How does it feel to be 19 years old, have played on one of the top programs in college basketball and now to be considered by most the best prospect going into the National Basketball Association? Depending for which team you root for, for which shade of blue you enjoy, this is a question that could be asked of two players right now… Jabari Parker (Duke) and Andrew Wiggins (Kansas). But the similarities do not end here for these two young men.
Both of them will be a Top 3 pick, both are 6’8” and both can play the small forward slot. Wiggins, at 197 pounds, is a lot lighter than Parker, 241 lbs, and while the former Jayhawk is also listed as a shooting guard, the former Blue Devil can also be slotted in the paint as a four.
Each of these teenagers come into the NBA Draft with a lot of hype, and unless there are major trades both will be going to go to teams that are in need of serious help. The key for both will be: can they improve their franchises immediately. As an example, either could go to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have had three of the last four first picks overall, and still are a long way away from being significant. That team and its fan base can ill afford another player that does not pan out.
Both have great basketball IQ and both can shoot it straight on or off the bounce. On the other hand, there are some differences…
There is no doubt about the athletic gifts that Wiggins has, his speed, size and wingspan makes him a threat out on the perimeter, as well as finding the lane to the rim. If he can get some weight on his slim frame he could become a great perimeter player on both side of the ball. The one thing that Wiggins needs to work on is getting rid of is his "laid-back" attitude. That might have worked in the Kansas system, but in the NBA he will need to have a much more aggressive mind set when in the game.
Parker is the complete package when it comes to the offensive side of the ball, while the defensive game needs improvement. Just like his counterpart, Parker has a 7 foot wingspan, coupled with his body size he can work opponents on the outside or inside. The former Duke forward does not have the explosive first step that Wiggins does, and he will need to work on his lateral motion if he wants to be on the court against the best players at his position.
Let’s remember both of these former college freshmen will be playing the same position as a LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony or Paul George do. It is a good thing that both these young men have such wide span as both will have plenty on their shoulders once drafted.
In a sports world where it’s all about what have you done for me lately no one will care how well each of the 19 year olds did in college, all that will matter is what they do in the NBA. With the draft about three weeks away it won’t be long until we know where each of them will end up, but it is going to be years before we see the impact they will make in the pro’s.