NBA Scouts: Wiggins still best prospect

The topic of conversation on Twitter last night and television today was the debate about the three phenomenal college basketball players: Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Jabari Parker. All three were impressive but for whatever reason, people are using the first week of college basketball season to dub which player will be the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NBA Draft.

Well… Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld.com talked to several NBA scouts who were at last night’s game (talking under anonymity, of course) about the three freshman phenoms. They all believe Wiggins is still the prospect of next year’s draft.

Here’s what Kennedy writes:

Wiggins is still viewed as the top prospect in the nation and the favorite to be selected No. 1 in the 2014 NBA Draft, according to multiple NBA scouts speaking on condition of anonymity. One scout described Wiggins as “still far and away the best” prospect due to his seemingly unlimited potential.

Most talent evaluators describe Wiggins as one of the most athletic players they’ve ever seen, which separates him from the rest of the pack. The belief is that Wiggins can improve his jump shot and fundamentals as he continues to develop, but that you can’t teach once-in-a-generation athleticism like Wiggins’ possesses. He’s incredibly explosive and quick, which is why he has so much success when he gets out in transition. One scout pointed out that it would be very difficult for a team to pass on Wiggins at No. 1 overall given that he can dominate a game on both ends of the floor (he’s a terrific defender) and has more upside than just about any prospect since Kevin Durant entered the league back in 2007.

Wiggins also has a “smooth and athletic” build, which scouts and executives love. Wiggins has been criticized during his first two games because he hasn’t blown anyone away or put up ridiculous numbers, but that’s simply because people are expecting him to be great right now and setting unrealistic expectations for him. Teams aren’t in love with the player that Wiggins is today; they’re in love with the player that Wiggins may become in several years. Talent evaluators draft based on projections and how they believe a player will grow in the decade after he hears his name called on draft night. When discussing Wiggins’ ceiling, one scout said that he’ll at least be a perennial All-Star, with the potential be one of the league’s top stars. Because all eyes are on Wiggins and he’s expected to take over every game he’s playing in, it’s easy to forget that Wiggins is often the youngest player on the court. He was born in 1995 and is just 18 years old – making him more than 10 years younger than LeBron James. While Wiggins’ must erase concerns about his body language and less-than-maximum effort, it’s not uncommon for these issues to surface in young phenoms. Improving his jump shot and breakdown ability would really help Wiggins, as would taking over a game and displaying a killer instinct. However, it seems that most NBA decision-makers are still very high on Wiggins and believe he’ll be a very special player at the next level.

Kennedy goes on to write this:

While these players will be analyzed and critiqued for the rest of the year, one executive summed things up best.

“This is a very good time to suck,” said the executive. “These three players are very different and bring different things to the table, but all three have the potential to be star players in this league and all three may be able to eventually lead their team to a championship. It’s rare for a draft to have three guys like that, but this class just might.”

“This draft is going to be so much fun,” one scout added. “You know it’s going to be a fun draft when we’re breaking down how the top prospects are doing in summer practices and November games.”

Hard to dispute that.