March Madness is back, baby, and the most exciting event in sports is delivering.
NBA scouts and GMs tend to minimize the influence a great tournament can have on a player's stock. Yes, NBA talent evaluators never judge a player based off one or two games. But the tournament is some players' final chance to show off, and last impressions can be, well, lasting.
NBA scouts and GMs were all over the country last week watching the NCAA tournament. Some prospects shined. Others struggled mightily.
Here's the latest feedback from NBA GMs on a number of top prospects.
Wiggins is the No. 1 ranked player on our Big Board, but he played nothing like it in a devastating loss to Stanford on Sunday. Wiggins scored just four points and took just six shots from the field -- amplifying criticism that he is too passive and lacks the aggressiveness to be a star in the NBA. Wiggins' disappearance was troubling. Stanford played great defense, but he should have tried to force the issue more.
Will it affect his draft stock? Before that game, Wiggins was averaging nearly 28 points per game in his past four and his defense against Stanford helped keep the Jayhawks in the contest. Virtually every scout and GM I spoke with had him, even after the game, ranked as the No. 1 or No. 2 prospect on their board. The passive play may dampen the enthusiasm a bit, but unless Joel Embiid comes in with an absolutely clean bill of health, Wiggins is the favorite to be the No. 1 pick.
Parker's disappointing finish to the season was even more shocking than Wiggins'. While Parker's game wasn't nearly as passive -- he went 4-for-14 from the field -- most NBA scouts see him as more NBA ready and were shocked at how much he struggled to score and defend against Mercer in Duke's opening-round loss. The defensive issues, especially, are troubling. Parker has been getting dinged by NBA scouts all season for this. But when Coach K had to sub him out on defense toward the end of the game, I think it exposed just what a liability he had become.
Again, these criticisms don't really damage Parker's draft stock too much. Every scout and GM I spoke with had him ranked in their top four. However only a couple had him No. 1. The game is played at both ends of the floor, and more GMs seem to be sensitive to the fact Parker will have some real struggles defensively at the next level.