NBA prospect primer: Top 10 centers

NBA prospect primer: Top 10 centers
April 26, 2014, 11:30 am
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BOSTON — When you look at the hoopla this most recent college basketball season generated, few players drew more attention than Kansas center Joel Embiid, who is a legit contender to be the No. 1 overall pick in June's NBA draft.

A relative newcomer to the game of basketball, this former soccer/volleyball player is one of the more intriguing talents the NBA draft has seen in years.

And he comes along at a time when NBA big men are not really that big a deal.

In fact, Embiid is the only center in the draft who knows for sure he will be a high lottery (top-14) pick. While there are some talented big men both from the college game and among the international pool, none are projected to make as a big a splash on the NBA as Embiid, one of the best rebounding/defensive bigs in this draft.

And for a team like the Celtics, who desperately need a rim protector at the center position, landing a player like Embiid could be just the "fireworks" this team needs this summer to jumpstart their rebuilding efforts towards a return to NBA royalty.

Here's a list of's top 10 center prospects in this year's NBA draft:

1. Joel Embiid, 7-0, 250, Kansas


* Better-than-average at protecting the rim defensively

* Runs the floor well

* Offensive game improving exponentially


1. Concerns about injuries to his back

2. Needs to add strength

3. Only a few years of organized basketball experience


2. Jusuf Nurkic, 6-11, 280, Bosnia & Herzegovina


* Soft hands, nice touch around the basket

* Good free-throw shooter

* Doesn't shy away from contact


* Foul prone

* Shot selection

*  Focus isn't where it needs to be, consistently enough


3. Walter Taveres, 7-3, 260, Gran Canaria


* Has a 7-9 wing span

* True rim protector

* Soft touch around the basket


* Below average when it comes to post moves

* Needs to add strength

* Below-average rebounder for his size


4. Mitch McGary, 6-10, 263, Michigan


* High basketball I.Q.

* Plays with lots of energy, all the time

* Effective defender on pick and rolls


* Admitted to failed drug test for marijuana in March

* Limited room for improvement

* Injury limited him to just eight games last season


5. Artem Klimenko, 7-1, 228, Russia


* Has 7-4 wing span, frame to add at least 30-40 more pounds

* Above-average leaper for a 7-footer

* Runs the floor extremely well


* Needs to add weight, strength

* Defensive fundamentals are lacking

* Doesn't consistently play with a high level of energy


6. Isaiah Austin, 7-1, 225, Baylor


* Above-average shot blocker

* Tremendous skillset as face-to-the-basket scorer

* Has 7-4 wing span


* Needs to bulk up and get stronger; too easily pushed around in the post

* Concerns about him staying healthy

* Shot selection (settles too often for jumpers)


7. Nikola Jokic, 6-11, 253, Serbia


* Has 7-3 wing span

* Only 19 years old, so there's still time for even more physical growth

* Has PG-like instincts having played the position as a youth


* Below-average lateral quickness

* Rebounding

* Defensive awareness


8. Johnny O'Bryant, 6-9, 260, LSU


* Has 7-1 wing span

* Can shoot effectively with back-to-basket over either shoulder

* Good rebounder


* Relies too much on overpowering opponents with his strength

* Too turnover prone

* Tweener


9. Patric Young, 6-8, 240, University of Florida


* Above average defender

* Extremely durable

* High basketball I.Q.


* Undersized center

* No range outside the paint

* Poor free-throw shooter


10. Khem Birch, 6-8, 220, UNLV


* Has an amazing 7-0 wing span

*  Good role player potential, plays at his best off the ball

* Multiple effort player, makes it tough to keep him off the offensive glass


* Tweener

* Below average passer

* Good shot-blocker, but has too many defensive lapses 





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