For two years now, analysts, scouts and draftniks have said that the 2013 NBA Draft was terrible and the 2014 Draft would be the best in many years. What if we merged the two drafts together? How would the top 10 from 2013 fare in this gauntlet of prospects?
If you recall, 2013 was marred with a Top 10 that had no consensus. A player projected as low as 10th within the weeks leading up to the draft was taken #1 overall. Another player projected in the late lottery was taken 4th. Yet the two consensus #1 and #2 picks dropped to #6 and #7 respectively once the draft actually happened.
What does that tell you? It tells me that there was a whole lot nothing to get excited about in the 2013 Draft. Unfortunately for the Suns, that happened to be the year they had their highest pick since the 80s.
I asked many of those draftniks and scouts to give me their perspective on comparing the 2013 and 2014 Drafts, and then asked where Suns draftees Alex Len and Archie Goodwin would fall if the two drafts were mashed together.
But first things first. Let's compare the two drafts. If the 2013 prospects all went into suspended animation for one year and came out this year along with the 2014 guys, would any of the Top 10 in the 2013 Draft make this year's top ten?
On 2013 vs. 2014
Jonathan Wasserman, NBADraft.net and BleacherReport:
Last year's draft was flat out bad. We knew that heading into June. Nerlens Noel would be a top 10 pick this year. That's probably it.
Matt Moore of CBSSports.com and HarwoodParoxysm.com
Only Anthony Bennett and Victor Oladipo would make a composite Top 10 of 2013 and 2014 prospects. (paraphrased)
Kris Habbas, NBADraftInsider.com and Bright Side contributor:
Not one prospect in the 2013 Class had the upside of an Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, or Dante Exum. Alex Len would be in competition with the next tier.
James Plowright, The Lottery Mafia:
The 2013 draft class looks to be one of the weakest in recent times. The fact that Alex Len received one All-NBA [Rookie] Second team vote despite averaging just two points and two rebounds while playing just eight minutes per game signified the struggle of the 2013 draft class. If we look forward to 2014, it looks to be a very different picture with a historically deep draft.
ESPN Draft Tiers
Whatever you think of the mothership, their piece each year on draft tiers is a good one.
This year, ESPN projects nine 2014 prospects with a better future than any 2013 prospect. Nine players in the 2014 Draft have the talent to make multiple All-Star games, while none of the 2013 prospects were rated as better than "regular starters".
This year, three players rank in the "franchise player' category (Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins), Since 2009 (four prior drafts), only three players ranked this high on potential (Blake Griffin, John Wall and Anthony Davis). Each one of them is a true franchise player today.
Six more prospects rank in the 'potential All-Star category': Julius Randle, Dante Exum, Aaron Gordon, Dario Saric, Marcus Smart and Noah Vonleh. By comparison, only five prospects in the last three drafts - total - were considered potential multi-time All-Stars (Bradley Beal, Harrison Barnes, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams).
Clearly, ESPN can get it wrong. While Barnes, Williams and Kidd-Gilchrist have failed to show any signs of being All-Stars out of those five, ESPN overlooked Andre Drummond and Damian Lillard. Still, over the three prior drafts only Lillard, Drummond, Beal and Irving look like All-Stars waiting to happen.
In the regular starters group that contained the top 6 prospects from 2013, this year's draft tier contains more than a dozen players.
A composite 2013-14 NBA Draft
Among the draft experts' opinions two things stand out:
- There is little consensus on who from the 2013 Draft would make a composite Top 10 of 2013-14. Nerlens Noel, Anthony Bennett, Alex Len and Victor Oladipo all got votes.
- Yet, none of the draftniks/scouts suggested more than 2 of the 2013 Draftees making a composite Top 10
- Joel Embiid, C
- Jabari Parker, SF
- Andrew Wiggins, SG
- Dante Exum, PG
- Marcus Smart, PG
- Nerlens Noel, PF/C (2013)
- Noah Vonleh, PF
- Julius Randle, PF
- Victor Oladipo, SG/PG (2013)
- Aaron Gordon, SF/PF
- Dario Saric, PF
- Alex Len, C (2013)
- Ben McLemore, SG (2013)
- Otto Porter, SF (2013)
- Nick Stauskas, SG
- Gary Harris, SG
- Anthony Bennett, SF/PF (2013)
- Cody Zeller, PF (2013)
- Adreian Payne, PF
- Elfrid Payton, PG
Again, this is assuming all of last year's guys were frozen for a year. Nerlens Noel is 18 years old again. Alex Len is 19 years old again. And so on. This is also assuming my own personal ranking of 2013 draftees, not the rankings of other sites. Bennett went #1 and Zeller went #4, but I had both guys in the 8-12 range in terms of talent.
In hindsight, you might put a Michael Carter-Williams in this Top 20 and drop out Otto Porter, but that's only with the beauty of seeing their rookie year in the NBA. I just didn't like Porter as a prospect, period. You might also drop Noel and Alex Len lower due to his injury issues if you knew how their rookie year went.
But I've got Noel in the top 10 and Alex Len just outside of it, because size matters. When GMs start sifting through similarly talented players, the ones with true NBA size and/or unique skills rise to the top. Alex Len's draft profile puts him as no worse than the third best center prospect in the composite draft. He's 7'1", can move, can score, can rebound, can defend. His only issues are production and health.
Let's delve a little more into Alex Len.
On Alex Len
(comments extrapolated from DMs on twitter) Moore says Alex Len would drop to about 20th overall. Moore admitted he would drop Len that low at least partially on the ankle issues. Few players in this draft have any injury issues. so Len's issue might have had more of an impact this year.
I could see Len being a Top 10 Pick in the 2014 Draft. Len would be in competition with the likes of Noah Vonleh, Marcus Smart, and Aaron Gordon for the next 3-5 spots after the Top 5.
(note: when the question changed to a full composite draft, Kris dropped Len into the 10-15 range)
In a draft where there are a plethora of wings, but a shortage of centers (just two in DX's top 25) would Len still go as high as five? Probably not, but he would most likely go higher than his talent and potential suggests he should. You always hear that size rises in the draft, seven footers with an advanced offensive game, soft touch and good agile/athletic ability is a rarity today's NBA. A team lingering in the late lottery, or just outside would find it hard to pass up on such an opportunity.
If I had to give a range, I would say Len would sit in the 11-18 range, if I had to pick a team in particular where he would fit I think the Nuggets #11, Hawks #15 or the Suns at #14 would all be good landing spots. However, if teams were aware of Len's lingering foot injuries that plagued him during his second year at Maryland and rookie season in the league, then it is possible his stock would slide down to the early-mid twenties.
Aran Smith, NBADraft.net:
I would put him at 10, my first tier would be Embiid, Parker and Wiggins. Second tier Exum, Smart, Randle and Vonleh. He would be within the next group consisting of LaVine, Hood, McDermott, Stauskas, Gordon, etc.
(note: Aran was initially only asked about Len, in particular, being in this Draft. Not including other 2013 Draftees)
I'd have Len in that mid-to-late first round. Len isn't a top-five talent. He's got lottery upside (based on his size, athleticism, skill set) but no real production anywhere to show for it. Between the improved depth of this year's class, Len's foot problems and his underdeveloped game, I could think of 12-15 2014 prospects off the top of my head who'd be safer yet equally rewarding options if they hit their potential.
Thoughts on Len range from just outside the Top 10 to as low as 20th. A far drop for a guy ranked by DraftExpress.com as the #1 prospect in 2013 just before the draft.
On Archie Goodwin
A couple of the scouts gave me feedback on where Archie Goodwin would go, considering the depth of the 2014 Draft and Archie's underwhelming freshman season at Kentucky.
I could see Goodwin in the Top 40 range. Last years shooting guard class was underwhelming after the top two prospects of Ben McLemore and Victor Oladipo. In whatever order Reggie Bullock, Jamaal Franklin, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Tim Hardaway Jr. were the next tier in the positional class, but only Hardaway Jr. made any impact last year. This year, Goodwin would be in the mix with the plethora of combo guard athletes or big athletic point guards like LaVine, Jordan Clarkson, Elfrid Payton, and Spencer Dinwiddie, and well behind shooting guards Harris, McLemore, Oladipo and Bullock.
I think Archie would be pushed into the second round, he only just scraped into the first last year despite most scouts and GMs thinking he would be a second round selection. I would see him going around the same area as Jordan Adams, so the 30-40 range would seem about right. What works in Goodwin's favor is his age, a bad rebuilding team may take a swing on someone with his upside with one of their early second round picks. Personally, I like Goodwin more than LaVine as a prospect, but I understand that I am in the absolute minority in that opinion, I have watched LaVine a lot this year and have constantly found myself flabbergasted (bonus points for using that word?) at his low skill level and poor basketball IQ.
It looks like the 2013 Draft has lived up to its reputation as a dog. A 19-year old Alex Len would drop to somewhere between 10th and 20th overall, maybe even going 14th to the Suns who would only have Miles Plumlee and Channing Frye on the post with Frye a potential free agent. Archie Goodwin would still probably be drafted right around where he was drafted last year, maybe just a hair later.
Since Len is just 20 years old a year later, it looks like the Suns actually have 4 first round picks in this draft, all slated in the 10-27 range, and two second round picks including 19-year old Goodwin. After this draft, Len and Goodwin may STILL be the youngest guys on the team.
That's a lot of draft picks, which further explains why the Suns have no intention of keeping all four draft picks in this upcoming draft on June 26. One way or another, you can't have half your roster being under-22 and expect to win a lot of games. And that doesn't even consider the two additional first rounders next year.
Expect the Suns to flip at least two of those assets, if not three, by October. Like Houston experienced in 2012, the perfect trade may not materialize at the draft. But by opening night, expect no more than three of Len, Goodwin and three 2014 first round picks to be on the active roster, not with two more high picks coming just a year later.