The NBA playoffs may be on the minds of more than half the teams in the league, but those who don’t make the postseason will be focused solely on the upcoming draft. After all, there are a number of potential franchise-changing superstars in play with this draft class.
Who will be the better pro?
The draft is still months away, and we don’t even know what the lottery will look like yet. Since that is the case, the order of the picks is courtesy of the latest mock draft from DraftExpress.
Here’s an updated look at the entire first round of the NBA draft. Make sure to follow along throughout the coming months, as there are sure to be plenty of changes before draft day.
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
You can’t go wrong with a handful of picks at No. 1 in this draft class, but the thought here is that Andrew Wiggins has a slightly higher ceiling than Jabari Parker. The Milwaukee Bucks, who need young talent more than anyone in the NBA, will take a chance on the Kansas product.
Wiggins can do anything that is asked of him on the offensive side, and he is also a better-than-advertised defender. He will finally bring some star power to a Milwaukee team that desperately needs it.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, Duke
Sure, the Philadelphia 76ers lost approximately 250 games in a row this season (give or take a few), but a young core of Nerlens Noel, Michael Carter-Williams and Jabari Parker could make some noise right away in the Eastern Conference.
Much like Wiggins, Parker can score from anywhere and is an underrated rebounder. He can post up smaller defenders and hit from the outside, so it will be difficult for opposing defenders to collapse down on Noel.
3. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, International
Would it be a risk for the Orlando Magic to take Dante Exum over Joel Embiid?
Of course it would be, but there are already a number of solid frontcourt players in Orlando, and Embiid’s health will be a red flag going forward. That means the Magic will take Exum and pair him alongside Victor Oladipo in what would suddenly become a formidable backcourt.
Exum and Oladipo are both incredibly athletic and quick, meaning they could get out in transition and stifle opposing offenses.
4. Utah Jazz: Joel Embiid, Kansas
Since the Orlando Magic left Embiid on the board in this hypothetical, the Utah Jazz will be more than happy to take him.
His ceiling outweighs the health concerns, and he could be a rebounding and defensive force for years to come.
5. Boston Celtics: Julius Randle, Kentucky
Julius Randle may be a victim of this loaded draft class, as Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com explained when he mocked the Kentucky star to Boston: "Randle would've gone No. 1 in last year's draft, and he'd probably go first in next year's draft, too. So the Celtics would be thrilled to grab Kentucky's double-double machine outside of the top three."
6. Los Angeles Lakers: Aaron Gordon, Arizona
Aaron Gordon may not have the ceiling of Wiggins or Parker, but it’s not difficult to envision him throwing down dunks and getting out in transition for years to come in the NBA.
He is one of the most athletic prospects in the entire class, and if he's paired with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles, he would be able to take advantage of open looks on the block. He is also a solid defender who can jump out of the gym, which leads to blocks, deflections and altered shot attempts.
7. Sacramento Kings: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
There are questions about Isaiah Thomas’ long-term future in Sacramento, which means the Kings will look for a backcourt scorer with their top pick.
Marcus Smart may not be the distributor Thomas can be, but Smart is an elite scorer who has a lethal outside shot and the ability to get to the rim off the bounce. He is also an impressive defender, which will help the Kings as they accumulate young talent in the loaded Western Conference.
8. Detroit Pistons: Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
Brandon Jennings is not the long-term answer at point guard for the Detroit Pistons.
If Detroit drafts Tyler Ennis from Syracuse, it will be refreshing for fans to watch a point guard who looks to distribute the ball first and doesn’t take ill-advised three-pointers during the game’s biggest moments.
Ennis will be able to get the ball to Andre Drummond and the litany of frontcourt weapons in Detroit.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Noah Vonleh, Indiana
The upside of Noah Vonleh is too great for the Cleveland Cavaliers to pass up, even with Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett currently on the roster.
Vonleh has the chance to become a double-double machine at the next level, and his presence down low would help open up the lane for Kyrie Irving and Co. on penetration. Vonleh’s ceiling is simply higher than any of the big men Cleveland has right now.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (from Hornets): Gary Harris, Michigan State
As mentioned, the 76ers already have Carter-Williams and Noel, and in this hypothetical, they got Parker from Duke as well.
That means they will look for a shooting guard with the No. 10 pick, and they don’t come much better than Gary Harris in this draft. Harris can shoot the three, stifle opposing ball-handlers on the perimeter and finish through contact at the rim.
11. Atlanta Hawks: Doug McDermott, Creighton
Only a handful of players in college basketball history have been better scorers than Doug McDermott, and shooting certainly transfers to the next level.
The Atlanta Hawks will look for McDermott as an option to stretch the floor alongside Al Horford in the offense and to open up the floor for penetration from the guards. McDermott certainly has the talent to find a spot in an NBA rotation, and he even earned some fans from other sports during his college days. Take Danny Woodhead, for example:
Had fun watching @dougmcd3 last 4 years. Unbelievable player and a class act! Can't wait to watch him have a long successful NBA career— danny woodhead (@danny__woodhead) March 24, 2014
12. Denver Nuggets: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky
The Denver Nuggets had a leaky defense for much of this season, and Willie Cauley-Stein would help shore that up immediately.
Cauley-Stein is a terrific shot-blocker and rebounder, and he would find playing time right away in Denver.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Rodney Hood, Duke
Rodney Hood may have played in Parker’s shadow for much of this year at Duke, but he is a formidable scorer and defender.
CBSSports.com's Zach Harper explains why this would be a great fit for the Minnesota Timberwolves: "This may be the best-case scenario for the Wolves. They get to keep their pick and add a player who could be a starter at the small forward position. Hood can create shots for himself, others, and hit from downtown. He's exactly what the Wolves need."
14. Phoenix Suns: T.J. Warren, North Carolina State
T.J. Warren was one of the most underrated players in all of college basketball this season, and he would give the Phoenix Suns a legitimate scoring threat at stretch forward.
He has a solid jump shot, but Warren is at his best when he is attacking the rim. Warren would find the basket regularly in the up-tempo offensive attack the Suns often employ.
15. Orlando Magic (from Knicks): Dario Saric, International
The Orlando Magic already boosted their backcourt in this hypothetical with Exum, so they will look to add some depth in the forward spot with pick No. 15.
Dario Saric can play either power forward or small forward thanks to his versatility, athleticism and length, and he would be a difficult matchup for a number of teams.
16. Chicago Bulls (from Bobcats): James Young, Kentucky
It doesn’t get much better than the Chicago Bulls when it comes to defense, but this team could use some offensive firepower.
Kentucky’s James Young provides just that. He can take advantage of open looks from behind the three-point line or attack the rim off the dribble and posterize defenders who get in the way. What’s more, a year or two in Chicago's system would almost assuredly improve his defense.
17. Phoenix Suns (from Wizards): Nik Stauskas, Michigan
It has been assumed that Nik Stauskas is heading to the NBA draft, but he took the time to point out that he hasn’t made a decision yet:
Just wanted to reiterate that any reports about my future intenions are FALSE! I have NOT made ANY decisions on my future yet!— Nik Stauskas (@NStauskas11) April 10, 2014
If he does go the draft route, Stauskas will be scooped up by the Suns. He could play alongside Goran Dragic in the backcourt, as Dragic does plenty of ball-handling, or provide depth at small forward.
Wherever he plays, Stauskas can hit the three with regularity, and he has gradually become a better defender throughout his college career.
18. Boston Celtics (from Nets): Zach LaVine, UCLA
You can [see the progress] but then again, who will be here next year? You [the reporter] might not even be here. They might trade you this season. It depends. I think there are some things you can take from this team. We have a young team, a lot of guys that are playing well every night, but we’re not sealing the deal as a team collectively, but there are some things you can take individually from each guy and stay positive.
If Rondo isn’t in the long-term plans, the Boston Celtics will look for a playmaking guard in the draft. Zach LaVine, who can score from almost anywhere and thrill the fans with rim-rattling dunks, could be just the man for the job.
19. Chicago Bulls: Kyle Anderson, UCLA
The Bulls need offense, and Kyle Anderson provides it in spades.
He stuffs the stat sheet with points, rebounds and assists, can shoot from the outside, and is a solid defender. There is very little Anderson can’t do on the court, and he would likely find early playing time in the Chicago rotation because of it.
20. Toronto Raptors: Adreian Payne, Michigan State
The Toronto Raptors would get something of a value pick with Adreian Payne at No. 20.
Payne has top-10 talent thanks to his ability to hit from the outside, dominate on the block, grab any rebound within arm’s length and swat shots into the third row. Throw in the fact that he thrills the crowd with impressive dunks, and Payne would be a solid pick here.
21. Dallas Mavericks: Jerami Grant, Syracuse
Parrish of CBSSports.com understands that Jerami Grant may not have a surefire position in the NBA, but Grant's talent will be too much for teams to pass on late in the first round: "I'm not sure where Grant will play in the NBA, exactly. But he's a top-shelf athlete from a top-shelf program, and he's worth taking a flyer on here."
The Dallas Mavericks will be the ones to take a flyer on him with the No. 21 pick. If Grant can use his athleticism, he will give the second unit an immediate scoring impact.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: P.J. Hairston, North Carolina/NBDL
The Memphis Grizzlies are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA when they are on their game, but they could use some scoring punch in the backcourt alongside Mike Conley Jr.
P.J. Hairston would provide just that as a prospect who could very well be a top-10 pick in other drafts. He had some off-court issues at North Carolina, but his talent far outweighs those issues. The Grizzlies would get a true value pick in this scenario.
23. Utah Jazz (from Warriors): Jordan Adams, UCLA
The Utah Jazz already got a big man in this hypothetical, so they will look to add some depth to the backcourt with Jordan Adams at pick No. 23.
Adams could pair with Trey Burke for years to come. Both are capable scorers and distributors who would give the Utah offense a punch from the guard spots. Adams is also a solid rebounder given his position on the floor.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (from Trail Blazers): Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
Even though Wichita State lost in the round of 32 to Kentucky, few players boosted their draft stock during the NCAA tournament as much as Cleanthony Early did.
Early is a tremendous scorer who can post up smaller defenders and hit from the outside. He proved himself against a number of future NBA players in that loss to the Wildcats, and the Charlotte Bobcats will take him with the No. 24 pick as the best player available here.
25. Houston Rockets: Clint Capela, International
The Houston Rockets aren’t exactly lacking at power forward, but the ceiling for the uber-athletic Clint Capela will be too much to pass up.
He is quick enough to beat taller defenders off the dribble and can also post up smaller ones, which means he would be a matchup nightmare. What’s more, he could alleviate some of the defensive focus on Dwight Howard down low because of his ability to score from mid-range and on the block.
26. Phoenix Suns (from Pacers): Montrezl Harrell, Louisville
In this hypothetical, the Suns already grabbed some help at the guard and forward spots, so they will look down low with pick No. 26.
Montrezl Harrell from Louisville is a double-double threat every time he steps on the floor and is one of the best low-post defenders in the entire class. He is a terrific shot-blocker as well and would help the Suns on the defensive end.
27. Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
LeBron James would be pleased if the Miami Heat selected national champion Shabazz Napier in the first round:
No way u take another PG in the lottery before Napier.— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 8, 2014
Napier would give point guard depth to the defending champions and provide a solid presence on both ends of the floor. He proved during the NCAA tournament that he is capable of hitting the three, setting up teammates and attacking the rim on offense, and his defense was a primary reason Connecticut was able to stifle the Florida and Kentucky offenses at the Final Four.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: K.J. McDaniels, Clemson
The Los Angeles Clippers love to get out and run, and K.J. McDaniels is capable of doing just that from the small forward or power forward position.
McDaniels still needs to improve his jumper, but he can attack the rim better than almost anyone in this draft class. What’s more, he is strong enough to finish through contact when he gets there and is a solid rebounder.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jusuf Nurkic, International
The Oklahoma City Thunder need depth down low, as Kendrick Perkins isn’t going to be playing at an effective level much longer.
Jusuf Nurkic is something of a project, but he has soft touch around the basket and can score on the low block. He is also a formidable rebounder and could help alter shots if the guards allow any penetration.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Glenn Robinson III
How much time does Manu Ginobili have left in the NBA?
As incredible as the ageless San Antonio Spurs are every year, they could use another playmaker to spark the second unit on the offensive side. Glenn Robinson III was overshadowed by Stauskas at Michigan this season, but his ceiling will intrigue the Spurs enough that they'll take him with the No. 30 pick.
In an ideal scenario, he would be that second-unit playmaker.
Follow me on Twitter @ScottPolacek.