NBA Draft 2014: Orlando Magic reading guide

Jabari Parker - Rich Barnes

There is a ton of information readily available out there about the 2014 draft and its prospects. Let's sort through it.

In this post, I hope to accumulate a bunch of different items for you to read about this draft in particular and the individual prospects. As a warning: I'll be self-plugging here, mostly because it's easiest for me to find, but I hope to give you guys some other stuff to read in order to give different views on different players.

Think of this as your last minute guide to catching up on all of the prospects and the 2014 draft. Here we go...

Andrew Wiggins

Andrew Wiggins is rated too high, by ESPN's Kevin Pelton

This is an ESPN Insider piece ($$), so I'll elaborate: Pelton's WARP projection model ranked Wiggins 21st in the draft, which is substantially lower than most models and very low by almost any board's standard. Interesting take on Wiggins' production versus the expectations of being a No. 1 pick.

My take is a little different, as I've had Wiggins No. 1 on my board for the entirety of the college season and pre-Draft process. My take is also free, so take that however you want.

Why Jabari Parker is a better, more complete scorer than Andrew Wiggins

Hardwood Paroxysm recently launched its full-on NBA draft site, UpsideMotor.com, and my partner in crime/friend of Orlando Pinstriped Post, Sam Vecenie, is its editor in chief. One of his first pieces breaks down the offensive games of Parker and Wiggins. Give it a read and bookmark the new site, because I guarantee you'll get a fresh take on everything NBA draft.

Speaking of Parker...

Jabari Parker

Wiggins vs Parker: Who should the Cavs select?

CBS Sports' Zach Harper breaks down the two through the lense of the Cavaliers. He breaks down categories like "potential," "winning now" and some other stuff.

Real scouts on Wiggins, Parker, Randle and Embiid

This is a crazy fun read from Ryen Russillo over at Grantland, giving you an inside look at what different NBA talent evaluators think about the top prospects. I could sit and read scouts cuss over prospects for hours, so this is a fascinating read, in my opinion.

SELF PLUG

Joel Embiid

A simple guide to Embiid's surgery

Really interesting read from USA Today's Adi Joseph on the injury and surgery. He spoke to and interviewed a sports medicine surgeon about the injury, surgery and recovery.

Joel Embiid could have big future in NBA

From the Boston Globe's Baxter Holmes. Anytime Holmes writes, it's worth reading and his Embiid report is no different. He gathers a bunch of intel from a whole lot of different important people and pieces together a great story.

SELF PLUG

If you want to really excite yourself over the possibility of Embiid falling to Orlando, skip the garbage at the top and go right to the section titled "Somewhere in the middle." There was a stretch in the second half of the Iowa State game in which Embiid was spectacular.

Dante Exum

Real scouts on Exum, Vonleh and Gordon

Phew these scouts are not too excited about Exum. In fact, they seem down right terrified.

He’s riding the wave, like Dion Waiters. Same agent. ... [The process] exposes the flaws. It’s all positives for Exum. We haven’t seen much, so we all think he’s great. With the other guys, we built them up pre-draft, then spent months picking them apart. Exum avoided all of this.

I think he’s a high-turnover guy, and he can’t shoot. We talk about Wiggins’s shot … well, it’s better than Exum’s.

Ouch.

Dante Exum is one of the draft's most talented, but risky, prospects

The Orlando Sentinel's Josh Robbins really put together a cool draft series. His Exum piece is fun.

Dante Exum scouting report

Straight-forward, in-depth scouting report from Basketball Insiders' Nate Duncan.

Coloring Inside the Lines: The Thrill and Dread of Drafting Dante Exum

From Grantland's Danny Chau: This is a fantastically written piece on Exum and how terrifying-but-exciting he is. Chau is a big fan and has been on the Exum radar for a few years, so I think his view is important here.

Julius Randle

Wingspan: The big problem with Julius Randle's upside

Jonathan Tjarks' now famous critique of Randle's wingspan and how that affects his pro prospects. While I don't completely agree with Tjarks' view, I understand where he's coming from and I always respect his view. I think it's important to read and understand the risk in draft Randle.

My piece on Randle paints the former Wildcat in a better light. It's important, however, to read both perspectives.

Jay Bilas weighs in on Randle

A piece from the Louisville Courier-Journal, focusing mostly on Randle but also touching on wing prospect James Young.

Noah Vonleh

From the Grantland piece listed above:

I’d take Randle. There is a difference in how these two kids have been packaged. Randle only needs to hit the 15-footer to be the guy we hope he can be. Vonleh needs to hit from further out to be the player he’s being billed as.

Vonleh, Randle or Gordon?

An ESPN piece comparing the three power forwards in a number of different categories.

My piece is pretty neutral on Vonleh. I like the idea of what he can become, but I'm not sold he will magically learn how to use his physical gifts. Guys who thrive in workouts after so-so production on the floor always terrify me. He could be great, or he could hide on the end of a bench for half-a-decade. There's a lot of room for error here.

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart's Choice

Grantland's Brian Phillips is a must read. This piece is old, written in November discussing his decision to return for his sophomore year, but it's well worth a re-visit. Amazing think-piece on Smart, the situation Smart grew up in and how he's grown as a person since.

Smart can sometimes be terrible and he can sometimes be great. That's the basis of my piece. There are some very smart people with opinions I greatly respect who think Smart will be a great NBA player. He takes a bad rap here, but I can tell you that isn't a universal opinion.

Kevin Pelton's WARP Projections love him, ranking him No. 1. (insider $$)

High steal rate, marvelous wingspan, good field goal percentage, crazy free throw rate: I believe that's why Smart tests so well in almost all analytical models. Pelton writes:

Players similar to Smart tend to perform better in the NBA as the professional floor typically is more open, allowing them to create off the dribble.

Interesting.

Happy Draft Day and enjoy all the fun stuff to read! Hopefully this guide will help you stay as informed as possible for the top of the draft.

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