The Ideal Star Pairing for Every Top 2014 NBA Draft Prospect
A dynamic duo is one of the most compelling phenomena in the NBA, and the 2014 draft class is poised to form some exciting tandems with current stars.
Among the many possible scenarios this June, we carved out ideal star pairings for each top prospect.
Which NBA star would best fit projects like Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid? Who will empower ready-made players like Jabari Parker and Marcus Smart?
We teamed 2014's finest with names like Kobe, Kyrie and Rondo; the result is some scary-good duos.
*This is not a mock draft. We paired current draft prospects with stars they have a realistic chance of winding up with, and we did not use any NBA team/star more than once.
Noah Vonleh and Kyrie Irving
As B/R NBA Draft Lead Writer Jonathan Wasserman noted, the Cleveland Cavaliers "could use a true big that can play through contact. Cue Noah Vonleh."
If the Cavs do land Vonleh in the mid-lottery, he'll join forces with one of the league's dynamic young playmakers.
Whether Vonleh shares minutes at forward with Tristan Thompson or plays center in a small-ball lineup, he'd benefit from the impact and wizardry of Kyrie Irving. The two-time All-Star would present Vonleh with bunches of favorable looks simply by drawing defensive rotations.
Irving would also give Vonleh some space and momentum toward the rim when they run pick-and-roll, and he would also create enough defensive overcompensation to free Vonleh for pick-and-pop jumpers.
In transition, the duo would be lethal, as Kyrie's inventiveness would team with Vonleh's 7'4" wingspan and agility. Irving's uncontainable nature would directly benefit the Hoosier.
Julius Randle and DeMarcus Cousins
It hasn't always been easy, but Julius Randle has done a load of damage to Kentucky's foes throughout the year. He's a rebounding magnet and an aggressive scorer for the Wildcats, and although there are flaws, he remains an early-lottery prospect.
Imagine if he played with an offensively skilled center. Imagine if he didn't have to constantly combat double and triple-teams in the paint. Imagine if he played with fellow Calipari product DeMarcus Cousins.
With Cousins commanding attention in the post and stretching defenses with his jumper, Randle could feast in one-on-one situations while rebounding or slashing.
In the early going, there's potential for this Sacramento Kings duo to operate like a quicker, less-polished version of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Boogie could empower Randle if they maintain proper spacing and make well-timed cuts.
Kentucky's highly touted freshman doesn't project to be a featured scoring weapon at the next level, but he might be a phenomenal sidekick. Especially if he forms a stalwart frontcourt with Cousins.
Joel Embiid and Kobe Bryant
Although Kobe Bryant is nowhere near his prime, he would be a terrific veteran guard to pair with Kansas' big-man prodigy Joel Embiid.
The Los Angeles Lakers will need a favorable bounce on lottery night for this duo to become a reality, but as they sink to the bottom of the West, it's more and more of a possibility.
Kobe would not only get the most out of Embiid during his last two years in the league, he would also set the Cameroon native up for colossal success in the future. Bryant's extensive experience working with star post players will help mold the youngster into an efficient scorer, alert passer and stout defender.
Embiid is the type of player who will soak up and quickly apply everything thrown his way, and Kobe is the perfect backcourt leader to make him an assertive force in the paint.
With the right supporting cast, this pair could turn the Lakers into a competitive club again. And once Bryant passes the torch to the big fella, the franchise will be in good hands.
Marcus Smart and Rajon Rondo
Marcus Smart is billed as a combo guard for the NBA, and rightfully so. But that doesn't mean he's ready to take the reins of a team and flourish as a starting point guard.
In Boston, he could serve as an off guard who helps Rajon Rondo with the quarterbacking. In return, Rondo would set him up masterfully and truly capitalize on Smart's awareness and movement away from the ball.
Rondo is arguably the best in the business when it comes to executing fleeting assist chances. As long as Smart plays his usual hard-working style, the Celtics' star dime-dropper will get him the rock.
In addition, Rondo is a great fit for Smart on the defensive side, because together they can apply unbearable pressure to opposing backcourts.
If Boston lands a pick in the No. 5-8 range, Smart should get excited about playing with one of the best point guards of this generation.
Jabari Parker and Trey Burke
No high-lottery team offers Jabari Parker the chance to lead a balanced attack like the Utah Jazz. He's the piece that can make them a competitive offense, and Trey Burke is the rising star that can facilitate the process.
Burke is far from being a truly elite guard (12.5 points, 5.6 assists, 37 percent shooting), but he's increasingly adept at keeping opponents on their heels. He maintains a dual threat on every possession, as defenders don't know if he's angling to score or pass.
When he uses his speed to get into the lane, Parker will enjoy his share of dump-offs on the baseline or kick-out passes for open jumpers.
Burke wouldn't dominate the ball, either, allowing Parker to get plenty of touches and do some creating of his own.
As the rapidly developing distributor and versatile forward form some chemistry, Utah's rebuilding phase could transform into playoff status within a couple years.
Andrew Wiggins and Michael Carter-Williams
In both half-court and fast-break scenarios, Philadelphia 76ers guard Michael Carter-Williams would create high-percentage opportunities for Andrew Wiggins.
The Kansas swingman isn't going to be an instant scoring machine when he turns pro, but he's potent in transition and a good rhythm shooter. Brett Brown runs a high-possession, uptempo style in Philly (2013-14 Sixers lead NBA in pace), so Wiggins and MCW would surely enjoy a healthy diet of open-floor success.
Carter-Williams has the ability to take the ball-handling pressure off Wiggins, allowing the newcomer to get his buckets within the flow of the offense.
Whether its a catch-and-shoot attempt, a weak-side lob or a basket cut, the two would connect several times a night. Defenses would have trouble matching up against their length and athleticism.
This duo doesn't automatically translate into playoff success, but it's a great start.
Best Fit: Dante Exum and Victor Oladipo
Paired with Victor Oladipo of the Orlando Magic, Australian sensation Dante Exum would have a chance to thrive in one of the NBA's most explosive two-way backcourts.
Exum can pretty much step in and run the point no matter where he lands, but it would be nice if he didn't have to be the primary facilitator the entire game.
That's where Oladipo comes in, serving as a secondary floor general and allowing Exum to operate as the 2 guard for a bit. They would split the traffic-directing duties and give Jacque Vaughn boundless options.
Orlando is still rebuilding, but Exum won't mind, especially when he has a chance to grow with Oladipo. Both are unselfish competitors and would work hard to maximize the Magic's offensive potential.
Playing with Oladipo would also strengthen Exum's defense, as the Aussie would learn how to effectively use his quickness to disrupt opponents and contain star guards.
On both ends of the floor, these two can feed off each other and overwhelm opponents with their foot speed and exceptional versatility.
Dan O'Brien covers the NBA Draft for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter: @DanielO_BR
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