With one of the deepest draft pools in recent memory in place, the 2014 NBA draft lottery promises to be one of the most important events on the NBA calendar this year.
Fans of several franchises had to suffer through difficult seasons, but it will arguably be all worth it if their favorite teams end up with an elite player. Perhaps there is no LeBron James or Kevin Durant in this draft; however, the class is very much brimming with All-Star potential.
The NBA draft lottery is very much a crapshoot in that it isn't uncommon for a team with fantastic odds to land the first overall pick to plummet and vice versa. With that in mind, every non-playoff team will enter the lottery with visions of franchise-changing players dancing in their heads.
Here is a complete breakdown of the current lottery odds, projected draft order and potential top picks for the 2014 NBA draft.
|6||Los Angeles Lakers||6.3%|
|10||New Orleans Pelicans||1.1%|
|11||Denver Nuggets (via NY)||0.8%|
|12||Orlando Magic (via DEN)||0.7%|
*Odds via ESPN.com.
Projected Draft Order
|6||Los Angeles Lakers|
|10||Philadelphia 76ers (via NO)|
|11||Denver Nuggets (via NY)|
|12||Orlando Magic (via DEN)|
|16||Chicago Bulls (via CHA)|
|17||Phoenix Suns (via WAS)|
|18||Boston Celtics (via BKY)|
|22||Oklahoma City Thunder (via DAL)|
|23||Utah Jazz (via GS)|
|24||Charlotte Bobcats (via POR)|
|27||Phoenix Suns (via IND)|
|28||Los Angeles Clippers|
|29||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|30||San Antonio Spurs|
*Trades via NBADraft.net.
Projected Top 3 Selections
1. Andrew Wiggins (Kansas)
Regardless of which team lands the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft, Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins has to be the odds-on favorite to take the stage first. Wiggins was viewed as the likely top pick before the 2013-14 college basketball season, and although he got off to somewhat of a shaky start, he showed constant flashes of greatness late in the year.
Wiggins ended the season with averages of 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, including a 41-point performance against West Virginia. Wiggins can fill up the basket like no other prospect in this draft, and the Canadian phenom is essentially guaranteed to be among the top players off the board.
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As great as Wiggins was on the court, Kansas head coach Bill Self was equally complimentary of Wiggins' work ethic and team commitment, according to Matt Norlander of CBSSports.com.
"He was so coachable, a great teammate," Self said. "As good as he was for us, he's only scratching the surface of what he can do. ... He's a humble, unselfish, team-first guy. He's been an unbelievable ambassador to our program."
The fact that Wiggins happens to be a great character guy in addition to a great player is icing on the cake for NBA teams. That means he will be a significant help in terms of turning things around on the court, while also representing the organization well off the court.
Wiggins would be a particularly good fit for the Milwaukee Bucks since they desperately need a wing scorer, but essentially any team could find a spot for him. Wiggins has all the makings of an NBA star, and he is the favorite to go No. 1 until further notice.
2. Jabari Parker (Duke)
It is no secret that Duke's season didn't end as expected. The Blue Devils were shockingly upended by Mercer in the NCAA tournament's round of 64, and freshman star Jabari Parker didn't play well whatsoever. Going out on such a sour note may not be ideal, but Parker stands to be a very high pick in the 2014 NBA draft.
There has been plenty of discussion regarding whether or not Parker will or should declare for the draft, but there is a great deal of risk in returning to Duke, whereas entering the draft is pretty much money in the bank.
ESPN's Marcellus Wiley said as much regarding Parker's decision a couple of weeks ago:
Jabari Parker should be thinking, "I can take my math classes at the BANK!" #GoPro— Marcellus Wiley (@marcelluswiley) April 3, 2014
Parker had his ups and downs as a freshman, but he was largely a dominant inside presence for Duke. He put up 19.1 points and nearly 8.7 rebounds per game, and he already has an NBA body at 6'8" and 235 pounds. He won't be able to manhandle his opponents at the NBA level like he did in college, but he is unquestionably ready for the pros.
It wouldn't be fair to call Parker a lock to go No. 2 since it might depend on the needs of the team picking second, but he would be an ideal selection for the Philadelphia 76ers if they remain in their projected position.
3. Joel Embiid (Kansas)
Kansas center Joel Embiid unexpectedly put himself in the No. 1 overall pick conversation this season by anchoring the Jayhawks and providing a great complement to Wiggins. Embiid may not be in that position any longer due partly to a back injury that cost him the latter part of the year, but he is still one of the most sought-after prospects in the 2014 class.
Back problems can be disconcerting when it comes to a 7-footer, but Embiid's potential is undeniable. He averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game, making him a force on both ends of the court.
His offense still needs to develop, so that is something that NBA teams will have to work on. At the same time, he is already a difference-maker defensively, so he should be able to step in and contribute right away.
According to ESPN's Chad Ford, Embiid is essentially a lock to go in the top three, provided his back isn't an issue moving forward.
KU’s Joel Embiid announced that he’s officially declaring for the 2014 NBA Draft. If his back is healthy, he’s a Top 3 pick.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) April 9, 2014
The Orlando Magic would love to have him at No. 3 even with Nikola Vucevic already on the roster. In fact, essentially every team in the league is looking for a center with Embiid's skill set, so he won't wait long before hearing his name called.
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