NBA Draft: Top 60 Post Tournament

This final top 60 includes only seniors and underclassmen listed as at least 50-50 to declare on Chad Ford’s list. So until next year I bid adieu to Denzel Livingston and Delon Wright. I look forward to seeing you both drafted in the 2015 lottery.

The 2014 draft is shaping up as a perimeter heavy draft. After Embiid and possibly Clint Capela, there are no real good prospects at the 4 or 5. This could become one of the great drafts ever for small forwards though. It is a very deep draft at the top. After Embiid, the next 10 are all pretty solid picks with high ceilings. The next 10 are pretty solid prospects too. Teams with multiple picks in the top 25, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Phoenix, Orlando and Utah stand to make a nice score.

Players are listed in order of how I would draft them all other things being equal. I doubt this oreder will change a lot by draft day, but I will start in with the deeper analysis that could change things up a bit. I expect the biggest shuffling to come with the 5 forwards listed from 4-8 in this ranking.

1.       Joel Embiid, C Kansas: A healthy Joel Embiid is the top pick in this, and most any draft. He has shown franchise center potential and that’s something that just doesn’t come around every year. The injury is a concern though. It’s a stress fracture in the lower back. From what I’ve been able to look up on the subject, athletes who suffer stress fractures are at higher risk for future stress fractures. Here’s a good read on the subject. After reading this piece the scary thing is that Embiid suffered the stress fracture after playing just 647 minutes.

For now I‘ll stick with Embiid as the top prospect. I believe it is always best to go with upside in the draft and Embiid has more than any other player available.  I’m sure Cleveland fans would much rather be looking at a 2015 that includes Nerlens Noel joining the team as opposed to hoping Anthony Bennett can figure things out. Embiid should  be fully recovered by the time the testing and probing starts. We’ll know more once that process is complete.

2.       Marcus Smart, PG Oklahoma State: Smart’s season didn’t go as planned, but his numbers look much more like those of a great prospect than they did last year when he would have been drafted 2nd overall at the latest.

3.       Jordan Adams, SG UCLA: For now Adams is listed ahead of the 5 forwards, because I see him as more of a sure thing. Put simply, prospects who post the type of numbers Adams has for 2 seasons generally do very well as NBA players.

4.       Kyle Anderson, Point Forward UCLA: Anderson and the 4 SFs listed right after him are all in the same boat. They all look like very good prospects. They all have some things about their games that are red flags.   Consider the 5 forwards as a group that could be drafted in any order, depending on how the workouts go. Right now I’ll leave Anderson at the top, because I have a preference for player with a diverse set of skills.

5.       Andrew Wiggins, SF Kansas: In an early March regular season game against West Virginia Wiggins poured in 41 points on .667 shooting along with 4 blocks and 5 steals. It was as if for one game we were seeing the player who going into the season had been advertised as the guy worth gutting an NBA roster and throwing away a season for the 25% chance of drafting him. It is just one game, but it was a performance that showed why so many scouts have been so high on Wiggins. Another thing about Wiggins is he’s listed as a guard rather than a forward now.

6.       Jabari Parker, SF Duke

7.       TJ Warren, SF North Carolina State: Warren improved a lot both offensively and defensively during the course of the season. He’s just a soph and was a top 30 prospect in 2012, so he has the pedigree.

8.       Aaron Gordon, F Arizona: Aaron Gordon arrived in March, finally looking like the prospect he had been advertised as. In March he looked like a big, athletic SF who could effectively slide over to the 4 spot if needed.

9.       Dante Exum, G Australia: He remains a mystery, with only a few stellar all-star game appearances to his credit. That makes him an interesting player to watch as the evaluation process plays out.

10.   Clint Capela, PF Chalon

11.   Elfrid Payton, PG Louisiana-Lafayette: This is another upside guy.   He’s a junior, but is only 6 months older than Tyler Ennis. Payton improved a lot during the year, most important he cut down his turnover rate. Like Smart he has good size and has posted dominant defensive numbers in addition to solid offensive and passing numbers.

12.   Mitch McGary, PF Michigan: McGary could be something of a bargain should he declare.  His numbers last year were better than any of this years’ freshman PFs. His defense was improved before the injury ended his season early.

13.   Tyler Ennis, PG Syracuse: Ennis tailed off quite a bit as the year went on, but still looks like a decent prospect to me. Any freshman PG who passes this well deserves a look.

14.   Gary Harris, SG Michigan State

15.    Noah Vonleh, PF Indiana: Vonleh is a decent prospect, but his game needs some work. His .530 2-point pct, 3.4 SB40 and 0.3 A/TO would all be red flags for a prospect who wasn’t a freshman. That makes him something of a risk, but one worth taking near the end of the lottery because of his rebounding prowess and his stretch 4 potential.  

16.   PJ Hairston, SG Texas Legends : Hairston has finished off a very effective D-league stint that should get him back in the good graces of the NBA personnel gurus following the incident over the summer that ended his college career.  His upside is a solid NBA SG and that makes him a round one pick.

17.   Russ Smith, PG Louisville: Smith’s successful move to PG his senior year after a somewhat embarrassing attempt at entering the draft last year was one of the more impressive prospect stories of the year.

18.   Adreian Payne, PF Michigan State: I’ve waffled back and forth on Payne all season, but the deeper I dig into his numbers the more I like him. His numbers were down this year, except for P40, but during his career he has posted strong numbers in every important statistic at least once or twice. The fact that he added a deadly outside shot this year makes him that much more valuable.

19.   KJ McDaniels, SF Clemson: McDaniels put in a great year and is a legit first round prospect. I am concerned about his size. He’s listed at 6’6 200 lbs. That’s SG size, but he’s listed as a SF and his numbers reflect that. If he were bigger and a year younger, I’d have him up with the 5 forwards.

20.   Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, F Arizona: An active, athletic freshman who is raw, but posted some nice numbers. Hollis-Jefferson needs to improve his offense more than anything else. This has always been easier than developing defense, passing or rebounding, so I like his chances.

21.   Bobby Portis, PF Arkansas: Portis is similar to fellow freshman Vonleh in that he shows some promise, but needs to improve.

22.   Dakari Johnson, C Kentucky: Another freshman. His numbers were decent, but not great. Considering he was the #7 prospect in a loaded class and he only played 550 minutes, he can’t be left on the board too long.

23.   Khem Birch, PF UNLV : With Cauley-Stein heading back to Kentucky, Birch becomes the top rebounds/defense/energy player available.

24.   Nik Stauskas, SG Michigan: The 2 impressive things about Stauskas are his scoring efficiency coupled with low turnovers. That combination makes him a good candidate to become a very effective zone-buster. What’s scary about him is his defensive numbers are extremely low for a prospect, meaning he isn’t likely to ever be a starter let alone an all-star.

25.   Julius Randle, PF Kentucky: It is difficult to make a case for Randle as a prospect. His only strength is rebounding. His defensive numbers are anemic. He has some promise as a scorer, but he only hit .478 on 2-pointers since the first of the year. He has a lot of work to do on his game and is far too risky for a lottery pick.

26.   Sean Kilpatrick, SG Cincinnati

27.   Doug McDermott, SF Creighton: The Wooden Award winner. My opinion of him now remains pretty much as it has for 3 seasons. His almost non-existent defensive numbers say he isn’t much of an NBA prospect. But he can shoot like few others and that makes him worth a look at some point.

28.   Walter Taveres, C Gran Carina

29.   Jusef Nurkic, C Cedevita

30.   Zach LaVine, SG UCLA: LaVine’s game needs a lot of work and his freshman year didn’t offer much promise, other than a few highlight reel moments.

31.   Fuquan Edwin, SG Seton Hall: Edwin isn’t much of a scorer, but he has posted a consistently high steals rate. If he can get more consistent on the 3-pointer he’s a good 3 and D prospect.

32.   Nick Johnson, G Arizona

33.   CJ Wilcox, SG Washington : A senior who has been on and off the radar during his career. This was the first season his numbers were good enough that I’d say he’s worth a shot. It is also worth noting that Washington perimeter players do have a developing track record of outperforming their college numbers in the NBA.

34.   Shabazz Napier, PG Connecticut: The man of the hour after leading UConn to another NCAA championship. I’m not sure there has ever been a more difficult to predict champion. Congrats to the Huskies on a great run. Napier had his best year as a senior, but it is still hard for me to see him as much of a pro. He never hit over .500 on 2-pointers in his 4 seasons. His defensive numbers improved a lot his senior year, but haven’t been consistently good.

35.   Branden Dawson, F Michigan State

36.   James Young, SG Kentucky

37.   Aaron Harrison, SG Kentucky: The Kentucky guys get a mention because of youth and upside. Neither player scored particularly often of efficiently. Neither player posted good enough defensive numbers. Neither one was so bad that I could completely dismiss them either.

38.   Justin Jackson, PF Cincinnati

39.   Jordan Bachynski, C Arizona State

40.   Javon McCrea, PF Buffalo: A good energy player prospect. McCrea is an undersized PF who has posted solid rebounding and defensive numbers for 4 seasons. He’s decent on offense, but probably will be overmatched at times.

41.   Aaron Craft, PG Ohio State: Craft is a defensive demon who never developed enough of an offensive game to be considered much of a prospect. He had a high profile career and that will get him more of a look than similar players. He could probably stick as a 3rd PG because of his D.

42.   Halil Kanacevic, PF St Joseph’s: A 5th-year senior who put together a nice year that included leading his team on a run to the tournament. He reminds me of Royce White, though he’s a couple years older than White was at the time he was drafted. He’s a short, but burly and multi-skilled PF whose best skill is passing.

43.   Tymell Murphy, SF Florida International: Similar to KJ McDaniels in that he’s an undersized SF with terrific numbers who is a late bloomer as a prospect.

44.   Alex Kirk, C New Mexico

45.   Mike Moser, F Oregon: I like Moser because he does a lot of things well. He’s an excellent rebounder. His defense is good. He can hit a 3-pointer. He looks capable of playing either forward position. He just seems like he’d be a nice player to have around because of his versatility.

46.   JJ Mann, SG Belmont

47.   Cleanthony Early, F Wichita State: He’s an excellent scorer, but might struggle to find a position. He doesn’t rebound or defend well enough for a PF and his low A/TO says he’ll struggle as a SF. I do feel he’s worth a late 2nd rounder based on his solid offensive game and his place as the best player on a team that went undefeated for so long.

48.   Taylor Braun, SG North Dakota State

49.   Tyler Stone, PF SE Missouri State: No, not that Tyler Stone. This Tyler Stone is senior PF who flashed a strong offensive game both inside and out this year with stats that were solid enough for a late second rounder.

50.   Eric Moreland, PF Oregon State: He’s had an up-and-down career. Looking solely at prospect numbers there were few better PF prospects in college ball in 2013. In 2014 he missed the first half of the season due to a suspension and never really got things going. His upside and athleticism makes him worth a pick, but right now he seems like a long shot simply because he just can’t seem to put it all together.

51.   Kendrick Perry, PG Youngstown State: A 4-year starter for the Penguins, Perry had his best year as a senior, hitting an excellent .610 on 2-pointers. All the other numbers are solid and have been for most of his career. As a bonus he’s only 21, which makes him a year younger than most seniors.

52.     Jarnell Stokes, PF Tennessee: A great rebounder, Stokes has seen his defensive numbers drop each year since he was a freshman. He’s also stuck on a .530 FG pct. which is also too low.

53.   DeAndre Kane, PG Iowa State: Kane’s year would have been a great prospect year for 20 year-old. He’ll be 25 by draft day and before breaking out this year he is coming off 3 seasons of poor offensive efficiency at Marshall. Still he’s a big, athletic PG who could probably provide some backcourt depth.

54.   Dantrell Thomas, G Nichols State: Interesting combo guard prospect.  He didn’t emerge until his senior year, but scored often and efficiently with good defense.

55.   Omar Oraby, C USC

56.   Glenn Robinson III, SF Michigan: He’s a good finisher, but that’s about all I can say. He doesn’t score a lot of points. He doesn’t get to the line very often. He has yet to show a consistent outside shot. His defensive numbers are poor. Upside? Maybe, but he has a lot of work to do.

57.   Shawn Jones, PF Middle Tennessee

58.   Mel Ejim, F Iowa State

59.   Cameron Clark, SG Oklahoma

60.   Daniel Coursey, PF Mercer

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