Bankin’ on the Young Buck.
Whoever said ‘second place is the first loser’, must not be a hoops fan. While he may not be living up to many overly-optimistic and impatient Bucks fans expectations that he’d bring in 20 a game, his trajectory appears unclouded. The second pick in the 2014 draft Jabari Parker is a key to the Bucks #OwnTheFuture push and the team, alongside sophomore big man Giannis Antetokounmpo will be built around the two. Parker is quickly transitioning into the role envisioned for him, as an inside the arc anchor. If and when Jason Kidd drops his aspirations for Giannis to play the #1 and allows Kendall Marshall to control the point, he, Antetokounmpo, and Parker can develop court relationship and system as a trio, a la Duncan, Ginóbili, and Tony Parker. Thus far Parker is the only rookie with double digit points who has started every regular season game, less can be said of the other four of the top five picks in this year’s draft.
Andrew Wiggins (First Pick, Cleveland traded to Minnesota)
Timberwolves Head Coach Flip Saunders hasn’t made any promises to Wiggins that he’d start consistently. Wiggins is underdeveloped, or maybe just not developed enough to contend with the intensity that will face him when he attempts to drive into the paint. It will take a few good years for him to gain muscle mass, find his tempo, and realize his power. What the guy needed from the jump was a veteran power forward to guide him, like the one who just vacated that spot. He’s gotta buff out his game before he can shine.
Joel Embiid (Third Pick, Philadelphia)
The Power Forward is a relative bust, at least for this season. His foot ‘fracture’ turned into a season sidelining injury even before he was drafted. It’s highly possible if not probable that Philadelphia drafted Embiid with the knowledge and foresight that he would be sidelined. So goes their M.O. break down in order to build back up, and sit on talent and continue to stockpile, until the pieces can develop simultaneously.
Aaron Gordon (Fourth Pick, Orlando)
His numbers are at the mercy the Jacque Vaughn system in Orlando, which itself is a work in progress. Gordon, a forward is playing under 15 a game and averaging less than five points a game. He has the size, and the power is impressive, his shot gained some arc over the summer and there may be more where that came from, but he hasn’t played enough to fly or flop.
Dante Exum (Fifth Pick, Utah)
Exum is competing with Trey Burke for the starting point guard spot, and with Alec Burks at shooting guard. Burks inked a $42 million deal only a week ago, and Burke is entering his second of a four year contract with the Jazz. The 6’6 Australian is versatile, and may not be finished growing, he has height for a PG and reach for a SG, and eventually may have the power to play the 3 & 4. First year head coach Quinn Snyder may be orchestrating a system similar to the one in San Antonio, ‘pop in the players’ and much like San Antonio the Jazz aren’t a team of quick fixes and flashy names. Utah holds onto their guys, that likely won’t change under Snyder. Exum’s minutes will fluctuate this season, and he will get knocked around the big west his first year or two, but let’s give the kid time to develop, in four years if he isn’t leading a Jazz resurgence, call me a liar.