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2014 NBA Mock Draft: Early Projections for Entire 1st Round

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2014 NBA Mock Draft: Early Projections for Entire 1st Round
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2013 NBA draft officially behind us, the evaluators of the world can't help but look forward. While rookie projections will likely take the world by storm, few drafts have offered quite as much intrigue as the 2014 NBA draft.

The superstars are out in full force and the upside of this draft has drawn comparisons to the famed 2003 edition—the question is, how will the draft play out?

Everything could change in the next 12 months, as players that we perceive to be stars will inevitably prove to be less spectacular than expected. In that same breath, certain off-the-radar prospects will emerge as the stars of the college basketball season.

Here's our best estimation at how it will all play out.

 

Note: Draft order is based off of 2012-13 NBA regular season W-L records.

 

1. Orlando Magic: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas Jayhawks

Position: Small Forward

Age: 18

Height & Weight: 6'8" & 195 pounds (7'0" wingspan)

 

Where else would they go?

Andrew Wiggins is the most high-profile prospect since LeBron James in 2003, and no, that's not a form of hyperbole. No matter who you ask, had Wiggins been eligible for the 2013 NBA drafthe would have been the first-overall selection.

The Orlando Magic luck out in this scenario.

Pairing Wiggins with Victor Oladipo would lead the Magic to boasting one of the most promising perimeters in the NBA. Not only is Oladipo an elite defensive prospect, but Wiggins projects to be  equally as proficient on defense.

Burying Maurice Harkless would be an unfortunate repercussion, but Wiggins is superstar material.

 

2. Charlotte Bobcats: Jabari Parker, Duke Blue Devils

Position: Power Forward

Age: 18

Height & Weight: 6'8" & 241 pounds (7'0" wingspan)

 

The Charlotte Bobcats have franchise players at point guard in Kemba Walker, small forward with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and, potentially, center with Cody Zeller. While some have projected Jabari Parker to be a star small forward, that isn't the case.

Parker lacks the elite lateral quickness of a 3 and boasts the physical gifts to be the perfect power forward in today's NBA.

Some have speculated that Julius Randle may go above Parker, but NBA scouts will not be confused. Parker has been labeled as a superstar in the making and, inevitably, drew comparisons to none other than LeBron James.

Randle is an option, but Parker is still the only player to rival Andrew Wiggins.

Parker projects to be one of the best offensive players in the NBA, pairing a gorgeous jump shot with a low-post game. Perhaps the best comparison for Parker is New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, who led the league in scoring in 2012-13.

The major difference? Parker projects to be a significantly better defender.

 

3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Joel Embiid, Kansas Jayhawks

Position: Center

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 7'0" & 240 pounds (7'5" wingspan)

 

Aaron Gordon and Julius Randle are the top two players on the board here, with Marcus Smart hardly trailing. With that being said, the Cleveland Cavaliers have their forward positions set with top pick Anthony Bennett and former No. 4 selection Tristan Thompson.

For that reason, Kansas Jayhawks center Joel Embiid is the selection.

Dakari Johnson is drawing high praise as a Kentucky-bound recruit, but Embiid is the best center in this draft class. He stands at 7'0" and 240 pounds with a 7'5" wingspan, thus displaying an NBA-type build.

Embiid's defensive upside, as well as his prowess on the glass and potential working out of the post, makes him the only logical option for a Cavaliers team that's overloaded at power forward.

Embiid would be a dream fit at center for Cleveland as he can run the pick-and-roll and protect the rim for a team that currently lacks such a defensive presence. While he may not be the third-best player, he's the best fit.

Could we really justify bringing Gordon or Randle on after Cleveland selected Bennett and Thompson in the span of three years?

 

4. Phoenix Suns: Julius Randle, Kentucky Wildcats

Position: Power Forward

Age: 18

Height & Weight: 6'9" & 248 pounds (6'11" wingspan)

 

The Phoenix Suns made the most of their opportunities in 2013, selecting Alex Len at No. 5 overall. With a franchise player at center, the Suns must now address the other interior spot by selecting a future star.

Julius Randle is that player.

Randle projects to be a more fundamentally sound Josh Smith, which is another way of saying "perennial All-Star." Randle stands at 6'9" and 248 pounds with a 6'11" wingspan, possessing elite athleticism and the ability to run in transition.

With all due respect to the Morris twins, there just isn't another option here—sort of.

The Suns could go with Aaron Gordon, who will be in direct competition with Randle until the 2014 NBA draft rolls around. With that being said, Randle has the higher draft stock right now and does attend the University of Kentucky.

That's a factor we simply cannot ignore.

 

5. New Orleans Pelicans: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State Cowboys

Position: Guard

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 6'4" & 225 pounds

 

The New Orleans Pelicans landed their point guard of the future in Jrue Holiday, but gave up their 2014 first-round draft choice to get him. Fortunately, that pick was top-five protected and the Pelicans thus pick at this spot.

In this scenario, the Eric Gordon era ends and Marcus Smart comes to New Orleans.

Smart is listed as a point guard, but anyone who has watched him play sees the similarities between him and Dwyane Wade. He has an excellent build at 6'4" and 225 pounds, can defend multiple positions and would create an intriguing backcourt in New Orleans with Holiday.

With Gordon battling injuries and clashing with head coach Monty Williams, it's hard to imagine New Orleans passing over Smart here without a superstar small forward emerging.

Smart can handle it and run point, thus enabling Holiday to work off of the ball. He and Holiday can both defend each guard spot with the dual combination of size and strength.

It'd be an experimental backcourt, but let's not forget something important—Smart is actually taller than Gordon.

 

6. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon, Arizona Wildcats

Position: Power Forward

Age: 17

Height & Weight: 6'9" & 212 pounds (6'11" wingspan)

 

The Sacramento Kings hit the jackpot by drafting Ben McLemore out of Kansas at No. 7 overall. What they lack, however, is a point guard that can run the show and create direction on the offensive side of the ball.

Andrew Harrison is a legitimate option for that reason, but can we really expect the Kings to pass over Aaron Gordon?

Gordon is one of the most explosive athletes in the nation and is regarded as one of the top five prospects in this year's star-studded draft class. While I'd personally side with Harrison, Gordon's human highlight reel abilities are what Sacramento needs alongside DeMarcus Cousins.

The potential of that duo is too good to pass over.

Again, Harrison is my personal preference, as he can be the point guard that Sacramento needs. With that being said, the addition of McLemore is worth monitoring, as re-signing Tyreke Evans and pairing the two could change everything for the Kings.

When it comes down to it, Gordon is simply too talented to pass over—for now.

 

7. Detroit Pistons: Andrew Harrison, Kentucky Wildcats

Position: Point Guard

Age: 18

Height & Weight: 6'5" & 207 pounds (6'8" wingspan)

 

The Detroit Pistons found their shooting guard of the future at No. 8 overall in 2013 with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. With that being said, the only way they pass over a point guard here is if Brandon Knight suddenly develops as a facilitator.

In this scenario, that doesn't pan out and they go with a different Kentucky star in Andrew Harrison.

Harrison possesses elite size for his position at 6'5" and 207 pounds with a wingspan somewhere in between 6'8" and 6'9". Not only is he big for his position, but Harrison is a dynamic offensive force that can facilitate and shoot.

While his jumper isn't consistent just yet, Harrison has the skill in place—it's all about shot selection.

Harrison uses his strength well to enter the lane and work off of high screens, which bodes well with a team that's led by Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. With ambidextrous finishing ability around the basket, the upside is certainly present for his contributing as an elite scorer.

There isn't much wrong about this pick.

 

8. Washington Wizards: Dakari Johnson, Kentucky Wildcats

Position: Center

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 6'11" & 263 pounds (7'0" wingspan)

 

I'm not sold on Dakari Johnson going in the top 10, but the Washington Wizards have franchise players at point guard, shooting guard and small forward. With Chris Walker coming in at a lighter weight than desired for a power forward, thus resulting in his ultimately playing the 3, Johnson is the pick.

If nothing else, Johnson will be a powerful player down low that projects to be a strong finisher around the basket.

Emeka Okafor remains one of the game's elite interior defenders—just check the numbers—but he's also on the wrong side of 30. Johnson, meanwhile, is a powerful player at 6'11" and 263 pounds, suggesting that he could learn quite a bit from Okafor.

If not, his power down low should allow him to carve out a role as an interior force working out of the post.

There are questions about Johnson's body language, similar to former Kentucky big man DeMarcus Cousins. With that being said, no one is questioning his ability, and a year in college should help Johnson fix his weaknesses.

Again, I'm not entirely sold that Johnson is a top 10 pick, but this works out well for Washington in this scenario.

 

9. Minnesota Timberwolves: Chris Walker, Florida Gators

Position: Small Forward

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'9" & 195 pounds (7'2" wingspan)

 

The Minnesota Timberwolves had a successful draft, landing a scorer in Shabazz Muhammad and shot blocker in Gorgui Dieng. While some have projected Muhammad as a small forward, however, he has the ability to shift to the 2.

That opens the door for athletic freak Chris Walker to be the pick at No. 9.

Dario Saric out of Croatia is another option, but with the immense talent in the 2014 NBA draft, it's hard to imagine Minnesota looking overseas. This is not a knock on Saric, but instead a bit of respect paid to the home-grown talent.

Walker is amongst the best of this class.

Walker plays with a legitimate mean streak, crashing the boards and attacking the basket with no remorse. This should help him to be a productive player in college and thus make a transition to the next level as a slasher, transition force and defensive player.

While his jump shot must improve, he is solid enough off of the catch to temper concerns and shift focus to his all-around game.

 

10. Portland Trail Blazers: Dario Saric, Croatia

Position: Small Forward

Age: 18

Height & Weight: 6'10" & 223 pounds (6'11" wingspan)

 

The Portland Trail Blazers remain in the market for a shot blocker, but at the end of the day, there isn't a rim protector with greater value than Dario Saric at No. 10. While the statement has been made that there is elite home grown talent, Saric clocks in around this spot in terms of pure value.

Having drafted C.J. McCollum, that pushes Gary Harris out of contention.

Saric is one of the most dynamic players in the world, pairing elite size at 6'10" with strong ball handling and a developing jump shot. Not only can he hit the three-ball, but he can put it on the floor and knock down jumpers when his feet are set.

The Blazers have Nicolas Batum, thus making this a questionable pick, but the value is undeniable here.

Mitch McGary is another option here, as he can be the interior force for Portland that they currently lack. With that being said, McGary isn't necessarily an elite defensive prospect, and Saric is as attractive an option as you'll find.

Willie Cauley-Stein is another option.

 

11. Philadelphia 76ers: Gary Harris, Michigan State Spartans

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 18

Height & Weight: 6'4" & 210 pounds (6'6" wingspan)

 

The Philadelphia 76ers landed a potential star with power forward Aaron Gordon and added point guard Michael Carter-Williams and center Nerlens Noel in 2013. With their next pick, they round it all out with shooting guard Gary Harris out of Michigan State, a top-10 prospect that drops based on positional needs.

Harris is one of the best on-ball defenders in the nation, using his length and physicality to force turnovers and lock down shooters. With the speed and quickness to take on point guards, the defensive upside is undeniable.

He's not quite the athlete or defender as Victor Oladipo, but the comparisons will be drawn in 2014.

Offensively, Harris displays star potential, shooting the ball at a high clip and handling the ball as well as any off guard. There is room for improvement, but playing as the star of Michigan State, Harris will have plenty of opportunities to prove himself.

Expect Harris to compete for a top-5 pick when it's all said and done.

 

12. Toronto Raptors: Mitch McGary, Michigan Wolverines

Position: Forward/Center

Age: 21

Height & Weight: 6'10" & 250 pounds (7'0" wingspan)

 

When it comes to Mitch McGary, the only word to describe him is hustle. McGary has excellent size for the power forward or center position, but it's all about his willingness to do the dirty work and compete for loose balls.

McGary is exactly what Toronto needs down low.

The Raptors have a center that falls under that same category in Jonas Valanciunas, so pairing him with McGary would be a dream. After experiencing the underwhelming effort of Andrea Bargnani, adding a player that's versatile offensively and committed on both ends would be refreshing.

That's exactly what the Michigan star would provide.

McGary has as much to prove as anyone in this draft class, as his extraordinary NCAA Tournament came after a rather underwhelming regular season. With that being said, his abilities are well-documented and his motor should permit a high selection.

In this scenario, Toronto lucks out.

 

13. Dallas Mavericks: Glenn Robinson III, Michigan Wolverines

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 6'6" & 210 pounds

 

Glenn Robinson III is listed as a small forward, but he projects to be a shooting guard at the next level. This shouldn't be an issue for Dallas, as Robinson is a transition menace with high defensive potential, something that an aging roster can always stand to add.

The Mavericks found their point guard of the future with Shane Larkin, so adding a player with length and defensive upside alongside him is a key. Robinson III must improve his jump shot, but with his ability to slash and enter the open court, Larkin would find it quite favorable to work with the Michigan star.

As for what the rest of the roster needs, GR3 has family ties to the NBA and the type of athleticism you just can't teach.

At Michigan, Robinson will have the opportunity to crack the top 10 as he and Mitch McGary lead the charge. Without Trey Burke, both men will have the opportunity to prove that they're more than just complementary pieces.

As it presently stands, GR3 has the look of a lottery pick, and Dallas would be lucky to have him here.

 

14. Utah Jazz: Wayne Selden, Kansas Jayhawks

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 18

Height & Weight: 6'5" & 229 pounds (6'10" wingspan)

 

Andrew Wiggins is garnering superstar attention, and Joel Embiid is currently the top center on the board. With that being said, one of the most intriguing prospects in the nation is Kansas shooting guard Wayne Selden.

The Utah Jazz pounce on the opportunity to make him theirs.

The Jazz landed a franchise point guard in Trey Burke, thus creating their core of the future with he, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. What the Jazz lack, however, is a go-to scorer that can shoot and put it on the floor.

Selden can.

Selden has great size at 6'5" and 229 pounds with a 6'10" wingspan, and should display his upside as a complementary scorer at Kansas. With Wiggins commanding attention, this should enable Selden to display his rapidly improving jump shooting ability.

With powerful slashing ability, Selden could be something special.

 

15. Milwaukee Bucks: LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State Buckeyes

Jason Miller/Getty Images

Position: Small Forward

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'8" & 225 pounds (7'1" wingspan)

 

The Milwaukee Bucks took the gamble of the draft, taking Giannis Antetokounmpo at No. 15. While the Greek forward has potential, he's also spent his career playing against talent that is comparable to Division III schools.

For that reason, the Bucks go with one of the fastest rising small forwards in the nation in LaQuinton Ross of Ohio State.

Ross stands at 6'8" with a 7'1" wingspan, suggesting that his size will be ideal for the small forward position. While he must bulk up, Ross is a do-it-all forward that will draw comparisons to former Georgetown forward Otto Porter by season's end.

For perspective, Porter went No. 3 overall in 2013.

Ross must improve his assertiveness, but he can shoot the ball at a high clip and crash the boards at an encouraging level. His ball handling isn't quite elite, but seemed to improve as the season went on.

There's serious upside here, and if Ross is able to improve his motor, he could crack the lottery.

 

16. Boston Celtics: Aaron Harrison, Kentucky Wildcats

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 18

Height & Weight: 6'5" & 210 pounds (6'8" wingspan)

 

The Boston Celtics have added some quality pieces, but regardless of whether or not they rebuild, they still lack a franchise shooting guard. With Aaron Harrison's draft stock still undefined, they capitalize on this opportunity.

If Boston struggles, as some predict they will, they could make this same selection earlier in the draft.

Harrison has been viewed as a package deal with his brother throughout their prep careers, but as the NBA draft first takes shape, the shooting guard has seen his stock drop a bit. This is not a sign of his ability, but instead an acknowledgement of just how deep this class is.

Standing at 6'5" and 210 pounds with a 6'8" wingspan, however, it's quite clear that Harrison will be a player on draft day.

Harrison is your quintessential catch-fire shooter, getting into a rhythm and never looking back. Not only can he hit the three-ball with proficiency, but he moves fluidly in the open court and could be a very strong add for any team.

In this scenario, he'd be a great fit as Rajon Rondo's go-to jump shooter.

 

17. Atlanta Hawks: Montrezl Harrell, Louisville Cardinals

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Position: Power Forward

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 6'8" & 235 pounds (7'4" wingspan)

 

The Atlanta Hawks found some great value in the 2013 NBA draft, but that doesn't mean that their holes are filled. Instead, the Hawks must target the best player available, and in that case, it's a Louisville star in combo forward and rebounding menace Montrezl Harrell.

Harrell may play small forward, but even if he does end up at the 4, it's a nice insurance policy for a team that will see Al Horford become a free agent in 2016. That breeds the opportunity for three years of development for Harrell, who some are labeling as a franchise player.

While that tag may be a reach at this point, there's no question that he has NBA potential.

Harrell is one of the most explosive athletes in the draft, which plays a major factor in why his non-stop motor is so valuable. Not only does this enable him to crash the defensive glass, it makes him a force offensively.

He has a lot to prove at Louisville, but in terms of raw ability, Harrell could be something special.

 

18. Houston Rockets: Dante Exum, Australia

Position: Point Guard

Age: 17

Height & Weight: 6'6" & 188 pounds (6'9" wingspan)

 

The Houston Rockets have a point guard worth experimenting with in Jeremy Lin, who played rather well considering he was forced to be more of a 2 in 2012-13. With that being said, Houston can't remain idle if Lin doesn't improve as they expect him to.

Expect Australian point guard Dante Exum to be right on Houston's radar in that scenario.

Exum stands at 6'6" and 188 pounds with a 6'9" wingspan, thus displaying elite size for his position. Even if he does pan out as more of a shooting guard, there is upside, as Exum has excellent body control and finishes in the paint as well as any prospect we'll see.

He could go much earlier, but if he's here, Houston wouldn't let him go.

Other options here include Noah Vonleh and Jarnell Stokes at power forward. With that being said, Exum has star potential and point guard is the most demanding position in the league.

A tough but rational pick.

 

19. Los Angeles Lakers: Noah Vonleh, Indiana Hoosiers

Position: Power Forward

Age: 17

Height & Weight: 6'10" & 242 pounds (7'4" wingspan)

 

Regardless of how long Mike D'Antoni stays in town, there will come a time in which the Los Angeles Lakers realize how badly they need a forward that can shoot. While Noah Vonleh may not be Kevin Durant, he's a long power forward with a great frame and upside as a scorer.

You can't find a better pick than this.

Vonleh has received some flack for standing at 6'8" without shoes, but I can't remember the last time I saw a game played without foam under feet. With shoes, Vonleh steps in at 6'10" and 242 pounds with a 7'4" wingspan.

Let's quiet those concerns.

At Indiana, Vonleh will have a chance to play a similar role to Cody Zeller, but will likely be used as more of a weapon as he steps out for jumpers. Not only can he hit those shots, but there is a semblance of a low-post game.

All-in-all, the Lakers could snag a long-term starter here.

 

20. Chicago Bulls: Isaiah Austin, Baylor Bears

Position: Power Forward

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 7'0" & 215 pounds (7'3" wingspan)

 

Isaiah Austin truly didn't receive the praise that he deserved during the 2012-13 college basketball regular season. While he remains relatively raw, he displayed star potential while manning the 4 and 5 for the Baylor Bears.

Had they reached the NCAA Tournament, Austin likely would have been able to work his way into the lottery.

The Bulls landed a sharpshooter in Tony Snell, but there is an undeniable need for a second unit center and power forward of the future. Austin is the type of player Chicago would love to add, as he is a strong enough shot-blocker to step in early and an intriguing offensive option at the 4.

Another option is rebounding specialist Jarnell Stokes, but Austin's length is the key here.

Austin stands at 7'0" with a 7'3" wingspan, but also possesses the semblance of a mid-range game. Should he study behind Carlos Boozer, the Baylor star could improve that jumper enough to become Chicago's power forward of the future.

Bulking up is imperative, but Austin's upside is too good to pass over at No. 20.

 

21. Golden State Warriors: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky Wildcats

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Position: Center

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 7'0" & 220 pounds (7'2" wingspan)

 

Willie Cauley-Stein is preparing for yet another season in which he's going into a positional battle with a high-profile center. With that being said, Cauley-Stein's NBA upside is well-documented throughout basketball circles.

Standing at 7'0" with a 7'2" wingspan, Cauley-Stein certainly has the body type to make an impact.

Cauley-Stein's height and wingspan enable him to block shots and rebound at a high level, which are two areas Golden State needs to improve in. The fact that they run an up-tempo offense factors in here, as well, as Cauley-Stein is athletic enough to get back in transition and contest shots at the rim, something today's generation of centers must be able to do.

In the half court, Cauley-Stein is a smarter player than most big men, as he reacts well to rotations. He has plenty of room to improve, but if we're ranking defensive big men, Cauley-Stein is near the top.

This is a value and fit pick.

 

22. Brooklyn Nets: Jerami Grant, Syracuse Orange

Position: Small Forward

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 6'8" & 203 pounds (7'2" wingspan)

 

The Brooklyn Nets have no shortage of star power, but that doesn't mean that they should become complacent. With aging stars along the perimeter, it's imperative that the Nets build for the future via the draft.

How better to do so than with one of the best upside picks in the draft?

Jerami Grant isn't your typical Syracuse forward—you know, great in college but mediocre in the NBA. Instead, he's a physically gifted swing man that stands at 6'8" with a 7'2" wingspan and the athleticism to intrigue any scout.

Intrigue he will.

The Nets can afford to invest a pick into Grant, as his need for development fits into their desire to add stars of the future. Even in his early career, Grant should be able to provide an explosive transition presence.

There's insane upside here, and Brooklyn gambles on it.

 

23. Indiana Pacers: Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee Volunteers

Position: Power Forward

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 6'8" & 250 pounds (7'1" wingspan)

 

Jarnell Stokes is one of the best rebounders in the nation, crashing the boards with power and precision. On a personal level, he's one of the players that I most enjoy watching, as he works his tail off down low.

With that being said, he hasn't worked his way into the draft lottery just yet, and to assume so would be premature.

Stokes could be a player similar to Kenneth Faried, as he controls the glass against players with up to six inches on him. He does so by gaining position and using his overwhelming power to crash the boards on both ends.

If he can improve his mid-range jump shot, Stokes could be one of the most productive players in the nation.

Stokes has a shot at the lottery, but he needs to improve his consistency working out of the post. With that being said, Stokes is an excellent rebounder and strong defensive weapon.

The comparisons to David West will arise if that jumper improves, which makes him the pick for Indiana.

 

24. New York Knicks: Semaj Christon, Xavier Musketeers

Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Position: Point Guard

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'3" & 187 pounds

 

If there's one thing that the 2013 NBA draft has taught us, it's that general managers are reluctant to draft point guards if there are upside players at other positions. In this case, the New York Knicks luck out based off of that truth.

Semaj Christon could be a lottery pick when it's all said and done, but he just hasn't earned that distinction just yet.

Christon has excellent size for the position at 6'3" and 187 pounds, which is complemented by intriguing athleticism and paralyzing quickness. While he's not the most consistent scorer, Christon is a terror in the open court.

For a Knicks team that loves to push the pace and needs a point guard of the future, Christon projects to be the perfect fit.

His length can be a weapon defensively, as he enters the passing lanes and creates points out of turnovers. Offensively, he's an excellent ball-handler that works well off of screens and makes crisp entry passes.

Christon will need to prove his worth during the season, but this would be a marvelous fit for New York. 

 

25. Los Angeles Clippers: Alex Poythress, Kentucky Wildcats

Position: Small Forward

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 6'8" & 215 pounds (7'0" wingspan)

 

The Los Angeles Clippers added a sharpshooter in Reggie Bullock, who should receive relatively early playing time. With their pick in this scenario, they add a defensive-minded swingman that can step in as their small forward of the future.

Say what you will about his struggles in year one, but Alex Poythress remains an intriguing option for any team.

Poythress stands at 6'8" and 215 pounds with a 7'0" wingspan and a powerful defensive base. While his production may not jump off of the page, Poythress can lock his man down and defend both forward spots.

The fact that he's one of the best rebounders at his position certainly doesn't hurt.

Poythress should see his draft stock improved by way of the talent surrounding him, but that doesn't mean he's not worth it. There's elite defensive potential here, and if he can put his offensive game together, you're looking at a potential top 10 pick.

That's a big if, but at No. 25, it's all about matching value and upside.

 

26. Memphis Grizzlies: Sam Dekker, Wisconsin Badgers

Position: Small Forward

Age: 19

Height & Weight: 6'8" & 215 pounds

 

This comes down to one of three players, as Sam Dekker, Rodney Hood and Rasheed Sulaimon are all in play. When it comes down to it, Dekker's upside will continue to quietly push him up draft boards and make him the pick here.

Just don't be shocked if Dekker is off the board as many as 10 picks sooner.

Dekker is an excellent jump-shooter that shot 39.1 percent from beyond the arc as a freshman at Wisconsin. Paired with an excellent motor and strong enough athleticism to make an impact defensively, Dekker has upside.

While I'm not sold that he'll go much higher than this yet, Dekker will be a contender for Big Ten Player of the Year—an instant push into lottery range.

For the Memphis Grizzlies, it's imperative that they add players that can hit the three with consistency. Dekker fits that bill, all while maintaining a level of defensive toughness that they seem to love.

In terms of the advanced metrics, everything about Dekker suggests he should be strong in that regard.

 

27. Denver Nuggets: Rodney Hood, Duke Blue Devils

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'8" & 180 pounds (6'9" wingspan)

 

The Denver Nuggets may be a high-octane offensive squad, but that doesn't mean they can shoot the basketball. In fact, the Nuggets rank in the bottom 10 when it comes to three-point shooting.

Adding Rodney Hood is a great way to improve in that regard.

Hood has a long way to go before he's a first-round lock, and I'm quite hesitant to label any of Duke's players not named Jabari Parker as a first-round pick. With that being said, Hood has excellent size for a shooting guard at 6'8".

That alone makes Hood a fringe first-round selection.

Hood works for Denver as he displays the ability to be a lethal three-point shooter, having shot 36.4 percent from beyond the arc as a freshman. While the rest of his game is coming together, Hood has massive upside due to his size and all-around scoring abilities.

The southpaw's shooting could be enough to catch Denver's eye here.

 

28. San Antonio Spurs: Mario Hezonja, Croatia

Position: Shooting Guard

Age: 18

Height & Weight: 6'6" & 200 pounds

 

Many are convinced that Hezonja will be a sure-fire lottery pick, but I'm not.

If this draft weren't so stacked with home-grown talent, Croatian shooting guard Mario Hezonja would likely be a top-10 selection. Unfortunately for Hezonja, this draft class is deep with college players with star potential, thus pushing him to the back end of the first round.

It just so happens that he lands in the best possible location.

Hezonja has excellent size for the shooting guard position at 6'6", which is something the San Antonio Spurs need with Manu Ginobili's future in doubt. More specifically, Hezonja knows how to put the ball on the floor and appears to be a great shooter on film.

With the ability to score from all over the floor, the Spurs may just find their shooting guard of the future at No. 28 overall.

Hezonja is a better athlete than Dario Saric, his countryman, and displays a similar basketball IQ. With a strong build for an 18-year-old player, there is the potential for Hezonja to come over and play in year one.

This is the kind of potential that San Antonio loves to explore.

 

29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kyle Anderson, UCLA Bruins

Position: Small Forward

Age: 20

Height & Weight: 6'9" & 235 pounds (7'2" wingspan)

 

Kyle Anderson was thrust into a difficult situation in 2012-13, joining a UCLA squad that had conflicting personalities. With everyone wanting to be the man, it was difficult for Anderson to put his on-ball brilliance on display.

What Anderson did prove, however, was that even as he works off of the ball, he can be one of the best all-around players at his position.

Anderson finished with averages of 9.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.8 steals and 0.9 blocks per game in 29.9 minutes. This comes as Larry Drew III and Shabazz Muhammad demanded a significant amount of touches and limited Anderson's point-forward role.

In 2013-14, Anderson should take over UCLA's offense and prove just how great of a player he can be.

A lack of elite athleticism and a less-than-ideal jump shot will hold Anderson back, but the latter weakness can be worked on. As for his athleticism, Anderson has the rare ability of making the game flow at his pace.

There's risk here, but for the Thunder, adding an all-around force to their second unit is an excellent opportunity that they can't pass over—keep in mind, Kevin Durant once called Anderson the best high school player in the nation.

 

30. Miami Heat: Tyler Ennis, Syracuse Orange

Position: Point Guard

Age: 18

Height & Weight: 6'2" & 180 pounds (6'5" wingspan)

 

Tyler Ennis isn't on the first-round radar of many draft evaluators at this stage of the season. In fact, he's not on the draft radar of some of the more reputable sources.

With that being said, Ennis is a pure winner and will be this year's Trey Burke—a 2013 lottery pick.

Ennis chose Syracuse, which may not be a great choice for certain positions, but has paid off for point guards. Not only will his defensive shortcomings be masked by the 2-3 zone, but Ennis will have the opportunity to get out in transition quite often.

It's there that Ennis will display extraordinary body control and the ability to make the right decision.

For the Miami Heat, Mario Chalmers will join their cast of unrestricted free agents in 2014, and he could fall out of their price range depending on how the Big Three handle their contracts. If he does depart, Ennis would be a gift at No. 30.

Ennis is a point guard with excellent size, a great feel for the game, the leadership abilities that will make a scout drool and already elite pick-and-roll facilitating skills.

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