Post contributed by Andrew Zurchen with Connor Sports – the basketball court flooring specialists. Andrew enjoys reading and writing about pretty much anything basketball related and can often be found playing in pickup games around town.
Sports enthusiasts and NBA executives alike have been speculating about the best players in the 2014 NBA draft for months now, and as each month goes by, lists of players are rearranged and reconsidered as they try to guess who will be the first pick come summer 2014. Whether you're hoping to see your favorite team draft one of this year's top players or you just like to keep up with the world of basketball, there are definitely some prospects for 2014 that are worth watching.
On May 14, 2013, Wiggins committed to the Kansas Jayhawks, and that's where he'll play his freshman and likely final year of college basketball. Wiggins is exceptional. He was named the Naismith Prep Player of the year in February and then the Gatorade National Player of the Year in March. In his senior year, he averaged 23.4 points and 11.2 rebounds, and he has a great perimeter shot and the ability to score inside the paint because of a quick first step and an extremely long stride.
Wiggins has a huge amount of potential, and he normally tops all the predictions for a possible draft order. He still has room for adding more strength to his body over the next few years, and while he has a good ability to create separation off the dribble for a quick jump shot, he does have some work to do on his ball control. He's been in the spotlight for a long time, and so far, he definitely continues to impress.
Harrison is a big guy, but he's still quick off the dribble and an effective passer. He is a great ball handler and can create plays on the court. He has range, and can make shots off the dribble as well. The biggest problem he'll have to overcome, though, is his reliance on size and strength. His size can be a real asset, but as a point guard, he'll need to develop a little more finesse.
Harrison is extremely competitive, and he will be a good asset to a team because he has the ability to use other players around him and drive them to work harder and be better players.
Parker is one of the most balanced, complete athletes we've seen in basketball for a long time. He is capable of great ball handling, has a wide vision of the court, and consistently shows his scoring ability. He recently signed his letter of intent to attend and play for Duke, where he'll be able to develop his skills even further.
He has shown skill with a wide variety of shots and moves around the court really well with or without the ball. He can read the defense extremely well and uses that knowledge to take advantage of sluggish defenders who aren't where they should be. He can use hesitations, fakes, and crossovers to lose defenders off the dribble, and he's as comfortable shooting from the perimeter as he is up close. As he continues to polish his versatile play style, he will become more of a threat on the court and an even bigger prospect for the NBA.
April 3, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA: McDonald's All American west forward Jabari Parker (22) brings the ball up court during the McDonalds All American Games at the United Center. Photo courtesy by Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports.
Smart surprised a lot of people this year. The national freshman of the year and Big 12 player of the year chose to put off the inevitable NBA contract (and accompanying riches) to stay in school another year. This will be a great chance for Oklahoma State's point guard to develop his skills even further. While he didn't dominate on scoring this year, he did show that he has an amazing ability on defense.
His greatest contribution on the court, though, may be his leadership style. While he may not be the quickest or most explosive player, he has the kind of personality that drives the entire team to play better. He can create openings for himself and others, knows where everyone is on the court, and knows how to use other members on the team to their fullest extent.
Randle will be playing for Kentucky where he can continue to display the skills that earned him a spot among the top five players in high school. He has shown a lot of explosive power and has the strength and speed to back it up. His range extends out to the three point line, but he has the ball handling skills and strength to finish off the shots in the paint too.
He is a solid, all-around player who should be able to refine his skills even more once he starts playing at the college level. He'll be a top choice for many teams when 2014 rolls around.
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