Eye on the draft: Welcome to the party Marcus Smart

We have been keeping a close eye on the star studded 2014 NBA draft class here at Celtics Life. Unlike most years, these kids just keep impressing and living up to all the hype.

Here are some highlights from another big college hoops night full of draft prospects:

Marcus Smart (OK State/So.): Smart is a super athletic 6'4 point guard that easily would have been a lottery pick last year. He decided to return to school and polish his game instead, and has he ever. Smart had not gotten many minutes this season with Oklahoma State winning their games in blowout fashion. 

Tuesday night against 11th ranked Memphis Smart broke out. In 33 minutes Smart poured in 39 points, he shot 11-21 from the field (5-10 from three) and 12-16 from the free throw line. But Smart did it all for the Cowboys also tallying four boards, four dimes, five steals and two blocks. Talk about filling it up. 

Obviously the Celtics feel they have a long term option at point guard in Rajon Rondo. Watching Marcus Smart play, he clearly can handle PG duties, but I see no reason he can not play off the ball in the NBA. He has the size and abilities to be a good shooting guard in the league, plus his lead guard skill set will only make him more valuable. Smart should be a top 10 pick for sure.

Aaron Gordon (Arizona/Fr.): Gordon is another prospect yet to be addressed here. He is very raw, but draws some realistic Blake Griffin comparisons. He also does not get as many opportunities as many of the other diaper dandies. Arizona is already a very deep team without Gordon and has a lot of veteran leadership, evident during their steam rolling of my alma mater Rhode Island. 

I'm not super high on Gordon although he does deserve to be in the lottery. Some mock drafts have him going ahead of Jabari Parker which is insane. But Gordon could form an exciting front court threesome with Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, bringing some much needed athleticism.

Gordon did managed 12 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 29 minutes against the Rams. He shot 5-12, showing that he clearly does not have much touch yet from outside the paint. But Gordon is clearly freakishly athletic around the rim and showed it last night.

Joel Embiid (Kansas/Fr.): We have discussed Embiid before, but he is up here because much like Smart he really improved his stock on Tuesday. The Hakeem Olajuwon caparisons are just hypothetical, but it's enough to get scouts paying attention just in case.

In 26 minutes off the bench Embiid was Olajuwon like, albeit against Iona. Embiid went for 16 points on perfect 7-7 shooting with 13 boards and two rejections. If he can keep this up his stock is going to take a rise into Andrew Wiggins territory.

Andrew Wiggins (Kansas/Fr.): Wiggins stock has not yet taken a hit based on potential, but he is a long shot from a sure thing number one pick. All the ability is there, but Wiggins is not dominating games the way Parker, Smart and Julius Randle have.

I was unable to see Wiggins play in this one, although he had a well rounded game, it just seems like someone with all the attention Wiggins is getting should be able to put up more than 13 points against Iona. In 30 minutes he shot just 4-9, but also mixed in seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Wiggins literally can't slide out of the top three picks in this draft based purely on potential. However, it is still worth keeping an eye on how he develops over the season. He has plenty of room to grow.

Julius Randle (Kentucky/Fr.): Another impressive outing for Randle who continues to show his physicality is not to be questioned. Randle finished with 22 points, 10 boards, four assists and two blocks, well rounded as always. In 29 minutes he was 7-12 from the floor, as well as 8-10 from the line. Randle continues to draw a ton of contact and often finds himself at the line.

If Randle can have nights like this from the free throw line his stock will always remain high. Right now Randle is locked in as a top three pick and that is going to be tough to change at the rate he is going.

James Young (Kentucky/Fr.): Another impressive scoring performance for Young who has not been shy to begin his college career. Young went 8-14 in 29 minutes including 5-10 from downtown against Texas-Arlington. He led Kentucky with 26 points but right now is considered strictly a scorer. Rounding his game out could really improve Young's draft stock.

Jabari Parker (Duke/Fr.): Jabari did it again last night. His shot was a little less consistent than we have been accustom to (8-18… I know right) and the game was a little too close for comfort against Eastern Carolina. Jabari was also only 4-7 from the free throw line, where he usually shows fantastic touch. Those are Parker's first knocks from me on the season.

Parker's off night resulted in 21 points, nine boards, two assists, a steal and a loud six blocks. Jabari also had a barely missed ally-oop that would have brought the house down. You know you're good when ESPN replays one of your misses five times.

At this point Parker has established himself as the best player not playing in the NBA. He certainly could be playing at that level right now if you decided to throw him into a game. Others have potential, but Jabari is as close to a sure things as I have ever seen as a college freshman. This kid drips talent in all aspects of the game and most importantly knows how to use all that talent. I will continue to beg for him to end up in green.

Rodney Hood (Duke/So.): Hood has been Duke's next best player and is working his way into the lottery potentially. Hood went all 40 minutes in the game and dropped 30 points on 8-10 shooting and 12-12 from the line. Impressive, but he has to round out the rest of his game.

With the Celtics continuing to be wildly inconsistent it's tough to tell where they may end up, but we will continue to keep an eye on all the draft prospects all season.

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