Everything Australian NBA fans need to know about the 2014 NBA Draft including times, TV info, Aussie players, top prospects and more.
When is it?Friday June 27 (2014)
Where is it?Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York.
TV Coverage:The draft will be shown on ESPN Australia (via Foxtel) and NBA.TV on NBA League Pass (free trial on now for the draft) live from 9:00 am AEST to 2:00 pm.
What is it?The 2014 NBA Draft is the latest in what is an annual event in which the thirty teams from the National Basketball Association (NBA) can draft players who are eligible and wish to join the league. The draft is predominately made up of top U.S. college amatuers, but international players are eligible as well. Among them in 2014 is Australian point guard/shooting guard Dante Exum. Joining Exum in the draft class is fellow Australian and power forward Cameron Bairstow, who recently graduated from New Mexico. The NBA Draft differs from that of the highly successful National Football League (NFL) Draft in that the order is determined in a different way and it only consists of two rounds of thirty instead of seven rounds of thirty-two. The NBA draft is determined by lottery as a means of discouraging 'tanking', but in the 2013 NBA season teams still appeared to be deliberately losing games. Why? Well the 2014 NBA Draft class is considered to be the greatest since the 2003 draft that featured LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. It is so stacked with talent that even teams at the back end of the first round could come away with game-changing talents. This meaning a team picking in the top ten is going to land a future stud, hence the tanking. Now explaining the lottery in detail would require another thousand word article so to put it simply, the fourteen teams that missed the playoffs are organized based on their record. The team with the worst record gets the most ping-pong ball combinations, the team with the second worst record gets the second most combinations and so on. So in this years draft the Milwaukee Bucks received the most combinations (with 250 out of the possible 1000) and the Phoenix Suns, who narrowly missed the playoffs have just five combinations. Basically, the Bucks had a 25% chance of winning the number one overall pick and the eventual winners of the first pick the Cleveland Cavaliers had just a 1.7% chance. The final draft order is never really set until after the lottery due to the vast amount of trades that occur throughout the year. Three teams have multiple picks in the first round including the Phoenix Suns, the Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers, with the 76ers poised to improve greatly with two picks inside the top ten. The final order is as follows:
The Elite Prospects:This year’s draft is considered one of the deepest in recent history and features many elite prospects. There is going to be debate about the No. 1 overall pick until the moment it is announced and currently there are four players in contention, including Australia's very own Dante Exum. We will get to Exum later on. Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas: Before the recent college season Wiggins was labelled the best prospect since Kevin Durant and despite all the pressure on him from the "Riggins for Wiggins" media mantra he still managed to be one of the most productive players in the highly rated Big 12. Wiggins is your prototypical small forward with a seven foot wingspan to match his six-foot-eight height. To match that size Wiggins is incredibly quick and explosive off his feet, giving him the ability to press through gaps and attack the rim. Defensively the tools are there for him be a lock-down defender at multiple positions. The biggest concern in Wiggins' game is that he isn't as aggressive as he should be. Wiggins will not slide past the Bucks at pick number two and could even find himself playing alongside last years number one pick Anthony Bennett in Cleveland. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-f3PTk4O_w Jabari Parker, SF, Duke: Duke's Jabari Parker is considered the most NBA ready of all the draft prospects and is the safest pick in the draft. Parker exploded onto the scene in 2013 with an outstanding start to the college season averaging 23.6 points and 8.7 rebounds on 60 percent shooting from the floor through his first seven games. A guy measuring in at six foot nine should not be able to handle the ball as well as Parker can. Parker can sink a shot from almost anywhere on the floor (finished his freshman season with 36% behind the arc) and has the ability to take a defensive rebound coast to coast for a one handed slam. Parker showed off his skill set playing against other elite prospects Wiggins and Embiid last November. Wiggins and Parker will most likely be the first two picked. In what order is where the dilemma lies. He could become the face of the franchise for the Bucks, something they have lacked in recent years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rb-ghooJsBk
Joel Embiid, C, Kansas:
Embiid was widely considered to be the first overall pick until the news broke of a foot injury. Many will not consider him an elite prospect in the draft but with only a four to six month recovery period he is still a can't miss prospect in this draft. Embiid is listed at 7'1" with a ridiculous 7'5.75" wingspan and that size means he takes up a ton of space in the paint, both in the air and on the ground.
Before playing basketball (lets remember he is fairly new to the game) he played soccer and volleyball; these sports enabled him to obtain phenomenal speed and agility for a big guy. Not only his he a great rim protector but also a great pick and roll defender. His overall offensive game is still a work in a progress but anyone who has been compared to Hakeem Olajuwon is definitely someone to consider early in the draft. Despite the foot injury look for Embiid to go somewhere in the top five.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDklPbm4wG0
The Aussies:The two Australian prospects in the 2014 NBA Draft have both been publicly backed by Australia's first ever NBA player Luc Longley. Longley has worked with both potential draftees and had nothing but praise for both of them. Longley told former NBL players Tommy Greer and Liam Santamaria on their Downtown podcast that Exum is quick, has a great first step and can get his own shot at any time. When asked about 'Bairs' Longley stated that his first step is explosive and he can guard well in the pick and roll situation. Dante Exum, PG, Australian Institute of Sport: Those who have been following Dante Exum the last few months are well aware of his story. His father Cecil won a NCAA Championship in 1982 alongside Michael Jordan and James Worthy at the University of North Carolina. He was then drafted by the Denver Nuggets before settling in Australia and playing in the National Basketball League. Cecil finished his career in Australia and decided to continue his life down under. Exum followed in his father's footsteps and starting playing basketball. After many years of showing his skills to many league scouts, he turned down the offer to play college basketball in America and continued playing in the Australian National High School Basketball Championships, where he lead his team to a title. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYJdOwOsxSo Exum will go into the draft labelled as a "scoring point-guard" and has comparisons to the Penny Hardaway. Those type of comparisons can be put a lot of pressure on young players but from all reports Exum has an incredibly high basketball IQ and zero character concerns. His physical tools (he is 6'6'') create a mismatch at either backcourt position and he has the skill set to capitalize on it. Check out the array of talent in this package from the FIBA Under 19 tournament. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKCD2htCmdw
Put simply, Exum is the best point guard in this deep draft class and has the potential to be one of Australia's greatest ever basketball players. Don't be surprised if he goes number one overall but Philadelphia at pick three or Orlando at four are more likely.Cameron Bairstow, PF, New Mexico Bairstow's draft stock is rising thanks to a break out senior season from the power forward in New Mexico. His physicality, energy and hustle has lead to him being penciled in as a possible top 50 selection from some draft scouts and has drawn comparisons to Nick Collison. From all reports his work ethic, determination and character are very impressive and it those qualities that have seen his game improve immensely. Bairstow led his conference in 2013 in both scoring and shooting with 20.3 points per game at an impressive 55.6% shooting clip. His size, skill and dedication make him an ideal candidate to come off the bench and provide strong minutes for whoever decides to draft him. Bairstow could follow the career path of Patty Mills and Aron Baynes in that he finds his success early in his career from being an impact player of the bench, but with his work ethic he could shock a few teams and play some big minutes in 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JspTrBwsTyE
The team at US Sports Down Under wish all the Australians the best of luck in the draft and their NBA career!