3 Players to watch for in the 2014 NBA Draft

This year's draft class features highly touted freshmen  (l - r)  Jabari Parker, Joel Embid, Andrew Wiggins, and Julius Randle.

This year’s NBA draft class features highly-touted freshmen (l – r) Jabari Parker, Joel Embid, Andrew Wiggins, and Julius Randle.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

On Thursday June 26, 2014, the National Basketball Association (NBA) will hold its annual draft and as usual there is intrigue surrounding the top pick. Even with top prospect Joel Embiid’s foot injury and subsequent surgery, there is great anticipation for the landing spots of other top prospects like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Julius Randle.

The Philadelphia 76ers would  use their second 1st round draft pick to take Michael Carter-Williams 11th overall in 2013. Carter-Williams would win NBA Rookie of the Year this past season.

The Philadelphia 76ers used their second 1st round draft pick to take Michael Carter-Williams 11th overall in 2013. Carter-Williams won NBA Rookie of the Year this past season.

However, there are always players that receive less attention heading into the draft and end up becoming valuable players. This past year’s NBA Rookie of the Year winner, Michael Carter-Williams, was drafted 11th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. Two years ago Damian Lillard won NBA Rookie of the Year after being drafted 6th overall by the Portland Trailblazers. Additionally, this year’s NBA Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, was drafted 15th overall in the 2011 draft by the Indiana Pacers (and traded on draft day to the San Antonio Spurs).

Current NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard was drafted 15th overall in 2011 by the Pacers and traded to the San Antonio Spurs that evening.

Current NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard was drafted 15th overall in 2011 by the Pacers and traded to the San Antonio Spurs that evening.

This year there are three players that are a bit under the radar, but can make a significant impact in the near future if they go to the right team that provides the best situation.

Former UCLA guard Zach Lavine has the skill set to be a valuable starter for years to come.

Former UCLA guard Zach Lavine has the skill set to be a valuable starter for years to come.

Zach Lavine (Guard) UCLA: Lavine is expected to be drafted somewhere in the middle of the first round but has top of the first round talent. The 19-year-old 6’6″ guard has dynamic athleticism as illustrated by his 41.5″ vertical jump at the NBA combine. Additionally, Lavine is a combo guard with good ball-handling skills and shooting ability. His inconsistent performance in his only season in college has scouts unsure of how he will translate to the next level. The best fit for him would be the Charlotte Hornets as the 9th pick. His offensive skills, defensive ability, and athleticism would blend excellently with a Hornets team that needs to improve its perimeter play.

Former Michigan State forward Adreian Payne will look to translate his offensive ability to a lottery draft pick selection.

Former Michigan State forward Adreian Payne will look to translate his offensive ability to a lottery draft pick selection.

Adreian Payne (Foward/Center) Michigan State: Payne is expected to be drafted towards the end of the lottery and there are 14 lottery picks. The 23-year-old senior is ready to contribute right away and sports an impressive 7’4″ wingspan on his 6’10” frame. He is an excellent shooter, making 42 percent of his three-point attempts his senior year in college. He needs to improve on defense but can immediately help a team that can use frontcourt scoring. An ideal fit would be the Denver Nuggets with the 11th overall pick. Their team suffered numerous injuries last season and could be ready to turn things around quickly with a healthy roster and talented draft pick or two.

Former Wichita State forward showcased an offensive repertoire that many NBA teams can use this upcoming season.

Former Wichita State forward showcased an offensive repertoire that many NBA teams can use this upcoming season.

Cleanthony Early (Small Forward) Wichita State: Early is expected to be drafted towards the end of the first round. The 23-year- old senior gained notoriety with his fantastic play during the NCAA tournament this year. At 6’8″ Early has good size for his position and has demonstrated an ability to create his own shot while also being able to shoot from the perimeter. He has to show improvement on the defensive side but he will be a great addition for a playoff team looking to add bench scoring immediately. The ideal place for Early would be 21at overall, going to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder have struggled to get consistent scoring from players not named Durant or Westbrook. The team can remain in position to contend for a championship next season with the addition of player like Early who can make an impact right away.–OnPointPress.net–

Charles Glover Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

NFL and NCAAF face ongoing legal onslaught

NCAA President Mark Emmert

NCAA President Mark Emmert

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Professional and collegiate American football leagues are doing what they can to win lawsuits that threaten to further damage their image. The growing revenue generated by the NCAAF and NFL on a yearly basis has brought greater scrutiny to their decision-making process when it comes to dealing with public incidents. One of the greatest threats to the enormous popularity of American football is the litany of scandals involving money and large football governing institutions.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

Shortly before the start of the 2013 season, the NFL reached a settlement of $765 million in a class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit was initiated by former NFL players alleging that the NFL withheld valuable medical information that led to serious post-career injuries for the players. The NCAA is in the midst of its own class-action suit led by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon. The NCAA suit involves the assertion that the NCAA unfairly profited from selling the likeness of NCAA athletes after the eligibility of those athletes expired. The suit is joined by a group of former NCAA athletes who are challenging the right to be compensated for their likeness. The players also want to be compensated beyond their scholarships with a portion of the lucrative television revenue contracted by the various networks and the NCAA.

The outcry from the NFL settlement immediately pointed to the fact that the settlement did not force the NFL to admit any wrong-doing in addition to the settlement being  financially being exceptionally favorable to the NFL financially. This has not changed the perception, however, that the long-term effects of playing football are potentially serious despite many advances in protective gear and better medical advances. The ex-NFL players who were involved in the suit suffered from an array of serious injuries ranging from extreme depression to brain trauma. The argument over the long-term effects of head injuries has carried over to the current field of play where the penalties for plays where players target the head have become as punitive as they have ever been in the NFL.

Current Houston Texans running back admits to receiving additional financial benefits that were against the rules while attending the University of Tennessee.

Current Houston Texans running back admits to receiving additional financial benefits that were against the rules while attending the University of Tennessee.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Dashon Goldson was recently fined an all-time NFL high $100,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit and Tennessee Titans safety was fined $42,000 for a similar play. The NFL is working hard to change the narrative of player safety from NFL negligence to player responsibility. Houston Texans running back Arian Foster openly admitted to taking money while playing at the University of Tennessee. This past Saturday players from different collegiate teams wore patches on their jerseys as a protest to the NCAA rules that prevent them from earning benefits using their own likeness or signature.

Former UCLA Bruins basketball player Ed O'Bannon heads a class-action lawsuit against the NCAA that has major financial implications for the NCAA and future NCAA athletes.

Former UCLA Bruins basketball player Ed O’Bannon leads a class-action lawsuit against the NCAA that has major financial implications for the NCAA and future NCAA athletes.

These developments combined with the money-related reports associated with football has changed the conversation when it comes to the popularity of these sports. The NCAA has received millions of dollars over the past several seasons in television contracts. Meanwhile, momentum grows for players to be better compensated for generating the interest that leads to those contracts. The NFL has earned billions of dollars over the last several years. The league is facing a groundswell of concern over the long-lasting effects of this violent game on its players. American football, in general, is facing a challenge that boxing and hockey have faced over previous decades: trying to balance the degree of violence in their sport while ensuring the continued safety and appeal of the game.