Roundtable: Which 2014 NBA draft prospect will make the best pro?
SI.com’s NBA writers debate the biggest question of the day. Today, we examine …
Which 2014 NBA draft prospect will make the best pro?
Lee Jenkins: Andrew Wiggins. Jabari Parker is the safe bet, and in a draft full of enticing but risky choices, maybe that makes him the best one. Parker will be a legitimate NBA scorer from the first day of his first training camp. But Andrew Wiggins is the superior athlete, which will translate on defense, and in transition. If Wiggins develops his outside shot, and his final few weeks at Kansas showed that he can, he will become the transcendent star of this class. Wiggins entered the college season with LeBron-level hype, watched it fade through the predictable freshman swings and ended almost where he began. There are more polished players in this draft, but no more tantalizing talent.
Ben Golliver: Andrew Wiggins. The long-term appeal of Wiggins starts with his physical gifts, which put him alongside the likes of Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis when it comes to recent cream-of-the-crop prospects. The Kansas product boasts a prototypical frame for a small forward, outstanding leaping ability, plenty of length, very good coordination and feel, and the right combination of silkiness off the dribble and power at the rim.
Matt Dollinger: Andrew Wiggins. This is an easy question to overthink (believe me, I've been doing it for the last hour), but the obvious answer is the guy we've pegged all along as the NBA's next big thing. You can poke holes in Wiggins' one season at Kansas, but there's no point in doing so unless you're trying to fill time on ESPN. You just don't see players with the athleticism, skill set and demeanor of Wiggins. Maybe you wished he'd averaged more than 17.1 points and dominated more as a Jayhawk, but you'll see plenty of Wiggins dominating in the NBA, where his game translates seamlessly. A few years ago there was another uber-athletic player entering the draft who had averaged only 12.7 points his sophomore season, but it was clear from watching his college games that he'd be an NBA star. Still, a healthy amount of skeptics remained. His name was Russell Westbrook. He never averaged 25 points at UCLA, but he does so at Oklahoma City. Whichever teams drafts Wiggins will see a similar jump.
David Gardner: Joel Embiid. Part of this, I'll admit, is a desire to be somewhat different. I'm sure there will be plenty written here about Andrew Wiggins vs. Jabari Parker. To put it simply, I'm a believer in both. Parker is more polished than Wiggins at this point, but Wiggins clearly has the talent to make a heavyweight impact in the NBA. (Ask Fred Hoiberg if he thinks Andrew Wiggins is overrated.) So instead I'll go with Embiid -- and this isn't really a reach either. A 7-footer with exceptional body control, shot diversity and passing ability like Embiid is extremely rare at any level, even in the NBA. He can improve, of course, especially his rebound positioning and shot blocking, but he will be an instant upgrade in the paint for almost any team that picks him.
Richard Deitsch: Jabari Parker. First, I don't think there is a wrong answer between Parker, Julius Randle and Andrew Wiggins. I also trust people who project great things for Joel Embiid. I've never seen Dante Exum play in person so I'll leave how he projects to others. When projecting at the next level, I like players who have a scoring mentality, can create their own shot and pose matchup problems for defenders. Parker, at 6-8, is going to be a tough check at wing or power forward given his scoring acumen (19.1 points as a Duke freshman) and ability to extend to three-point range. He's also a good rebounder for his size (8.7). Defensively, he'll need to improve (he'll have trouble guarding athletic threes), but he has the competitive makeup to get better. He's a smart kid and I'd go with him as the No. 1 pick.
Chris Johnson: Jabari Parker. There’s some doubt as to whether Parker can do his part on the defensive end, but he should be a high-level scorer the moment he steps on an NBA court. In his one season at Duke, Parker averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds while posting a 111.7 offensive rating and one of the highest 25 usage rates in the country, according to Kenpom.com. Loosely translated: Parker scored efficiently while using a large volume of his team’s possessions. That’s a skill that translates to the NBA. Appropriately, Parker is often described as one of the most pro-ready prospects in this class. Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid may have more (draft buzzword alert!) upside, but the team that takes Parker knows what to expect. Low bust potential, high probability of immediate offensive production -- Parker’s going to be a great pro.