As the 2015 draft comes closer and the NBA season enters its final stretches it is a worthwhile time to evaluate the progress of the ACC players who were drafted nearly a year ago. Six schools were represented among the 2014 rookies, yet success among them in terms of playing time and injuries has been quite varied.
Jabari Parker, who was arguably the most NBA-worthy of the prospects last year, was picked second by the Milwaukee Bucks. The former Duke player was valued for his versatility and pure talent. Unfortunately his rookie season was cut short in December due to an ACL injury that has left him on the sideline ever since. Prior to his injury however, Parker showed great promise. He averaged about 12 points per game and knocked down almost 50% of his shots.
Duke’s Rodney Hood was also selected in the first round. Unlike Parker however, Hood was able to bounce back from his injury and become a legitimate contender for the Utah Jazz. Despite his absence for 32 games, Hood’s numbers in April have rendered his rookie season successful. His ability to contribute, especially now when it most matters, is not something to overlook.
TJ Warren, a small forward with a good basketball IQ, represented the NC State Wolfpack in the first round of the draft. He has since been especially effective for the Phoenix Suns in getting to the basket during crunch time. More remarkably, he has recorded the highest field goal percentage among NBA rookies.
Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis’ rookie season was more prone to change than stasis. Ennis was selected in the mid-first round by the Phoenix Suns. After spending time in their summer league as well as the D-league Bakersfield Jam, Ennis was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in February. The trade was seemingly fortuitous for Ennis as he has since been able to receive more playing time. Despite this change of situation, he still has yet to prove himself as an NBA-level scorer.
Despite falling to the second round, Syracuse’s Jerami Grant has had arguably more success than Ennis. Selected by the 76ers, Grant was plagued early on with illness and injury but later in the season he was able to prove his potential to block shots and contribute consistently on offense. His talent has reflected in his minutes.
PJ Hairston’s journey to the NBA was an unconventional one. After being suspended by UNC in 2013 and sitting out the following season, he played for the Texas Legends in the D-league and was later drafted in the late second round. Since then Hairston has tried to aid the Charlotte Hornet’s shooting problem, but with inconsistent success.
Clemson’s KJ McDaniels was selected in the early second round by the Philadelphia 76ers. His offensive efficiency and ability to contribute on defense were especially helpful to the 76ers coming off the bench. Like Ennis, McDaniels was ultimately traded in February and now plays for the Houston Rockets.
Virginia’s Joe Harris was selected early in the second round by Cleveland. His rookie season, like Ennis’s, has also been one of constant change. Although he has maintained his spot on Cleveland’s roster, he has had to shuffle back and forth between the Cavaliers and the Canton Charge, their associated D-league team. When Harris does get minutes for Cleveland, he has been able to put up key shots and contribute, but has yet to receive worthwhile time in the rotation.