Basketball / Sports

Best in the draft? Here's a position-by-position look

Charlotte Observer NBA writer Rick Bonnell ranks the top 10 players available by position at Thursday's NBA draft.


1. Dante Exum, Australia, 6-6, 196: A little inexperienced, but between his size and his explosion to the rim, he demands attention.

2. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, 6-4, 225: Stuck around college basketball a year beyond when he'd earned a lottery slot. A big-time scorer.

3. Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette, 6-3, 180: A big point who could be an elite defender, but he's an awful jump-shooter.

4. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse, 6-2, 180: Not a great athlete, but a poised and mature playmaker. He also is unafraid of the shot that decides a game.

5. Zach LaVine, UCLA, 6-5, 180: He's attractive in a Shaun Livingston way – unusual size for his skill set. But he didn't play the point in his one season at UCLA.

6. Shabazz Napier, Connecticut, 6-1, 180: An explosive scorer who, like Hornets point guard Kemba Walker, led the Huskies to the national championship.

7. Vasilije Micic, Serbia, 6-6, 202: Lacks tremendous explosion, but he's a big point guard who knows how to keep a team organized at both ends.

8. Jordan Clarkson, Missouri, 6-5, 186: His production – and particularly his shooting – trailed of in his last college season. Has a good floater, which is useful in the NBA.

9. Semaj Christon, Xavier, 6-3, 186: He has good end-to-end speed with the ball and can get to the rim frequently. Doesn't take a lot of 3s.

10. Deonte Burton, Nevada, 6-1, 193: His 6-6 wingspan compensates for his relatively small height. Best in transition, he's not great at feeding teammates the ball.


1. Nik Stauskas, Michigan, 6-6, 207: He's a great outside shooter (44 percent from college line) who improved as a ballhandler and driver.

2. Gary Harris, Michigan State, 6-4, 205: Harris is a bit undersized for an NBA shooting guard, but he makes up for that with lots of defensive toughness.

3. James Young, Kentucky, 6-6, 215: Has plenty of shooting range, but showed some dubious shot selection, putting up ill-timed jumpers early in possessions.

4. P.J. Hairston, Development League, 6-5, 228: He bounced back from losing college eligibility, showing shooting range and solid defense in the D-League.

5. C.J. Wilcox, Washington, 6-5, 201: One of the draft's better all-around shooters, he averaged 39 percent from 3-point and 87 percent from the foul line.

6. Jordan Adams, UCLA, 6-5, 209: Very good in transition and as a defender in the passing lanes. But he could struggle against the bigger guards he'll face in the NBA.

7. Bogdan Bogdanovic, Serbia, 6-6, 205: He has the playmaking skills to be a secondary facilitator. Good with the ball but doesn't have optimum speed to be an NBA slasher.

8. Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado, 6-6, 205: He'll play both guard spots. Might have been a first-round lock had he not undergone Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury in January.

9. Markel Brown, Oklahoma State, 6-4, 185: He's undersized for an NBA shooting guard, but his athleticism (43 inches in the two-step vertical leap) compensates.

10. Jabari Brown, Missouri, 6-4, 202: He's a scorer with an old-school, mid-range pull-up game. But his size is less than ideal for his pro position.


1. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, 6-8, 200: An elite athlete who has potential to be as good a defender as he'll be a scorer. Failed to dominate in his one college season.

2. Jabari Parker, Duke, 6-9, 240: In a strong draft class, he's probably the most ready to impact an NBA game. Some questions on how well he controls his weight.

3. Doug McDermott, Creighton, 6-7, 220: A versatile scorer who used all four years of his college eligibility. Could struggle to guard NBA small forwards.

4. Rodney Hood, Duke, 6-8, 208: A good, left-handed shooter/scorer and also a player who applies himself defensively. Has had stomach problems during games and workouts.

5. Dario Saric, Croatia, 6-10, 225: A highly skilled European who can serve as a point-forward. His contract situation could keep him out of the NBA the next two seasons.

6. T.J. Warren, N.C. State, 6-8, 220: A flat-out scorer who attacks the basket relentlessly. Hornets like his defensive potential, too. Needs a better jump shot.

7. Kyle Anderson, UCLA, 6-9, 230: He lacks in great athleticism, but his feel for the game – understanding ball-movement and setting up defenders – compensates.

8. Jerami Grant, Syracuse, 6-8, 214: He doesn't have the perimeter skills yet of a small forward, but his 7-foot wingspan catches scouts' attention.

9. K.J. McDaniels, Clemson, 6-6, 196: He's an intense defender who also grabs offensive rebounds in bunches. Needs to work on his jump shot.

10. Glenn Robinson III, Michigan, 6-7, 211: For better or worse, he tended to defer to fellow future pros Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas at Michigan. Plays passively in stretches.


1. Noah Vonleh, Indiana, 6-10, 240: He averaged nearly a double-double in points and rebounds and shot 48 percent from the 3-point line. At 18, his body is still developing.

2. Julius Randle, Kentucky, 6-9, 250: He's an old-school, back-to-the-basket scorer in the mold of an Al Jefferson or Zach Randolph. Questions whether he'll need foot surgery.

3. Aaron Gordon, Arizona, 6-9, 220: He's one of the best athletes in this draft – a leaper and what Hornets coach Steve Clifford would call a "multiple-effort" player each possession.

4. Adreian Payne, Michigan State, 6-10, 240: A power forward who shoots 42 percent from the college 3-point line would complement Al Jefferson in the low post.

5. Clint Capela, Switzerland, 6-11, 222: For better or worse, he's reminiscent of Bismack Biyombo – big and athletic, without a whole lot of basketball skill.

6. Cleanthony Early, Wichita State, 6-7, 210: He played power forward in college and that's where his skills lie, but his body is more like a small forward's.

7. Patric Young, Florida, 6-10, 247: He was a center for the Gators and doesn't have any particular perimeter skills. But he's a bruiser.

8. Dwight Powell, Stanford, 6-11, 235: He's a face-the-basket power forward who moves well and passes and shoots with some skill away from the rim.

9. Cory Jefferson, Baylor, 6-9, 220: He's a physical, active athlete, but he'll need a lot of coaching to be more than an end-of-the-bench guy anytime soon.

10. Khem Birch, Nevada-Las Vegas, 6-9, 209: Another of many Canadians in this draft, Birch's 7-1 wingspan make a decent shotblocker.


1. Joel Embiid, Kansas, 7-0, 250: He has exceptional footwork and grace for a 7-footer. The recently diagnosed stress fracture might knock him down several draft spots.

2. Jusuf Nurkic, Bosnia & Herzegovina, 6-11, 280: This guy is a bruiser – he will clear space in the lane – but he also has refined shooting touch in traffic.

3. Walter Tavares, Cape Verde, 7-3, 260: Anyone with a 7-9 wingspan and some athleticism will get a shot at the NBA.

4. Jordan Bachynski, Arizona State, 7-2, 254: Was as productive a shot-blocker as any in college basketball last season at 4.0 per game.

5. Mitch McGary, Michigan, 6-10, 266: Had a great run during 2013 NCAA tournament but missed most of last season following back surgery.

6. Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico, 6-10, 252: He has a knack for getting to the foul line (8.8 free-throw attempts per game last season), which kept Brad Miller in the NBA a long time.

7. Johnny O'Bryant, Louisiana State, 6-8, 257: He probably needs to be a power forward in the NBA, but it's possible he's best suited to being an undersized center similar to ex-Bobcat Jeff Adrien.

8. Artem Klimenko, Russia, 7-1, 228: He's about as off the radar as a 7-footer gets, playing in the second-division of his league. Rare athlete for his size.

9. Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee, 6-8, 260: His dimensions are far from prototypical, but at better than 15 points and 10 rebounds last season, he sure was productive.

10. Alec Brown, Wisconsin-Green Bay, 7-1, 231: That a player of that size averages only 5.7 rebounds says something about how much he needs more muscle.

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