The 2003 NBA Draft will forever be remembered for giving basketball four of its biggest stars, as well as several other solid players who have had moderately successful NBA careers. Boasting the likes of Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as top five picks, this draft is arguably one of the best of all time, having helped shape the landscape of power within modern basketball. Since this seemingly magical draft class, subsequent drafts have failed to produce the same abundance of quality. As a result, they have been deemed as busts despite having produced a small number of consistently successful players. The 2014 draft class, however, has the potential to change this perception of a diminishing standard of quality in the draft.
Burgeoning with talent, the 2014 draft class could easily surpass the talent of any of the draft classes from the past decade. The top four prospects are easily interchangeable in terms of selection order as Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Dante Exum have all enjoyed successful starts to their basketball careers. In my opinion, Parker will end up taking the number one spot. A scorer whose play evokes images of former Syracuse scorer Carmelo Anthony, Parker is an offensive machine. With just about every shot at his disposal, Parker is a low-risk option with a limitless talent ceiling. Billed as the most NBA-ready prospect in this draft, it is hard to imagine any team passing on a weapon as versatile and deceptively athletic as Parker. His offensive prowess and solid defensive capabilities make him the most complete player in this draft.
The player I predict going after Parker in the draft is Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins, a player with raw athleticism and talent, has been touted as the player to next bear the mantle of greatest basketball player. Compared to the likes of LeBron James, his explosive first step and athleticism have helped him develop his efficient offense abilities, as he is currently shooting at 62.5 percent from the field. Although Wiggins can definitely play, as shown by his 22 point performance against Parker and Duke, he lacks the more refined skills needed to give him that extra edge that Parker and Julius Randle have. In other words, he’s too raw of a talent. Yet, by participating in an elite basketball program such as the one at Kansas, Wiggins could acquire these skills sooner than one might anticipate, completing his maturation into an NBA-ready prospect.
Next up, I’d predict Julius Randle as the third pick in the 2014 draft. Possessing as much talent as the aforementioned players if not more, Randle has size, strength and finesse on the offensive end of the floor. His ability to finish while absorbing high amounts of contact will make him a highly sought after commodity in the draft. There are, however, concerns over his defensive ability, but these should not be significant enough to diminish his draft stock. The ease with which he can take over a game and control the offense is evident and should make him a valuable asset for any team in the draft.
The fourth pick will most likely be Dante Exum. An undeclared international prospect, Exum is perhaps the dark horse of the group. I could easily see him grabbing first or second as well. As a combo guard, Exum has been described a generational player. His floor vision, as well as his scoring ability, helped him lead Australia to a bronze medal at the 2013 FIBA U-19 World Championships. Built with the same lean frame as Wiggins, Exum can easily draw fouls simply because his man has trouble staying in front of him.
The season is still young, but it is unlikely these four players will not be the top four picks in the draft. Barring any severe injuries and drastic changes in statistical output, these players have the potential to become part of one of the best draft classes to join the NBA.