2014 NBA Mock Draft: Projecting Entire First Round, Pre-Trade Deadline
Though there's plenty of star power at the top, it might ultimately be the depth that defines this 2014 NBA draft class.
If you've got a first-round pick, you'll have an excellent shot at acquiring an asset or immediate contributor.
As the season progresses, more and more players seem to be emerging from the pack, as we've added a few new faces to this week's mock draft.
Based on how the NBA season is going, we've also seen a ton of movement in terms of draft order—for the first time all year, the Los Angeles Lakers are now in position to draw a top-five pick in the lottery.
And as the draft order changes, so does the board in terms of where each prospect is projected to land.
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Joel Embiid, Kansas, 7'0", C, Freshman
Joel Embiid has looked a little worn down lately—he's been bothered by back and knee problems, and it's limited him on the floor.
“Jo is beat up,” coach Bill Self told Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star following the Kansas State game. “He’s beat up. I’m not going to make one excuse for him, because if you’re out there you have to (perform), but certainly he’s going to get some time off.”
Time off isn't likely to dent his draft stock, though, as Embiid's towering upside has already been established. At full strength, there just isn't another prospect capable of changing a game the way Embiid can at both ends of the floor.
And the Milwaukee Bucks need a game-changer. I wouldn't argue with Jabari Parker here, but Embiid's two-way ceiling is just too promising to pass on.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, Duke, 6'8", SF/PF, Freshman
Jabari Parker has been feelin' it lately—he recently posted 29 points and 16 boards at Boston College, following up an 8-of-10, 21-point line against Wake Forest.
He's no longer settling for jumpers—in fact, his last 50 points have all come within the paint.
Parker rebounds, scores and passes, and though he might lack Andrew Wiggins' silky-smooth athleticism, he's averaging more blocks and the same amount of steals on the defensive end.
Philadelphia could use a more NBA-ready talent like Parker, who's got the size, outside touch and refined-enough offensive game to make an immediate impact.
Between Parker and Wiggins, frankly, I just have less questions to ask about Parker. He's a safe, high-upside pick at No. 2.
3. Orlando Magic: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, 6'8", SF, Freshman
Andrew Wiggins just can't seem to find any rhythm lately, and his inconsistency is likely to have cost him some supporters.
Still, the upside he occasionally flashes can be mesmerizing—Wiggins is a one-of-a-kind-athlete with some of the purest open-floor instincts you'll come across.
However, he has plenty of work to do in regards to his half-court scoring repertoire. Wiggins' inconsistency can be tied to his inability to create high-percentage shots for himself within Kansas' offense, particularly when the game is slowed down.
Wiggins is a dynamite attacker, and he's a capable shot-maker. If he's ever able to put it all together, we'll probably be talking about a regular at All-Star weekend.
The Magic could really use a high-upside guy to try and build around, and Wiggins certainly has the ceiling to qualify as that guy.
4. Sacramento Kings: Dante Exum, Australia, 6'6'', PG/SG, Born: 1995
After hiring an agent, Dante Exum has officially entered training mode for the NBA draft.
I've been high on Exum since the first time I saw him back in 2012, when scouts started buzzing about his talent and upside. As an ultra-athletic, 6'6'' scoring point guard, he's got the potential to emerge as one of the toughest backcourt covers in the league.
With the ability to play off the ball as a go-to weapon or on it as a playmaker, I'd also have no problem slotting Exum alongside Isaiah Thomas if I'm the Kings.
Either way, Exum should be the best available player at No. 4.
5. Los Angeles Lakers: Tyler Ennis, Syracuse, 6'2", PG, Freshman
I'm starting to get the feeling that heavy demand for Tyler Ennis triggers someone to reach for him early on draft night.
Ennis continues trending upwards—it seems as if he's emerging into the nation's No. 1 point-guard option thanks to his natural feel for the position as a winning, pass-first facilitator.
In his first year on the job, he's playing over 34 minutes per game as the primary decision-maker for the No. 1 team in the country. And he's handling himself like a pro.
Despite the load on his shoulders, Ennis ranks within the top-10 nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (minimum 20 minutes per game), per DraftExpress.com, while he's shooting the three-ball at a respectable rate.
For a team like the Lakers, a franchise that's looking to reestablish a winning culture, Ennis seems like the right point guard to build with.
6. Utah Jazz: Julius Randle, Kentucky, 6'9'', PF, Freshman
Julius Randle hasn't been as dominant lately as he was earlier in the year, but there's no denying the physical presence he brings to the interior.
He's also shown the agility to face the rim or take a defensive rebound coast to coast.
But his rebounding numbers have been down lately, and he's only made two three-pointers on the year. Also, with a sub-7'0" wingspan for a big man, there are legitimate questions about how his game will translate to the NBA.
Still, whether he projects as more of a hybrid forward like Lamar Odom, or a true 4 like Zach Randolph, Randle can offer a unique dimension of offense and be a reliable contributor on the glass.
With Marvin Williams playing the 4 and the Jazz in rebuilding mode, Randle would seem like a value pick at No. 6 based on talent and team needs.
7. Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, 6'4", PG/SG, Sophomore
I wouldn't be so quick as to write Marcus Smart off your draft boards.
He might have turned a few general managers off, but the vast majority likely saw Smart's shove at Texas Tech as just a heat-of-the-moment mistake that he won't make again.
If anything, teams are likely to pass on Smart based on his 28 percent three-point stroke and mediocre assist-to-turnover ratio.
Still, we saw what Oklahoma State looked like without Smart—the Cowboys got blown out of the water against Texas during the first game of his three-game suspension.
Smart is an impact player, and he can be one in the NBA, whether he's playing the point, the 2 or coming off the bench. The Celtics could really use some backcourt help, and I've got a feeling that coach Brad Stevens would serve as an excellent mentor.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Noah Vonleh, Indiana, 6'10", PF/C, Freshman
Noah Vonleh has done a lot with little opportunity in Indiana—he's averaging just under a double-double despite seeing few touches and just 25.9 minutes a game.
He's got all the tools needed to become an inside-outside frontcourt nightmare. At 6'10" with a massive 7'4" wingspan and a strong, basketball body, Vonleh has the physical attributes and skill set to make a living in the post.
He's even hit 11 three-pointers on 19 tries this year, and he's shown a confident stroke that should only improve.
He might not be NBA-ready, but his upside and promise is just too much to pass on. The Cavs could use a true big that can play through contact. Cue Noah Vonleh.
9. Denver Nuggtets (via NYK): James Young, Kentucky, 6'6", SG/SF, Freshman
James Young has already established his identity—at 6'6", he's an athletic wing who flies in transition and lights up the perimeter as a shooter.
He's limited in between, but Young's ability to heat up and score in bunches, as well as pick up easy buckets at the rim, give him appeal as an offensive spark plug and energizer.
With Danilo Gallinari's future uncertain, Denver could use Young's athleticism and shot-making at the guard or wing positions.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via NOP): Gary Harris, Michigan State, 6'4", SG, Soph.
Though he's had a couple of rough games here and there, Gary Harris has clearly expanded his offensive repertoire and overall game as a sophomore.
He's become a more threatening scorer off the dribble—Harris is taking over four more shots per night than he was a year ago, and he's got his average up to over 17 points per game.
You can also count on Harris to give you an alert, disciplined, defensive presence on the perimeter.
A two-way shooting guard who can score within the offense and knock down shots from all over the floor, Harris would be a nice fit next to Michael Carter-Williams in Philadelphia's backcourt.
11. Charlotte Bobcats (via DET): Rodney Hood, Duke, 6'8", SF, Sophomore
A sharpshooting wing with excellent 6'8" size and deceptive mobility, Rodney Hood would be an excellent fit in Charlotte, a team that could really use a shot-maker in the middle of its lineup.
Hood has one of the sweetest strokes in the country—he's shooting around 45 percent from downtown, 83 percent from the line and roughly 49 percent from the floor.
With the ability to score off the ball or off the dribble, he's a threat to make a shot from any angle, whether he's catching and shooting or shooting on the move.
Hood's offensive versatility and shooting touch for a forward would be welcomed additions to the Bobcats' lineup.
12. Minnesota Timberwolves: Dario Saric, Croatia, 6'10", SF/PF, Born: 1994
Dario Saric has been doing some serious damage overseas this season—he ranks No. 1 in the Adriatic League in rebounding, No. 3 in scoring and No. 3 in steals per game.
At 6'10", he has the rare ability to put it on the floor and facilitate, attack the rim, score in the post and dominate the glass.
He's also shooting over 30 percent from downtown in the Adriatic Leaugue and in Eurocup, and though he's not known as a sniper, Saric has at least established himself as a threat from behind the arc.
Saric is all about offensive versatility. The Timberwolves could use a glue guy like him somewhere in their lineup.
13. Orlando Magic (via DEN): Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, 7'0", C, Soph.
Though his offensive game lacks polish, Willie Cauley-Stein can still make a major impact by simply crashing the glass, protecting the rim and finishing above it.
You just won't find too many 7-footers with his level of athleticism. A former receiver in high school, Cauley-Stein is extremely mobile, agile and coordinated, which translates to easy buckets and routine put-back dunks.
If you can accept the fact you're not getting a Hakeem Olajuwon type of post-scorer, Cauley-Stein offers tremendous value as an interior specialist who can change a game without requiring the ball.
Orlando could definitely use Cauley-Stein for some frontcourt athleticism and depth.
14. Memphis Grizzlies: Doug McDermott, Creighton, 6'8", SF, Senior
A scoring machine at the college level, the question on scouts' minds is how well Doug McDermott's offensive game will translate to the pros.
He's the primary focus of every defense he faces, yet nobody seems to ever have an answer for him. As a scorer, McDermott just knows how to get himself open without needing to over-dribble. He can play off the ball, separate one-on-one or finish in the post with his back to the basket.
However, McDermott lacks the athleticism and quickness typically shared by NBA small forwards of his size.
Still, if he sustains his current shooting rate, it would mark his fourth straight year with a three-point percentage over 40 percent.
The Grizzlies could use some offense, and McDermott's shot-making skills would be a nice addition to Memphis' underwhelming wing.
15. Chicago Bulls (via CHA): Zach LaVine, UCLA, 6'5", PG/SG, Freshman
Zach LaVine has cooled off lately, although with Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams and Norman Powell—three upperclassmen in the backcourt—LaVine's opportunities aren't always there.
He's already flashed that explosive combination of lethal outside shooting and electric athleticism. And when given the chance, we've seen LaVine's playmaking ability off the dribble, where he sports a tight handle to match his quickness and shiftiness.
It's unclear if he'll declare in 2014 given his limited role off UCLA's bench. He'd have a much better opportunity to shine as a sophomore, but it's not always easy to ignore the NBA whispers.
The Bulls could use some extra backcourt athleticism and offensive firepower, and with two first-round picks, they can afford to take a chance on a risk/reward option like LaVine.
16. Atlanta Hawks (via BKN): P.J. Hairston, Texas Legends (D-League), 6'6", SG
P.J. Hairston has been lighting up the D-League, where he's averaging just under 25 points a game on roughly 38 percent shooting from deep.
While his numbers are obviously inflated based on the level of competition, it's just a good sign to see that Hairston appears in shape and that his scoring touch hasn't faded.
At 6'6", he's a long, physical guard who can get to the rack and torch defenses on the perimeter.
There's always room for sizable, athletic guards who can attack, shoot and defend. The Hawks could use help at the 2-guard position, and as long as Hairston doesn't raise any more flags, his talent should justify a pick this high.
17. Phoenix Suns (via WAS): Aaron Gordon, Arizona, 6'9", SF/PF, Freshman
It's still unclear what position best suits Aaron Gordon, and for that reason, there's a good chance he slips on draft night.
I had one scout tell me he thought Gordon was a "fringe starter at best" as a power forward in the NBA.
He's an exceptional athlete, fantastic finisher and versatile defender, but at this point, he can't shoot, create off the dribble or score in the post.
If Gordon is ever able to fill a niche and develop a concentrated skill set for a specific position, we could be talking about a steal 17 picks deep. But given the lack of success that previous combo forwards have had (i.e., Anthony Bennett, Derrick Williams, Michael Beasley, Thomas Robinson, etc.), teams might feel a little hesitant to pick Gordon.
Still, he's worth a look here for Phoenix, especially with the playmakers they'd have to set Gordon up.
18. Boston Celtics (via ATL): Nik Stauskas, Michigan, 6'6", SG, Sophomore
An elite-level shooter and high-IQ presence, Nik Stauskas has taken his game to a new level this year, where he's added an off-the-dribble dimension of offense to his repertoire.
He's creating and making shots for himself in the half court, and he's emerged as Michigan's go-to scorer.
That won't be his role in the pros, but there's no denying his outside accuracy and passing instincts, which should be able to complement whatever lineup he's thrown into.
At 6'6", Stauskas has the size and deceptive athleticism that should allow him to get shots off as a 2-guard or forward. The Celtics could use his outside touch and the offensive firepower he offers.
19. Chicago Bulls: Adreian Payne, Michigan State, 6'10", PF, Senior
Adreian Payne has looked sharp ever since returning from a foot injury that kept him out for seven consecutive games.
He's added a threatening outside stroke this year—Payne has already hit more three-pointers in 17 games as a senior than he did throughout his entire first three years at Michigan State combined.
A physical presence on the interior with a monster frame and extreme length, Payne has evolved into a legitimate inside-outside forward who can finish at the rim or stretch the floor as a shooter.
With an NBA-ready body and a gradually-improving skill set, Payne should be able to provide immediate depth for a team looking for it up front.
Carlos Boozer is a strong amnesty candidate this summer, and Payne would make sense as a cheaper replacement in the lineup.
20. Toronto Raptors: Jordan Clarkson, Missouri, 6'5", PG/SG, Junior
Jordan Clarkson has really blown up at Missouri after transferring from Tulsa—he's averaging around 19 points and over three assists per game, and at 6'5" with above-average athleticism, he fits the physical mold of an NBA combo guard.
He's actually running the point for Missouri as the team's primary ball-handler and go-to offensive option.
Clarkson is at his best attacking the rim, where he has the strength and size to finish through or around traffic.
His jumper has been erratic, but Clarkson is a confident scorer, and when hot, he's got the ability to drop a couple of three-pointers in a row.
With Kyle Lowry's future in Toronto uncertain, the Raptors might want to target a guy like Clarkson, who has the tools to run the point as well as the skill set to provide an offensive punch as a scoring threat.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (via DAL): T.J. Warren, N.C. State, 6'8", SF, Soph.
T.J. Warren has been putting up points at will this year for the Wolfpack. He's averaging around 23 per game on an impressive 52 percent shooting, and he's just coming off a career night against Wake Forest, when he dropped 34 points on 15-made field goals.
Though not the most athletic or explosive player, Warren just has unteachable offensive instincts and a nose for the ball. Warren can score from just about every spot on the floor, with the ability to put it on the deck and attack, score in the paint or spot-up off the ball.
He's more of a shot-maker than a shooter—Warren can knock them down from outside once he gets going, but his range and consistency both need work.
At the NBA level, Warren projects as an offensive specialist who just finds ways to get himself buckets.
22.Utah Jazz (via GSW): Jerami Grant, Syracuse, 6'8", SF/PF, Sophohmore
Jerami Grant's skill level seems to be improving by the week, but it's still a bit behind his daunting physical tools. At 6'8" with a monstrous 7'2" wingspan and incredible athletic ability, Grant is an easy-bucket machine on offense and a massive disruption on defense.
He's become more threatening with the ball in his hands—Grant can square his man up and attack him off the dribble, and lately, he's been knocking down his mid-range jumpers.
He'll need to continue extending his shooting range, but Grant is a phenomenal finisher, active on the glass, a promising defender and evolving offensive threat.
The Jazz could really use Grant's length and athleticism on the wing, a spot in their rotation where they lack both.
23. Phoenix Suns: Jabari Brown, Missouri, 6'5'', SG, Junior
When it lasts 23 games, it's no longer a streak but a step in the right direction; Jabari Brown has evolved into one of the country's most lethal perimeter scorers, as he's averaging roughly 20 points on nearly three three-point makes per game.
And he's shooting around 46 percent from downtown, a ridiculous number when you consider he's taking over six threes a game.
Brown isn't the most athletic guard, but he finds ways to get to and finish at the rim. And at 6'5", 214 pounds, he's got the size and strength to make the physical transition.
With a deadly outside stroke, a promising pull-up game and some impressive scoring instincts, Brown's offensive arsenal has become first-round worthy.
24. Houston Rockets: Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, 6'8", PF, Sophomore
Montrezl Harrell's skill set is still a few steps behind his physical tools, but those tools alone are worthy of a first-round pick.
Between his hops, length, power and athleticism, Harrell can make the hoop appear like the Nerf one you hang on your door.
He's expanded his finishing range around the hoop this year, and you'll occasionally see him knock down the elbow jumper. Harrell needs to work on his post game, but for a team looking to inject some major athleticism into its frontcourt, Harrell is a solid option outside the top 20.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Nick Johnson, Arizona, 6'3", PG/SG, Junior
Nick Johnson must be salivating at the chance to impress at the NBA Combine, where his eye-opening athleticism is bound to put on a show.
He just might be the bounciest leaper of any guard in the country. At 6'3", he's consistently making plays above the rim, where he's an extremely reliable finisher for a guy his size.
A combo guard and playmaker who can create or knock down shots, Johnson projects as an energy guy and spark off the bench.
Johnson also has admirable leadership qualities, and he's always locked in on defense.
His upside might be limited, but in the right role, Johnson should have the chance to flourish in the open NBA game.
26. Charlotte Bobcats (via POR): Glenn Robinson III, Michigan, 6'6", SF
Glenn Robinson III just hasn't been convincing enough—with every encouraging performance comes a dud or no-show game.
And his inconsistency is likely to cost him on draft night.
Robinson still holds value as a boom-or-bust prospect late in the first round. He's an above-the-rim athlete who can knock down threes and pull-up jumpers, and at 6'6", he offers defensive versatility.
There's upside here, however, if a coaching staff can find a way to tap into it.
Robinson has struggled getting good looks without a point guard like Trey Burke. I'd bet Charlotte's Kemba Walker would be able to create some easy buckets for him.
28. San Antonio Spurs: Clint Capela, Switzerland, 6'10", PF/C, Born: 1994
Clint Capela earned scouts' attention back in 2012 for his top-flight physical tools, and this year, he's consistently put them to use in limited action.
Per 40 minutes, he's averaging 16.2 points, 12.6 rebounds and 4.4 blocks in France, and averaging 22.6 points, 13.1 boards and 2.2 blocks in Eurocup. He's also shooting over 65 percent from the floor in 28 games combined.
Capela does most of his work right around the rim, where he is a powerful finisher off dump passes, pick-and-rolls and offensive rebounds.
He's a project, but that hasn't stopped the Spurs from taking a dip overseas in the past.
28. Miami Heat: Kyle Anderson, UCLA, 6'9", PG/SF, Sophomore
Kyle Anderson has been putting up some wild numbers at UCLA, where he's been flirting with triple-doubles on a routine basis.
At 6'9", he's a natural point guard. His strengths center around his ability to handle the ball, see over the defense and facilitate.
The only issue is that Anderson is a sub-par athlete with below-average quickness, and many question just how well his game will translate to the next level. Some scouts love his versatility, and others view him as a tweener without a position.
I'd say the potential reward is worth the risk this late. He'll have a better shot at succeeding if drafted by a team like Miami, who could surround him with talent and veterans.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Shabazz Napier, Connecticut, 6'1", PG, Senior
Shabazz Napier might not have the same upside as some of the other first-round prospects, but he's got the strengths and credentials to qualify as a viable long-term backup.
He's elusive and crafty off the dribble as a playmaker, and he comes in with an NBA-ready jumper—he can knock down shots from deep range or when pulling up inside the arc.
Napier has gotten good experience playing the role of floor general for Connecticut, where he commands the offense as a facilitator and acts as its go-to option.
For the Thunder, he'd be able to fill a similar role as the one Derek Fisher currently occupies as a passer and shooter off the bench.
30. Phoenix Suns (via IND): Sam Dekker, Wisconsin, 6'8", SF, Sophomore
Sam Dekker does a lot of things well but nothing great. At 6'8", he's a solid athlete, decent shooter, strong driver and good passer.
He's a guy who plays within the offense as an opportunistic scorer—Dekker doesn't create scoring opportunities; he finishes them.
He'll need to improve as a shooter, but between his size and complete skill set, Dekker offers first-round talent as a versatile and high-IQ forward.