Point/Counterpoint: Who will go first in the NBA Draft?

BY DI STAFF | JUNE 26, 2014 5:00 AM

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Trade the Pick

With Joel Embiid’s draft stock in free fall, neither of the remaining candidates for the No. 1-overall pick is equipped to launch the club into contention — at least, not in the immediate fashion the organization desires.

If the Cavaliers select Duke’s Jabari Parker, Cleveland would gain a high-character player that would improve the team’s fortunes from day-one, but also, spend the foreseeable future with team unlikely to escape the first round of the NBA playoffs. In Andrew Wiggins, the club would be choosing a tremendous physical talent who could eventually blossom into superstardom, but who would do little to provide a short-term solution to Cleveland’s woes.

If the organization remains insistent upon constructing a roster that will challenge the East’s elite, only one alternative remains — a trade. A package of the pick, Tristan Thompson (still on a rookie contract), and the expiring contract of Anderson Varejao would be appealing to many NBA teams, including the Minnesota Timberwolves, who has been listening to offers for forward Kevin Love.

If the Cavaliers could put together an offer that satisfied Minnesota, having Love in fold would give a long-time NBA bottom feeder two all-stars and enough cap room to surround them with talent.

However, a more likely alternative is a trade with Orlando, who according to ESPN’s Chad Ford, have offered two lottery picks (numbers four and 12) and shooting guard Arron Afflalo in exchange for Cleveland’s pick. In this scenario, the Cavaliers would have one of the league’s best backcourts in Afflalo and Kyrie Irving, the insurance to select Joel Embiid (their original target), a second top-12 pick in a deep draft, and enough remaining flexibility to make further additions to the roster.

— By Will McDavid

Draft Parker

The athleticism of prospects like Embiid and Wiggins has many scouts elated over their potential to develop into star players. But the nature of all the hype of these prospects' upside is telling of what they have shown on the court thus far.

Both prospects are raw and seen as needing work. Embiid, along with injury issues, has only played basketball for a few years. Wiggins is a rare talent but questions about his work ethic still persist.

Enter Jabari Parker, the most NBA-ready prospect in the draft. Parker has the size to play both forward positions and is the most complete offensive prospect I've seen in a while. He will immediately pose a scoring threat from the wing, and once he bulks up should become a force in the post.

Parker has room to improve on his three-point shooting but is still capable. At Duke, he proved that he can score in the post backing down defenders, but can also face them up and knock down jumpers. He lacks the quickness of Wiggins, but shows great strength when driving to the basket. In addition, Parker has always shown a desire to lead, and no one questions his work ethic.

Defense is where he needs to improve. He must gain muscle mass to defend in the post, next season he will likely guard the perimeter. But he can also pass and rebound, and for anyone who questions his athleticism, I would tell them to watch a highlight reel of his time at Duke.

There is plenty of room for improvement, which means there is plenty of upside in Parker. He is safest pick in the draft, and will be a premier player in a few years.

— By Charles Green

Draft Wiggins

NBA fans and GM’s alike have been long awaiting the 2014 draft class, primarily because of the star-studded freshman group. Parker was once anointed as the best prospect since LeBron James, but that was only until Andrew Wiggins reclassified his graduating class.

At 6-foot-eight and 200 pounds, Wiggins has tremendous size and a solid frame to build on, and paired with a 7-foot wingspan and reported 44-inch vertical leap, the young swingman from Kansas will be a top-flight athlete in the NBA from day one.

We’ve seen these great athletic specimens before, however. So what exactly sets Wiggins apart from being just another Gerald Green?

Sometimes used as an argument against him, Wiggins’ play at Kansas, albeit impressive, was not typical of a player of his characteristics. Where fans wanted to see the superstar relentlessly attack the basket, scouts often saw the 19-year-old refrain from pressing the issue and defer to a more responsible basketball play.

With that said, he still managed 17 points per game on 45-percent shooting.

The fact alone that a phenom like Wiggins has shown the instinct to play a team-oriented style of basketball at his young age is cause for celebration. The Cavs will be ecstatic, then, to find that Wiggins will also make an impact defensively in his rookie season.

Being the cartoonish athlete that he is, it will be a nightmare for NBA wings when they see that Wiggins is engaged and alert on defense. He averaged 1.2 steals per game and a block per game at Kansas, and could be a lockdown NBA defender sooner rather than later.

There’s a very good chance that Parker wins Rookie of the Year, but Wiggins is a special brand of superstar, and as such, offers a greater long-term reward as the first overall pick.

— By Kyle Mann

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