Tonight's NBA Draft full of intrigue

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Jabari Parker believes he knows where he's going in Thursday's NBA draft.

Andrew Wiggins isn't sure but admits he would like to go No. 1 overall, a pick held by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Dante Exum just wants to go somewhere so all the uncertainty will go away.

Parker, the freshman forward from Duke, said Wednesday he thinks he will wind up with the Milwaukee Bucks at No. 2 overall in this much anticipated draft.

“I had some comfort level with them, especially with them telling me, 'We want you.' I didn't really get answers from the Cavs, so I'm just going with what I'm certain with,” Parker said as draft prospects met the media at a Manhattan hotel.

Of course, that doesn't mean the Cavaliers are ruling out Parker. Or they could make a deal that would end up with Parker going to another NBA team.

But Parker made it clear he would not mind landing in Milwaukee.

“I think it's a good fit,” he said. “All of the top three teams are a good fit. They need that small forward position to be filled and they need that young player to help grow alongside those other players that they have.

“It's all about going with the team that needs you or wants you. If they don't necessarily want you, they won't pick you. I've just got to be all in with who's committed.”

Parker said the Bucks were more direct in committing to him than the Cavaliers were. He did not work out for Philadelphia, which has the third overall pick.

But Parker denied media reports that he “tanked” his workout in Cleveland because he did not want to play for the Cavaliers.

“I think I have too much pride to just waste other people's time,” Parker said of those reports. “I come from Duke and most importantly, I come from a family with good values.

“There's going to be a lot of speculation and a lot of negativity, but I would be glad to look that person in the eye that wrote that stuff and can give me (his) assumptions. I've been dealing it with my entire life, people giving me negative approaches about my weight.

“But I don't have any problem about the way that I am, because at the end of the day, I've got to play basketball.”

Wiggins was candid in saying he wants to be the No. 1 pick. The Canadian native also heard his share of criticism during his freshman season at Kansas, with some experts doubting his toughness or leadership abilities.

“That's more the competitive side of me, wanting to be above everybody else,” Wiggins said. “Not wanting anybody to go ahead of me.

“I still want to go (No.) 1.”

Wiggins worked out twice for the Bucks in a one-week span, first in Santa Barbara, Calif., on June 13 and in Milwaukee on Friday.

“I think they liked me and I worked hard as usual,” said Wiggins, who indicated he shot the ball better in the second workout. “I showed them a lot of things I've been working on.”

The 6-foot-8 guard/forward also worked out for Philadelphia and Cleveland.

“I'm prepared, no matter what team I go to,” Wiggins said. “I want to win. No one wants to be a loser.

“I'm willing to do anything for the team in that situation.”

Wiggins said he talks to former Kansas teammate Joel Embiid on a daily basis and is certain Embiid will recover from the broken right foot he recently suffered. The 7-foot center also was vying to be the draft's top pick until being injured.

“Nothing is going to stop him,” Wiggins said. “His heart is too big. I know he'll be good.”

Wiggins is known as a strong defender while Parker is a versatile scorer.

But both players have had their weaknesses pored over by draft experts, something Parker said did not bother him.

The 6-8 Parker was reported to weigh 254 pounds and his conditioning was questioned.

“I felt real good through the workouts,” Parker said. “That does surprise me because I'm in the gym 24-7. I don't have to promote myself; I don't have to put anything out on Instagram.

“It's my job and my duty to practice every day. That's the stuff I put in the dark that needs to be shown in the light. I'm not a couch potato; I'm not going to flip the channels. I love to play basketball and you can find me playing that almost every day.”

Parker said NBA teams primarily see him as a small forward.

“I don't have any position; just like at Duke, I was moved around,” the 19-year-old Chicago native said.

Exum said he was making his first trip to New York. The 18-year-old Australian, considered a top four pick in the draft, worked out for the Bucks, 76ers and Magic.

The 6-6 point guard said he had dinner with Bucks coach Larry Drew during his Milwaukee visit. Bucks officials also met with Exum's mother, Desiree, and agent Rob Pelinka during a Los Angeles visit.

Exum said he has received encouragement from other Australians in the NBA, including former Bucks and current Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut and San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills, who helped lead his team to a five-game victory over Miami and the NBA title.

“It's the draft and you don't know what's going to happen,” Exum said of possibly ending up in Milwaukee.

“The combine (in Chicago) was an eye-opener and all the attention I got with the media and everything.

“I have no clue where I'm going. Today I'm just a kid from Melbourne, Australia and tomorrow I'm going to be living in a city, I don't know where it is.

“I've been telling my agent, try to talk to these teams and find out who's picking me. I want to know but I want the surprise when it happens. I just want to know.”

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