2014 NBA Draft: Top Juniors With Analysis
Of the four college classes — freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior; this years junior class seems to be the one lacking in depth and quality the most. The class has a few prospects that are in the conversation, but this class by in large is filled with players that two years ago did not live up to the hype.
In a very transfer heavy era there would be a handful of juniors every year that would break out in a new setting to become a lottery pick.
Every year the number of juniors selected in the lottery has dwindled from 5, to 4, to 3, to 2 over the years. In the last five years there have been a total of 37 juniors drafted in the first round, 7.4 a year, and a total of 4.8 per year in the lottery. That number has shrunk to five total in the past two seasons and that trend could continue its downward trend this year.
After the Top 5 players in the 2011 Recruiting Class (according to ESPN Recruiting Nation) there were nine prospects drafted, four in the lottery, four more undrafted, and then 33 total prospects remain in college.
How does the junior class stack up today?
1. Jarnell Stokes — Last Season: 12.4 PPG 9.6 RPG 1.1 BPG 52.8% FG
Stokes has been arguably the most talented big man in the nation for the past two years, on top of being one of the youngest, and this year is another opportunity to put it all together. He and Top 10 Junior Jordan McRae will form a due that could be the best from and inside-and-out perspective. Stokes has multiple years under his belt working with USA Basketball and training with the best players in his age group.
He is a little undersized for his position, but plays with great strength as a rebounder and finisher inside. Last year Stokes was a Top 10 rebounder in college basketball on the offensive glass using that as a major part of his offensive game. Stokes does not get a lot of his points in isolation or with his back to the basket. With all of the freshmen coming into the SEC this year Stokes can stand above them with his experience and prove that he is still in the conversation as a lottery talent.
2. LaQuinton Ross — Last Season: 8.3 PPG 2.9 RPG 46.8% FG 38.9% 3PT
Coming into his freshman year Ross was rated lower than current teammates Sam Thompson and Amir Williams. All three are on this list, but with his size and requisite skill-set there is no question that Ross is the best NBA talent on the team. There were flashes of NBA potential last year as Ross had an increase in opportunity and his role in the final seven games. In that span he averaged 13.8 points per game, shot 47.3% from the field, and 51.8% from three-point range.
With his size (6-8 220 lbs.), shooting ability (38.9%) from three, and ball-handling ability Ross has an opportunity to break out in a major way as a threat on the perimeter at the two and the three.
3. Spencer Dinwiddie — Last Season: 15.3 PPG 3.2 RPG 3.0 APG 41.5% FG
He can play the one, but with his size and scoring ability Dinwiddie is best off as a play-maker at the two. He has the ball-handling and distribution skills to balance his ability to get to the free-throw line and shoot the ball. There are very few perimeter players in college basketball with his size and scoring ability. Last season Dinwiddie was arguably the best offensive player in the PAC-12 and will have more opportunities with Andre Roberson out of the picture and the offensive load landing squarely on the shoulders of this junior.
With increased usage and minutes Dinwiddie could have another jump in his numbers that were already some of the best in the country. Dinwiddie does not get a lot of press, accolades, or adulation despite his abilities, that should all change this year.
4. Chane Behanan — Last Season: 9.8 PPG 6.5 RPG 1.4 SPG 50.7% FG
“You do not play games with the top of your head in this game,” is a quote that is relevant and important for players like Behanan. He is as skilled in the paint as they come with a combination of brute physical strength and a soft touch on the offensive end. He is not the biggest player at his position by far, but he utilizes his strengths to his advantage as one of the most skilled four men in college basketball.
5. P.J. Hairston — Last Season: 14.6 PPG 4.3 RPG 1.3 SPG 43.1% FG
There have been some obstacles this off-season for Hairston off the court, but on the court, he was one of the better perimeter scorers in college basketball last year. He has the size and shooting ability to translate to an NBA wing today.
By all accounts last year was a transition year for the North Carolina Tar Heels as they struggled to put all the pieces together. Now with a few pieces removed and a more added Hairston has a chance to shine coming off of his suspension (whenever that ends) this season. Last year Hairston shot the ball very well from three with a more pronounced role and as one of the teams leaders. Hairston has the size to play on the perimeter on both ends of the floor and is capable of scoring in bunches from deep.
6. James McAdoo — Last Season: 14.4 PPG 7.3 RPG 1.5 SPG 44.5% FG
The consensus on McAdoo two years ago was that the tweener forward had the potential to be a Top 3 pick and make a major impact at the next level. He was too inconsistent as a freshman and was highly turnover prone, but as a sophomore made a marketable leap as a player overall. McAdoo is a skilled athlete and versatile defender that makes plays on both ends of the floor.
He may not be that transcendent Top 3 pick talent that he was hyped to the masses, but he is nonetheless one of the more versatile talents in this class. McAdoo can score the ball from the elbow as well as defend both the three and the four position. The pedigree is there for McAdoo as the son of a former five time all-star Bob McAdoo and the adaptability to raise his profile back up to the lottery status he once was in.
7. Andre Hollins — Last Season: 14.6 PPG 3.7 RPG 3.4 APG 41.6% FG
Probably the least known prospect on this list is Hollins as a breakout player last year on a Gopher team that was not in the National spotlight. He is a bull with his strength at the position with a fearless leadership that allows Hollins to take over a game. Hollins is a talented leader that distributes the ball and scores it as well as any prospect at the position.
Hollins does not have as much National acclaim as many other point guards in this class despite his performance last year. With the team graduating Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams more of the offense will fall on Hollins to score and make plays at a high rate.
8. Branden Dawson — Last Season: 8.9 PPG 5.9 RPG 1.6 SPG 53.1% FG
One of the best athletes in the draft class is Dawson as a tremendous physical specimen that can score in transition and in the paint. He is like a power forward that plays on the perimeter. Dawson is a great rebounder for a wing, consistent defender on the perimeter, and is a athletically an NBA Prospect, but on general skill Dawson has some work to do. He does not shoot the ball well or in general from three. In his college career he is 0-8 from the three-point line and he does not shoot the ball particularly well from outside the paint.
9. Wayne Blackshear — Last Season: 7.6 PPG 3.1 RPG 42.3% FG 32.4% 3PT
Here is another example of a prospect that came in with the hype, physical make-up, and seemingly had the ability to make the jump to the NBA level. Since then he has been more of a role player on a very deep and talented Louisville Cardinals team that won the National Championship. This year he has the opportunity to rise to the occasion on the offensive end with more responsibility.
10. LeBryan Nash — Last Season: 14.0 PPG 4.1 RPG 1.8 APG 46.2% FG
Inconsistency has plagued Nash in his two years with the Cowboys. He, like a handful of others on this list, is a physically gifted prospect with the make-up of what an NBA wing would look like. As a player he has improved as a shooter and offensive player. With Marcus Smart he has evolved into a much more efficient prospect learning how to play off the ball with his improved shooting and finishing.
11. Elfrid Payton
12. Jerian Grant
13. Treveon Graham
14. Eric Moreland
15. Jerrell Wright
16. Sam Thompson
17. Jabari Brown
18. Alex Kirk
19. DeAndre Daniels
20. Adjehi Baru
21. Nick Johnson
22. Anthony Collins
23. Johnny O’Bryant
24. D’Angelo Harrison
25. Greg Whittington
26. Anton Grady
27. Alan Williams
28. Ryan Anderson
29. K.J. McDaniels
30. Amir Williams
31. Roscoe Smith
32. Aaron White
33. Khem Birch
34. Anthony Drmic
35. Phil Greene
36. Ky Madden
37. JayVaughn Pinkston
38. Jelan Kendrick
39. Dezmine “Dez” Wells
40. Desmond Simmons
41. Chasson Randle
42. Kevin Pangos
43. Shannon Scott
44. Sir’Dominic Pointer
45. Rakeem Christmas
46. Tyler Hawes
47. Ryan Boatright
48. Quinn Cook
49. Briante Weber
50. Chris Jones