Mark Neal

I am the Program Director at 1410 WING ESPN Radio in Dayton, Ohio...also host of Dayton Sports Scene weekdays at 5p!  Find me on Twitter @ESPNMark!

My thoughts on 11 top NBA Draft prospects

by Mark Neal posted Apr 25 2014 11:31AM
I want to start by saying, this isn't a mock draft, or even a draft order projection, just 11 guys that are going to go high in the June NBA Draft...that is all. I don't want this to be looked at as a guy is slotted somewhere, or this guy is better than that guy. This is simply my opinion on what they are as a player, strengths and weaknesses.

Andrew Wiggins: I had the opportunity to call a game of his in HS at Flyin' to the Hoop. He was the top player in the country, and billed as the next LeBron. He had 6 points, and was invisible for most of the game...in HS...2 years ago. I do like him as a player. He is very explosive, can score in bunches, and still has room to develop. He needs to become more of a basketball player and less of an athletic guy playing basketball. He reminds me of a Forward version of Russell Westbrook...but Russ has built a game around that incredible athleticism. If Wiggins can develop a reliable shot, and stay healthy, he could be a 15-17 point a game guy...maybe even a 20+ guy. He has a ways to go though before that time comes.

Joel Embiid: Everybody has the same fear with Embiid...an injured big man, is an always injured big man. If his back heals, he has the length and athleticism to be a poorer man's Anthony Davis. He is so raw though. Very little offense outside of 5 feet, which will need to be addressed. New to the game, yes, but he works hard and is willing to grow as a player. Going #1 or #2 might be a bit high, but he could be a rim protector at the highest level one day.

Jabari Parker: Seen by many as the possible #1 pick, which he very well may be come draft day. Jabari played out of position much of last season at Duke, moonlighting at the 5 way too often. He is well rounded, and can shoot, score from the inside, and rebound..as well as distribute. My one knock on Jabari is that I feel he will be a little slow in the NBA, which could hurt his ability to get to the basket. I can see him becoming a great stand still shooter, but his ability to take it to the rack is what would make him flourish at the next level.

Julius Randle: I wonder if he will be 6'6" or so at the combine? If so, being a PF will be difficult. He doesn't lean on being athletic, which is to say he isn't a leaper...one way to overcome a height issue. He can certainly do a lot of things, and his 1 year at Kentucky helped him learn to be impactful without the basketball...something most great HS players don't know much about. He is left handed, which does create issue defensively for some. Once again, if he can develop a pick and pop game, Randle could be a good player in the NBA.

Noah Vonleh: Long, athletic...but so is most of the NBA. He is a guy, through injury and lack of team success, that wasn't seen as much as many of this list. He could certainly be a rotation big in the NBA, but must bulk up and be able to face the basket on offense eventually. Do like him, but needs work after just 1 year in Bloomington.

Aaron Gordon: Wow, his athleticism jumps off the page almost as much as he can jump off the floor. He can take over games, but at 6'8" and a mostly post player, his effectiveness will be in question, at least early in his career. A pick and pop game would do him a lot, and so would being lucky enough to stay healthy to retain that athletic stuff he brings. He is still a mystery as to his ceiling in the NBA, but a good player, he should be.

Marcus Smart: He is a classic #2 Guard, which there really aren't many in the league. Doesn't handle the rock well enough to be a PG, is too small to play the swing and guard SFs. If he can become a dead eye shooter, and mix in an ability to penetrate and get to the FT line, that is how he can maximize himself as a player. He is a natural scorer, which every team can use.

Doug McDermott: A great unknown in the NBA, yes he can score...in college. So could Alfrederick Hughes, Keydren Clark, and Alphonso Ford...but they couldn't translate to the Association. Finding his role could be as an intermediate jumper guy, of a guy that camps out in the corner for 3s? Once again, every team can use shooters, but can he create his own shot?

Gary Harris: See Marcus Smart. Classic 2 Guard in the league. Could penetrate in college, can he in the NBA? A really good player, that may be able to transition to PG. If not, he needs to shoot 200-300 3s per day and go that route to get solid playing time.

Nik Stauskas: A ready made shooter from everywhere. If he shows he can create his own shot, he will be a dangerous player in the NBA. Maybe never a guy that scores over 17 PPG, but a niche shooter in the league. He can make FTs too, which can get you minutes late. His knock is whether he can guard anyone? Many others can't but if he can, that will only help him get minutes.

Adreian Payne: Local guy from Jefferson Township, that saw his game blossom over time. He went from a on the block banger, to a scorer from all over the court. He can go down low and score, or knock down 3s from the top of the arch. I can see him becoming a Rasheed Wallace type in the sense that he falls in love with the 3 ball. If they are falling for him, then fall in love with that game, Adreian! If he falls, like Seniors do sometimes, he could be the steal of the 2014 NBA Draft!
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04/25/2014 11:31AM
My thoughts on 11 top NBA Draft prospects
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