Not a day after the 2013 NBA Draft concluded (a crazy draft, at that), ESPN draft expert Chad Ford came out with his "Top 100" for the 2014 NBA Draft. He has Gary Harris as the No. 10 prospect, Adreian Payne at No. 30 and Branden Dawson at No. 31. If it's not too early for him to predict the draft that's one year away, it's not too early for The Only Colors to talk about the prospects.
Harris is definitely the most promising prospect out of these three, but he still has a lot to work on. Harris is a great guard in a physical aspect-- being able to finish at the rim-- which helps him in the eyes of NBA scouts. He's a great athlete with great handles but has a midrange shot as well. Harris is a great athlete and has all the tools to become an NBA star, but can be a very streaky shooter (for example, there was a stretch of two games last year where he shot 27.7%) and is undersized for a shooting guard.
Fortunately ,of Harris' two biggest flaws, one of them could be cured with another season of work. If Harris commits to taking better shots and consistency from the floor, he'll be looked at as a much better prospect. Unfortunately, the size issue is something that can't be cured, but in his defense, many more undersized guards are getting picked higher now (see: Trey Burke).
Payne is probably one of the highest "upside" players in this draft. He has insane athleticism and a great shot, something very appealing to NBA teams. He can shoot, block, rebound and pass. He can do everything a great NBA big man can do. I mean, he can do anything you want an NBA player to do except maybe dribble.
The reason Payne is only projected to go late-first round, though, is because he's not very strong on the interior, is incredibly inconsistent and makes some incredibly dumb plays sometimes. Again, like Harris, the outlook this season will be great for Payne's improvement. because he has nowhere to go but up with his consistency and he could get to the weight room to increase his strength.
It's reasonable to see Payne as a lottery pick at the end of the year. I think in any other year I'd bet on it, but not this year.
The biggest risk to NBA teams out of these three players, incoming Branden Dawson and his bad knee may not even be entering the NBA Draft in 2014. However, if he does, he's almost guaranteed to be drafted somewhere.
Dawson has an NBA build and when healthy has incredible leaping ability. He's a great defender and probably will be able to play shooting guard and small forward in the NBA. People may think I'm crazy for saying that, but good defensive guards have their niche in the NBA (Memphis' Tony Allen) and that would be an incredible asset for a team to have. Dawson displayed to us in MSU's game against Michigan that he can take on guards (he did a very nice job with Tim Hardaway, Jr. on defense). He's probably a better small forward than shooting guard because his athleticism makes up for the fact that he's a bit undersized. He's physical and is great at defensive and offensive rebounding.
There is a huge gap in Dawson's game, however. He's a really big liability on the offensive end. He's a good offensive rebounder and a respectable passer but doesn't have any jump shot. I mean, no jump shot. His field goal percentage is good, but that's because he's basically resorted to only taking shot attempts at the rim, which isn't something you want from a shooting guard or even a small forward. It would be one thing for him to be a poor shooter at small forward, but playing a position where good shooters are abound, it's necessary to be able to shoot. He takes no threes simply because he just can't make them.
Dawson needs to be able to show scouts his full potential, because his ceiling is incredibly high.