a focal point on the low block in an offense. Let’s appreciate the elite big men in the league as we take a look at the top 10 centers in the NBA right now.

 

 

 

10. Nikola Vucevic

While the Orlando Magic continue to improve for the future, an important piece to their puzzle of success is Nikola Vucevic. During his third season, his offensive productivity has elevated as he is averaging a career high in points at 14 points per game while grabbing 10.8 rebounds. The former USC Trojan can become a focal point for this Orlando franchise with the talents surrounding him in Aaron Afflalo, Tobias Harris, and Victor Oladipo. For a player of his size and stature, the key to Vucevic taking that next step involves becoming more of a defensive side of the ball. Orlando will contemplate on opening their check books to retain him as he awaits free agency.

 

 

9. Andre Drummond

     Andre Drummond has grasped the attention of many around the league with his athletic abilities for the Detroit Pistons. Becoming a starter this season, he has been able to show us his capability as a center, averaging a double double at 13.2 ppg and 12.9 rpg. His ability to score without plays being called for him is an asset while scoring off second chance points. As he continues to improve his overall game, Drummond can become a franchise player where Detroit can build around him.  His growth as a player may slow down if the Pistons do not fix the logjam in the frontcourt of Greg Monroe and Josh Smith.

 

 

 

8. DeAndre Jordan

This season has been a turnaround for Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. Due to the change at coach with Doc Rivers taking over, he has been playing the best basketball of his five year stint in Los Angeles becoming a strong candidate for Most Improved Player of the year. Averaging career high numbers in points, rebounds, and blocks, he must sustain his overall play for the Clippers in order to reach championship aspirations. While Jordan continues to improve his free throws and post moves, his athleticism has allowed him to become a defensive anchor.

 

 

 

7. Marc Gasol

The current reigning Defensive Player of the Year has had a difficult season with knee injuries. However, Marc Gasol is the best player for the Memphis Grizzlies when healthy as he is a focal point on both sides of the ball.  Since his return to the team, the Grizzlies have been playing +.500 basketball as they make a late regular season push towards the NBA Playoffs. Memphis will not reach the postseason without their man in the middle performing at a high level.

 

 

 

6. Roy Hibbert

The Indiana Pacers success begins with their productivity on defense that starts with the 7 footer in Roy Hibbert. The former Georgetown Hoya has not lived up to expectations with the max contract deal he signed in 2012 worth $58 million dollars. He is inconsistent and does not rebound well for his size. Nevertheless, his role for head coach Frank Vogel does not undermine his value to the Pacers as he is the last line of defense to the rim. Hibbert allows Indiana’s perimeter defenders to become more aggressive. When called upon, Hibbert can have an offensive post presence. His post moves allows the Pacers to slow the game down in the postseason.

 

 

 

5. DeMarcus Cousins

As the Sacramento Kings continue to find ways to improve its team, the centerpiece for their franchise is DeMarcus Cousins. Averaging career highs in points and rebounds, Cousins is having his best season as many considered him an All-Star snub. His downfall continues to be his lack of maturity in his fourth season in the NBA. Many remain skeptical if he is the player to build around due to his antics that were recently on display against the Houston Rockets which resulted in an one game suspension. Cousins talent is not the question, rather his leadership skills and intangibles are.

 

4. Dwight Howard

     The Houston Rockets are beginning to peak at the right time of the season on the eve of playoffs. The answer? Dwight Howard. Although his stats from his previous season in Los Angeles (17.1 ppg, 12.4 rpg, 2.4 bpg) mirror this season’s (18.9 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 1.8 bpg), Howard is playing in a comfortable role in Houston with the arsenal of James Harden and Chandler Parsons surrounding him while being an eminent force on the defensive side of the ball.

 

3. Chris Bosh

You can make the argument that Chris Bosh is the Miami Heat’s second most valuable player to their team this season. Being undersized at the center position, he is able to pose as a threat to the opponents center due to his talents on offense and defense. Becoming more efficient behind the arc has also helped spread the floor in Miami for Lebron James. Although he is not averaging staggering stats at 16.9 ppg and 6.8 rpg, he has shown the ability to step up in clutch situations when his number is called. It is difficult seeing Bosh leave Miami under any circumstances as he has the option of becoming a free agent this summer. However, his worth may increase as the season progresses.

 

 

2. Joakim Noah

      The storyline remains the same for the Chicago Bulls as Derrick Rose ends his short season with yet another knee injury. However, the Bulls continue to find success with the help of All-Star center Joakim Noah. A strong candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, he has elevated his role on the offensive end  as he averages a career high in points and assists along with two triple doubles this season. Noah’s leadership and dominance has became contagious to his teammates that may lead to a spot on the All-NBA team. With the postseason in reach, Noah will relish the opportunity in leading his team with the possibility of taking down the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers.

 

1. Al Jefferson

The center who is most effective for his team this season, thus far, has been Al Jefferson for the Charlotte Bobcats. As the Bobcats are fighting for playoff position, the catalyst has been the man in the middle who is arguably the most underappreciated player in the NBA. Averaging a double double with 20.5 ppg and 10.4 rpg, the offseason acquisition has helped turn Charlotte in the right direction of success going towards the future. Jefferson is a load to handle on offense as he score inside and outside the paint. With limited exposure nationally, the playoffs should help Jefferson and the Bobcats gain respect going forward.