Kotoch: Withdrawals Strengthen 2014 NBA Draft

draftlogoThe deadline to enter the 2013 NBA Draft was Sunday, and we now know this much — the 2013 draft will be OK at best.

The 2014 draft? It’ll be one for the ages.

Many underclassmen entered without hesitation, while others such as Marcus Smart — listed at No. 2 in our Mock Draft 1.0 — decided pretty quickly to return to school. There is no question the 2013 NBA Draft lacks star power, and while there is depth at center, other positions, namely along the perimeter, are woefully thin. (Our Mock Draft 2.0 will be up later this week).

The consensus around the NBA is that 2014 will be on par with many of the top drafts in NBA history. We already know the names of many of the potential one-and-dones. Andrew Wiggins. Jabari Parker. Julius Randle.

No question other great incoming freshmen will join the aforementioned prospects, as well as the list of players here who bypassed the 2013 NBA Draft.

Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State

Marcus smartoklahoma-state-cowboysSmart was in the running to be the first pick in the draft but opted to return for his sophomore season almost immediately after his freshman campaign concluded.

While Smart is determined to improve his game, he was not pleased with the way the season ended for the Cowboys.

While Smart is an impressive prospect and likely to be in the mix for the top-5 next season there is no chance he goes as high as he would have this year.

Isaiah Austin, C, Baylor

IsaiahAustinbaylorNBA General Managers and scouts are always looking for athletic bigs, and there might not be a more athletic or explosive 7-footer than Austin. Running the floor like a gazelle and creating mismatches on the perimeter for opposing centers, there is no question Austin would have risen up draft boards during the pre-draft workouts.

Next year is not as deep from a center standpoint, so Austin returning might not cost him much in terms of money. But there is no doubt he would have been an intriguing prospect to watch coming out of draft night had he entered this year.

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