The 2013 NBA Draft was not thought to be full of great talent. At best some thought there was depth within it, but not franchise changing type of players. At the same time, though, folks were starting to build the legend of the 2014 NBA Draft. One that would be filled with players that would not only change a franchise’s fortunes but also cure STDs as we know it or something — I mean, that is what I was kind of led to believe.
Fast forward to today and folks are starting to backtrack from their statements. Now the greatest draft class in the history of draft classes isn’t being pushed as being as great. Experts are now saying that it’s top heavy, not that deep or that the players that they hyped up are not living up to any of the billing.
Well, those folks are wrong. At least semi/sorta/a little wrong.
Is Andrew Wiggins the Canadian LeBron James? Nope. Not even close. But if you were a dope who hyped him to be that or thought he would be, then you are a dope (redundant, I know!). No player can be LeBron. Why? Because doppelgangers aren’t really real and cloning has yet to be implemented on humans — at least that we know about (I see you, Ryen Russillo and SNL/cell phone commercial guy).
What Wiggins is, that most potential number one draft picks are, is a player full of potential and still a little raw. Knocking him for not being polished is like complaining about your table being dusty because you haven’t cleaned your house in over a month. Give him some time, use some gosh slam Pledge, and things will likely work itself out.
That doesn’t mean Wiggins is going to be a great pro. It just means that he isn’t a finished product and expecting him to play like one is insane in the membrane. There is zero difference between what Wiggins is now and what dozens of past number one overall picks were, potential filled but still raw offensively. But hey, we are going to knock him for that because narratives or something.
Wiggins was the biggest “name” for the 2014 NBA Draft class but he isn’t alone. There is also the curious case of Jabari Parker.
Parker was the original 2014 NBA Draft class darling, but got shoved to the wayside because of some AAU game between Wiggins and Julius Randle. Proving, yet again, the media as well as fans are fickle and we like what is new and shiny the most.
The thing about Parker — at least now, in the eyes of some people — is that his game is regressing. Because he has struggled lately that somehow makes him a less appealing draft prospect. You know, as if college basketball players are not allowed to have some off games or that it voids everything good he has already done since making the transition from high school to college.
Probably still, even with all the struggles, the most polished offensive player that will likely declare for the 2014 NBA Draft, Parker is as good a prospect as there is. Who wouldn’t want a potential, legitimate 20 points per game guy? Apparently not the people who are talking about the draft.
We haven’t even touched on Joel Embiid yet. A freshman who wasn’t nearly as hyped as the others, but has developed so much quicker than anyone could have imagined and may have propelled himself into being the first pick in the next draft.
Embiid — a 7-foot, more polished than raw, center — has spent the entire season showing flashes of brilliance. Those flashes, however, are now turning into something more. Embiid has played more consistent and showed a level of competence on the offensive side of the ball that guys with only a few years of organized hoops experience are not supposed to show. All making Embiid an incredibly intriguing prospect and a guy who might revitalize the center position. Granted, he would join a long line of guys that were apparently going to do that, but others’ failures should not be held against him.
Did we mention Marcus Smart, Randle (we kinda did), Aaron Gordon, Doug McDermott, Ryan Anderson, or a chalk full of other probable high-profile draft prospects? No?
The argument isn’t about the top-end of the draft, however. It is about the depth. Folks still tend to agree about Wiggins, Parker, etc. being possible franchise savers. Instead, the experts want to knock the middle of the draft. Saying the talent is not really there.
I’m not a draft expert, but if the middle of the 2014 NBA Draft has players like a McDermott, Gary Harris, Willie Cauley-Stein or Rodney Hood, I am just guessing it is as deep as any draft class that came before it. Obviously every player can’t be perceived as being a future cornerstone to an NBA team, but would you rather get Harris with the 11th pick this year or Anthony Bennett with the first last draft? Hindsight is certainly 20/20, but let’s not downplay the depth to this year’s draft because last year’s top stunk and everyone played up its depth to make up for it.
We can go even deeper into this depth discussion. A player like Mitch McGary, who bubbled up to being a possible top-5 pick last year, has dropped to the bottom end of most mock drafts for this year. I never personally bought into the McGary hype, but if a team were to get him with a pick in the 20s? I would think that is a sweet deal.
It happens every year. Whatever direction everyone goes during the preseason they will want to flip-flop during it. If the draft class has no stars or is perceived as weak, as the season gets longer in the tooth everyone changes their minds and talks about the depth that the class actually has. It’s as if the best players in the class are malarkey while the iffy ones have somehow become Miracle Whip. If the class is talked about as being the best thing since sliced-bread, well, as the season gets deeper folks want to talk about it being top-heavy and how there’s very little value at the end of the first-round.
It is an endless game we play every year with a slew of players no one honestly knows what they will actually do at the next level. We have seen all the hype for guys who were drafted at the top, only to fall out of the league shortly thereafter (see Johnathan Bender, a billion others). We have also seen guys who were tagged as limited or only as having some potential (Paul George, less than a billion others) go on to be all kinds of swell. Here is the thing. We just don’t know.
If we did we would all be general managers and every team in the NBA would be battling for a playoff spot every year. Not every kid that enters any draft class can be the greatest NBA player. At the same time, though, not every kid in every draft can stink. It is usually somewhere in between or along the lines of a few guys breaking out from each class — some of which we didn’t seem coming and some that we did. At the end of the day, though, it’s all just guessing.
So to play up a draft class to only put it down later is the norm. It’s the same thing we do to recruits who don’t live up to expectations set for them by others. We love to build things up to tear them down as much as we love to put things down but give it weird credits (like calling a really bad draft class deep).
The 2014 NBA Draft class is still good. Is it deep, it is full of guys who will turn a down franchise into a dynasty? The hell if I know. But to disregard it because the players who might be in it aren’t living up to some fictional hype is about as awesome as asking a clown to perform Shakespeare and then being mad when he uses balloons as characters. If you don’t want to be disappointed don’t set yourself up for it.
Geesh. Can’t we ever just enjoy the ride?
Author’s note: I would be evil, dumb or some form of diobalical if I didn’t give credit where it is due. This article was heavily inspired by Scott Van Pelt’s “One Big Thing” from his radio program SVP & Russillo from just a few hours before posting, While I do have original thoughts and this article contains many of them, the origin of this post is from that segment from that show.