For many NBA fans, this is one of the best times of the year. The draft starts Thursday and this class is considered by many to be one of the deepest since 2003 which had LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who all may be hitting the free agent market beginning July 1.
Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Dante Exum, Marcus Smart, Julius Randle and Noah Vonleh are all drawing consideration to be the top pick in this year’s draft. General managers aren’t as unsure as they were last year when the Cleveland Cavaliers stunned everybody by selecting Anthony Bennett first overall.
This year, will the Cavaliers trade the pick? Do they take the potentially elite two-way player in Wiggins, the NBA-ready Parker, swing for a home run with Embiid and his health or roll the dice on the Australian?
Which of these players will be the first pick in the draft? We asked a handful of our staff members that same question. Make sure to check HoopsHabit.com on Thursday during the draft for a breakdown of each pick.
Gerald Bourguet @GeraldBourguet, Assistant Editor- Jabari Parker. It figures that even with their ridiculous draft lottery luck, the Cleveland Cavaliers won’t be able to draft a healthy Joel Embiid, whose potential was being mentioned in the same sentence as Hakeem Olajuwon. However, the Cavs will be still be happy to take Jabari Parker with the No. 1 pick in the draft. Though Andrew Wiggins has tons of potential and I’m not as worried about him being a bust as some, Parker is the most NBA-ready prospect and let’s not forget how much pressure is on the Cavs to make the playoffs after failing last year, not to mention the fact they’ve had the No. 1 pick in three of the last four drafts. Give Kyrie Irving another Dukie to play with and make your star player happy.
Michael Dunlap, @DunlapSports, Founder/Editor in Chief- With the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers have no other choice but to take Andrew Wiggins. I know a lot of people are pining for Julius Randle, calling him the most “NBA ready” of the potential top picks, but I can’t fathom passing on the opportunity to pair Kyrie Irving with a guy who has the potential to be a once-in-a-decade player like Wiggins. He’s athletic, he’s got swagger and he could be the next LeBron James for Cleveland. Sure, he’ll struggle to score early, but his defense will do a lot to cover up the turnstiles (Irving and Dion Waiters) that are firmly installed in the backcourt. Heed my warning, Cleveland — you’d rather strike out swinging than draft that NBA-ready rotation player.
Marcus Bass, @TheBassLineNBA, Staff Contributor- Andrew Wiggins should be the No. 1 pick for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Although Jabari Parker is currently the best overall player, I would select Wiggins due to the fact that Cleveland already has backcourt issues with Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving. Cavaliers general manager David Griffin doesn’t seem willing to part with either, so adding another player that’ll need a variety of shots to leave his imprint on games isn’t the best option at the moment. There’s no elder statesman to keep everyone in line in the Cavs locker room, so risking further disruption isn’t ideal. It could also serve as a LeBron James deterrent in the future. It will take a few seasons for Wiggins’ offensive game to develop, particularly his shot from deep and shooting off the dribble. However he already has the type of athleticism Cleveland needs. A player who can get off of his feet quick for second-chance possessions, offensive put backs, can drive the ball to the rim and finish on the break with Irving.
Jared Brownlee, @Brownlee33J, Staff Contributor- Wiggins is the guy. The Cavs would be foolish to pass up on him when he has all the ability in the world and projects to be an elite two-way wing player. I agree with Dunlap 100% that to some degree, he could be another LeBron for the city of Cleveland. He’s not NBA-ready right now like Parker is but his game will expand at the NBA level. Picture this- Irving in the open court on the fast break with Waiters spotting up and Wiggins as a posterizer, video game highlight waiting to happen. The Cavs just can’t mess this up.
If you have elite two-way perimeter players or a dominant big man, that’s the fastest way to a championship, or potential dynasty (see Michael Jordan/Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant/Shaquille O’Neal, James/Wade). Tweeners like Carmelo, Parker and Anthony Bennett aren’t going to cut it. That’s why even with Embiid’s questionable health, you can’t rule him out either. But take the potential in Wiggins and move on.
Phil Watson, @FurtherReview, Assistant Editor- For my money, it’s Jabari Parker. He’s got the best combination of NBA-ready skill set and an NBA-ready body of any of the top prospects. Andrew Wiggins supposedly has a higher ceiling, but he’s also got the potential for a much lower floor than Parker. I was leery of Joel Embiid just because of the history of stress fractures in his back. Throw in the foot problem and, in terms of draft prospects go, he’s dead to me.