The Bottom Five
1. Milwaukee (6-22): In going through one of the worst injury spells in the league the Bucks inadvertently began the rebuild that this team so sorely needed. Giannis Antetokounmpo “The Greek Freak”, John Henson and Larry Sanders give Milwaukee an extremely long and athletic front court to build around. If they get lucky and add Andrew Wiggins, then a team stuck in NBA purgatory suddenly has the longest and most athletic 2-5 in the game.
2. Utah (8-23): Ever since Utah moved Enes Kanter out of the starting rotation, (moving Marvin Williams to the four to create a small ball lineup with better spacing) the Jazz have been much better. In this case, much better is relative, as the Jazz are still very bad. Trey Burke has emerged as the point guard of the future and with a little luck a top five pick will give them the as bright a future as any team in the league.
3. Orlando (8-20): Just like almost every team on the tank watch, the Magic have good young pieces to build around. Unlike other rebuilding teams Orlando has a huge trade piece that will help them turbocharge the process. Arron Afflalo is the type of player that can put the finishing touches on a championship contender. Between the haul the Magic get for Afflalo, a high lottery pick next year and the young talent already in place Orlando will be back sooner rather than later.
4. Philadelphia (8-20): Michael Carter-Williams is “hurt”, the Sixers are fielding calls on all their players and the new management seems ready to complete their facelift with a high pick in the upcoming draft. Philly already plays an extremely exciting style, add a healthy Nerlens Noel, a lottery pick (in addition to a potential first from New Orleans) and the Sixers look to be one of the more exciting teams for years to come.
5. Sacramento (8-19): Sure the Kings are better with Rudy Gay and Derrick Williams but how much better are they? Are those additions going to vault them into the playoff discussion in a crowded Western Conference? Not a chance. Add a high pick to Ben McLemore, DeMarcus Cousins and the emerging Isaiah Thomas, and a once bleak franchise might have a chance to wear the crown again.
Top Five Prospects:
1. Jabari Parker 22.1 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.3 BPG, 1.0 SPG, 47.5 3P%
Jabari Parker can not be stopped. He can score on the wing, he can score in the post, he can rebound, he can block shots, he can dribble and he can pass. Anything that can help a basketball team win a game, Parker can do. Sure he doesn’t have the same length or athleticism as Wiggins but he is by far the better basketball player.
2. Andrew Wiggins 15.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.5 APG, .9 BPG, 1.1 SPG, 35.1 3P%
Wiggins, has all the potential in the world but will he be able to showcase it on a team with two other lottery prospects. He already has a great basketball acumen, with a great shot selection and the ability to score off the ball Wiggins is a perfect addition to any NBA team. It remains to be seen if he has what it takes to put the team on his shoulders and score in crunch time when the play breaks down. He might be more of a project than any of the elite prospects but he has the most potential.
3. Julius Randle 18.2 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 1.8 APG, .8 BPG, 54 FG%
This post aficionado will come into the league and post a double double for whoever is lucky enough to land his services. The college rules make it easier to surround post players and prevent them from getting the ball in their preferred spots. Fortunately for Randle, the NBA is a much more open game, capable of giving him the opportunities to really shine without a defense focusing all its attention on him.
4. Joel Embiid 10.5 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.1 APG, 2.3 BPG, 1.2 SPG, 68.3 FG%
No player has improved his stock more since the season began than Joel Embiid. In his first game against Duke, he looked to be a big man that was afraid to shoot the ball. Now, just a short way into the season he has shown off a wide array of post moves including an impressive dream shake. Don’t be surprised if he jumps into the discussion for the number one spot before things are all said and done.
5. Marcus Smart 18 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.8 APG, .7 BPG, 2.8 STL, 32.3 3P%
When Marcus Smart is hot, he is an unstoppable offensive force, hitting outside shots, abusing smaller players in the post and driving to the hole on anyone in his way. Sometimes, Smart takes bad shots because he believes he can knock down any shot at any time. If Smart can focus on his shot selection and staying in the right spot on defense he can be a perennial all star.