Chad Ford Big Board 11.0
Smart, Payton and Porzingis all make major moves up the board
With the NBA draft combine over, player workouts are now in full swing. I saw all three of the draft's top prospects in workouts last weekend. Plus, I watched prospects work out in Chicago, New York and Southern California (in Thousand Oaks and Santa Monica) over the course of the past two weeks.
While workouts are only a small part of a much bigger draft picture, they offered an up close and personal look at 14 of our top 17 players. That, combined with additional feedback from NBA GMs and scouts, means it's time for Big Board 11.0 of the 2014 NBA draft.
Of the top three prospects, Wiggins is the most polarizing among the trio. A preponderance of scouts and GMs believe he is the best prospect in the draft. They see a mix of Paul George and Tracy McGrady. He also has more detractors than either Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid. Some are convinced that Wiggins' lack of an elite skill set to go along with his incredible athleticism will regulate him to the likes of a DeMar DeRozan or Rudy Gay. However, after seeing the work he is putting into improving his jump shot and getting lower to the ground off the bounce, the easier it is to get comfortable with the idea that he could be a superstar.
Here's the biggest issue with Wiggins: Will he develop the hunger, the killer instinct that makes the great ones great? Wiggins has one of the highest ceilings of any player in the draft and his elite defensive ability will allow him to make an impact from day one. In some ways he's the perfect blend of Embiid's upside and Parker's immediate impact.
Embiid took the first step toward answering concerns about his back injury last week in Santa Monica. While he was a little out of shape (understandably so given that he had to rest his back for eight weeks), Embiid didn't look like a player with a back problem. Now all he's waiting on is a couple of NBA doctors to concur that there are no long-term issues. If he clears that hurdle, there's no question that Embiid has the most upside of any player in the draft. Those Hakeem Olajuwon comps are the real deal. But he's also the furthest away from making an immediate impact. He's the biggest gamble at the top, but also provides the biggest reward.