This upcoming draft had been called among the best ever. While we learned this past college basketball season that may not necessarily be true, there are still some potential stars at the top of the draft board. Everyone has Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, and Jabari Parker as the top three players in the draft, in some order. Let’s briefly examine some of the pros and cons of each of the three top prospects.
Pros: Embiid started playing basketball at 16 years old and that is apparently a good thing. Most scouts consider him a blank slate, who already has some post moves and is very coachable. His footwork and ability is ahead of Hakeem Olajuwon’s at the same age, and that is the exact comparison that many scouts see as Embiid’s best case scenario. Embiid is a natural shot-blocker, who can run like the wind and is extremely young.
Cons: Limited to one thing in particular: his back. Embiid is recovering from a spinal stress fracture, and that is enough to not draft a player in the top 3. Just a few years ago, Greg Oden was selected first and has yet to play a season injury-free. His injury wasn’t a back problem, but nonetheless, he was an injury-prone young center.
Pros: Running. Jumping. ATHLETICISM. It’s really that simple. Forget the hype. Wiggins is not LeBron James. But he is a freak athlete, who still averaged over 17 points per game and 6 rebounds. His game is incredibly raw, but it’s not difficult to envision him as a lock-down defender at the very least. And if he develops a refined offensive game? Then he has a chance at being a star.
Cons: Killer instinct. Everyone waited to see Wiggins put his college team on his back. He did it here and there for a few minutes at a time, maybe even for a full game, as against West Virginia on the road. But he didn’t dominate games like scouts hoped. He was too passive, too content to blend in. Scouts wanted to see Wiggins show a Kobe-like flare, or turn in ridiculous box scores like Kevin Durant did in his lone season at Texas. That didn’t happen, but he’s still quite young.
Pros: Parker is the most NBA-ready player. He could step in right away and start for a lottery team. He should score in the teens for his entire career. Some people liken him to a bigger Paul Pierce. That has some merit, but it’s definitely an ambitious, best-case scenario. Parker can handle the ball well for a big guy, he can shoot it from deep, and he has the highest basketball IQ of anyone in the lottery.
Cons: Defense. By now, everyone knows that Coach K was subbing out Parker against Mercer in the NCAA Tournament because of Parker’s poor defense. Athleticism. Parker’s mediocre athleticism (as well as effort) doom him on defense, and he’ll have to lean out his body in the NBA. There is also a potential red flag with Duke going out in the first round to Mercer. True stars don’t let their teams get upset in the first round of the tourney, especially when their team has considerably more talent.