Fresh 2014 NBA Mock Draft, Dog Days Edition
With not much action happening on the NBA or college basketball fronts, it's only right we come out with a dog day's edition mock draft.
The draft order was simply generated from guessing and projecting. I included trades that have been made over the past few years. Just don't get too hung up on team needs or the order. Focus more on the players than where and who they're going to.
With so many big names expected to declare, there should plenty to debate about over the next several months regarding the 2014 NBA draft.
1. Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, 6'8'', SF
Andrew Wiggins enters his freshman year with the "next big thing" label glued to his chest. He's considered the prize of 2014 NBA draft and one that isn't handed out frequently.
The attraction to Wiggins begins with his effortless electric athleticism, which stacks up with some of the bounciest players in today's game.
He's essentially able to separate and get off shots whenever he pleases, thanks to his ability to elevate high off the ground for a jumper or finish above the rim.
Defensively, Wiggins can be overwhelming. He's long, quick and aggressive, and at 6'8'', he's got ideal size for an NBA wing.
When the Philadelphia 76ers traded Jrue Holiday, it's likely Andrew Wiggins was on their minds. He's got the upside to become the long-term centerpiece of an NBA franchise.
2. Phoenix Suns: Julius Randle, Kentucky, 6'10'', PF
There's a good chance Julius Randle enters his freshman year at Kentucky as the toughest offensive mismatch in the country.
At 6'10'', Randle is physical, aggressive and fearless in the paint. He's capable of finishing through defenders or over them, both with touch or strength.
But what makes Randle so tough to contain is his ability to take his defender out on the perimeter. Randle is quick off the bounce with an impressive handle he uses to elude defenders and attack the rim. He can also hit his man with a jab step before sticking one in his grill.
Randle projects as a matchup nightmare for weaker smaller forwards and slower power forwards. If there's anyone challenging Andrew Wiggins for that No. 1 pick, it's Randle.
3.Utah Jazz: Dante Exum, Australia, 6'6'', PG/SG
Though it was originally a long shot that Dante Exum would declare in 2014, he recently made it known, via Peter Rolfe of the Sunday Herald Sun, that it's now a 50-50 possibility.
Exum is one of the top prospects on the planet and is currently finishing up his scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport.
At 6'6'', he's a scoring point guard with Russell Westbrook-like explosiveness and Penny Hardaway size for the position. He dominated during this summer's FIBA Under-19 World Championships, leading Australia to a bronze medal while averaging 18 points a game.
Whether or not Exum chooses to declare in 2014 or wait a year and enroll in college, he'll maintain his status as a top-five draft option and potential NBA star.
4. Orlando Magic: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, 6'4'', PG/SG
Marcus Smart shocked the draft world and disappointed a number of NBA teams by deciding to return to Oklahoma State last season.
It was a decision that played to his character as a competitor who hates losing more than he loves winning.
Upset by his team's effort in a second-round NCAA tournament loss, Smart returned to the Cowboys, where he should now be viewed as a potential National Player of the Year candidate. He also returns as a top-flight prospect and long-term lead NBA guard.
Last year, Smart showed he can run the offense as a facilitator or take it over as a scorer. This year, he'll look to improve on his perimeter game, where his jumper has been slightly erratic.
Now a veteran in a college game that sees most of the top players leave after a year, Smart should be poised for a monster sophomore season.
5. Boston Celtics: Joel Embiid, Kansas, 7'0'', C
Joel Embiid is slipping slightly under the radar with Andrew Wiggins generating so much attention in Kansas.
A late-bloomer from Cameroon, Embiid just started playing organized basketball a few years back. In that short time, he's established himself as a prospect with one of the most rewarding ceilings in the field.
At 7'0'', Embiid is an excellent athlete with a developing offensive skill set. He's shown he can shake down low with some nifty footwork while maintaining that touch on the move. The key for Embiid will be improving his fluidity going into his moves, as he's still too raw to pull them off with regularity.
Regardless, Embiied's upside has already been flashed. He's even shown signs of a promising mid-range jumper.
Based on his towering two-way ceiling and a shallow pool of bigs, I've got Embiid as the first 7-footer off the board.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jabari Parker, Duke, 6'8'', SF
Jabari Parker has been a high-profile prospect since 2011. And that's not going to change at Duke, where he'll remain under the spotlight as a potential NBA franchise cornerstone.
At 6'8'', Parker is a versatile wing who can score or pass it.
As a scorer, he's capable of creating his own shot and knocking it down with a hand in his face. Parker has a promising perimeter jumper with three-point range and can go to a number of moves in order to separate from defenders.
Though not the athlete of an Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Dante Exum or Aaron Gordon, Parker's high basketball IQ and willingness to facilitate add a unique dimension to his game.
He's got the look, character and skill set of premier NBA wing. If he decides to leave after a year, Parker should be locked in for top-10 looks.
7. Sacramento Kings: Andrew Harrison, Kentucky, 6'5'', PG
All the ingredients are in Andrew Harrison's game for chef John Calipari to cook up a winner.
Calipari has produced a number of NBA point guards over the past few years, and this one should be no different.
At 6'5'', Harrison is a terrific athlete with an exceptional handle and offensive control. He's quick off the bounce and can change speed or direction on the dime, which allows him to sneak through cracks in the defense and create scoring opportunities.
With a sharp mid-range game and imposing strength attacking the rim, Harrison has the fundamentals and physical tools to make an immediate impact at Kentucky.
His challenge moving forward will be balancing scoring with playmaking, but Harrison's enticing long-term potential is fairly obvious—and it should be awfully appealing to NBA general managers.
8. Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans): Aaron Gordon, Arizona, 6'9'', SF/PF
Aaron Gordon might be the favorite to generate the most YouTube hits in college basketball this year. At 6'9'', he packs an explosive punch of power, athleticism and hops.
Gordon plays well above the rim, which makes him a routine target off set lobs or for penetrating guards.
The question surrounding Gordon is his natural position. He prefers to play on the perimeter as a wing, though his body suggests he's a 4.
Gordon is more than just a great athlete, but he'll have to avoid the same tweener trap that a guy like Derrick Williams fell into as a pro.
Still, his natural ability and elite physical tools give him a ceiling that will make it difficult for too many teams to pass.
9. Charlotte Bobcats: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, 7'0'', C
Willie Cauley-Stein should be in line for a big year now that he has one under his belt.
Though an extremely raw talent, Cauley-Stein was a constant in Kentucky's lineup. He consistently impacted games with his size, athleticism and interior presence on both sides of the ball.
In small doses, we saw Cauley-Stein nail a couple of over-the-shoulder jump hooks, but for he most part, his offensive production came off catching and dunking at the rim. He's a gigantic target inside and a reliable finisher inside.
Defensively, he's simply a massive disruption.
Cauly-Stein is guaranteed to shoot a high percentage and protect the rim. An improved low-post game could put him in top-10 conversations.
10. Washington Wizards: Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, 6'8'', PF
After playing a role on Louisville's national championship team and U.S.A.'s under-19 FIBA gold medal team, Montrezl Harrell's stock is pointing upwards.
Harrell has an insane combination of strength, size, athleticism and leaping ability. Even without many refined skills he's able to put points on the board. Harrell runs the floor like a guard and finishes like a power forward.
This year, he'll see more minutes and touches, which should give him a chance to expand his offensive game.
Harrell is a guy to keep an eye on if he continues to gradually improve.
11. Toronto Raptors: Glenn Robinson III, Michigan, 6'6'', SF
Glenn Robinson III played a huge role in Michigan's run to the championship game. The stats might not say it, but Robinson's presence as a defender and complementary scorer was huge.
With Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. off to the big leagues, Robinson should see a substantial boost in scoring opportunities. No longer fourth or fifth in the offensive pecking order, Robinson is now a top-three option as a sophomore.
He's got a promising mid-range and spot-up three-point jumper, and he can finish above the rim or after contact inside. Robinson has to work on creating off the dribble, but he's got the natural talent and skill set in place to make an Andre Iguodala-like impact in the pros.
12. Portland Trail Blazers: Dario Saric, Croatia, 6'10'', SF/PF
NBA draft fans should be familiar with Dario Saric, who just a few months ago was a potential lottery pick.
The enigmatic Saric decided to pull his name out last second, despite the interest he was receiving from NBA teams.
He was named MVP of both the FIBA Europe Under-16 and Under-18 Championships. Last season, Saric's club team won the Croatian league championship after he went for 19 points and 12 boards in the final game.
At 6'10'', Saric plays on the wing where he can take defenders off the dribble and create scoring opportunities. He's also an excellent rebounder and plays with high energy and an active motor.
There are questions surrounding his attitude, but Saric will be a hot name all year on the global scale.
13. Los Angeles Lakers: Wayne Selden, Kansas, 6'5'', SG
You've seen Wayne Selden's name on the back of McDonald's All-American and Jordan Brand Classic jerseys, and now he'll strap on a Jayhawk uniform alongside fellow freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid.
Selden is one of those athletes who can blow the roof off with an explosive open-floor dunk. He's got a tantalizing combination of speed and explosiveness, along with imposing strength for a scoring guard.
He's a confident player with the ability to create his shot and knock them down on the perimeter.
Selden will step into Ben McLeMore's role at the off-guard slot, where he should see plenty of touches and looks at the rim.
14. Cleveland Cavaliers: James McAdoo, North Carolina, 6'9'', SF/PF
James Michael McAdoo's stock took a hit last season after entering it with huge expectations.
The criticism was fair—despite being the top athlete on the floor at 6'9'', McAdoo shot just 44 percent from the field. He couldn't make free throws, turned the ball over, took bad shots and struggled after contact.
But he learned to create scoring opportunities as a featured member of the offense, an experience that should be valued. McAdoo was getting the looks he wanted in the half court—he just wasn't converting them.
This is the year where those shots need to fall—at least in terms of maximizing his draft stock.
By improving his consistency and efficiency, McAdoo can salvage a down year at North Carolina and reestablish his reputation as a can't-miss prospect.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: Doug McDermott, Creighton, 6'7'', SF
Not only has Doug McDermott established himself as the top shooter in college basketball, but he could be fighting for the scoring title and National Player of the Year.
He shot over 48 percent from downtown and dropped at least 22 points a game in back-to-back seasons. McDermott was recently one of two college players (the other being Marcus Smart) to get an invite to the USA Basketball minicamp in Las Vegas.
McDermott is starting to get recognized as more than just a great college player. Now a member of the Big East, he should continue improving his credibility as a prospect.
With top-notch offensive instincts and a lethal stroke from outside, I'm expecting McDermott to emerge as one of those "know what you're going to get" draft options.
16. Dallas Mavericks: Mario Hezonja, Croatia, 6'6'', SF
Mario Hezonja of Croatia has been one of the hottest international names over the past two years.
The former Under-16 European Championship MVP landed himself a seven-year deal with Barcelona, where he's already been called up to play a few games with the senior team.
Hezonja is a silky smooth athlete with the ability to create and knock down shots from all different angles. He's a pure scoring wing who can put points on the board and get into a rhythm.
But as a scorer who doesn't rebound or pass very well, there isn't much margin for error here. He'll be the international prospect worth monitoring this year for those who like to keep track.
17. Charlotte Bobcats (via Detroit): Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado, 6'5'', PG/SG
This is a big year for Spencer Dinwiddie, who has the tools to draw NBA attention with his size and playmaking ability.
He averaged 15 points and three assists per game, playing a combo-guard role with a shoot-first mentality. Dinwiddie has a refined offensive game, with the ability to create his own shot in the mid-range or attacking the rim.
He also got to the line over seven times a game and knocked down 82 percent of his attempts.
Dinwiddie clearly needs to add weight and improve his shooting consistency, but there's definitely some next-level talent in his game.
18. Atlanta Hawks: Mitch McGary, Michigan, 6'10'', PF
Remember McGary Mania? That was a fun couple of games.
After recording only two double-doubles all season and a career high of 14 points, Mitch McGary went nuts in the NCAA tournament. He put up 21 and 14 against VCU, 25 and 14 against Kansas, 11 and nine against Florida and 10, 12 and six assists against Syracuse.
Despite seeing his draft stock explode, McGary decided to return for his sophomore year. And now he must deal with unfair expectations.
As a prospect, McGary has great size and strength and isn't afraid to bang down low. He runs the floor really well, has soft hands inside and has shown touch on the mid-range jumper.
Consistency will be the key for McGary this year, who quickly drew David Lee comparisons after his breakout.
Instead of entering the year as an under-the-radar prospect, he now has a reputation to uphold and a draft stock to maintain. Producing on a regular basis will help him do that.
19. Houston Rockets: Jerami Grant, Syracuse, 6'7'', SF
Jerami Grant didn't get many offensive touches as a freshman, but he consistently made plays without having his number called.
He's got a great nose for the ball—Grant is consistently making plays on loose balls, tipping in misses or sneaking in for alley-oops.
With a soft touch on the move, he's an effective slasher from the wing. And at 6'8'' with a lengthy 7'2'' wingspan, he's able to get his shots off up over the defense.
Grant will look to expand his offensive game as a sophomore, but he's already flashed enough promise worth getting excited over.
He projects as more of a role player but still one that should generate first-round interest.
20. Golden State Warriors: Gary Harris, Michigan State, 6'4'', SG
Gary Harris had a steady freshman season at Michigan State, where he averaged nearly 13 points on 45 percent shooting and 41 percent from three.
He was a reliable source for offense and defense, which really increased his appeal given he's a freshman playing in college basketball's toughest conference.
This year, Harris should look to be a little more aggressive with his dribble. He's shown he can knock down shots from inside and outside the arc, but he took fewer than 10 total a game. That number is likely to go up this year, along with Harris' draft stock as an NBA 2-guard.
21. Indiana Pacers: Jahii Carson, Arizona State, 5'11'', PG
After being ruled ineligible for what was supposed to be his freshman season, Jahii Carson bounced back in 2012-13 for a monster year in the Pac-12.
He averaged 18.5 points and over five assists a game, showing off that lightning speed, quickness and breakdown ability. Carson is extremely elusive off the dribble yet remains under control. He actually shot over 51 percent from inside the arc, an impressive number for a point guard.
This year, he'll look to improve his mid-range and three-point accuracy, but Carson has the build, quickness and skill set to be a playmaker in the pros.
22. Chicago Bulls: Aaron Harrison, Kentucky, 6'5'', SG
Though he hasn't received as much hype as his twin brother Andrew, Aaron Harrison can flat-out score.
At 6'5'', he's got 2-guard size and athleticism with a lethal offensive game. Harrison has a deep shot-creating arsenal, with the ability to pull up, step back or take it to the rack.
It will be interesting to see how his game translates in college where he won't have the freedom to work one-on-one as much.
Still, this kid impresses me every time I see him. Harrison is a dynamic weapon who can generate his own offense and put points up in bunches.
Assuming Andrew declares after a year, I'd speculate that Aaron would do the same.
And, as of now, I'd peg him as mid-to-late first-rounder.
23. Orlando Magic (via Denver (via NY)): Alex Poythress, Kentucky, 6'8'', SF
Alex Poythress came firing out of the gates as a freshman before pooping out mid-year. He's an explosive athlete with the strength to finish over the top of defenders and get to the rim in line drives.
But Poythress struggled to create separation or any open looks for himself in the half court. He doesn't have much of an in-between game and shows minimal dribble creativity.
At 6'9'' with athleticism and length, he's got ideal natural talent and physical tools for an NBA 3. He just doesn't currently have the skill set.
As of now, we'll place Poythress in the back of Round 1, with the idea that he won't regress and teams will still be intrigued with his long-term potential.
24. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn): Isaiah Austin, Baylor, 7'1'', PF
Isaiah Austin had an up-and-down freshman season, showing flashes of serious potential mixed with reasons to be a bit skeptical.
There's no doubting Austin's talent. At 7'1'', he's really long and skilled, with the ability to play facing the hoop from 25 feet away or back-to-the-rim at the high post. Austin has a soft touch and the ability to make shots from all over the floor, including behind the arc.
But despite his size, he's more of a finesse player than power player. Austin was fairly easy to move under the boards, and he attempted less than three free throws a game.
As a second-year player with a variety of skills and a routine size advantage, Austin should look to make a more consistent impact in 2013-14.
25. Denver Nuggets: T.J. Warren, North Carolina State, 6'8'', SF
T.J. Warren didn't get much national press last year despite being one of the most productive and efficient freshmen in the country.
Playing in an offense with upperclassmen like Lorenzo Brown, C.J. Leslie and Scott Wood, there weren't always touches to go around.
But Warren made the most of his, scoring 12 points a game on a ridiculous 62 percent shooting: an excellent number for a wing.
He also knocked down 14-of-27 three-pointers. With his size, mobility and touch, Warren offers an intriguing offensive package.
Given his ability to score from nearly every spot on the floor, Warren should be a featured member in the offense this season.
26. Memphis Grizzlies: C.J. Fair, Syracuse, 6'8'', SF
C.J. Fair takes his game to a new level each year. He made what seems like the right decision by returning to school as a senior, where he'll be featured in Syracuse's offense as its top-scoring option.
As a junior, Fair expanded his game out to the arc, where he knocked down 30 three-pointers at a scorching 46 percent rate. He's improved his ability to create his own shot, now pulling up with balance as opposed to taking difficult runners off one foot.
In terms of fundamentals, Fair is rock solid. He also has a good nose for the ball and does a nice job of bringing in boards.
As a deceptively explosive athlete with a disciplined offensive game, I've got Fair emerging as a first-round prospect, much like Solomon Hill did as a senior at Arizona.
27. Los Angeles Clippers: Semaj Christon, Xavier, 6'4'', PG
Semaj Christon put himself on NBA radars with a strong freshman year where he averaged 15 points and 4.6 assists a game.
There's a lot to like about Christon from a physical standpoint. He's got excellent size for a point guard along with a strong frame and aggressive motor.
Christon is at his best wheeling and dealing in the mid-range, where he's crafty off the dribble and shows scoring touch on the move.
With breakdown ability, he creates scoring opportunities for teammates via the half-court dribble drive.
Christon needs to work on his range, as he only hit seven three-pointers all year. But he's clearly a prospect to watch now entering his sophomore season at Xavier.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Mouhammadou Jaiteh, France, 6'11'', C
Mouhammadou Jaiteh seemed on the verge of declaring for the 2013 NBA draft before pulling his name out at the deadline. Jaiteh had received some hype over the past year after getting up to 6'11'' in shoes and adding bulk to his massive frame.
Jaiteh was the MVP of France's second division this past season. He also looked pretty good at the 2013 Nike Hoops Summit, where he scored a few buckets inside using his power and touch.
Jaiteh may not have much of a refined offensive game, but his role at the pro level won't be to dominate as a scorer. He projects as a rim security guard and offensive finisher. Jaiteh is an interior presence on both sides of the ball.
Whether or not he gets a first-round call will likely depend on how much he develops over the next year with his new French team in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Cory Jefferson, Baylor, 6'10'', PF
Cory Jefferson really emerged as a legitimate NBA prospect his junior year at Baylor. After only playing 10 minutes a game as a sophomore, Jefferson returned to average 13 points, eight boards and nearly two blocks a game.
He was overwhelmingly dominant throughout Baylor's NIT championship run, when he averaged 21.2 points on 71.9 percent shooting.
Physically, Jefferson has massive shoulders with a strong upper body, and at 6'10'', he's actually shown some nice footwork in the post.
This past season, Jefferson implemented a few back-to-the-basket moves to his repertoire, and even extended his game to the mid-range where he knocked down some face-up jumpers.
Without Pierre Jackson, Jefferson should see a few extra touches in the post. Continuing to expand his offensive game, clean the glass and protect the rim should improve his chances at earning first-round looks.
30. Miami Heat: Alec Brown, Green Bay, 7'1'', C
Alec Brown got our attention and lost it within a span of two seasons.
After a promising sophomore year where he averaged 13.8 points, 8.2 boards and three blocks a game, Brown saw his rebounding and shot-blocking numbers fall to six and 1.7 per game, respectively.
And despite standing 7'1'', Brown shot just 44.9 percent from the floor.
We're talking about a traditional center with great size, a soft touch and some fluidity with his moves in the post.
Weight could be an issue, but if Brown can bounce back as a rebounder and defender, he's likely to regain steam in a draft with few attractive centers.
He was recently invited to Adidas Nations basketball camp as a counselor, along with a number of other NBA prospects.