Ed Isaacson

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Underclassmen of the '14 Draft

Thursday, May 01, 2014

14. K.J. McDaniels, Junior, F, Clemson
One of the most athletically gifted players in a draft with many, McDaniels carried a major load for the Tigers on both ends of the floor this year. He can be very dangerous when he looks to attack the basket, while also showing some ability in the mid-range area. He will need to work on hitting NBA threes, though he should adapt sooner rather than later. At 6’6, McDaniels is a very good rebounder and shot blocker, and he registered at least six blocks four times last season.

15. Tyler Ennis, Freshman, G, Syracuse
Ennis built his reputation early this past season as a young point guard with great composure and a talent for making winning plays. Though the second half of his season was more inconsistent, Ennis is still a very reliable ballhandler and distributor. He will need to work on being more of a creator on the offensive end, while also showing he can be a consistent offensive threat. Defensively, he made some plays, especially corralling turnovers caused by his teammates’ length, but he will likely struggle early on guarding man-to-man.

16. James Young, Freshman, G/F, Kentucky
Before this past season started, the word out of Kentucky practices was that Young was the best player there. That was not the case once the season started. He had a reputation as a terrific perimeter shooter, and while he did show a nice shooting stroke on occasion, he was only good when he had time to get his feet set and had room to shoot. He can’t create his own shot yet, and while he uses his athleticism well to get to the basket, he really can only go to his left. When he does have space heading to the basket, he can be a spectacular dunker. Defensively, the tools are there for him to one day do well, but right now he is way below average.

17. Jerami Grant, Sophomore, F, Syracuse
With bigger minutes this season, Grant showed some brilliant flashes of potential. He is a strong athlete who can be a terror on the offensive glass. His shooting has improved, though he still needs to become more consistent out to the mid-range area. Like many Syracuse players, Grant will also need to show that he can handle the change to playing man-to-man defense regularly, though being the son and nephew of former NBA players, he probably has a good idea of what he needs to do.

18. Glenn Robinson III, Sophomore, F, Michigan
Robinson is a vital part of the Michigan team that went to the National Championship his freshman season, but the expected jump in production his sophomore year never really came along. He is a good athlete with a strong body, and he gets to the basket quickly for his size. His mid-range and long-range shooting need some work, but it’s more about shot selection than how he shoots. Robinson is the type of player who could thrive more in an NBA-style offense.

19. Johnny O’Bryant, Junior, F, Louisiana State
O’Bryant, a former McDonald’s All-American, has made great strides over the past few seasons, turning himself into a legitimate low-post scoring threat and energetic rebounder. He has good size and strength, and the past few years have shown that he is very teachable. The next step will be for O’Bryant to show that he can consistently knock down mid-range jumpers and show that he can guard both the post and perimeter well.

20. Jordan Adams, Sophomore, G, UCLA
A natural scorer with a great understanding of the game, he prefers to work in the mid-range and basket area but has improved as a three-point shooter. While not exceptionally fast, Adams has a great knack for forcing turnovers on defense.

21. Semaj Christon, Sophomore, G, Xavier
Christon was a consistent scoring threat over the past two seasons for the Musketeers, using a good combination of skill and athleticism to create space and get to the basket. He will need to work on becoming a more consistent perimeter shooter, and as his pro future is likely as a point guard, he will need to show he can create for others on a consistent basis.

22. Jabari Brown, Junior, G, Missouri
Brown put together a great season as a scorer for the Tigers, averaging 20 points per game, including 41% from three-point range. He thrives in transition, and he has a great knack for drawing fouls when he attacks the basket. Brown doesn’t offer much on the defensive end, but he has the athletic ability to make some plays.

23. Mitch McGary, Sophomore, F, Michigan
McGary, who made a splash at the end of his freshman season, was limited to just eight games this past year due to a back injury. While he was debating whether to enter the NBA this season, it came out that he would be suspended for all of next season due to testing positive for marijuana. When healthy, McGary is a high energy player who defends and rebounds well. While limited offensively, he is effective around the basket and is a strong high or low post player. It is yet to be seen how well he will be able to work out for NBA teams with his back, but he will still gather a good deal of interest.

24. Jarnell Stokes, Junior, F, Tennessee
The wide-bodied Stokes is your classic power forward prospect. He is an effective scorer around the basket, using his body to back down less burly opponents, and he’s also a terror on the boards, going after missed shots aggressively. Stokes has a good feel for the game, and he has shown to be a good facilitator in the high and low posts. He will need to work on defending on the perimeter, but he has the strength to battle inside against most NBA forwards.

25. Khem Birch, Junior, F, UNLV
After three seasons, Birch is still a much bigger defensive presence than he is a scorer, though he has made some improvements. He is a tremendous rebounder and shot-blocker, and he is constantly working on the defensive end of the floor. Birch’s offense revolves mainly around running the floor and putting back missed shots, but there is still room for him to improve as a traditional post scorer.

26. Zach LaVine, Freshman, G, UCLA
LaVine got off to a strong start this season, likely because none of UCLA’s early opponents had him on the scouting report. The early buzz eventually transformed into an uneventful season, though he still has plenty of potential. LaVine is a very good athlete who can do some great things in transition. He has also shown that he can hit long jumpers, though his shot selection can be bad. Word is that he sees himself as a future point guard. I just don’t see it.

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Ed Isaacson is in his second year of covering the NBA Draft for Rotoworld.com, while his work can also be found at NBADraftblog.com. Follow him on Twitter at @nbadraftblog.
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