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2014 NBA Draft Preview: Your guide to the B1G prospects and national story lines

Your guide the the NBA Draft: B1G prospects and national story lines.

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

The Barclays Center is set to host the 2014 NBA Draft Thursday night, and one of the more touted classes in recent memory highlights the event. The Cleveland Cavaliers are will officially go on the clock first for the third time in three years at 7 p.m. tomorrow night, and all eyes are once again on the front office of the Cavs'. Several Big Ten prospects are hoping to hear their names called early, while a few are aware of their projected wait. Unfortunately, some Big Ten prospects won't get drafted at all. (Sorry, Zach McCabe.)

Aside from Big Ten prospects waiting to hear their names, there's a few potential superstars waiting in Brooklyn as well.

For your draft viewing pleasure:

Three things you need to know about the 2014 NBA Draft:

Who goes first overall?

Knowing the Cavaliers, they could trade the first pick for a half-eaten peanut butter sandwich and a bag of goldfish. However, I think the Anthony Bennet type picks are hard to come by this year. The consensus is the front office and the owner are split on who to take when the time comes. Jabari Parker is the safer player, but Andrew Wiggins as having the "higher ceiling." I hate draft picks based on potential, and ultimately I think Parker will be the better player. On that note, Cleveland will probably pull the trigger on Wiggins. It was highly publicized that Parker had a bad workout in northeastern Ohio, but who could be excited about going to Cleveland?

Highest risk in the draft?

There are a few players who are high risk, high reward. The aforementioned Andrew Wiggins fits the bill with his athletic ability that overshadowed his actual game in his lone season at Kansas. Joel Embiid is a huge risk, with the news of his stress fracture, his draft stock is plummeting. There's one prospect who's athleticism could have masked his other deficiencies to this point. While Zach LaVine is a phenomenal athlete who wowed at the NBA Combine, and he's got pretty good range, it was well documented that he looked "lost" during team drills in Chicago. The proof is in the pudding though, the UCLA alum that draws a lot of comparisons to Russell Westbrook because of his athletic ability and combo-guard style, could be great. LaVine has a lot of work to do though, and whoever picks the 19-year-old will be doing so based solely upon what he could become. He's no where near NBA ready, and that's more a risk than an injury to me. LaVine could be the best player in the class in five years, or he could be a wasted pick that sets a franchise back five years. That's a bigger risk than any.

Who's the next superstar?

So, five years down the road, we're going to look back and grade this draft class just like every other one, and we're going to shun general mangers and praise owners around the league. The decisions made in Brooklyn will ultimately cost some people their jobs, and have some rewarded with extensions and praised as geniuses. When all is said and done, I think the player with the best argument for claiming himself as the best, will be none other than Jabari Parker. Parker is the most NBA ready prospect in this class, and I think he will only get better. He's a great rebounder for his size, he can already shoot the ball well from deep, and his ability to get to the basket is underrated too. Parker will be a steal for anyone in this draft, because of his ability to do it all.

Big Ten Breakdown:

The best conference in college basketball -- arguably anyway -- has quite a few solid prospects that could contribute and help a NBA franchise on it's path to the Larry O' Brien trophy.

Here's a breakdown of the major Big Ten prospects and their potential destinations.

Keith Appling:

  • Position: Point Guard
  • Measurables: 6’1", 185 lbs
  • Projection: Late second round
Ultimately, Keith Appling will probably end up finding a home on a contending team in their guard rotation. I'm not sure he'll be able to shine in that role though, as he never showed greatness in Tom Izzo's less-than-flashy system in East Lansing for the Michigan State Spartans. Defense is a strong suit for the quick-footed Appling, and he's an above average pick-and-roll player but his lack of a consistent stroke from downtown will hurt his stock a little, especially with the farther distance in the League. Appling's ability was probably caged up in Izzo's system, but he'll have a chance to show his wheels in the NBA Summer League and try to land a spot on a roster.

Aaron Craft:
  • Position: Point Guard
  • Measurables: 6’2", 195 lbs
  • Projection: Undrafted

In a perfect world, Aaron Craft goes to a contender and wins not two, not three, not four, not five, not six but somewhere around 37 championships. In a not so perfect world, which is the one we live in today, I think the defensive extraordinaire will get invited to a camp and probably perform admirably. However, Craft's lack of offense and athleticism will ultimately mean an early exit from the League for the former Ohio State Buckeyes' star.

Gary Harris:

  • Position: Shooting Guard
  • Measurables: 6’4", 210 lbs
  • Projection: Lottery
Gary Harris is an intriguing prospect in the sense that he doesn't have any glaring weaknesses. On the contrary, he's not great, per say, at any one thing either. Harris is a very balanced guard, with average physical tools and a high-basketball IQ. "So, why is he a lottery pick?" you ask? Because he's a very balanced guard, with average physical tools and a high-basketball IQ. Whoever drafts Harris knows exactly what they're getting and knows that he's going to be a solid player in their rotation for many years to come. Harris has a knack for shooting coming off of screens and is a pretty good defender just like his back-court mate Appling.

Roy Devyn Marble:

  • Position: Shooting Guard
  • Measurables: 6’6", 200 lbs
  • Projection: Late second round
Devyn Marble is an underrated passer, shoots very well coming off screens but lacks the intensity on defense to be an elite wing prosepct in the NBA. Marble has added some weight to his frame from when he first arrived in Iowa City, but that'll need to progress as well if he wants to find himself as a mainstay in the NBA. Marble's ability to pass on the wing will help his gain some attention from NBA scouts, and it should bode well for him in the right system as he took very good care of the ball during his stay as an Iowa Hawkeye. There's always a home for a reliable shooter coming off the bench in the League, and i believe Marble will be just that. With some dedication in the weight room and a the right mindset, he could turn into a solid wing defender as well.

Mitch McGary:

  • Position: Center/Power Forward
  • Measurables: 6’10", 255 lbs
  • Projection: Early second round
There wasn't a big decision to be made after Mitch McGary was informed he would be suspended for a year following testing positive for marijuana during the NCAA Tournament, it was a no-brainer for the Michigan Wolverines Sophomore to take the leap to the NBA. McGary is still very raw, having never started an entire season. McGary has shown excellent rebounding potential during his limited playing time in Ann Arbor. McGary has the ball skills to become an excellent passing big man, and can also handle the ball exceptionally well for a big man. His offensive game needs a lot of work, as his post moves are limited to the same few tricks, and his post defense could be shored up a good bit too. McGary is a work in progress, but he's young enough that he could turn into a very versatile front-court player.

Adreian Payne:

  • Position: Power Forward
  • Measurables: 6’10", 240 lbs
  • Projection: Mid to late first round
Adreian Payne is one of very few prospects who will be able to step into a rotation and contribute right away. Payne has the unique ability to stretch the floor from the four spot, and that is highly coveted in today's NBA. Payne is an very solid defender and an exceptional athlete. He wasn't put in too many pick and roll situations but his skill set would translate very well to such situations. The combination's of Payne's jumpshot and his athleticism will make a team very happy. With a little work, his 7'4" wingspan will help him develop into a monster of a defender in the NBA.

Glenn Robinson III:

  • Position: Small Forward
  • Measurables: 6’6", 220 lbs
  • Projection: Early second round
Big Dawg's son is one of the hardest prospects to peg due to his inconsistency at Michigan. When Robinson wanted to, he got to the rim at well, and dominated one on one matchups with his strength. Glenn's jumpshot was the most consistent during his stay under John Beilein, but what concerns most NBA scouts was the lack of aggression that Robinson showed. Stretches of being passive aggressive like he was in Ann Arbor could hinder Robinson from reaching his potential in the NBA, because the physical tools have had NBA scouts foaming at the mouth at times. Glenn could be a star if his mind is in the right place, or he could find himself in the D-League looking for his game.

LaQuinton Ross:

  • Position: Small Forward
  • Measurables: 6’8", 220 lbs
  • Projection: Late second round/Undrafted
Ross was expected to amp up his game after a breakout performance in the 2013 NCAA Tournament but that didn't pan out as Ohio State exited early this year, in the round of 64 to the Dayton Flyers. LaQuinton Ross doesn't project as a prolific scorer in the NBA, and if he does succeed it will be based on his consistency as a jump shooter and him improving on the defensive end. Ross doesn't shoot well off of the dribble, and isn't a great finisher at the rim. His 7'1" wingspan helps his stock, and he'll need to add some muscle to his slight frame, but his length doesn't correlate to great athleticism. With some help, Ross could develop into a solid role player, but don't expect too much more from the former Buckeye, as the bigger load he was given at Ohio State his senior year tested his limited offensive game.

Nik Stauskas:

  • Position: Shooting Guard
  • Measurables: 6’6", 205 lbs
  • Projection: Lottery
Nik Stauskas is a borderline lottery pick, and the consensus is that he lands in Orlando with the 12th overall pick. The sharp-shooting Canadian improved his offensive game to get away from the "just a shooter" label that he earned his freshman year. Stauskas showed he can handle the ball in pick-and-roll situations and he showed the ability to create his own shot. Defensively, Stauskas needs improvement; it was documented there was times that his effort was lacking on that end of the floor. Stauskas' average athleticism hurts his stock a little but at worst whoever drafts him is getting a three-point marksmen. The three point shot is a valuable thing, so look for Stauskas to find a stable home in the NBA in the right system.

Noah Vonleh:

  • Position: Power Forward/Center
  • Measurables: 6’10", 240 lbs
  • Projection: Top ten

Noah Vonleh should be the highest Big Ten prospect taken, barring an avalanche like fall for some unforeseen reason. Noah's physical tools are outstanding, and a big part of the reason while he's got so much potential. A wingspan of just over 7'4" gave him the longest wingspan of any prospect at the NBA combine that is eligible to be drafted. On the court, Vonleh's game is anchored by his defensive rebounding and a decent set of post moves on the offensive end. Vonleh showed the ability to step out and knock a three pointer down in college, whether or not that translates to the NBA's extended range is yet to be known. The most likely destination for Vonleh seems to be to the Utah Jazz with the number five overall pick.