Since Thursday, most of my time has been spent sleeping or sitting on the couch watching March Madness. I have deserted my friends and family in favor of college basketball, but it has been so worth it. Almost each and every game has been thrilling, all the way down to the final seconds.
Sure, the product isn't as pretty as the NBA, but the games are fun, and that's all that matters for the fan in me. But the writer/evaluator has been disappointed because almost every potential first round draft pick has already been eliminated from the tournament.
What a drag.
The most upsetting part is that these players didn't do anything to change their stock in the draft. After only one or two games in the tournament, nothing changes. The past weekend is only a mere footnote compared to everything they've done throughout the season.
Yet, many writers and fans are blowing up, overreacting to this weekend's games. Let's take a look at five potential lottery picks to see why their stock hasn't shifted in the eyes of NBA scouts:
Andrew Wiggins | SF | Kansas
vs. E. Kentucky: 19 pts (7-of-13), 4 rebs, 2 blks, 2 tovs
vs. Stanford: 4 pts (1-of-6), 4 rebs, 4 tovs, 2 blks
Twitter was ablaze on Sunday afternoon, labeling Andrew Wiggins a bust after his terrible performance against Stanford, with four turnovers and four points on 1-for-6 shooting. If this is the last game of his collegiate career, it'll leave a sour taste in everyone's mouth, but did we really learn anything new about Wiggins?
No, we didn't. Today's game only verified what we have learned over the course of the season. You must look at the whole season when assessing a player, not just a single game.
Wiggins' assertiveness is an issue, but his ball handling is the most worrisome. He has a very loose, high dribble, which hinders his ability to drive to the rim. This is precisely why he wasn't able to attack against Stanford, like many people were calling for him to do. Had he done this, he probably would've had more than four turnovers, since the zone's primary function is to thwart penetration.
But we also know that Wiggins has terrific potential on the defensive end of the floor, which was supported by his final game. He consistently blocked his opponent from driving to the basket, and one of his more impressive plays was a steal, in which he prevented an entry pass to the post. Wiggins' 7-foot wingspan will certainly allow these skills to easily translate to the NBA.
At worst, Andrew Wiggins will be a quality starter with "3-and-D" potential. With a sweet stroke from outside and outstanding athleticism, Wiggins will work as a complimentary piece on offense. But he's incredibly skilled defensively, with the ability to defend multiple positions. If he's able to fix his ball handling and develop a killer instinct, then we could have another NBA star entering the league -- and today's stinker will just be an afterthought.
Joel Embiid | C | Kansas
Unfortunately, Kansas was bounced from the tournament, so we won't get to see Joel Embiid play again this season. His lower back issues might concern some teams, but it should have no influence on his stock, unless doctors find something alarming during the pre-draft evaluation process.
Until then, it's unfair to say his stock should drop when he hasn't played. Our lasting memory of Embiid is an incredible one, as he showed the potential to be a dominant big man on both ends of the floor. Kansas may have lost, but Embiid is still a guaranteed top three pick if he declares for the draft.
Jabari Parker | SF | Duke
vs. Mercer: 14 pts (4-of-14), 7 rebs, 4 tovs, 1 stl
Judging from the comments on Twitter, it appears many fans and writers just realized that Jabari Parker is a horrible defender, but this is actually old news. Parker himself acknowledged this after his game against Boston College earlier this season. When asked about his primary weakness, he said, "Off-ball defense, sometimes I get caught up looking at the ball instead of finding where both [the ball and my man are]."
Parker hit the nail on the head, but he hasn't improved since he made that statement back in February. His lack of awareness opens up backdoor cuts for the opponent, but it also puts himself in poor positioning when he needs to close out on his man. He also struggles when defending on the perimeter, displaying slow lateral quickness.
Even at the end of Duke's loss to Mercer, Coach K sat him on the bench during defensive possessions.
Yes, you read that correctly. If Jabari Parker is getting benched versus Mercer, a team full of guys that will have a hard time cracking an International roster, what happens when he's on the floor against the world's greatest talent in the NBA?
He'll get exposed, that's right, and it's a serious problem right now. Many people may have learned this over the weekend, but it has been a known issue all season long. About the only defensive skill Parker has going for him is his ability to block shots from the weak side, but that won't be enough if he wants to be a star on both ends of the floor.
Some may also be concerned about Parker's 4-for-14 shooting performance, but shots won't always fall. He played highly aggressively and did what he could to score the basket. Parker can score inside and outside, making him one of the more versatile scorers in the draft. The comparisons to Carmelo Anthony shouldn't stop because of one down game. Besides, Melo can't defend worth a lick either, and he's a max contract player.
Marcus Smart | G | Oklahoma St.
vs. Gonzaga: 23 points (5-of-14), 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 6 steals, 6 turnovers
NBA scouts are worried about Marcus Smart's ability to shoot the basketball and he wasn't able to step up against Gonzaga on Friday night. For the game, he shot 5-for-14 from the floor, 1-for-5 from three-point range, and only 12-for-19 from the free throw stripe. Once again, Smart's performance further solidified the fact that he has a long way to go as a perimeter scorer.
His six turnovers also go to show that he's not quite there as a true point guard. Smart was supposed to make the transition this season, and while he has improved, it's clear that he's still a combo guard. Considering his leadership abilities, and his apparent will to be great, he may develop the required skilled, but he's not there just yet.
But he does continue to make up for his scoring deficiencies by filling up the box score. He's a tenacious defender and proved that again, with six steals and some lockdown work on the perimeter. Even though he's only 6-foot-4, he averaged 5.9 rebounds per game this season due to his ferocious style of play. Smart isn't a perfect player, but he's a do-it-all guard who shouldn't see his stock drop anytime soon.
Tyler Ennis | PG | Syracuse
vs. W. Michigan: 16 points (7-of-11), 6 assists, 2 steals, 1 turnover
vs. Dayton: 19 points (7-of-21), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 turnovers
Despite the subpar box score versus Dayton, Tyler Ennis didn't play a very bad overall game. He consistently penetrated the paint to win his teammates open looks on the perimeter, but nothing was falling for them, as they shot 0-for-10 from beyond the arc. Over the course of the season, Ennis' teammates shot 33.1% from three, which ranks as 240th overall in the nation. A point guard with the passing skills of Ennis' caliber deserves to have shooters surround him, yet no one on the team was productive besides himself and Trevor Cooney.
Some have understandably questioned the hype surrounding Ennis as an overall player. He one again struggled scoring against Dayton's relentless defense. Even though Ennis has a soft floater, the fact he has to settle for that shot so often is concerning. He wasn't able to consistently get to the rim throughout the game, and was instead forced to attempt floaters as opposed to high percentage layups. For the year, Ennis is a subpar 52.8 percent shooter on layups, dunks, and tip-ins, according to Hoop-Math.com.
Against Dayton, the same questions remain: Is Tyler Ennis ready to make the jump to the NBA? He has terrific passing instincts, but will his lack of scoring ability hinder his overall game? And how much is Syracuse's zone hiding some of his possible weaknesses on defense?