Chad Ford's Final Big Board
Andrew Wiggins will be draft's best pro player
Andrew Wiggins began the season as the No. 1 prospect on our Big Board and ends the season in the same place. Jabari Parker, Dante Exum, Joel Embiid, Marcus Smart, Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle and Dario Saric were all in the top 10 of Big Board 1.0 as well. They're still there too -- and so the complexion of the top of the board has remained pretty much the same all year long.
A few players, however, have seen their stock rise over the course of the season -- particularly Noah Vonleh, Nik Stauskas and Elfrid Payton.
A reminder: These rankings are not based on where a player will go in the draft. Rather, they are a composite ranking of who, in five years, will be the best NBA players, based on talking with NBA GMs and scouts and consulting various analytics models.
Wiggins has had an interesting career arc. He was overhyped in the beginning of the season, unfairly bashed during the season (it actually started in practices before the season) to the point he was almost underrated and has now climbed back into the mix for the No. 1 pick. Wiggins has participated in special workouts in Cleveland, Milwaukee and Philadelphia, reminding GMs why scouts fell in love with him in the first place. While Wiggins lacks the offensive polish, toughness and aggressiveness of Jabari Parker, his superior athletic skills, physical size for his position and ability to be a lockdown defender from day one will allow him to make an immediate impact. If he continues to polish his offensive game, Wiggins will be a superstar someday. He'll either go No. 1 to the Cavs or No. 2 to the Bucks.
Parker, ironically, has had a similar arc to Wiggins. As a junior in high school, he was heralded as the best prospect since LeBron James. Then a foot injury slowed his progress, and Wiggins passed him on most boards. A stellar freshman season at Duke reminded people just what a special player Parker is. He has a tremendous feel for the game and is an aggressive scorer and leader on the court. His lack of elite athleticism and conditioning issues are the only things holding him back. He is considered the most sure thing in the draft, though he lacks the upside of Wiggins, Dante Exum and Joel Embiid. Parker will either go No. 1 to the Cavs (that's where they're leaning right now) or No. 2 to the Bucks.