2014 NBA Mock Draft: Pre-Training Camp Edition
With the 2013-14 college basketball season rapidly approaching, it's time to roll out the latest pre-training camp edition mock draft.
The draft order was generating based on future trades and predictions. Don't get carried away with where teams are drafting or their needs. Too much can happen between now and next June.
Instead, focus on the draft range of each individual prospect.
These are the guys you can expect to be battling for first-round position over the next eight months.
1. Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, 6'8'', SF
Andrew Wiggins has established himself as the treasure of the 2014 NBA draft class. His draft eligibility likely played a key role in Philadelphia's willingness to accept what's expected to be a disastrous year on the court.
But before he plays his first pro game, he'll have to go through an entire season at Kansas, where experts will dissect every move he makes under the microscope.
At 6'8'' with a 7'0'' wingspan and once-in-a-decade athleticism, he'd be an appealing prospect even if he couldn't dribble. But he happens to be a talented offensive player and tenacious lockdown defender.
His ability to separate from anywhere on the floor, whether it's as a shooter or above-the-rim dunker, allows him to generate offense at will.
Extending his range and refining his perimeter-scoring arsenal are the wrinkles he'll need to iron out. But long term, there isn't a better prospect in the world.
The Sixers need a face to represent their franchise, and Wiggins would be the ideal candidate.
2. Phoenix Suns: Julius Randle, Kentucky, 6'9'', PF
Julius Randle would give the Phoenix Suns a dimension of offense they don't currently possess. And it's called a mismatch.
At 6'9'', 248 pounds, he can be a beast down low, where he muscles his way for points and punishes interior defenders.
In the post, he's slippery with his back to the rim, where he has the ability to slide off his man and separate for a makable shot.
On the perimeter, he's quick enough to attack off the dribble or use a jab and stick a jumper.
There are just so many spots on the floor where he presents a problem for the defense. And that's why he's considered the toughest mismatch in the class.
The Suns, who have the Morris twins, Marcin Gortat and Alex Len up front, are in desperate need for a player like Randle. He has a towering NBA ceiling and appears to be locked in as a top-three prospect.
3. Utah Jazz: Dante Exum, Australia, 6'6'', PG/SG
All we could do is speculate at this point, as Dante Exum hasn't decided whether to enter the 2014 draft or attend college and declare in 2015.
But assuming the top-five whispers don't fade throughout the year, I'm expecting Exum to pull the trigger and make his move as soon as possible.
At 6'6'', he's a scoring point guard with the size of Penny Hardaway and the explosiveness of Russell Westbrook. With a promising outside game and tremendous offensive instincts, the sky is the limit for him. His ceiling is a story or two higher than fellow combo guard Marcus Smart's.
With the physical tools, genes (his father played for North Carolina) and superior talent, he has so much to love and nothing to question.
For what it's worth, he'd be my favorite to go No. 1 if he chose to delay his eligibility and declare in 2015.
4. Orlando Magic: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, 6'4'', PG/SG
Orlando was hoping to land Marcus Smart in the 2013 draft before he chose to return as a sophomore in college.
He would give the Magic a new lead guard to guide the team into its next era, assuming Jameer Nelson's tenure with Orlando is nearing its end.
Right now, Smart is as one of the most physically imposing guards in the country at 6'4'', 225 pounds. But he can beat you with power or tiptoe around you with finesse.
He put up big-time numbers as a freshman and probably couldn't have shot it any worse from outside. Imagine what's going to happen when his jumpers start falling with more regularity.
He'll be viewed as an elite prospect all year and one of the many prizes of the 2014 draft.
5. Boston Celtics: Jabari Parker, Duke, 6'8'', SF
Jabari Parker has been a highly touted recruit since his freshman days in high school. Acing the NBA eye test at 6'8'' with a strong upper body and a faceup offensive game, he looks the part of a classic All-Star wing.
He'll be a perfect fit in Duke playing the 3 or 4 as a stretch, just as Kyle Singler did just a few years back.
Parker is a terrific shooter with a polished perimeter-scoring game consisting of jab steps, step-backs and pull-ups. Where he loses out to some of the other top prospects is in the athletic department, as he lacks that above-the-rim explosiveness that translates to easy, uncontested buckets.
Regardless, he is too talented and intelligent to let slip. He's a safe bet with a high, long-term ceiling.
6. Sacramento Kings: Andrew Harrison, Kentucky, 6'5'', PG
The Sacramento Kings need a floor general—someone who can command the offense and keep everyone in check.
Andrew Harrison has the potential to be that guy, given his maturity, 6'5'' size and offensive polish. He always appears to be in complete control with the ball, whether he's weaving between traffic or separating for a step-back jumper in the mid-range.
He will be under the tutelage of John Calipari, a coach who's helped develop some of the top point guards. And Harrison has all the tools necessary to follow them as long-term fixtures in NBA starting lineups.
7. Washington Wizards: Joel Embiid, Kansas, 7'0'', C
Joel Embiid seems to be flying further under the radar than some of the other top-flight prospects.
Maybe that's because he's unlikely to dominate as a freshman at Kansas. Like Andre Drummond when he was a freshman at Connecticut, most of Embiid's points are likely to come off dunks and alley-oops.
He has a post skill set in place, although delivering with fluidity is currently a challenge. He has actually shown promise as a catch-and-shooter on the perimeter, something that could increase his appeal as an NBA prospect.
At 7'0'', 240 pounds, he is strong, athletic and coordinated, giving him top-five upside if his skills continue to develop.
With Emeka Okafor and Nene Hilario on the downward slopes of their careers, the Wizards should be looking for a high-upside big man like Embiid for the future.
8. Charlotte Bobcats: Aaron Gordon, Arizona, 6'9'', SF/PF
Aaron Gordon is one of the game's most explosive young athletes, reminding many of Blake Griffin thanks to his sick hang time and power dunking.
We'll find out this year just how skilled he is with the ball in his hands, particularly when he's not in position to throw one down above the rim.
He can actually handle the ball and play facing the basket, though he'll need to work on creating his own shot when the game is slowed down.
There's huge upside here if Gordon finds a position that fits, as right now it's unclear if he's a 3 or a 4.
9. Portland Trail Blazers: Wayne Selden, Kansas, 6'5'', SG
Wayne Selden will be filling the shoes of Ben McLemore as the 2-guard in Kansas' starting lineup.
A rock-solid athlete with great strength and size for a guard, he has a physical profile that checks out without any real concerns.
He's becoming a dangerous shooter from the outside, which helps complement his attack game in the open floor and half court. He can get shots off as a shooter or driver and has the scoring instincts to finish in both departments.
It's early, but Selden has that potent offensive game that's likely to turn some heads early on.
This also happens to be a year with very few standout shooting guards. Look for Selden to take advantage of that by declaring early.
10. Minnesota Timberwolves: Glenn Robinson III, Michigan, 6'6'', SF
Glenn Robinson III will shoot right up Michigan's offensive pecking order in 2013-14, which should aid in his development and boost his NBA draft stock.
He has terrific instincts in how to position himself for easy buckets when he doesn't have the ball. You often saw him slip behind the defense for an alley-oop or drift to the corner for an open three.
Defensively, he gets into passing lanes, causes turnovers and converts them into points the other way.
This year, we'll see how far his offensive game expands. Either way, he'll get looks from everyone drafting outside the top five. Robinson has an Andre Iguodala-like outlook if he can improve his off-the-dribble game.
11. Milwaukee Bucks: James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina, 6'9'', SF/PF
I haven't given up on James Michael McAdoo, though I'll admit it could be a make-or-break year.
Despite his offensive inefficiency last season, he showed improvement as a shot-creator—just not as a shot-maker. I've got faith they'll start falling eventually.
He's shown touch in the mid-range, as well as a dangerous first step when he can face the basket.
McAdoo was put in a position last season where he had to be "the guy" in the offense, a role that doesn't play to his strengths.
With a year under his belt as a top-offensive option, expect him to look a little more comfortable as a scorer.
12. Toronto Raptors: Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, 6'8'', PF
There may not be a prospect with a more explosive combination of springs, size and strength in the country.
Though not much of a threat with the ball in his hands, Montrezl Harrell's ability to play high above the rim makes him a glowing target for lobs, finishes and transition opportunities.
This year at Louisville, he'll see more minutes and touches, which should give him a chance to expand his offensive game.
After helping the Cardinals win a national championship and Team U.S.A. win Gold at the FIBA World Championships, Harrell's stock has been rising this summer.
13. Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans): Jerami Grant, Syracuse, 6'7'', SF
Jerami Grant should hit every breakout list for the 2013-14 season. His opportunities as a freshman came in spurts, though he continuously made his presence known.
He has a great nose for the ball. He consistently makes plays on loose balls, tips in misses and sneaks 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 has excellent instincts and physical tools for the NBA wing. He'll play a huge role in Syracuse's offense this upcoming year.
14. Los Angeles Lakers: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, 7'0'', C
Now the veteran in the middle for a Kentucky team looking to compete for a national title, Willie Cauley-Stein will see his responsibilities increase.
Last season, he was strictly a finisher and rim protector. This year, we should expect to see him get more involved and pose as an option for teammates to feed in the post.
He has the body to carve out space and the touch to finish in the paint.
With 7'0'' size and crazy length, along with tight end-like athleticism and coordination, Cauley-Stein is a raw prospect with massive potential if he can add to his offensive game.
15. Dallas Mavericks: Mario Hezonja, Croatia, 6'6'', SG/SF
One of the hottest international names over the past two years, Mario Hezonja is the former Under-16 European Championship MVP who landed a seven-year deal with Barcelona. And he's already been called up to play a few games with the senior team.
He is a scoring wing with effortless athleticism and the ability to create and make shots from all over the floor.
There are red flags here, however, as many have questioned his shot selection and attitude. Others aren't sold on his defensive skills.
But Hezonja has talent running through his veins, and everyone is aware of it. He'll be the international wild card to monitor this year.
16. Cleveland Cavaliers: Doug McDermott, Creighton, 6'7'', SF
Doug McDermott returns as a potential National Player of the Year candidate and favorite to lead the country in scoring.
He's already the top shooter in the nation after splashing the nets over 48 percent from three in back-to-back years. He has little left to prove at this point, which is why it was surprising to see him return as a senior.
In the pros, he doesn't project to be the scorer he is in college, though he'll give teams more than just a long-range specialty stroke. His offensive instincts and shot-making skills are both top notch, which helps neutralize some of his lack of athleticism.
McDermott would be a good fit on any squad in need of a floor spacer on the wing.
17. Detroit Pistons: Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado, 6'5'', SG
Spencer Dinwiddie had a strong sophomore year, averaging 15 points and three assists a game. But he struggled with shooting consistency, which during stretches kept Colorado from reaching its potential.
He's a little on the thin side, but at 6'5'', he can handle the ball and create off the dribble. As a scorer, he can separate in the mid-range or take it all the way to the rack. He averaged six made free throws a game last season, which not only illustrates his touch but how difficult he is to contain off the bounce.
With long arms and an aggressive mentality, Dinwiddie can get to and finish around traffic inside.
This year, he'll need to improve on his two and three-point shooting percentages, but there's plenty to like about him as an NBA prospect.
18. Atlanta Hawks: P.J. Hairston, North Carolina, 6'5'', SG
After a summer filled with legal trouble, NBA decision-makers may not care how many points P.J. Hairston averages as a junior at North Carolina. He has an image to rebuild if he wants to remain a worthy first-round candidate.
While there might be questions surrounding his character, there aren't too many regarding his basketball strengths.
As a shooter, he has no conscience, fear, wasted motion or limitations. He is a guy who can catch and shoot from 27 feet away without needing to lock eyes with the rim prior to releasing.
And though he's not the quickest cat on the court, Hairston has a feel for how to position his body and shield his defender. He uses his strength and offensive instincts to finish around the rim.
From an NBA standpoint, he projects as a Marcus Thornton-type scorer who can pack offensive firepower in a supporting role.
19. Houston Rockets: Dario Saric, Croatia, 6'10'', PF
Dario Saric had some uneven performances at the FIBA Americas in early September. With Saric, there's a lot to like and plenty to question.
NBA scouts love his versatility at 6'10''. He can operate from the wing and has the ability to create scoring opportunities off the dribble for himself or teammates. He's also a force on the boards and a promising outside shooter.
Whether or not he can cover NBA 4s inside or 3s on the perimeter is the primary fear amongst NBA decision-makers. General managers have to question whether he's good enough offensively to make up for his defensive limitations, as he lacks body strength as a power forward and lateral quickness as a wing.
However, he's still a young kid with great experience on the international stage. Some considered him a lottery pick last year in a weak draft. In a strong one, the late-first round seems more realistic.
20. Golden State Warriors: Mitch McGary, Michigan, 6'10'', PF
Mitch McGary should be a walking double-double during his sophomore campaign. He has the size and strength to bully opponents down low, as well as the legs and mobility to beat them down the floor.
He showed off his touch late in the year with baby elbow jumpers and finishes in the paint.
The good news for McGary as a draft prospect is that everyone knows what type of player he is. There's no mystery here. He's a banger down low and presence on the glass.
Expect David Lee comparisons to continue, assuming McGary returns where he left off last year.
21. Indiana Pacers: Jahii Carson, Arizona State, 5'11'', PG
For those on the East Coast who haven't had a chance to watch Jahii Carson in action, set your DVRs. He resembles Ty Lawson in that he's small, strong, athletic and blazing quick off the bounce.
Carson has an array of shots he can make once he beats his man from the perimeter. He possesses touch on the move, as well as body control when looking to draw contact or finish around traffic.
He scored 18 points and dropped five assists a game last year for the Sun Devils, dominating the ball as the primary playmaker.
NBA teams in need of backcourt life and an extra ball-handler will be keeping tabs on the electric Carson.
22: Chicago Bulls: Aaron Harrison, Kentucky, 6'5'', SG
Though not as highly touted as his twin brother Andrew, Aaron Harrison is still an NBA prospect to watch.
He has the size, scoring arsenal and jumper in place to do some damage as an offensive player. With the ability to handle the ball and create his own shot, he has takeover abilities as a go-to guy.
At Kentucky, he'll be playing alongside his brother, whom he obviously has a rapport with. It will be interesting to see how he injects himself into the offense, given the structure he'll face in the college game.
But as a scoring 2-guard prospect, Harrison has all the tools to generate first-round attention. The question is whether or not he'll be able to maximize his stock in a loaded Kentucky lineup.
23. Orlando Magic (via Denver (via NY)): Isaiah Austin, Baylor, 7'1'', PF
Isaiah Austin made the smart move to return. He can use the year to add some bulk and polish his game.
It's hard not to be intrigued when seeing a 7'1'' big guy knock down threes with comfort or take effortless fadeaway jumpers at the high post.
What's ironic is that despite his size, he's more effective playing in the mid-range than he is on the interior. At 7'1'', he's only 220 pounds—just a little lighter than point guard Marcus Smart.
Still, he's got so much basketball talent that he's worth the gamble. Consider him a late-first-round prospect with room to grow and shoot up draft boards.
24. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn): Gary Harris, Michigan State, 6'4'', SG
Gary Harris was impressive as a freshman, generating buzz from NBA scouts early on in the year.
Now, he'll enter his sophomore season as a prospect to watch, and many will expect to see noticeable improvements.
He excelled as a shooter, finisher in the open floor and defender. He struggled as a shot-creator, and at times he went long stretches without getting a touch in scoring position.
Still, we're talking about an intelligent young player with two-way upside. Harris has top-15 potential depending on what he adds this year.
25. Denver Nuggets: T.J. Warren, North Carolina State, 6'8'', SF
T.J. Warren has great size, strength and mobility for an NBA wing, but it was his scoring instincts that stood out the most.
He averaged in double figures as a freshman while shooting 62 percent from the floor. He essentially converted on almost every scoring opportunity that came his way, whether it was in transition, spotting up or slashing to the hoop.
He has looked comfortable making shots from all over the floor, both stationary and on the move.
With North Carolina State losing C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, Scott Wood, Richard Howell and Rodney Purvis, Warren could put up monster numbers in the ACC this year.
26. Memphis Grizzlies: C.J. Fair, Syracuse, 6'8'', SF
C.J. Fair takes his constantly evolving skill set to a new conference, where he'll look to convince NBA scouts that he's a first-round talent.
He is fundamentally sound offensively, showing improvement year to year in every aspect of his game. He's now a dangerous faceup scorer, with the ability to jab and take a jumper or swoop to the hole and score off one foot.
Fair has also extended his range out to the arc, where he knocked down 46 percent of his three-point attempts.
He has a nose for the ball, along with timing and instincts as a rebounder. And he is also a deceptively explosive athlete. Every now and then he'll surprise you with a posterizing dunk over a helpless defender.
Watch out for Fair as a potential ACC Player of the Year candidate.
27. Los Angeles Clippers: Alex Poythress, Kentucky, 6'8'', SF
Alex Poythress made the wise move to pass on the draft. He can use the year to improve and enter the pros as a better overall player.
A strong, physical athlete who finishes violently at the rim, he has potential if he can figure out how to get there more often.
He's limited off the dribble, where he struggles to separate or change direction.
Poythress did show promise as a spot-up shooter. He does a nice job of converting the open looks he gets, but creating them is another story.
Look for him to work on generating his own offense and improve his one-on-one game as a sophomore.
There's a lot of talent here if he can tap into it, which could be tough given the pieces Kentucky added this summer.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Semaj Christon, Xavier, 6'3'', PG
Semaj Christon was quick to flash his NBA upside in his freshman season at Xavier. Scouts came away impressed with his size, athleticism and production.
A strong guard with the ability to finish in traffic, he is at his best wheeling and dealing in the mid-range. He's crafty off the dribble and shows scoring touch on the move, but he can just as easily use his breakdown ability to set up a teammate for a bucket.
Christon needs to work on his range, as he only hit seven three-pointers all year. But his physical tools and attack game look like they translate to the pro level.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Adreian Payne, Michigan State, 6'10'', PF
Adreian Payne took his game to a new level last year, increasing his presence on the boards and developing a soft touch from outside.
Not only did he make 89-of-105 free throws (84 percent), but he even knocked down 15 three-pointers at a 38 percent clip. Payne took his game outside and increased his offensive purpose on the floor.
Now, he's a two-dimensional big man who can spot up on the perimeter or score down low.
He has a massive frame and great size for the NBA 4. If he can keep his motor pumping, continue improving as a shooter and build his conditioning, Payne should appeal to a ton of NBA franchises.
30. Miami Heat: Cory Jefferson, Baylor, 6'9'', PF
Cory Jefferson was overwhelmingly dominant throughout Baylor's NIT championship run, when he averaged 21.2 points on 71.9 percent shooting.
And it looked like a sign of more to come.
Physically, Jefferson's frame, long arms and strong upper body are built for NBA play. He's shown a soft touch on his jump hooks and baby jumpers around the key. He also finishes with authority, which was made evident by his 61 percent field-goal clip. If he has room to go up around the rim, chances are he's coming down with two points.
Teams looking to beef up their front lines should target Jefferson somewhere toward the end of Round 1.