This year will mark the 10th anniversary of LeBron James’s grant entrance into the NBA, when he wore an all-white suit (perfect garb for a Savior) to Madison Square Garden and was chosen No. 1 by the Cleveland Cavaliers out of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio.
Two years later, the NBA and the players union instituted the so-called “one-and-done” rule mandating that players had to be 19 years old and a year removed from their high school graduation class in order to enter the draft.
While this year’s NBA Draft is considered to be “historically weak” by various NBA executives, the 2014 draft is projected to be especially strong because it will likely feature current high school seniors Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Jabari Parker and Aaron Gordon.
But what if those players were all allowed to come out this year, the way King James did?
How would the 2013 NBA Draft lottery look if all those players could jump directly from the preps to the pros?
Various NBA executives agree that the 2014 class is so loaded, several could make an immediate impact, with the 6-foot-8 Wiggins at the top of the list.
“Wiggins would be the best rookie this year, never mind next year,” one Western Conference NBA GM told SheridanHoops.com.
But even after Wiggins, several other 2014 standouts could end up being household names down the line.
“Wiggins, Andrew Harrison, Randle and Parker have the potential to be perennial All-Stars,” one veteran NBA scout said.
We asked the GM and two NBA scouts to project what a 2013 NBA Draft lottery might look like if the 2014 players were eligible to come out.
All three agreed Wiggins would be the No. 1 overall pick. Two of the three experts slotted 2013 Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel in at the No. 2 overall slot behind Wiggins. And all three had three of the 2014s among their top five picks in such a hypothetical 2013 Draft.
Here’s how the lottery would break down:
WEST COAST NBA GM:
1. Andrew Wiggins – The 6-8 Wiggins is undecided on his college but recently sounded as if he’d love to join Randle, the Harrison twins and three other McDonald’s All-Americans in Kentucky’s 2013 recruiting class.
He’s also considering Florida State, Kansas and North Carolina.
2. Julius Randle — The 6-9 Randle is the most recent Mickey D’s All-American to pledge to Kentucky. Read about his announcement here.
The weekend after Thanksgiving in his senior season, Randle fractured his foot playing in a tournament and missed three months as a result. In March, Randle returned for the TAPPS 5A playoffs and led his team to its third state title in four years.
3. Aaron Gordon — The Blake Griffin clone pledged to Arizona on Tuesday, choosing Sean Miller’s club over Kentucky, Oregon and Washington.
“It’s an absolutely outstanding fit for me — 7-footer, two large four men,” Gordon told the Mercury News. “They’re long, athletic, get up and down the floor. “They also have a point guard with T.J. McConnell, and they also have Nick Johnson who can guard anywhere. So with three long defensive players on the wings, I think we’re going to be a hard team to score on.”
4. Andrew Harrison — The 6-5 point guard and his twin brother pledged to Kentucky in October; Andrew is projected as the top point guard in the 2014 draft class.
I wrote about the Harrison twins in this Top Five Recruiting Classes piece for SheridanHoops.com earlier this year. Even if they do not get Wiggins, Kentucky and coach John Calipari will NOT be going out in the first round of the NIT tournament as they did this year.
5. Nerlens Noel — Despite tearing his ACL this past season at Kentucky, the 6-10 Noel is still projected by many as the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft.
Colleague Joe Kotoch has him as the overall No. 1 pick in Mock Draft 1.0 on SheridanHoops.com, which lists players 1 through 30 and was published yesterday.
Question: Does he become the first player to use crutches to walk onstage when his name is called by Commissioner David Stern on draft night?
6. Dante Exum — The 17-year-old Australian combo guard is projected to go No. 8 in the 2014 Draft by DraftExpress.com.
UK committed Karl Towns Jr. (Dominican Republic), Wiggins (Canada) and 2014 Indiana University target Exum were among 10 international players announced as members of the World Select Team that will play in next month’s Nike Hoop Summit.
The World team will face the U.S. Men’s Junior National Select Team on April 20 in Portland, Ore.
7. Jabari Parker — The 6-8 Duke-bound wing has impressed this week at the McDonald’s practices, getting a 57 out of 60 from the judges for this dunk. He is the only two-time Illinois Mr. Basketball.
From the Chicago Tribune: “Parker had perhaps the best showing of any player on the West squad during the morning practice (at the McDonald’s tournament), connecting from deep and mid-range, scoring in the post and off the dribble and dunking powerfully in transition. “I did all right,” Parker said. “I’m getting better chemistry with my teammates. I don’t want to be that guy who burns bridges before the game, so I’ve got to be nice to the point guards.”