2014 NBA Mock Draft: Projecting All 30 First-Round Picks Entering March
For the first time in two months, our 2014 NBA mock draft board has seen some movement in the top three.
We're also starting to hear plenty of noise from overseas. We added two new international prospects to this week's mock following some eye-opening performances in the Adriatic League.
Unfortunately, that means some guys have to fall. Michigan's Glenn Robinson III and Missouri's Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown were all knocked off the board.
With March approaching, now is the time for these prospects to lock in. Because on the bigger stage, a good or poor performance can move the needle.
The draft order has been set based on current NBA standings.
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Joel Embiid, Kansas, 7'0", C, Freshman
The college game is starting to look easy for Joel Embiid, who continues to control the paint at both ends of the floor.
He's been rock-solid since coach Bill Self gave him a day off against TCU on February 15.
Embiid was tremendous in a one-point win over Texas Tech, when he racked up 18 points and eight boards with just one missed shot.
He then had his way with Oklahoma and Texas, combining for 25 points, 20 boards, nine blocks, six assists and four steals in two wins.
Between the post moves, passing out of double-teams, promising free-throw numbers (made 33 of last 46) and world-class rim protection, no other prospect in the field can impact the game from more angles.
The Bucks need to go with the No. 1 prospect on the board, regardless of position. And right now, that's Embiid.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, 6'8", SF, Freshman
Uh oh. Andrew Wiggins has started to get the hang of this college game, and his all-world upside has been flashing in blinding fashion.
He's now gone seven straight games with at least 14 points. Wiggins is doing a much better job of picking his spots as an attacker, shooter and passer. He's slicing through open lanes, pulling up in space and capitalizing on just about every transition opportunity.
Throughout the year, we've seen the whole two-way package, only it has come in doses on a week-to-week basis. Recently, we're starting to see what it looks like when it's all put together.
And it seems obvious that he's playing with a lot more confidence.
“When I score early, it brings more confidence to my game,” Wiggins told Chris Hummer of The Daily Texan following his recent 21-point game against Texas. “My teammates got me the ball where I like to shoot the ball, where I needed it. I was fired up for this game.”
Wiggins always offered the higher ceiling than Duke's Jabari Parker, and now that he's starting to put up similar numbers, the attention has started to shift back his way.
The Sixers can't lose here with either Wiggins or Parker, but given the gigantic window they have to work with, they might be more inclined to pick the kid with the most long-term potential.
3. Orlando Magic: Jabari Parker, Duke, 6'8", SF/PF, Freshman
If Jabari Parker is still on the board at No. 3 overall, it's because teams chose to chase upside.
You could argue he's the safest option in the field, even at No. 1 overall. He has been consistent throughout; although he wasn't much of a factor in a recent blowout over Virginia Tech, he double-doubled for 19 points and 11 boards against Syracuse after going for 17 and 11 in a tough loss to North Carolina.
He actually disappeared down the stretch of the North Carolina game, going more than four straight minutes without a touch late in the second half.
He's been a beast on the block, a tough cover in the post, a fixture on the glass and a dangerous threat on the perimeter.
Parker doesn't do things as effortlessly as Wiggins does or project as the same caliber defender. But if he's still available at No. 3 overall, the Magic would be maximizing the bang for their buck.
4. Boston Celtics: Dante Exum, Australia, 6'6", PG/SG, 1995
Dante Exum has officially entered training mode for the 2014 NBA draft. And even though he's not playing college ball, he's putting pressure on guys like Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker simply by declaring.
From a talent and upside perspective, Exum is worthy of being a top-three pick. And when the combine and predraft workouts roll around, and everyone is on an equal playing field, he is going to blow some people away with his size, athleticism, skills, worth ethic and personality.
Whether Rajon Rondo is a goner or not, Exum could be the top prospect in the field. The Boston Celtics should already have him highlighted on their draft board.
5. Los Angeles Lakers: Noah Vonleh, Indiana, 6'10", PF/C, Freshman
Despite getting minimal touches in Indiana's offense, Noah Vonleh seems to capitalize on the majority of the ones he gets.
He was sensational in a recent loss to Wisconsin, where he finished with 18 points and six boards. From spin moves in the lane to lefty jump hooks to three-pointers, he flashed the complete game that's powered him up draft boards.
With immaculate physical tools (6'10", 7'4" wingspan, 240 pounds) and a diverse skill set, Vonleh has the potential that is just too good not to chase.
The Lakers could use a new long-term frontcourt building block, and at just 18 years old with zero red flags, Vonleh offers the most promise.
6. Sacramento Kings: Julius Randle, Kentucky, 6'9", PF, Freshman
Julius Randle has been rebounding like an animal as of late, but his offense has been held in check for the most part. He did erupt for 25 points and 13 boards against Ole Miss and picked up the game-winning bucket in overtime against LSU.
Once he's on the interior, chances are he will win the battle, whether it's for a rebound or a finish at the rim. But he's had trouble finding his sweet spots in Kentucky's half-court offense. He only scored eight points in 37 minutes of that LSU game, while he scored a quiet 13 in a loss to Florida and 12 in a win over Auburn.
No matter, Randle still has the tools and qualities of a strong NBA prospect. He'll just need a little fine-tuning with regard to his post and perimeter games.
The Kings could use a power forward to pair with DeMarcus Cousins, and at No. 6, Randle offers great value.
7. Utah Jazz: Gary Harris, Michigan State, 6'4", SG, Sophomore
With a refined offensive game and high basketball IQ, Gary Harris continues to get buckets within Michigan State's offense.
Though his team hasn't performed, he has been impressive. He's coming off a 21-point game against Michigan and a 25-point outing against Purdue.
What stands out most about him is his ability to score in so many ways, whether it's curling off a screen for a jumper, pulling up over a defender, spotting up on the wing, dancing in isolation or slashing to the hole.
An NBA team should immediately be able to incorporate him into its system because of his ability to score within one.
The Jazz could use a two-way 2-guard like Harris, who just might be the top prospect on the board at No. 7.
8. Denver Nuggets (via NYK): Marcus Smart, Oklahoma St., 6'4", PG/SG, Sophomore
Marcus Smart has been a two-way machine since returning from suspension—granted, TCU and Texas Tech didn't offer much resistance.
Still, he combined for 33 points, 17 assists, 11 boards and 11 steals in the two wins. And maybe most importantly, against TCU, he caught fire from downtown, sinking five three-pointers in the second half.
But the test for him will come when adversity strikes—scouts will want to see how he handles it from both a performance and leadership standpoint following the shoving incident in the stands.
Putting Oklahoma State on his back down the stretch could go a long way toward improving his draft stock.
Regardless, he's a value pick outside the top five, given his backcourt versatility and defensive impact. A duo of Smart and Ty Lawson in Denver could offer a punch of thunder and lightning.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Rodney Hood, Duke, 6'8", SF, Sophomore
Rodney Hood is coming off a quiet month of February, although he ended it with a 21-point bang against Virginia Tech.
He seems like a fairly safe bet in terms of making the transition. As a 6'8" small forward, he has the size, skill set and mobility to man the position. He's making over 2.1 three-pointers at a scorching 43.6 percent clip, and you'll often see him throw one down on a backdoor alley-oop, where he's able to showcase his deceptive athleticism.
He can even put it on the floor and finish on the move or back his man down and score in the post.
But at the end of the day, it's his ability to complement what's around him and score without the ball that should allow him to succeed at the next level.
Hood would be a nice fit for the Cavaliers, who could use a small forward to spread the floor, knock down shots and finish plays.
10. Charlotte Bobcats (via DET): James Young, Kentucky, 6'6", SG/SF, Freshman
James Young might be Kentucky's most impressive player as of late. He's put up at least 16 points in three straight games, and he's starting to find ways to score inside the arc.
He's still making 2.2 three-pointers per game—only recently, we've seen him attack driving lanes and finish on the move, as opposed to standing around to catch and release.
An NBA-caliber athlete at 6'6" who can shoot with range, slash and finish, Young has plenty of offensive firepower to offer at the next level.
The Bobcats could use a guard or wing who can shoot from outside and score in between, and 10 picks deep, Young would seem to make sense.
11. Philadelphia 76ers (via NOH): Dario Saric, Croatia, 6'10", PF, 1994
Dario Saric has been filling up box scores like you wouldn't believe. He's fresh off a 20-point, 14-board, nine-assist game, and he's now the Adriatic League's leader both in scoring and rebounding.
There might not be a more versatile offensive player out there. He's hitting jumpers, finishing in the post, passing the ball and dominating the glass. And at 6'10", he can put it on the deck and make things happen off the dribble.
A recent report from Jonathan Givony of Draft Express states that Saric might not declare this season, which is interesting, considering he withdrew his name last second in 2013.
But if he does enter the 2014 draft, he could end up being one of the sneakier picks this June.
Philadelphia is likely in no rush to put a championship-caliber product on the floor, and even if Saric chooses to stay overseas for another season, it shouldn't be that big of deal.
12. Orlando Magic (via DEN): Tyler Ennis, Syracuse, 6'2", PG, Freshman
Tyler Ennis hit his only rough spot of the season recently in a wild loss at Duke, when he finished just 2-of-13 shooting. But he bounced back strong for 20 points at Maryland, giving no indication that he's hit a freshman wall.
A lot of buzz has surrounded him over the past two months. He's an analytics darling, while anyone can admire his leadership skills and ability to command an offense.
Ennis probably isn't NBA-ready at this stage, but if he does choose to declare, chances are a team that is looking for a pure, pass-first point guard won't let him slip through its fingertips.
If the Magic land a guy like Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins and then follow up by snagging Ennis, I'd say they had a pretty a good day at the office.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Zach LaVine, UCLA, 6'6", PG/SG, Freshman
After a long string of single-digit scoring performances, Zach LaVine broke out with 14 points against Stanford, as he continues to shoot it lights out from deep.
The inconsistent production isn't likely to scare anyone off—with three older guards ahead of him in the pecking order, LaVine is coming off the bench in a limited playmaking role.
But we've already seen his big-time upside as a 6'5" ultra athlete who can handle the ball and light up the perimeter.
It might require patience, but his potential payoff is tremendous.
14. Memphis Grizzlies: Nik Stauskas, Michigan, 6'6", SG, Sophomore
Nik Stauskas closed out a rough month of February with arguably his best game of the year, when he went for 25 points and five assists on 9-of-13 shooting in a win over Michigan State.
He's become an offensive joystick out there—from hesitation moves to the rack to step-back 20-footers, he has evolved into a multidimensional threat with the ball in his hands.
We knew he could shoot coming in, which we can now confirm after what looks like will be his second year in a row over 40 percent from deep. But now he's tough to contain off the dribble, and thanks to his vision and high basketball IQ, he's evolved into an actual playmaker.
Some view him as a reach this high and believe he belongs in the late lottery.
But given what little offensive punch Memphis gets at the 2-guard spot, the Grizzlies could use a guy like Stauskas to spread the floor and make some shots.
15. Boston Celtics (via ATL): Doug McDermott, Creighton, 6'8", SF, Senior
Creighton's scoring machine continues to produce points—Doug McDermott has picked up at least 25 of them in each of his last seven games.
Inside the arc, outside the arc, off the catch, off the dribble—it doesn't matter. He just finds ways to put the ball in the hole, and now that he's mastered the Dirk Nowitzki one-legged fadeaway, he's become an even bigger threat as a one-on-one scorer.
Still, his appeal at the next level stems from his ability to knock down shots from all over the floor.
As Boston's second first-round pick, McDermott would seem like good value at No. 15, as well as a fitting addition to the core this team is rebuilding.
16. Chicago (via CHA): Aaron Gordon, Arizona, 6'9", SF/PF, Freshman
Aaron Gordon's athleticism is still far ahead of his skill set, although at 18 years old, he has plenty of room for growth.
The uncertainty surrounding his position, along with an offensive game that lacks polish, might cause him to slide a bit on draft night. He doesn't have much of a jumper at this point (10 three-pointers, 27.0 percent on two-point jumpers, 43.1 percent from the line, via Hoop Math), while his off-the-dribble and post games are both limited.
But Gordon is a versatile defender and an exceptional finisher at the rim, and if he's able to add something in between and establish an identity for himself, we could be talking about a steal 16 picks deep into the draft.
The Bulls might be looking for some frontcourt help this offseason, as well as an easy-bucket target to play alongside Derrick Rose.
17. Atlanta Hawks (via BKN): P.J. Hairston, Texas Legends, 6'6", SG
P.J. Hairston has cooled off in the D-League, though he's still averaging 22.7 points on 2.8 three-pointers made per game.
At 6'6", 220 pounds with an overwhelming wingspan, Hairston has a terrific basketball body for an NBA 2-guard. Add a lethal jumper with range and the ability to viciously attack the rim, and he should have plenty to offer as a two-way scorer and defender.
As long as he doesn't raise any flags from now until June, Hairston should be locked into the 2014 first round.
Based on team needs and what's left on the board, he'd make sense here for Atlanta.
18. Phoenix Suns (via WAS): Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, 7'0", C, Sophomore
Willie Cauley-Stein's impact has fluctuated the past two months, but that tends to happen to raw bigs with limited offensive games.
Still, given it's now his second season with Kentucky, scouts were expecting improvement. And the minimal progression he's made might cause him to slip a few spots down the board.
He's an incredible physical specimen at 7'0" who can run and jump like a guard or wing.
Forget about his offensive game or 7.5-point scoring average. In a simplified role, he has the chance to inject a front line with top-shelf athleticism, rim protection and an easy-bucket machine above the rim.
The Suns haven't gotten much from the big man they drafted last year. Cauley-Stein would seem like a better fit for a team that likes to push the ball anyway.
19. Chicago Bulls: T.J. Warren, North Carolina State, 6'8", SF, Sophomore
T.J. Warren might not win any dunk contests, but he knows how to flat-out get buckets. In the past month, he's gone for 34 points against Wake Forest, 31 against Virginia Tech, 27 against Miami and 23 against Syracuse.
There's no secret to his success; he doesn't have one specific skill he leans on to rack up points. He just has terrific offensive instincts—he knows how much touch to use on the run and what angles to take to the rim, and when he's really feeling it, he can step outside and knock down shots in bunches.
His athleticism limits his defensive potential and upside, but for a team in need of offense, Warren is an option to look at.
The Bulls could use a wing like Warren who can go out and generate offense on his own.
20. Toronto Raptors: Vasilije Micic, Serbia, 6'5", PG, 1994
Vasilije Micic is coming off one of his stronger games of the year in a win over Dario Saric's Cibona, where he finished with 18 points, eight assists and four steals.
He's deceptive and crafty with the ball in his hands—he was beating defenders with the hesitation dribble and finishing at the rim from all different angles.
He is a prototypical facilitator, and while not the standout athlete of a typical NBA point guard, he has the size to play over the defense and the vision to see through it.
Currently No. 3 in the Adriatic League in assists, Micic could be an option for Toronto if it ends up parting ways with Kyle Lowry.
21. Phoenix Suns: Jerami Grant, Syracuse, 6'8", SF/PF, Sophomore
The good news is that Jerami Grant has become a consistent, everyday force for the Orange. His presence can be constantly felt, particularly on the interior, where his length and wild athleticism lead to buckets that few are capable of converting. He also has his name written on at least one putback dunk or alley-oop per game.
He has had a few standout outings as of late—he went for 17 points and eight boards against Duke and 12 and 14 against N.C. State.
But as a projected NBA small forward, it's somewhat troubling that he hasn't hit a three-pointer all season. It might force him to log minutes at the 4, where he's a bit undersized.
Regardless, on the right team where he can play to his strengths, Grant has the physical tools to pose as a dynamic frontcourt weapon.
22. OKC Thunder (via DAL): Adreian Payne, Michigan St., 6'10", PF, Senior
Since returning from a foot injury that sidelined him seven games, Adreian Payne has scored at least 20 points in three of his six games back.
He even knocked down four three-pointers against Purdue, two against Wisconsin and two against Northwestern. He has already made nine more threes this year than he had his entire first three seasons at Michigan State combined.
His post skills are limited, but Payne offers a strong presence in the paint at both ends of the floor. And now that he's comfortable stepping outside, he can participate in the pick-and-pop game or stretch the floor as a shooter.
A team like the Thunder, who could use a big, physical body to step in right away, might want to give the 6'10", 245-pound Payne a look with one of their two picks.
23. Utah Jazz (via GSW): Jusuf Nurkic, Bosnia, 6'11", C, 1994
Jusuf Nurkic earned some attention at last year's EuroCamp, but now he's really exploded onto the scene for Cedevita in 2014.
Despite only getting 16.2 minutes per game, he's the most productive player in the Adriatic League on a per-minute basis.
He ranks No. 1 overall in player efficiency rating; per 40 minutes, he would be averaging 28.6 points and 13.8 boards on 56.7 percent shooting.
He's coming off arguably his biggest game of the year, when he went for 16 points and 15 boards in 20 minutes in a win over Crvena Zvezda.
At 6'11" with a 7'2" wingspan and 280 pounds of overwhelming strength, you can't help but think of Nikola Pekovic when watching him play. He's strong around the rim with terrific instincts and a feel for the game.
Eurobasket's David Pick noted that scouts from both the Memphis Grizzlies and Atlanta Hawks were on hand to see Nurkic play in the last two weeks.
Expect to hear more about Nurkic as we get closer to May and June.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (via POR): Clint Capela, Switzerland, 6'10", PF, 1994
Clint Capela has been a standout overseas all year, where he's seen his role expand dramatically as the season has progressed.
He's averaging 13.6 points, 11 boards and 3.3 blocks in France over his last three games. He even had a stretch late in January where he shot 17-of-19 over the course of a three-game span, grabbing at least nine boards and blocking at least two shots in each game.
Though still raw, it's easy to see what's so appealing about his game and outlook. With incredible size, length and athleticism, Capela has the chance to evolve into an interior two-way presence on both sides of the ball.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, 6'8", PF, Sophomore
Montrezl Harrell has been up and down all year, but by the time the NBA combine rolls around and he's able to showcase those mesmerizing physical tools up close, chances are teams will overlook his offensive inconsistency.
He's an absolute monster, and when he's on his game and the ball is finding him in the post, we've seen him take over the paint.
He just went for 21 points and 10 boards on the No. 7 team in the country in Cincinnati.
Harrell's skill set is raw, but he's still averaging 13 points, 8.2 boards and 1.3 blocks on 60.2 percent shooting without a go-to move or reliable jumper. The hope is that he adds them over time and becomes an option to feed in the offense.
Think J.J. Hickson with upside.
26. Houston Rockets: Kyle Anderson, UCLA, 6'9", PG/SF, Sophomore
Kyle Anderson's projections still seem all over the map. Some scouts believe he's a lottery talent. I had one tell me, speaking anonymously, that he thought Anderson would be out of the league in a few years.
He is going to enter the draft as one of the more hit-or-miss prospects, given the unique yet questionable tools and services he's offering.
While most point guards are quick and athletic, Anderson is slow and methodical. Though at 6'9", he's a phenomenal passer and facilitator with an incredible size advantage for the position.
This year, he improved his game dramatically—he is averaging 14.9 points, 8.6 boards and 6.9 assists, and he's made a whopping 22 of his 44 three-point attempts.
The question is if his unorthodox game will translate to the next level, whether it's at point guard or small forward—the position he struggled at as a freshman.
Either way, the risk should be worth the reward this late.
27. San Antonio Spurs: Delon Wright, Utah, 6'5", PG, Junior
One of this year's biggest breakout prospects, Delon Wright has been too productive to ignore. After transferring from junior college in San Francisco, he's now averaging 16.3 points, 6.8 boards and 5.4 assists for Utah.
The analytics guys love him. Wright ranks No. 1 in the country in win shares and No. 1 in the Pac-12 in player efficiency rating.
And from a potential perspective, there's a lot to like. He's a 6'5" point guard who seems to score and create effortlessly inside the arc. He is an exceptional finisher at the rim, which he complements with excellent passing instincts—making him a true playmaking threat when he gets into the heart of the defense.
Wright needs to add range on his jumper, but he has the pull-up game working and is shooting 79.2 percent from the line.
It's unclear whether he will declare this year or the next, but he'll be 22 years old in April. It might be smart to strike while the iron is hot.
28. Miami Heat: Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa, 6'6", SF, Senior
Roy Devyn Marble has been impressive for Iowa, where he's quietly emerging into one of the most versatile players in the country.
He recently went for 21 points and 11 assists against Wisconsin before putting up 24 and six on Minnesota.
Though he has the size of a wing, he sees a good amount of time at point guard. He's an excellent passer within the offense, which differentiates him from most scorers.
He is averaging 3.3 assists per game to go with his near 17-point average. This season, he's also become a lot deadlier from behind the arc, where he's shooting 38 percent.
There isn't much upside here, but Devyn Marble might be able to help a playoff team do whatever it is it needs him to do. Yep—he's one of those guys.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Sam Dekker, Wisconsin, 6'8", SF, Sophomore
An athletic, high-IQ, do-it-all forward, Sam Dekker has been a consistent presence in Wisconsin's lineup for two years now.
He has scored at least 15 points in three straight games, including wins over Iowa and Michigan.
Dekker is skilled—at 6'8", he can handle the ball with comfort, attack from the arc, score on the move or spot up from outside. He's also a team-first guy who rarely takes a bad shot and always seems to find himself in a position to catch and score.
He doesn't have any one core strength, but on a team like Oklahoma City that's looking for balance over upside, Dekker seems ideal later in Round 1.
30. Phoenix Suns (via IND): Nick Johnson, Arizona, 6'3", PG/SG, Junior
Nick Johnson's Wildcats moved back into the top three in the rankings, following his recent 20-point, six-assist, five-rebound effort against Colorado.
No, he doesn't have a natural position in the pros, and he's likely to spend his career coming off the bench. But few athletes on the planet are capable of doing some of the things he can do on a court.
He has as much spring and bounce as any guard on the board. He also happens to be a terrific leader, defender and playmaker.
At this stage of the draft, there probably aren't many obvious starting-caliber players. Johnson's elite-athletic ability could shine in the right role and system.