Zagoria: Why the 2014 NBA Draft Will Crush the 2013 Draft

nbadraft13_300x250_3 (1)NEW YORK – When the NBA draft lottery ended with the Cleveland Cavaliers owning the No. 1 pick, most observers assumed they would take Kentucky freshman big man Nerlens Noel.

But because Noel is not considered a dominant player or a presumptive top pick, there remains speculation that the Cavs might take Georgetown forward Otto Porter Jr. or Maryland center Alex Len — or consider trading the rights to Noel to Minnesota for Kevin Love. Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore is also considered by some to be worthy of the top pick.

“When was the last time we left the lottery going, ‘I don’t know who they should pick,'” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas told “Somebody had mentioned when Andrew Bogut got drafted (in 2005), do you take Bogut or Marvin Williams?

“And you really don’t (know). It’s not a no-brainer. It’s something you really have to think about and say, ‘Wait a minute, What’s the right thing here?’ Noel doesn’t have an offensive game and I don’t know if he’ll get it. … It’s one of those weird years where you’re going to have to find the right fit for you, not necessarily the best overall player.”

While the 2013 NBA draft has been called “historically weak” by one GM, the 2014 draft could be historically strong.

We’re talking 2003 strong.

Remember 2003?

That’s when the first five picks went like this: LeBron James, Darko Milicic, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade. (Who would have thought that three of those five would one day end up playing for the same franchise?)

The 2014 draft is so loaded, one NBA GM said there are half a dozen players in it that would go No. 1 this year.

That group includes a slew of current high school seniors who are headed to campus next season before their (likely) one-and-done seasons end.

Without further ado, here are our top 10 picks for 2014: 

Andrew Wiggins1. Andrew Wiggins – Grassroots sneaker guru Sonny Vaccaro told ZAGSBLOG he projects a three-company sneaker war for the 6-7 Wiggins next spring, with Nike, Adidas and Under Armour all battling to sign him.

All Wiggins needs to do to guarantee his payday, Vaccaro said, is to avoid any major injuries or stumbling blocks at Kansas.

“If he doesn’t hurt himself while he’s in college, physically or mentally or whatever, he’s got it locked,” Vaccaro said.

“The only way he could help himself is if they [Kansas] win the national championship.”

Julius Randle2. Julius Randle — With all the hype about Wiggins, it’s easy to forget about the 6-9 Randle, a Mickey D’s All-American who headlines Kentucky’s top-ranked recruiting class. 

Randle, who has been compared to a young Lamar Odom, has all the makings of a future NBA All-Star.

In August 2012, Randle won the Under Armour Elite 24 Dunk Contest, and the next day he was named one of the MVPs of the Elite 24 game, where he scored 27 points and led his team to a 164-138 victory.

The weekend after Thanksgiving in his senior season, Randle fractured his foot playing in a tournament and missed three months. In March, Randle returned for the TAPPS 5A playoffs and led his team to its third state title in four years.

He was named to SNY’s Preseason All-America Second Team, with Wiggins on the First Team.

AARONGordon3. Aaron Gordon — The Blake Griffin clone pledged to Arizona, choosing Sean Miller’s club over Kentucky, Oregon and Washington.

“It’s an absolutely outstanding fit for me — 7-footer, two large 4-men,” Gordon told the San Jose 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.”

More recently, Gordon accepted an invitation to train with the U.S. U19 team that also features his future Arizona teammate, Brandon Ashley.

Marcus smart4. Marcus Smart — The Oklahoma State freshman would have been a lottery pick had he come out this year but surprised many by choosing to remain on campus. He would have been one of the top point guards taken, along with Michigan’s Trey Burke, Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum and Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams, but will now compete with Andrew Harrison and others for the top point guard spot in 2014.

While some critics question anyone who stayed on campus instead of coming out to take advantage of this year’s weak draft, Smart could help his stock by leading OSU on an NCAA Tournament run and proving he is indeed the best floor general in the nation  


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  3. says

    The 2014 draft looks to be as strong with major talent as I can remember. Now of course no one knows how all of these projected one and done talents will turn out. But on paper, this draft not only has potential star players mentioned in this column, but several others such as Incomming freshmans Joel Embiit , Wayne Sheldon, Kasey Hill, Chris Walker, Noah Vonleh , Isaish Austin …. etc… as well as second year center W. Cauley Stein and imports, M. Hezonja and I.Diop. This draft has the possibility of being historic. As for the 2013 draft, its true there dosen’t look to be much star power however it looks to be very deep with role players who have a chance to have long NBA careers.

  4. steppxxxz says

    Its always easy to overestimate drafts ahead of time. Wiggens is a pretty sure bet, but the Harrison twins are far from that, both have displayed a pretty immature game and attitude so far….Exum is up and down….a lot of potential but a LONG way to go. McGary is hardly elite….and Randle, while looking promising, hasnt had any real tests so far. This year is deep, and last year was super deep. Next year seems like it has elite franchise guys…or a couple anyway….at the top………but Im not sure its necessarily all that deep. We shall see….

    • William Marshall says

      What’s really funny about your comments are that the players you are targeting are UK players. Hate much? We’ll see who is underdeveloped or mature in March next year. I bet you’ll still be hating when your team is sitting at home watching mine hoist another championship.

    • jbk says

      Projecting talent before they even play college ball is dangerous. Harrison Barnes was going to be the number 1 pick and he went 7. Shabazz was going to be the No. 1 pick and he might not even be a lottery pick in a “weak” draft. You have to at least watch one year of college ball before you know.

  5. Allan says

    The 2014 draft will be stacked, but to say it will be the best since 2003 will probably be incorrect considering the 2008 draft had Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, OJ Mayo, Brook Lopez, Roy Hibbert, Danilo Gallinari, Eric Gordon, Serge Ibaka, Nic Batum, Ryan Anderson and others.


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