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Report: Poll of NBA personnel rates Jabari Parker as most-likely No. 1 pick

Apr 22, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT

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Who will be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft?

There are three strong contenders:

  • Joel Embiid. With a strong freshman season, the Kansas center appeared on the verge of becoming the consensus choice before a back injury derailed him. He turned his athleticism into efficient production, impressing NBA people no matter which lens they viewed him through. Now, though, It might take an impossibly reassuring medical report to make him the No. 1 pick.
  • Andrew Wiggins. Another Kansas freshman, Wiggins entered college as the nation’s top prospect. He started slowly, but by the end of the year, he’d planted himself firmly in the conversation. His offense is still a work in progress, as he too often defers. His defense is stout, raising his floor, but No. 1 picks  are typically chosen more for floor than ceiling
  • Jabari Parker. Parker played a huge role for Duke, and he handled all his responsibilities well. He has an excellent all-around offensive game, but questions remain about his defense and conditioning.

Jeff Goodman of ESPN polled 30 NBA personnel people on who they’d take, and here are the results:

Jabari Parker: 17 votes

Joel Embiid: 8 votes

Andrew Wiggins: 5 votes

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I’m not surprised Parker topped the poll. He’s frequently viewed as the draft’s most NBA-ready prospect, and with the stakes high and job security low, some general managers have become risk-averse.

I am surprised he got a majority, rather than just a plurality, of votes. I thought it would be a little more wide open.

I’m also surprised Embiid topped Wiggins, but that will be determined by Embiid’s medical tests closer to the draft (though some general managers might still prefer Wiggins).

It’s unclear whether the 30 personnel people – “from numerous GMs to player personnel guys and NBA scouts” – represent all 30 teams. And obviously, those 30 hold varying levels of influence. Plus, it matters which team wins the lottery, and the responders might be pushing smokescreens anyway.

But as far as the pulse of the league, this is an interesting reference point.

  1. cbking05 - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    I would take Wiggins 1st … then slam a beer

  2. misremembered72 - Apr 22, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    Parker is the safest choice, but I’d be surprised if he goes 1 or 2. There’s no incentives for GMs or whoever is voting to tell the truth.
    Im calling smoke screen

  3. 1historian - Apr 22, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    Randle just declared for the draft, so this poll is already irrelevant.

    No biggie.

    • pharohislife - Apr 22, 2014 at 1:10 PM

      But..he’s not going in the Top 3. Top 5, yeah.

  4. rajbais - Apr 22, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    Wow! NBA executives are smart for a change?

    I like Embid, but I think it’s okay if teams let him have a Jared sullinger fall because your guy needs to be available.

    Availability = underrated key to getting better because you learned after playing. How can you play when you’re unavailable?

    • pharohislife - Apr 22, 2014 at 2:29 PM

      I bet those GMs and Execs regret letting Sully fall that low now though. He was drafted 21st in a steal by the Celtics, In a Re-Draft he’d be Top 10.

      • rajbais - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:43 PM

        Back issues are too scary to deal with.

        Herniated discs for a 20 year can make him bad 2nd contract player. I think he’ll get a second contract, but that back could hurt him.

        Usually though when you were a lottery pick the year before and then not declared one the next year even after being consistently good for both years you’re going to be a steal.

  5. robertb655 - Apr 22, 2014 at 12:46 PM

    KD only happens once in a decade. No difference makers here

    • bougin89 - Apr 22, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      Only once a decade? This draft is loaded with talent not only with high end talent but it’s also deep with talent.

      Lebron and KD were drafted 4 years apart. Teams hope they can get an all time great player like Lebron or KD but they would also be happy with great players for this era. Any team that can come away with a Aldridge, Love, Howard, Curry, Harden, Westbrook, George, Lilliard(& etc.) type of player they would be more than happy and I’d call all of those players “difference makers”. Their could be multiple guys like that from this draft.

      • casualcommenter - Apr 22, 2014 at 1:48 PM

        Yeah, I don’t get his comment. LeBron James and CP3 have had ENORMOUS impacts on multiple franchises, turning them into top-tier teams, and they were drafted within 5 years of Durant. Dwight Howard took the Orlando Magic to the Finals, and Derrick Rose won league MVP, and those guys were drafted within 5 years of Durant.

        As for “elite” players who are absolutely difference makers, there’s Tony Parker, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, LaMarcus Aldridge, Joakim Noah, Marc Gasol, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, James Harden, Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry, Paul George, John Wall, etc. all drafted between 2000 and 2010 who absolutely play a huge role in boosting their franchises.

        So no, you don’t have to wait 10 years to get an elite player…

      • chefjon81 - Apr 22, 2014 at 2:02 PM

        Not sure how deep this draft really is outside of the top 8-10, most mocks have the bottom half of the first round loaded with a bunch of Euro talent thats younger and less proven than the one-and done players coming out of the NCAA. Not necessarily a bad crop of talent, but probably not especially deep.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:22 PM

        He misspoke. He didn’t mean to say KD. Guys like KD aren’t once-a-decade rare. Wade, CP3 and Durant are all very similar and were all drafted a few years apart. But none of those 3 can raise a franchise from the grave by themselves.

        Now LeBron… that’s a different case… unlike Wade, CP3 and Durant, LeBron can carry a franchise all the way to the finals almost entirely by the force of his own will alone – no exaggeration.

      • bougin89 - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:39 PM

        When Lebron carried his team to the finals almost by himself he did have a team that fit him really well. It just severely lacked a legit #2 scoring option.

        They were a very good defensive team. Drew Gooden, Illgauskas, and Varajeo were all good pick n roll players and they ran pick n rolls until they were blue in the face. Mike Brown didn’t know what else to do, it seemed. Plus Lebron was such a good pick n roll ball handler at the time it wasn’t a bad option.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:51 PM

        Every team fits LeBron really well.

        But Gooden, Ilgauskas and Varejao (0 All-NBA selections between them) are obviously not Shaq (plus Mourning and Payton) or Westbrook & James Harden (plus Ibaka).

      • bougin89 - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:58 PM

        You have to take in consideration of who he beat in the playoffs. The teams in the East that year were pathetic. Really pathetic.

        It was still a great accomplishment by Lebron none the less but it was an outlier.

        It’s a shame the Cavs couldn’t have gotten Ray Allen the year they had cap space and after striking out on Allen, Redd, etc. they signed Larry Hughes seemingly just to sign someone.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:11 PM

        The Pistons weren’t pathetic, and definitely not “really pathetic.” The year LeBron torched them they were in the Eastern Conference Finals for the 5th of 6 consecutive years.

      • bougin89 - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:22 PM

        OK. They weren’t really pathetic but they were without arguably their most valuable player during their run. Ben Wallace was then on the Bulls. They didn’t have a player that was even close to Lebron’s level. The Cavs bench was even better than the Piston’s…and that’s really saying something.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:40 PM

        Well people didn’t know that at the time. In 2007 the Pistons were supposed to cruise to the finals and people only became aware of “LeBron’s level” after Game 5 of that series.

      • bougin89 - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:51 PM

        It was an incredible game by Lebron. And anytime a player carriers a team to the finals it’s a good feat. I’m not saying otherwise. It doesn’t take away the fact that the East was really weak (especially compared to the West), not unlike this season. You don’t have to try to oversell the Pistons only to make your point about Lebron.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 22, 2014 at 5:08 PM

        I’m not overselling the Pistons. They were THE Eastern Conference team of their era. Who goes to 6 straight conference finals!? Only legendary teams with Magic and Kareem or Russell and Cousy.

        But my point is that it is very difficult to do what LeBron did, regardless of who he faced in the playoffs. Winning 3 series in a row is hard for any one-man-team to do under any circumstance. It’s usually impossible for a one man show just to win one series!

      • bougin89 - Apr 23, 2014 at 9:17 AM

        I agree about what Lebron did. I said it multiple times. He had an incredible playoff run that year and was the sole reason the Cavs made the finals. In other years when the East was stronger he wouldn’t have been able to do it, that was my only point. It wasn’t Lebron’s fault Cleveland couldn’t get him enough help to win a championship.

    • antistratfordian - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:18 PM

      KD wasn’t even much of a difference maker on his own. It’s not like he was LeBron and turned the Sonics around by himself. He needed Westbrook, Harden and Ibaka just to start going places.

      • bucrightoff - Apr 23, 2014 at 7:04 AM

        It’s amazing that you made this comment considering you would be slobbering over a guy with 0 rings if he didn’t have to team up with 2 other stars. Durant is at least still on the team that drafted him.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 23, 2014 at 2:40 PM

        Please. LeBron took his team from nothing to finals by himself.

        Durant couldn’t even make the playoffs until after Westbrook and Harden showed up (all three of these guys could end up in the hall of fame). Before the addition of Harden, and even WITH the help of Westbrook, Durant could only win 23 games.

        So you can’t even compare the impact of the two.

      • bucrightoff - Apr 23, 2014 at 2:43 PM

        You’ve made a multitude of incredibly moronic posts on this site, but this one is right up at the top. Yes, it’s Kevin Durants fault the Sonics/Thunder drafted Russell Westbrook 1 year after Durant. He should have gone to the GM and said “trade that #4 pick for a bunch of scrubs instead, so I can try and carry a team on my own”. Your so far up LeBron’s behind it must cause brain damage due to suffocation.

        Oh and LeBron would never have carried a team to the playoffs in the West. In the pathetic East? Not all that difficult.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 23, 2014 at 2:50 PM

        Durant cannot carry a team by himself like LeBron can. (Who can?) This is common knowledge. I don’t know why you’re so resistant to the idea.

        Durant couldn’t even win 50 games until after Westbrook, Green, Harden & Ibaka showed up.

      • bucrightoff - Apr 23, 2014 at 3:01 PM

        antistratfordian – Apr 23, 2014 at 2:50 PM
        If not for being in the East, LeBron cannot carry a team by himself. (Who can?) This is common knowledge. I don’t know what moron would think otherwise?

        LeBron couldn’t even win a single NBA Finals game in 7 years before teaming up with Bosh and Wade.

        Fixed that for you

      • antistratfordian - Apr 23, 2014 at 3:02 PM

        Like there is any shame in that? You went to the finals with a team Durant would only win 20 games with.

      • bucrightoff - Apr 23, 2014 at 3:57 PM

        Oh and by the way Dwight Howard took a much crappier Magic team to the Finals than the team LeBron took to the Finals.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 23, 2014 at 4:20 PM

        That’s odd, because Dwight’s finals team had 3 all-stars on it. LeBron only had himself.

      • bucrightoff - Apr 23, 2014 at 4:24 PM

        Yeah, cause Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu are such great players…no they’re about on par with that the Cavs had. But go ahead and act like Demigod LeBron is the only player in the history of basketball that could have done this.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 23, 2014 at 4:36 PM

        Jameer Nelson was also an All-Star. But, hey, people thought they were great that year. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        Sorry to rain on your hate parade.

  6. redbaronx - Apr 22, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    I’m not sure I like any of these guys. I think the best picks in the draft might be somewhere between 4 and 15.

  7. unxpexted1 - Apr 22, 2014 at 1:36 PM

    If a team doesn’t pick Parker they are just outsmarting themselves

  8. aboogy123456 - Apr 22, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    As an outsider who doesn’t have to draft someone, I would take Jabari Parker 4th, because I like three other players more. However, I think he does have the least risk out of those 4 guys, and that factors into a GM’s mind because they have more pressure to not look dumb and to keep their jobs.

  9. paleihe - Apr 22, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    This entire thing about being “NBA-ready” is ridiculous.

    Last year it was Otto Porter. A few years age it was Wesley Johnson. Nobody knows who is NBA ready. Get the player you think will be the best in 3-5 years.

  10. antistratfordian - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    …which screams: “DO NOT TAKE JABARI PARKER WITH THE FIRST PICK!”

  11. unxpexted1 - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    I just don’t see how people are knocking Jabari. The only weakness in his game is that he’s not a great on ball defender. But how do we really know since he was forced to play center at duke majority of the time. That’s the only “but” there is with him. Every other top pick has major question marks:

    1. Wiggins: limited offensive skillset, not a great outside shooter, seems to be mentally weak
    2. Embid: injury concerns, only played the game for 3 years,
    3. Randle: short arms, can he finish in the nba, can’t pull out and shoot
    4. Exum: cannot shoot in from the outside, can he be a true PG, is he ready for NBA talent playing Australia

    • unxpexted1 - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:59 PM

      To me Parker and Randle should be the top two picks taken.

  12. chicitybulls - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:41 PM

    Apparently these NBA personnel doesn’t read the comments on this board (or even articles written by the people that work for NBC here). Most I’ve read say that Parker isn’t worthy of a #1. NBA personnel…what do they know.

  13. unxpexted1 - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:49 PM

    Totatally irrelevant point to some degree, but I heard about this kid being a lock NBA star when he was 14 years old. The only other people i’ve heard being called NBA stars when they were that young were Lebron and Dwight Howard. Greatness has been seen from this kid, and it seems like he has that “it”. It’s not a question if he’ll be star just matter if he’s going to make it to that superstar status.

  14. sasquash20 - Apr 22, 2014 at 8:44 PM

    Wiggins took 6 shots in the biggest game of his life. 6 shots and they didnt have embiid. To me that is crazy. I had him number 1 until that. He is a Robin not a batman. I go Embiid if the back checks out. If not Im taking Parker.

  15. borderline1988 - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:40 PM

    I still see Wiggins as the best player of this group in 5 years. The weaknesses people apply to him (mentally weak, inconsistent shooter, lacks a tight handle) all applied to Lebron James and/or Kevin Durant coming out of school. No one walks into the NBA as a perfect player.
    Fact is, dominant athletic tools and overall talent trumps everything. LBJ’s talent level is so high, he made himself into a good shooter, good dribbler, defender, closer, etc. Kevin Durant developed his all-around game and is now the probable MVP.
    You cannot teach length, strength, dominant physicality, etc. However, everything else can be gained via experience and coaching, especially for those top-tier talents.

    Wiggins is a once-in-a-generation physical specimen while also possessing the coordination to excel at virtually every facet of the game. That’s exactly what KD and LBJ had going for them coming out of school.

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