We’ve seen some NBA GMs blatantly attempting to tank by letting their star players leave through trades and free agency. The Jazz, Celtics, Bucks, Hawks, and 76ers are examples of teams letting go of star players. All in the hopes of landing a player in the 2014 draft that can carry their team for the next decade. Hardcore basketball fans have heard of Andrew Wiggins of the Kansas Jayhawks. Wiggins is only the 2nd player ever to be named a preseason All-American honors as a freshman (Harrison Barnes was the first). Wiggins is a super athletic wing who many consider to be the top pick in the 2014 NBA draft. Due to the obvious tanking by some teams, fan-base are making slogans like “riggin’ for Wiggins” Unfortunately, there are multiple tanking teams but only 1 Andrew Wiggins.
But he isn’t the only player that can change the fortunes of a franchise. In fact, Wiggins wasn’t even considered the best prospect for this class initially. He was expected to graduate high school in 2014 and enter the 2015 draft, but ended up reclassifying so he can graduate in 2013 and play college basketball this season.
The original top prospect of 2013 was a forward from Chicago named Jabari Parker. He was dubbed by Sports Illustrated as “the best high school basketball player since Lebron James.”
Parker played for Chicago powerhouse Simeon Career Academy (same school to produce Derrick Rose, Benji Wilson and others that would play in the NBA). Simeon has had a long tradition of not letting freshmen play on the varsity team no matter how talented. But for Parker they made an exception and he became the first freshman ever to start for the varsity squad. During his 4 year career he was named freshman of the year, sophomore of the year, junior of the year, and national player of the year. He was a 3 time state time champion, and won 2 gold medals in FIBA Americas U16 & U17 championship.
Parker is a highly skilled player. He can play multiple position and has a versatile game. Like Lebron, he is an excellent passer, and has a reputation for making his teammates better. He posses excellent footwork and is very patient. He plays like he’s been receiving NBA caliber coaching his whole life. He is very polished, dangerous scorer. The main knock on him is his athleticism but his critics might need to reconsider that after this amazing dunk he had during a scrimmage. A foot injury during his senior season also caused some weight gain which affected his athleticism last year.
He seems to be in better shape in his first (and probably last) season with Duke. Coach K will get the best out of this talented player. The Blue Devils’ style of play and roster also compliments Parker very well. Parker scored an efficient 22 points in 23 minutes in his season debut against Davidson. Next, he’ll face Kansas and fellow freshman phenom, Andrew Wiggins. They both have tremendous respect for each other and this won’t be the first time they’ve faced off and it sure won’t be the last. Wiggins has the elite athleticism to get defenders into foul trouble quickly but if Parker can perform well, he’ll have a chance to show GMs why they might need to reconsider the order of their draft board. Some fans might trade one stupid slogan for another. They might go from “Riggin for Wiggins” to “Plunging for Parker” (or “Jeopardize for Jabari”). Wiggins and Parker are developing a rivalry and will forever be linked, especially if they’re drafted 1st and 2nd in the draft. I look forward to watching them go head to head and hope that we can get a rematch in March.
Scary thing is that these aren’t the only prospects expected to enter this upcoming draft with NBA superstar potential . Keep an eye out for other players like Julius Randle of Kentucky and Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State who some also consider to have a shot of getting drafted 1st or 2nd overall (or at the very worst top 5).