The 2014 NBA Draft was supposed to be one for the ages - and it still may be - but the perception of the upcoming draft has shifted over the past month. Andrew Wiggins is no longer considered the surefire #1 pick, and his somewhat passive play has raised concerns about his long-term potential. Jabari Parker played incredibly well the first six weeks of the season, but lately his production has slipped. Joel Embiid has emerged as another strong candidate to be picked first, but he often gets in foul trouble, which means he sees limited minutes on the floor.
What does all of this mean? Only that the 2014 NBA Draft will maybe stop having quite as much hyperbole swirling around it. But the truth of the matter is that this draft still looks great.
It was rather surreal to see Wiggins, Parker and Julius Randle tear up college basketball the first few weeks of the season, but it was only sensible to expect that those moments would not last all year long. Especially when discussing young freshman prospects, what we see in college is usually only a partial glimpse of what the best prospects will become.
Wiggins has not been a dominant force for Kansas, but that doesn't mean he will fail to become a great NBA player. Not all top freshman prospects are as dominant as Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Durant were. And even if no superstars come out of this draft, it hardly means it will be a bad draft class.
The 1999 NBA Draft produced nine All-Stars and was a great draft, yet no one player became a perennial first team All-NBA player. Similarly, the 2001 Draft produced eight All-Stars, with its best players probably being Pau Gasol and Tony Parker. You don't need top-tier superstars in a draft for it to be excellent.
The point is that the 2014 NBA Draft will probably be very good - it has many auspicious signs - and we shouldn't let uneven play from the top freshman prospects shake our perception of it too much. Freshman are inherently uneven performers, and there will be many freshman prospects in the upcoming draft.
There is another equally compelling reason to be just as excited about the 2014 Draft now as there was two months ago: Embiid looks like the best pure center prospect since Greg Oden in 2007. This is a huge deal, and is not being discussed enough.
Embiid is truly a great prospect, and any disappointment about Wiggins should be dispelled by the wonderful surprise that Embiid has been as a player. If anything, between Embiid and Parker's exceptional starts, the top of this draft looks more promising than at the beginning of the season.