NBA Draft 2014: Top 60

As the NCAA season cruises towards the tournament, the draft picture remains muddled after Joel Embiid at the top. What is clear is that assuming most of the draftworthy players head to the pros, the 2014 draft should be a pretty good one. This class is very deep on the perimeter and should deliver solid prospects deep into round one.

1.       Joel Embiid, C Kansas: Centers who come in as freshmen and put up a .600+ 2PP, double digit R40 and 4.0+ B40 become legendary NBA players as long as they stay healthy. Embiid has done this and is the easy choice for the top pick because of it.

2.       Marcus Smart, PG Oklahoma State: Here’s a favorite little game of statheads. Two players with their numbers listed side-by-side. No names, uniforms or reputations. Just numbers.  Going only by these numbers, Prospect B would be considered the much better prospect.








Prospect A








Prospect B









Those of you who know how this little game works have probably figured out that Prospect A is freshman Marcus Smart and Prospect B is sophomore Marcus Smart. As a freshman Smart was promising, but needed a lot of work on his passing and offense .As a soph he has made the necessary improvements and is now looks like a top PG prospect. He moves ahead of Parker because PG is a more valuable position than SF.

3.       Jabari Parker, SF Duke: Parker has things going again. The most similar freshmen to Parker are players like Glenn Robinson, Carmelo Anthony and Cedric Ceballos. These are all players who played in all-star games and scored a lot of points in their careers.

4.       Kyle Anderson, Point Forward UCLA: The problem with evaluating Kyle Anderson is he’s a rare player. There aren’t any forwards in recent years who have passed this well, nor are there any guards who have rebounded this well.  Anderson is at 10.4 R40 and 8.3 A40. The only player I can find who topped 8.0 in both numbers is Magic Johnson back in his championship year of 1979. Magic was at 8.1 R40 and 9.2 A40. If I seriously believed Anderson could be another Magic Johnson, he’d be at the top of this list. But just the fact that it can be said of Anderson, “Not since Magic Johnson has a player…” says a lot about his potential to become something special. His offense remains a concern.

5.       Dante Exum, G Australia

6.       Jordan Adams, SG UCLA: Adams remains an excellent prospect. He scores often and efficiently from both inside and out. He posts dominant defensive numbers and commits few turnovers. He has good size for his position. It is baffling to me that he gets so little respect in the mocks.

7.       Andrew Wiggins, SF Kansas: Wiggins’s season has been somewhat maddening for a prospect-watcher. He hasn’t lived up to his hype of a being a prospect who is so incredibly gifted that he’s worth gutting an NBA roster  and tanking a season in hope of landing the 25% chance for the right to draft him. On the other hand I can’t easily dismiss him, as I could with recent top prospects Harrison Barnes and Shabazz Muhammad. While Wiggins shows no signs of being a dominant prospect, his offense has held steady at an adequate level and his other numbers have slowly improved.

8.       Delon Wright, PG Utah: The reason I like Delon Wright so much as a prospect is simple. He’s a dominant player. In his first season of NCAA basketball he has posted a RSB40 of 11.9, an S40 of 2.9 and is hitting 67% of his 2-point shots. He’s doing all this while maintaining solid passing and scoring numbers. Another important stat is the improvement of his team. The Utes, a team coming off 4 consecutive losing seasons, are sitting on the tournament bubble with a 19-9 record right now in a tough Pac-12 conference. Delon Wright was the only significant addition to the team.

9.       Clint Capela, PF Chalon: Capela is a 19 year-old playing in France. Based on his numbers and size, he looks like the top PF should he enter the 2014 draft.

10.   PJ Hairston, SG Texas Legends : Hairston has lit up the D-League in his first 18 games with a 27.6 P40 on stellar shooting percentages of .528 and .369. His defensive numbers are solid, but his low, 0.47, A/TO is something of a red flag. Right now I’ll assume the poor passing numbers are a result of adjusting to a new league, as this was never a problem at North Carolina. He has basically continued the strong play that started during the 2nd half of last year.

11.   Noah Vonleh, PF Indiana

12.   Gary Harris, SG Michigan State: His efficiency slipped some in February, which knocks him down a few notches. He’s still a strong prospect in what’s shaping up to be a very good year for SGs.

13.   Dario Saric, F Cibona Zagreb: I like the foreign prospects more this year than most. Saric looks like one of the better ones. He has improved his rebounding and efficiency numbers a lot this year, which makes him a good prospect  at either forward position.

14.   Shawn Long, PF Louisiana-Lafayette: Long is one of the top rebounders in the nation. He’s also an excellent shot blocker. The weak spots in his game, turnovers and scoring efficiency have improved quite a bit over the course of his sophomore year.

15.   Willie Cauley-Stein, C Kentucky

16.   Montrezl Harrell, PF Louisville

17.   Denzel Livingston, SG Incarnate Word: Livingston just keeps posting great numbers. He’s scoring often and efficiently. His RSB40 is at 12.7. He has also flashed some PG skills.

18.   Mitch McGary, PF Michigan: When McGary was injured and out for the season I assumed he’d be back for his junior year and took him off the list because of it. I’ve read some chatter that he might enter the 2014 draft, so he’s back on the list.

19.   Tyler Ennis, PG Syracuse

20.   Nigel Williams-Goss, PG Washington: Last summer I did a piece looking at high school all-star game stats. Ennis and Williams-Goss looked like the top 2 freshmen PGs in those games and the season has played out that way.  I prefer Ennis, because he has been more spectacular, while Williams-Goss has been steadier. Both have faded some as the season progressed, but remain decent prospects.

21.   TaShawn Thomas, F Houston

22.   Russ Smith, PG Louisville: Just when it looked like Russ Smith would fade into nothing more than a marginal prospect hoping to catch on as an end-of-the-bench reserve, he checks in with the best month of his career and demands to be taken seriously as a PG prospect.

23.   Elfrid Payton, PG Louisiana-Lafayette: That’s 2 Ragin’ Cajuns in round one. The team has been on a tear since late January, so I feel it is legit.

24.   Nik Stauskas, SG Michigan

25.   Cameron Ridley, C Texas

26.    Alan Williams, PF UC-Santa Barbara: Williams is a prospect like Adams, Wright, Long, Livingston and Payton in that his numbers are too good to be ignored. He’s on the short side for an inside player and has struggled with efficiency in previous seasons. This year he has posted the numbers of a player who typically has a long NBA career.

27.   KJ McDaniels, SF Clemson: Last month I wrote that McDaniels needed to improve his passing to move into the first round. In February he improved his passing quite a bit. So he’s in the first round and seems likely to keep moving up.

28.   Nick Johnson, G Arizona

29.   Julius Randle, PF Kentucky: Unlike Wiggins, I can’t make a case for Randle as a legit top prospect any longer. His only strength is rebounding. The slight uptick in his defensive numbers has abated. To make matters worse things a spiraling downward at Kentucky. What will help Randle’s stock is the fact that PF is the weakest position in this draft.

30.   Jordan Mickey, PF LSU

31.   Aaron Gordon, F Arizona: Gordon is another hyped freshman whose prospect numbers just aren’t that good. He sticks in round one because of his upside.

32.   Fuquan Edwin, SG Seton Hall

33.   Sean Kilpatrick, SG Cincinnati: Kilpatrick and Edwin are a couple of seniors who have gotten their games together enough to be considered decent prospects. Edwin is particularly intriguing because he’s a dominant ball hawk. Kilpatrick is the better offensive player of the two.

34.   Doug McDermott, SF Creighton

35.   TJ Warren, SF North Carolina State: Warren has been on quite a tear, scoring 20+ points in 14 consecutive games. His ASB40 and A/TO are both too low and will have to improve before he moves into round one.

36.   Sim Bhullar, C New Mexico State: With Bhullar I’ll just re-emphasize that he’s very tall, hits over 65% of his shots, rebounds well and blocks a lot of shots. If he can get into better shape…

37.   TJ McConnell, PG Arizona

38.   Zach LaVine, SG UCLA: LaVine was the subject of a terrific article at Grantland. It details how a talented freshman can burst into the lottery talk, only to fall back following a few poor performances. As for LaVine he’s something of a gamble at this point. His numbers are only so-so, but he has been coming off the bench and his opportunities have been limited. The number that concerns me the most is his low, 5.9, RSB40.

39.   Walter Taveres, C Gran Carina

40.   Jusef Nurkic, C Cedevita: A couple of promising foreign bigs. Both have numbers that are erratic but show some promise.

41.   Jarrod Uthoff, F Iowa

42.   Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, F Arizona

43.   JP Tokoto, F North Carolina: Uthoff, Hollis-Jefferson and Tokoto are a trio of young forwards who have emerged in the last half of the season as players to watch. Hollis-Jefferson is a freshman. Uthoff is in his first season after transferring from Wisconsin. Tokoto has joined the Tar Heel rotation as a sophomore. All 3 have flashed impressive all-around skills. I’d like to see what they could do with more opportunities. That won’t happen this year, as all are role players on top 25 teams.

44.   Derrick Marks, G Boise State

45.   Taylor Braun, SG North Dakota State

46.   Khem Birch, PF UNLV

47.   Kendrick Perry, PG Youngstown State

48.   JJ Mann, SG Belmont

49.   Mike Moser, F Oregon

50.   Lamar Patterson, SF Pittsburgh

51.   CJ Wilcox, SG Washington

52.   Richard Solomon, PF California

53.   Juwan Staten, PG West Virginia

54.   Jordan Bachynski, C Arizona State

55.   Briante Weber, PG Virginia Commonwealth

56.   Jonathan Holmes, PF Texas

57.   Brandon Lane, PF Pepperdine

58.   Justin Jackson, PF Cincinnati

59.   Javon McCrea, PF Buffalo

60.   Tymell Murphy, SF Florida International: I tried to focus on juniors and seniors to close out this edition of the Top 60. The players from 44-60 are very close in ability and potential and there are 20 or so others worthy of a mention. Any of these players is worth a late 2nd round or UFA look.

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