The 2003 NBA Draft was the last time four of the top five players chosen developed into all-stars. Since 2003, there hasn’t been full certainty in a prospect’s ability to produce at the professional level, even if they are chosen as a top ten draft pick. 2009 second overall pick Hasheem Thabeet certainly didn’t turn out to be the star he was supposed to become, and neither did 2011 sixth overall pick Jan Vesely. Anthony Bennett was the number one overall pick last year, but he has not produced anywhere close to what Cleveland expected from him. However, coaches and owners are not questioning if top prospects in this year’s draft will be able to produce. Instead, they are questioning how high each player’s ceiling is and how much of an impact they will make immediately and in the future. The 2014 NBA Draft has a real chance to produce as many, if not more stars than any previous draft.
Finding and drafting a potential superstar is always tough for NBA front offices. However, this draft is so deep that stars can be found virtually anywhere. Lakers’ star Kobe Bryant was passed on by twelve teams before getting drafted by Charlotte. Arguably the best player ever, Michael Jordan, was selected third overall in his draft. Clearly receiving a little less money on their rookie contracts didn’t affect the amount of success in their careers.
However, many players chosen number one overall have lived up to their hype and have become all-time great players. Magic Johnson, James Worthy, David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan and LeBron James are just a few number one overall choices that went on to have stellar careers.
This year’s draft shows promise in the player selected number one or number two overall. The top two prospects on most big boards, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, have both been compared to LeBron James and other all-stars such as Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony. Both 19-year-old collegiate stars produced well in their freshmen seasons in college, and should transition into the NBA tempo fairly easily.
Parker is the safer pick, mainly due to his production in college, but Wiggins’ ceiling could reach LeBron’s level of play. Wiggins is more athletic, and along with that athleticism, he can add more skills to his game. Not to mention his 44 inch vertical.
Wiggins has a lengthy body, standing at 6’8” with a seven foot wingspan, Wiggins only needs more muscle to complete his body frame. He is a very active defensive player, using his quick feet and long arms to cause turnovers and prevent players from getting to the rim.
He is also an extremely explosive driver, and is able to beat his defender off the dribble in most match-ups. He is a crafty driver, and is able to weave through holes in the defense to attack the basket using his long and quick strides. Although his ball handling skills are not as developed as Parker’s are, he is still hard to stop when attacking the rim, and defenders need all the good luck they can get to jump up high enough to block him.
Parker is the more versatile prospect. Standing at 6’8” and 235 pounds, he is able to produce in the post and on the perimeter. Parker was the go-to-guy for Duke, as the offense worked through him. Parker scored at least 20 points in fourteen games at Duke, while Wiggins scored 20 points only seven times.
Parker has a much more established shot than Wiggins. Parker has the ability to step back and take a jumper from virtually anywhere on the court, and is able to create his own shot. Wiggins is capable of knocking down long-range shots as well. However, Parker’s jump shot is much more consistent, and he is able to get open on his own on the perimeter, while Wiggins’ offense mainly flows through penetrating the paint first.
The biggest advantage Parker has over Wiggins is his post-game. Parker is a huge threat in the post to opposing teams; as he draws defenders towards him, opening up opportunities for the entire team. Parker is able to hit fade away jumpers in the post, as well as body up defenders to attack the rim and draw fouls. When help defense collapses on him, he passes the ball out to the perimeter to a teammate for an open shot. In addition to this, Parker averaged 8.7 rebounds per game at Duke, while Wiggins only averaged 5.9.
Each player offers different skills to the team they are drafted by. Parker should be able to produce well immediately; while Wiggins’ high ceiling may make him one of the greatest ever in a couple of years. Either way, both players should be able to make a huge impact on the team they are drafted by, and the league itself.
In addition to Parker and Wiggins, there are countless names in this year’s draft who could become superstars in the NBA. Kentucky’s Julius Randle, who is a projected lottery pick, averaged a double-double his freshman season at Kentucky and led his team to the Final Four. Kansas’ Joel Embiid has unbelievable size to go along with his post skills. He stands at 7’0” tall and only needs more muscle to complete his frame. Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart is the most versatile point guard in the draft, and has great size to become a star as an explosive point guard. Creighton’s Doug McDermott, who is one of the greatest scorers in NCAA history, is projected to be a late lottery pick as well. Players like Connecticut’s Shabazz Napier, Duke’s Rodney Hood and Michigan State’s Adreian Payne as projected mid-first round picks proves how deep this draft is.