The issue of “NBA-ready” is always sort of a backhanded compliment when it comes to the NBA draft. It is sort like saying a player has already peaked. Or that he doesn’t have as much potential as other prospects in the draft. Usually, it’s a way of saying the player is one of the less sexy prospects. You know what you’re getting. As if that’s a bad thing. The rosy-red delusions about how good a prospect could be in 3 years, in 5 years, in 10 years guide many teams’ drafts. But the most NBA-ready prospect is rarely also one of the best players in the class. Sure, this year Jabari Parker fits that description. Usually though, the most NBA-ready prospects are found at the end of the first round, or beginning of the second. They slip because their game is too predictable. Too translatable. Sometimes, NBA-ready simply correlates with age. The more seasoned prospects are more ready because they stayed in college longer and developed more. Think Taj Gibson (26th), Arron Afflalo (27th), Jimmy Butler (30th), and Draymond Green (35th). Everyone knew those guys would make it in the league. They contributed whenever they got on the court. But for some reason, they slipped. They’d never be the all-too-coveted superstar that would lead a franchise to the promise land. Those are guys though, that every good team has.
One of the easiest ways to define NBA-ready is that a player has one elite skill. He can do something that will definitely translate in the NBA. They know their role. Kenneth Faried rebounds and hustles. Kyle Korver shoots. Steve Novak shoots. DeJuan Blair rebounds. So, go through this year’s draft class. How many guys are really NBA-ready? There aren’t as many guys as you’d think. Jabari Parker A lot of scouts say something like this about Parker: he’ll help whichever team drafts him from day one. He could score 15+ points per game his rookie year. He should easily have a 10-15 year career. What they’re saying is that Parker is NBA-ready, but also has an elite skill to fall back on. He’s a scorer. He’s a smart player who knows how to use his body and score. Julius Randle This is an example of the more negative connotation that ‘NBA-ready’ has. For Randle, this means that what you see is what you get. His skill set and game won’t change. Sure, he could develop a jumper, but for the most part, he’ll be the same player when he’s 30. It’s a dig at his lack of athleticism. Doug McDermott See Kyle Korver. See Steve Novak. See Ryan Anderson. You get the point. Shabazz Napier Starting at Uconn all four years and winning two titles has convinced just about everyone that Napier is ready. He’ll step in and be a good backup point guard right away most likely. This is a case where NBA-ready reads along the lines of ‘ready to sit on the bench.’ T.J. Warren Warren is NBA-ready in two ways: his body is more physically mature than most prospects in the draft, and as they, he just gets buckets. The dude knows how to score. Warren is a bad shooter, but his old-school game should translate just fine.