Every other Wednesday, we’ll be assessing how the top prospects of the 2014 NBA Draft are faring in college and overseas. Stick with us each week for assorted thoughts, including the biggest risers and fallers, the standouts, the sleepers and what we know and don’t know about the next NBA Draft class…
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We are a few short weeks away from conference tournament play and the NCAA Tournament itself. A few prospects are rising up the boards rapidly while others are taking a step back because of their play or the play of their peers. How is the 2014 NBA Draft shaping up?
Here is the NBA Draft Fast Five.
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ONE: What Do We Know?
We know that over the past few weeks to a month that Marcus Smart has gone from the most mature prospect on the board and a surefire NBA talent to a pariah that attacks fans or beats up chairs. One is a false narrative and the other is an exaggerated truth. Smart is very mature for his age, but his age is still his age. The most relevant element of this season for Smart falling down boards is not those two incidents, but rather his on-court demeanor, lack of impact on winning, and the feeling that he regrets coming back to school this year. Watching Smart play night in and night out that is the impression he is giving with his body language and actions. As a point guard, those are the personality traits that are unacceptable as the primary leader on a team at any level.
TWO: What Do We Not Know?
We do not really know these kids in general. On the court, we can get a sense for their talent, athleticism, and even a glimpse of their personality, but overall we do not know these kids that well right now. Everyone in their circles speak highly of them and they say the right things for the most part in front of cameras. Off camera, though, do we know how these kids are going to react to the NBA life? To money? To travel and a new city? We don’t, but that is the job of an NBA scout and general managers between now and June 26 before they make a multimillion dollar decision.
THREE: Stock Rising
Over the past six years, there has been one prospect that has averaged 26 points, 12.2 rebounds, and is shooting 60.5 percent from the field outside of a down six-point night in-between there. He is a 6-6, 230-pound combo forward that is very exciting to watch, a good athlete, and is having a career year on a Sweet 16 contending team right now. Melvin Ejim is continuing the Canadian trend of really talented athletes making waves in the NCAA and becoming legitimate NBA prospects. Ejim is a little older than his peers, but all signs point to him being an NBA prospect that could sneak into the first round when all things are said and done.
FOUR: Stock Falling
The point guard position in this year’s draft has been down all year and has been talked about on this forum before. As of late, NBA teams are starting to shift their focus from the names that were at the top of the positional rankings early in the season and taking a liking to more productive prospects. One name that is losing steam is Xavier sophomore Semaj Christon with the rise of surprise prospects like Missouri transfer Jordan Clarkson and San Diego State senior Xavier Thames. This season, Christon is playing more efficiently, but has not taken the next step as most point guards do in their second year in college. Christon is a terrific athlete and leader that has the potential to be a first-round pick, but others are moving up the ladder swiftly behind him.