Who will be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft?
There are three strong contenders:
- Joel Embiid. With a strong freshman season, the Kansas center appeared on the verge of becoming the consensus choice before a back injury derailed him. He turned his athleticism into efficient production, impressing NBA people no matter which lens they viewed him through. Now, though, It might take an impossibly reassuring medical report to make him the No. 1 pick.
- Andrew Wiggins. Another Kansas freshman, Wiggins entered college as the nation’s top prospect. He started slowly, but by the end of the year, he’d planted himself firmly in the conversation. His offense is still a work in progress, as he too often defers. His defense is stout, raising his floor, but No. 1 picks are typically chosen more for floor than ceiling
- Jabari Parker. Parker played a huge role for Duke, and he handled all his responsibilities well. He has an excellent all-around offensive game, but questions remain about his defense and conditioning.
Jeff Goodman of ESPN polled 30 NBA personnel people on who they’d take, and here are the results:
Jabari Parker: 17 votes
Joel Embiid: 8 votes
Andrew Wiggins: 5 votes
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I’m not surprised Parker topped the poll. He’s frequently viewed as the draft’s most NBA-ready prospect, and with the stakes high and job security low, some general managers have become risk-averse.
I am surprised he got a majority, rather than just a plurality, of votes. I thought it would be a little more wide open.
I’m also surprised Embiid topped Wiggins, but that will be determined by Embiid’s medical tests closer to the draft (though some general managers might still prefer Wiggins).
It’s unclear whether the 30 personnel people – “from numerous GMs to player personnel guys and NBA scouts” – represent all 30 teams. And obviously, those 30 hold varying levels of influence. Plus, it matters which team wins the lottery, and the responders might be pushing smokescreens anyway.
But as far as the pulse of the league, this is an interesting reference point.