Feb 4, 2014; Waco, TX, USA; Kansas Jayhawks center Joel Embiid (21) warms up before the game against the Baylor Bears at the Ferrell Center. The Jayhawks defeated the Bears 69-52. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NBA Draft: Scouts Love Embiid, Smart and Parker

College basketball analyst Seth Davis, who writes for Sports Illustrated, interviewed six NBA scouts who have seen and evaluated every player entering the 2014 NBA draft. They agree this is a deep, talent laden draft with players of good character. Of the players available in the 2014 NBA draft these are their thoughts.

Guards in the 2014 NBA Draft

Jordan Adams (UCLA): “He does not have NBA athleticism. I don’t even know if the kid can dunk. At that spot being athletic is crucial. I think he’s going to be challenged defensively but he can be one of your second unit guys.”

Markel Brown (Oklahoma State): “A little small but a really good kid, good shooter. He’s a ridiculous athlete. If he could commit to just being a pit bull defensively I think he could make it. I think he can turn himself into a respectable jump shooter. He has to gain weight.”

Jahi Carson (Arizona State): “Freak athlete-like freak, freak, in pick and roll he’s going to score but he has a bad feel for the game. The ball never touches his left hand he’s really tiny. I think he’ll get drafted but he’ll struggle at our level.”

Aaron Craft (Ohio State): “Wonderful human being. He’s not an NBA player.”

Spencer Dinwiddle (Colorado): “I was really surprised he came out but he has a chance to be good. He can shoot the ball and I like his leadership. If he hadn’t gotten injured (ACL) he’d be a lock for the first round.”

Tyler Ennis (Syracuse): He’s a smart player but you look at his athleticism, he can’t match guards who are successful like Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose. The question will be ‘can he defend?’ He has a calmness about him so over the course of 82 games he’s never going to be too high or too low.

Mar 20, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Marcus Smart shoots during practice before the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at Viejas Arena. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Dante Exum (Australia): “Maybe not the truest point guard but he’s gonna be a hell of a player. He gets into the paint whenever he wants. He hasn’t played a meaningful game against quality talent since July.”

P.J. Hairston (North Carolina/ NBDL): He’s got a tremendous body. He’s a little one dimensional, settles for deep shots. In the D-League he just stood on the three point line. His biggest issues (marijuana) are off the court. If he didn’t have the off court issues I think he’d be a lottery pick. Whether those would scare you depends on who’s in your locker room. If you got a team full of young guys he’ll get lost in the sauce. It’s a problem if you don’t surround yourself with good people and I’m not sure he runs with a good crowd.”

Gary Harris (Michigan State): “He can put the ball in the basket but I would love him to be a better ball handler and make plays for other guys. He’s a good athlete. I don’t think he’s a special athlete. He can guard better than guys like Nik Stauskas and Doug McDermott but he’s not nearly in their class as a shooter.”

Nick Johnson (Arizona): “What position is he going to play? He’s an undersized two, hasn’t played a whole lot of one. He’s a big time athlete. If I was picking in the 30’s, he’d be at the top of my list.”

Sean Kilpatrick (Cincinnati): “I don’t know why people are projecting him so low. The guy was the best player in that league. He’s strong as a bull and he can play point guard.”

Shabazz Napier (UConn): “He doesn’t have the speed of a Ty Lawson but he does have a little change of pace. He could be a better version of Tyronn Lue. He’s not the greatest athlete but he can really, really shoot. He probably has the biggest balls in this whole draft. That goes a long way.”

Elfrid Payton (Louisiana):  “I hear his name rising big time, but I’m not as impressed as most people. Can’t shoot a lick-like at all. That’s a huge glaring negative. He’ll be one of the better defenders in the draft. Gets into the paint whenever he wants. He’s getting a lot of buzz but I’m not big on the guy. Point guards that can’t shoot, that’s a tough thing.”

Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State): “Love his toughness, his grit. I think he’s the best point guard out there. His shooting isn’t a big concern for me. That part will come, he needs his reps. You’re betting on the kid more than the skill set. All he’s ever done in his life is win.”

Nik Stauskas (Michigan): “Cannot say enough good things about that kid. He’s  big-time shooter, good size. More athletic than people think. Big fan. The guy is bouncier than you think and he can really pass. I think he can come in and play right away. I like his cockiness.”

Forwards in the 2014 NBA Draft

Kyle Anderson (UCLA): “He might have the best basketball I.Q. in the draft. He’s an elite passer- not good, elite. He’s like a Boris Diaw because he’s a legit 6-9 and he does know how to play. The question is will he be able to defend at our level? There’s nobody on the floor he can guard.”

DeAndre Daniels (UConn): “Kids are going to be who they are. I don’t know if he has a position. If he was a four, maybe, but he is too small and as a three he’s not skilled enough. I don’t see his body getting better.”

Cleanthony Early (Wichita State): A great kid. I think he’s a “tweener” which scares me a little bit. Big athlete who can make shots, but his skills aren’t good enough to be a three because he doesn’t dribble or pass. Has a chance to be a lockdown defender.”

Mar 26, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Arizona Wildcats forward Aaron Gordon (11) shoots the ball during practice for the west regional of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Gordon (Arizona): He’s just an athletic freak. Playing hard is a skill in our league and he’s better than Kenneth Faried with that. The offensive piece will come. I see a Shawn Marion type of player. He’ll never shoot like Ray Allen but he has great work ethic. What gets lost is he doesn’t have any back to the basket moves. You’re just hoping he gets good enough offensively that people have to guard him.”

Jerami Grant (Syracuse): He’s a four who’s trying to morph into a three and that’s the hardest transition. He’s a good athlete, not a great athlete. Offensively, he’s a ways away. He does not trust his jump shot. He’s light so he gets bumped around and spends a lot of time on the floor.”

Rodney Hood (Duke): He’s a little vanilla. Good shooter, not an elite shooter. Doesn’t dribble well enough, doesn’t pass that much but he can rebound. I do like his versatility. He’s bigger than you think. I don’t know if he can be a starter.”

Zach LaVine (UCLA): “You talk about potential, this kid has big-time potential. Looks like a track athlete the way he runs and jumps. He’s an obscene athlete. He reminds me of Rex Champman. Hopefully the team that drafts him won’t have to rely on him this year.”

Doug McDermott (Creighton): “People talk about foot speed and who he’s going to guard but when a guy is as skilled offensively as this kid is you’ll find a spot for him. Will he be a liability defensively? Maybe, but he’s going to punish you at the other end. I don’t think he’ll score as many ways as he did in college.”

Mitch McGary (Michigan): “He’s a rugged inside scorer who can pass it, has decent feel. I’m concerned about his conditioning. Some of that is because he has back issues. The people at Michigan adore this guy and not just his teammates. The nerds in the chemistry lab think Mitch McGary is the coolest guy on campus. The back thing is more of a concern than the weed thing. We’ve done some background checking on him and it doesn’t sound like there is an issue there. Just a stupid college kid at a party.”

Mar 5, 2014; Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Jabari Parker (1) stands on the court during the second half against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Wake defeated Duke 82-72. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Jabari Parker (Duke): He’s ready to help you now. I think he has a chance to be really, really good. I have reservations about a true position. I don’t think he can guard threes. He puts a lot of pressure on the defense because he’s looking to score all the time. I don’t believe he can turn around a franchise’s fortunes.  If that was the case, you should be able to beat Mercer by yourself. His weight is a question for sure. He’s the kind of kid who can gain 10 pounds in a couple of days with his body and eating habits.”

Adreian Payne (Michigan State): “He’s talented but personally he makes me nervous. He’s 23 so it’s not like he’s really old but he is who he is. I think he thinks it’s sexy to become an NBA stretch four. I don’t know if he wants to commit to being a blue collar guy.”

Julius Randle (Kentucky): “He’s strong and quick but he’s got to find another way to score. He’s not going to be able to overpower people like he did in college. I like his motor. You can rely on him to bring it every game. I think he’s got more skill than he showed at Kentucky. The foot with him is obviously a question. He has an unhealed break. It’s true. But he played the whole season on it. He’s adamant he can continue to play on it. I think he should have surgery but he probably should have had surgery during the season too.”

Glen Robinson III (Michigan): “ I wish he had gone back to school. He was so up and down for two years. People questioned his motor because he has a tendency to float. I was disappointed he wasn’t a better rebounder because they played him at the four. I’m not sure what he does that’s special. The biggest thing with him is mental toughness. Sometimes he goes and hides.”

Noah Vonleh (Indiana): “He’s not super explosive but he will absolutely rebound the basketball. He plays with passion. He’ll be a very solid NBA player for years. He’s a little short for a four but he makes up for it with incredible length and big hands. He’s a really thick human being. Why didn’t he dominate at Indiana is a huge question because he scores in a lot of ways.”

T.J. Warren (NC State): “He just makes baskets and he’s bigger than people think. He’s thick. He’s strong. He reminds me of Cedric Ceballos. Crafty and good around the hoop. Very impressed with what he did off the court in the summer to change his body. From 15 feet and in, the best scorer in the draft.”

Andrew Wiggins (Kansas): “Just a freak athlete. He’ll be one of the top 10 or 12 athletes in the NBA. What concerns me is his motor. Does he care enough? Does it matter to him? I just don’t think he has any ‘f***  you ‘ in him. I’ve watched him a lot since high school and there are times you don’t know he’s on the court. Then again, for someone who got so maligned, he still averaged 17 and 6 in one of the best conferences as an 18 year old. Shows how warped perspectives are.”

James Young (Kentucky): “He’s the J.R. Smith of college basketball. He’s really talented and he has the range but he a’int much of a passer. His ballhandling has to improve. Why doesn’t he dominate? Why weren’t his shooters numbers better? Does he work that hard? He’s a good athlete that can score but he can’t pass, won’t pass and he’s not a good defender.”

Centers in the 2014 NBA Draft

Joel Embiid (Kansas): “The foot injury is fixable but there are certainly better places to break it. Anytime you hear about a back injury with a person that big it’s a concern. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence of if he really is injury prone but it’s odd that it happened close together. I was at his workout in L.A. He’s so big and quick off his feet. He’s more athletic than Greg Oden was. His upside is ridiculous. He’s been playing for 4 years and has moves that 12-year vets don’t have.”


Tags: 2014 Nba Draft Joel Embiid Los Angeles Lakers Marcus Smart

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