Most of the hype surrounding the 2014 NBA draft is focused on the exceptionally gifted, once-in-a-decade prospect Andrew Wiggins. He deserves top-pick attention and is certainly poised to be a franchise changer, but the reality is only one tanking club is going to get him. Fortunately, for the rest of the cellar dwellers, there are other elite prospects with superstar potential. Teams picking anywhere in the top five could hit the jackpot with this crop of youngsters. From dynamic forwards to brilliant playmaking guards, the class of 2014 is stacked with talent beyond Kansas' frontrunner. With the college hoops tipoff just days away, we're spotlighting the group of non-Wiggins standouts that are worth tanking for. Jabari Parker- Duke Freshman PF (6'8", 240 lbs) Why Parker Stands Out While Jabari Parker doesn't own the jaw-dropping athleticism of Wiggins, he exhibits a superior skill set and a better feel for the game. That's not meant to be a knock on Wiggins, but rather an illustration of how polished Parker is. Duke's prized freshman delivers excellent ball-handling, a picturesque jumper and the ability to finish with either hand. Due to his ball skills, size and ability to score from anywhere, Coach K will likely showcase the forward's versatility throughout the year. His length and court awareness not only help him as a defender but also as an off-ball worker and rebounder. There's not an area of the game he can't influence. When you factor in his strong character, work ethic and coachability, there's no doubt his stock will climb throughout the year. Why Parker is Worth Tanking There are a small group of NBA swingmen who don't need to use their athleticism to score (think Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony), and Parker has a chance to be in that category. He may never reach the level of 'Melo or the Black Mamba, but Parker could certainly be a championship-type performer like Pierce, only taller and more athletic. NBA scouts, coaches and general managers will love his superstar potential and intangibles. Julius Randle- Kentucky Freshman PF (6'9", 250 lbs) Why Randle Stands Out Kentucky's Julius Randle is another prospect with top-pick stuff, as he possesses a remarkable blend of physical gifts and basketball skills. The Plano, Texas product is built like a football player and can move like an NBA swingman. His developing repertoire of moves is already impressive, and he's definitely the type of prospect who will expand those skills and polish them in college and the NBA. Randle will give his NBA squad offensive flexibility because he has the footwork to face up and drive or create off post-ups, as well as pass at a high level. He owns a nasty spin move and a guard-like crossover, and he's not shy about playing physically. As a stopper, Randle isn't a finished product, but he shows the willingness to work hard on that end of the floor. Why Randle is Worth Tanking Randle is potentially a franchise changer because he can spearhead his team's attack from outside and inside. Randle can operate effectively from the wing as a slasher or perimeter shooter, but he's equally effective banging in the deep post and exploding for rebounds and buckets. His advanced footwork, pump fakes and passing aptitude are what set him apart from other versatile athletes. The exciting part is that he could improve his right-handed skills and become even scarier to contain. Randle has an unselfish, hard-working approach, which should make the transition to the NBA a smooth one. Marcus Smart- Oklahoma State Sophomore PG (6'4", 200 lbs) Why Smart Stands Out The 2013-14 preseason Big 12 Player of the Year returns to the college fray after his Oklahoma State Cowboys fell early in the 2013 NCAA tourney. Marcus Smart wants to win, and that's what fuels him as an all-around player. His aggressive playmaking combines with superb court vision and shooting skills to make him a dangerous floor general. Smart isn't afraid to play physical and drive right into the heart of opposing defenses. On the other end, he's equally valuable, using his terrific instincts, footwork and hustle to stifle would-be scorers. Why Smart is Worth Tanking NBA clubs looking for a point guard or even combo guard for the future should hope to grab him in the top five. Smart has the tools to grow into a true dual-threat quarterback, with the potential to be both an elite scorer and elite dime-dropper. The other side of this two-edged sword is his defense. It's tough to find young players capable of consistently defending the NBA's top guards, and Smart will instantly bring that proficiency. Dante Exum- Australia G (6'6", 190 lbs) Why Exum Stands Out Australia's next bright NBA prospect should eventually be its biggest superstar ever. That's how high Dante Exum's ceiling is. He's just 18 years old, but he already shows an exciting foundation of playmaking, scoring versatility and defensive tools. A fluid guard with a 6'9" wingspan, Exum can weave his way to the paint and finish in a myriad of ways or set up his comrades. He can also work off the ball and score via cuts and spot-up shooting chances. Exum's length helps him make next-level passes and shots, and his quickness makes him a nightmare matchup. In the U19 World Championships, his monster outing paced the Aussie's upset over Spain.
The Most Tank-Worthy 2014 NBA Draft Prospects Not Named Wiggins
Bleacher Report | Nov 6