With much of the excitement for this year’s draft focusing on Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Joel Embiid, there is indeed more prospects that scouts are talking about whose stock is rising significantly. Since so much of the attention is going to the top-three prospects, here are a few more players whose stock is rising as we approach the 2014 NBA Draft:
1. Zach LaVine, G UCLA
Coming off a season where he backed up three older and more experienced guards at UCLA, LaVine did not receive many chances to prove himself. At 6’6 and amazing athletic ability, he projects to be an electrifying player at the next level. Since he does struggle on the defensive side of the ball, especially on the perimeter, as a guard that will cause your stock to fall. Drawing comparisons to former UCLA Bruins guard and current Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, expectations are high. Many scouts have him cracking the top-10 now which isn’t a surprise.
Other than his defensive woes, he doesn’t have many other noticeable flaws in his game. At the next level LaVine will be an exciting player. Along with his electric athleticism he also has tremendous shot making ability which will make him difficult to guard. Based solely on his athleticism and offensive game teams will be interested in him in the middle of the first round rather than late-first round, as most scouts has projected. Although, he is a bit of a risk in the top-10 he is humble enough to do whatever it takes to improve the team and himself as a player.
2. Jerami Grant, F Syracuse
Grant is one of the top-three small forwards available in the draft now, but before the NBA Draft Scouting Combine he barely cracked the top-five small forwards. At 6’8, with a 7’2 wingspan, Grant has the height and the length to use to his advantage and will likely get lots of shots at the rim. Along with his size and length, he seems to be very athletic which will allow him easy baskets in transition. At Syracuse, he was very successful in the 2-3 zone, and that success will likely continue at the next level.
In this draft he may not be one of the most NBA ready players available, but he does posses the attributes and potential many teams need especially in the first round. Prior to the combine, Grant was likely an early second round pick, but now scouts have him being selected in the first round. The main flaw in Grant’s game is his jump shot. Whichever team selects him will have to make it a priority to work on his shot and if he develops a jump shot he will be one of the best prospects in this year’s draft class.
3. Cleanthony Early, F Wichita State
What helped Early raise his stock was his final college game against Kentucky where he impressed all of the NBA scouts with his 31-point performance. After that game, ESPN’s NBA Draft Insider Chad Ford made the following statement regarding Early:
“He helped himself more than any other prospect this weekend. Was terrific for Wichita State. Looked like a prototypical NBA small forward with size, athleticism, the ability to take his defender off the dribble and a polished three point jump shot.”
His game is much like former Syracuse star Jerami Grant, except Early isn’t as intimidating on the defensive end of the floor. Also, Early has the much better jump shot than Grant, so if he improves on the defensive end may end up being a real steal from this draft. Early finished the 2013 season averaging 16.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.
Other prospects like Doug McDermott, Nik Stauskas, P.J. Hairston, and Thanasis Antetokounmpo have all been listed as guys who’s stock is also rising (According to NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith). After the top-five draft selections anything can happen. There are so many prospects in this draft that only have one or two flaws in their game and if they are fixed, this could end up being one of the best drafts that fans have witnessed in years. It will be exciting to see what teams take a risk on these players and if it works out for them or not.