There are going to be a lot of opinions floating around about NBA prospects Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Jabari Parker after all three played in the Champions Classic last night in Chicago. Those who had only heard of Wiggins got a nice preview of why the springy Canadian isn’t the only player teams are tanking for this year. Those who know things about college basketball will correctly point out that for each of the players, it was one (admittedly important) game.
But man. There is a LOT of potential to go around. Who do you prefer?
Do you prefer the size? Strength? An enormous body with soft hands, a back-to-the-basket post game on either block and a handle in transition? A player who will automatically toughen up your front court defense while simultaneously adding a deadly, versatile weapon on offense? Then you want Randle, Kentucky’s power(ful) forward who torched second-ranked (but soon to be top-ranked) Michigan State for 27 points on 14 field goal attempts, grabbing 13 rebounds in the loss.
Do you prefer the complete package? A talented 6’8 small forward who has deadly 3-point range and incredible ball-handling in transition? Someone who isn’t afraid to drive to the basket but is equally comfortable pulling the trigger from long range? Someone already drawing comparisons to a young Paul Pierce? An athletic defender capable of doing this?
Then you want Parker, Duke’s small forward with the 6’11 wingspan, capable of shooting over anyone in college basketball and confident enough to make it happen. According to people who know about such things, one of the most attractive aspects of Parker’s game is his attitude — He’s rumored to be an incredible locker room presence who cares deeply both about the team and about winning. His 4th-ranked Duke Blue Devils fell to 5th-ranked Kansas last night, but that was no fault of Jabari’s: He finished with 27 points and nine rebounds.
Parker would have had more points if he hadn’t been picked up defensively by our last candidate. Do you prefer flash? Do you prefer elite athleticism, the likes of which we haven’t seen in years? Do you prefer a player who can look down into the rim when he leaps, but who also begs his coach to put him on the other team’s best offensive player? Do you want someone with an explosive first step and a dizzying spin move?
Then you want Wiggins, and you are not alone. This year’s consensus no. 1 pick (right now), Wiggins has been called many things including “franchise-changing,” “the best prospect since LeBron,” and “a bust” (which seems a bit premature, given that he’s still a college player, but this IS the internet, and I digress). He is, perhaps, a high-risk high-reward candidate, but it’s hard to argue with the way he defended Parker and the athleticism he brings to the table.
So what does this mean for the (ATLANTIC-DIVISION-LEADING-4TH-SEED-IF-THE-PLAYOFFS-STARTED-RIGHT-NOW) Celtics? Very little, at the moment. There’s a lot of season left to be played, both for Boston and for the prospects. They will have a chance to develop and showcase themselves all season while the Celtics will figure out what kind of team they actually are.
If Boston does end up with a top 3 pick, and if we assume they take one of these players with it (not a given, especially with Kansas big man Joel Embiid looming on most draft boards), someone will probably have to go. Parker and Wiggins plays the same position as Jeff Green, while Julius Randle would take either Olynyk’s or Sullinger’s place. But again, that’s so speculative and far in the future, it’s almost foolish to write.
So instead of leaving you with the last paragraph, I’ll leave you with these highlight videos to help you choose your favorite prospect. Enjoy!
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.
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