2014 NBA Mock Draft: Post-Regular Season Edition
With the NBA season over and the lottery odds set, we now have a pretty good idea of where most teams will be drafting.
At this point, however, we're still waiting on a few key prospects to declare. (NCAA prospects have until April 27 to declare for the draft, while international prospects have until June.)
And with Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein and Louisville's Montrezl Harrell choosing to return to school, two extra spots are opened up for this year's first round.
Team needs, along with each prospect's NBA potential, were taken into account when deciding how we project the draft to play out.
Note: The draft order was generated based on NBA standings through games played on Wednesday, April 16, and future trades. All stats courtesy of NCAA.com, unless otherwise noted.
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas, 7'0", Freshman
Unless doctors throw red flags at Joel Embiid's pre-draft physical, we'll be looking at the top two-way prospect on the planet on June 26. The only question on scouts' minds is whether his health will hold up.
But despite the stress fracture that he suffered in his back just prior to the Big 12 conference tournament, there was never any injury history before it. And it's an injury that is expected to heal 100 percent with proper rest and treatment.
At full strength, there isn't another prospect who can control a game like Embiid, whose advanced post skills and world-class rim protection can change a game in the paint.
Following Larry Sanders' disasterous season in Milwaukee, the Bucks might want to think about Embiid as the team's new anchor and franchise center in the middle. A pairing of Giannis Antetokounmpo on the wing and Embiid down low might turn out to be one of the most promising and potentially rewarding young duos around.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas, 6'8, Freshman
Though he put up a few duds throughout the year, Andrew Wiggins' overall body of work was impressive, from his 17-point-per-game average to the vast improvement he made from Day 1.
Despite having so much room to grow, both mentally and fundamentally, along with the loaded lineup he was in at Kansas, Wiggins still managed to light up scoreboards on a fairly regular basis.
He hasn't put it all together yet, but Wiggins has flashed a well-rounded skill set, consisting of step-backs, pull-ups, floaters and explosive drives to the rack.
Defensively, he's shown that he's capable of guarding up to four positions and locking down a few of them.
Between his two-way upside and the progress he's made, the 76ers, a team that can afford to wait for results, should be all over Wiggins at the top of this draft. He'd fit perfectly between Michael Carter-Williams and center Nerlens Noel.
3. Orlando Magic: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke, 6'8", Freshman
Though the Magic might be intrigued with the idea of filling a need and taking Australian point guard Dante Exum, it's going to be too tough to pass on Jabari Parker if he's still on the board at No. 3.
His season didn't end the way most of us anticipated it would, but we've seen enough to know what he's capable of, both now and potentially in the future.
Parker has an NBA body along with the ability to take over a game on the perimeter or in the post.
He also led the ACC in rebounding (8.7 RPG) this season, and given his 6'8", 235-pound frame, he'll probably end up logging some minutes at both forward positions.
Parker's poor defensive outlook might keep him from going within the top two, considering Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins both project as premier NBA defenders. But there's no doubting his star power and offensive upside and versatility. Parker could give Orlando something it desperately needs in the middle of its lineup: a go-to scorer.
4. Utah Jazz: Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia, 6'6", 1995
The Jazz need some backcourt help, and there isn't a guard in the field with more upside than Dante Exum.
At 6'6", he's a scoring point guard who can play on or off the ball and generate offense on demand. He's beyond explosive with a lightning-quick first step, along with the ability to finish above the rim or light it up on the perimeter.
He needs to work on his shooting consistency and decision-making, but his blend of talent isn't something that comes around often.
The beauty of selecting Exum is that he has the size and skill set to play either guard position. Given his versatility and Utah's need for another guard, the Jazz should certainly toy with the idea of pairing him with Trey Burke in the backcourt.
5. Boston Celtics: Noah Vonleh, PF/C, Indiana, 6'10", Freshman
Though Noah Vonleh didn't consistently light up box scores, you just couldn't miss his potential.
Vonleh showcased his post moves throughout the season, from righty and lefty jump hooks to drop-steps and layups. He also led the Big Ten in rebounding (9.0 RPG) playing less than 27 minutes a night. We even saw his confident stroke and touch from outside, where he nailed 16 of 33 shots from downtown.
He won't be 19 years old until August, but at 6'10", 240 pounds with a 7'4" wingspan, he's built like an NBA veteran.
Vonleh will need a few years of seasoning and regular reps, because he didn't get too many touches in Indiana's offense. But given the long-term rebuilding plan the Celtics are looking at, this is a franchise that can afford to wait for a potentially big reward.
6. Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky, 6'9", Freshman
The Lakers need to be operating in best-player-available mode with Julius Randle on the board. A potential go-to option in the offense and a dominant presence on the glass, Randle played a major role in Kentucky's run to the national title game this year.
He was a 19-year-old man among boys throughout his freshman season, as he racked up a nation-leading 24 double-doubles.
Offensively, we've seen him bully defenders with his back to the rim and blow by his men facing up.
He'll have to add a jumper to complement his heavily interior-oriented attack, and his defense will need some fine-tuning, but at No. 6 overall, the pros outweigh the cons.
7. Sacramento Kings: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State, 6'4", Sophomore
Though the Kings could use Marcus Smart's ability to generate offense, his defense should be equally appealing.
He's a playmaker on the defense end, where he's either harassing opposing ball-handlers, trapping and forcing a steal or stepping into a passing lane. Smart had an incredible 188 steals in two seasons at Oklahoma State, finishing within the top five in the nation in that category as both a freshman and a sophomore.
With Smart's size, phenomenal passing instincts and vicious attack game, there's no reason why he can't run the point or play the 2 for the Kings.
8. Detroit Pistons: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan, 6'6", Sophomore
Nik Stauskas, coming off Big 10 Player of the Year honors, has a number of things going for him heading into the draft.
For starters, it's always nice to see a guy visibly improve, both physically and fundamentally, over the course of a season.
He also has excellent size for the shooting guard position, which should allow him to get his shot off regularly in the NBA. Stauskas has proven he's an elite shooter—he made 172 three-pointers in two seasons at Michigan, and he finished at least 44 percent from downtown in each season.
And this season, he took over 100 more free throws than he did last year, which reflects the threat he's become as a scorer off the dribble.
He's no defensive stud, but between his shot-making ability and high basketball IQ, Stauskas is a guy who can fill a need.
With Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith all being inside-the-arc scorers, the Pistons desperately need a wing who can consistently stretch the floor.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Aaron Gordon, SF/PF, Arizona, 6'9", Freshman
As appealing as his high-flying athleticism is on offense, Aaron Gordon's sales pitch might center around his defense.
He finished No. 1 in the country in defensive win shares this season, per Sports-Reference.com. With the foot speed to guard the perimeter and the size and length to man the post, Gordon is a versatile defensive blanket.
Offensively, he's a huge target above the rim who finishes everything around it, and when there's a driving lane to hit, Gordon can put it on the floor for a dribble and explode to the rack.
Though there's some crowding in Cleveland's frontcourt, neither Tristan Thompson nor Anthony Bennett offer the upside or defensive skill set that Gordon brings to the table.
Either way, he just might be the best player available at this point, and I'm not sure the Cavs can afford to pass on that to fill a specific need.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans): Dario Saric, Croatia, 6'10", PF, 1994
On Wednesday, Dario Saric's agent, Misko Raznatovic, revealed that his client would declare for the draft within the next seven days, according to DraftExpress.com.
However, when asked if Saric would keep his name in at the withdrawal deadline—which is much later for international prospects—Raznatovic responded by saying:
It is very difficult to say at the moment. His target is to be in the top 10 picks of the draft this year, maybe it would be acceptable to be a lottery pick. If we have a clear situation for getting where we would like him to be drafted, then for sure he will keep his name in.
Based on the season Saric is having abroad, where he's leading the Adriatic League in scoring and rebounding, there's no doubt he'll be in that lottery discussion.
But it's also unclear whether Saric will come over right away or stay in Europe for another season or two to develop. Only certain teams might be willing to wait or risk the chance that he never comes over.
"At this moment he believes that is better to stay in Europe for a season or two, to get a taste of the Euroleague, and then to enter the NBA when he has more experience," Raznatovic said.
This is a fluid situation, but if there's a team out there that has the luxury to wait, it's the rebuilding 76ers.
11. Denver Nuggets (via NY): Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State, 6'4", Sophomore
Gary Harris looks to have established himself as one of the safer options in the field after two strong seasons at Michigan State.
He averaged over 16 points per game this past year, having shown improvement as an all-around scorer. Harris is sharp in the mid-range and threatening from deep, and though not a strong one-on-one player, he knows how to get himself open for looks within the offense, whether he's curling around a screen or popping out for a jumper.
Randy Foye and Evan Fournier are serviceable, but there's an upgrade to be made here at the 2-guard position in Denver. And Harris has the potential to be more dangerous on both sides of the ball than either of the two aforementioned players.
12. Orlando Magic (via Denver): Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse, 6'2", Freshman
If Orlando can get either Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker with its top lottery pick, then Tyler Ennis makes sense with its second pick at No. 12 overall.
Ennis, a pure, pass-first point guard who guided the Orange to a terrific season, has demonstrated some top-shelf decision-making and passing instincts as a facilitator. He can score off drives, floaters and jumpers, but he does so opportunistically and rarely forces the issue.
He finished ninth in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.24) in his first year on the job while playing over 35 minutes a game. Ennis might not be ready to take the NBA by storm, but neither are the Magic.
Unless Orlando selects Dante Exum with its first pick, Ennis should be a target at the back end of the lottery.
13. Minnesota: James Young, SF, Kentucky, 6'6", Freshman
James Young had some attention-grabbing moments during Kentucky's run to the national title game. He scored 17 points against Wisconsin and 20 against Connecticut, finishing plays above the rim and knocking down shots from beyond the arc.
Young can be a potent offensive player with the ability to heat up and score in bunches. When he's on, he can connect with a hand in his face or finish after contact off a drive.
Defensively is where Young struggles—he gives up penetration way too easily, and his awareness is lacking as a helper. But there's no doubting his ability to put the ball in the hole.
The Wolves could really use a small forward that can spread the floor. Though Young was inconsistent as a shooter, he doesn't turn 19 years old until August, and he has plenty of room to grow at both ends.
14. Phoenix Suns: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton, 6'8", Senior
Phoenix could really use that consistent shot-making presence that Doug McDermott offers from just about every spot on the floor.
He shot above 40 percent from downtown in all four years at Creighton, and he averaged at least 22.9 points per game in each of his last three seasons.
With playmakers like Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe in Phoenix's backcourt—guys who can create scoring opportunities off the dribble—McDermott would make sense as a fitting catch-and-shoot complementary option in the offense.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State, 6'8", Senior
After scoring 24 points against Louisville in last year's Final Four, Cleanthony Early returned to lead the Shockers to an undefeated regular season in 2013-14.
And despite the team's loss to Kentucky in the NCAA tournament, he ended on a terrific note, lighting up the Wildcats' NBA-caliber frontcourt for 31 points and seven boards.
At 6'8", with long arms and powerful athleticism, Early has the physical tools to man the wing, where he can knock down threes, attack on drives and score off the ball.
He looks the part, and following his convincing postseason performance, we've now seen him play up against top competition.
Atlanta desperately needs some size, athleticism and offense on the wing. Early would seem like an ideal fit in the middle of the Hawks lineup.
16. Chicago Bulls (via Charlotte): Rodney Hood, SF, Duke, 6'8", Sophomore
Rodney Hood brings an NBA-ready package to the table, consisting of a sweet 42 percent three-point stroke and a 6'8" mobile body.
In between, he can score in the mid-range, in the post, off the dribble or off the catch.
Hood isn't much of a defensive asset, nor does he get to the rack or rebound. But with his size and ability to shoot right over the defense, he should be able to step right in as a shot-maker and play-finisher.
With Jimmy Butler at the 2, the Bulls only have Mike Dunleavy and Tony Snell at the small forward slot. Hood might be an immediate offensive upgrade as a rookie.
17. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn): Zach LaVine, PG/SG, UCLA, 6'5", Freshman
Zach LaVine entered the draft despite playing a limited role in UCLA's offense as a freshman. Now, he'll be selling himself based on potential instead of production.
And there's no denying his NBA potential—at 6'5", LaVine is a showtime athlete who can handle the ball and shoot it.
He needs to work on his decision-making and offensive polish, however, and his defense is not quite up to par.
But if he's able to put it all together, we could be talking about one of the most explosive playmakers in the game one day.
The Celtics are starting from the bottom, so they should be able to gamble on upside and sacrifice the time it might take a guy like LaVine to reach his full potential.
18. Phoenix (via Washington): Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia, 6'11", 1994
At 6'11", 280 pounds with quick feet and a soft touch, Jusuf Nurkic has been tough to keep in check overseas for Cedevita.
And the production he's put up in limited minutes has earned the NBA's attention.
In 26 Adriatic League games, Nurkic averaged 28.6 points and 13.9 boards per 40 minutes.
He's not overly skilled, but he knows what he's doing out there, and given his combination of size, mobility and finesse, he's able to score in a variety of different ways around the rim.
The Suns have a number of picks, and if they keep them, it might be smart to use one on a project overseas.
19. Chicago Bulls: Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut, 6'1", Senior
Shabazz Napier looked as sharp as any point guard in the country during Connecticut's magic NCAA tournament run. And though his age might keep a team from reaching for him in the lottery, a team outside might view him as an NBA-ready backup.
The Bulls may need to cut down on Derrick Rose's minutes next year, and given Napier's confident command as a floor general, he could make sense as a guy to count on for immediate rookie minutes.
He creates, he shoots, he rebounds, and when he's locked in, Napier can defend the ball. I wouldn't count on him being able to take over like he did at Connecticut, but there's no doubt in my mind that he has what it takes to contribute as a reserve.
20. Toronto Raptors: Kyle Anderson, PG/SF, UCLA, 6'9", Sophomore
At some point, the potential reward attached to Kyle Anderson is worth the risk he presents as a possible tweener.
He put up monster numbers this past season, including 14.6 points, 8.8 boards and 6.5 assists, posing as a ridiculous mismatch at the point.
Anderson isn't very athletic and lacks the foot speed of a guard, but his ability to play over the defense, along with his top-notch offensive instincts as a passer and facilitator, have allowed him to succeed despite minimal blow-by quickness.
The major concern comes on defense, where he doesn't really have a position. But if Anderson is able to hold his own and ultimately find a niche offensively, we could be looking at a major steal 20 picks deep.
21. OKC Thunder (via Dallas): Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State, 6'10", Sr.
Adreian Payne made the strides he needed to make this year, and though his age (23) and limited upside might keep him from going in the lottery, he offers some serious value outside it.
At 6'10", 245 pounds with above-the-rim athleticism, Payne can bang down low and finish around the rim or stretch the floor as a three-point shooter. He actually nailed more threes this year than he did in his first three seasons combined at Michigan State.
Payne has the physical tools and skill set to last a long time in the league as an inside-outside pick-and-pop guy or a drive-and-kick target. And he's also one of the more NBA-ready prospects in the field.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends, 6'6"
P.J. Hairston averaged 21.8 points a game in the D-League after leading North Carolina in scoring in 2012-13.
At 6'6", 220 pounds, he's strong, long and physical for a shooting guard. Skill-wise, Hairston can be lethal as a shooter, both as a spot-up option and one-on-one perimeter scorer. He also attacks the rim with aggression and can finish after contact.
Defensively, he's got the goods. Whether he can apply himself will be the question, but there's no doubt he has the potential to make an impact at both ends of the floor.
Regardless, the Grizzlies could really use some offensive firepower at that 2-guard position, and Hairston might step right in and knock down shots.
23. Utah Jazz (via Golden State): Jerami Grant, SF/PF, Syracuse, 6'8", Sophomore
At 6'8", with a 7'2" wingspan and electric athletic ability, Jerami Grant's appeal stems from his eye-opening physical tools.
But at this point, they're still ahead of his skill set, which is fairly limited offensively. He's at his best making plays on the ball around the rim, whether he's finishing a lob, a dump-off or a putback slam off a miss.
Grant has shown some promise with his mid-range jumper, and when he has space to face his man up, he's quick enough to beat him and get to the rack.
But Grant didn't hit one three-pointer all year, a troubling sign for a projected 3, and at 212 pounds, it's unlikely he'll be able to play the 4. He'll have to eventually extend his shooting range, but Grant has significant upside if he's able to polish up and add to his game.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (via Portland): T.J. Warren, SF, N.C. State, 6'8", Soph.
T.J. Warren blew up this season for North Carolina State, as he finished third in the country in scoring with 24.9 points per game.
He just has a knack for getting buckets, whether he's rising and firing for a pull-up, shooting on the run, flashing for a jumper or getting out on the break.
He didn't show much range or consistency from downtown, and without long arms or standout athleticism, it's fair to question just how well his game will translate as an NBA small forward. Though given the production he put up in the ACC, it should be worth finding out this late in the first round.
The Bobcats could use a go-getter on offense to bring off the bench, and with their second first-round pick, Warren would make a lot of sense.
25. Houston Rockets: Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan, 6'6", Sophomore
Glenn Robinson III declared for the draft despite an underwhelming year at Michigan, where he saw his field-goal percentage, three-point percentage and rebounding numbers fall.
But Robinson's talent and upside didn't disappear—at 6'6", he has the size and athleticism to play the NBA wing, along with the skill set it requires. Though he struggled with consistency this season, which might have had something to do with Michigan moving from Trey Burke to a freshman point guard, Robinson has shown that he can get himself buckets with or without the ball—whether he's pulling up for an 18-footer, slashing through the lane or sneaking backdoor for an alley-oop.
He's also a big-time weapon in the open floor and on the break.
Robinson would seem like an excellent fit in Houston, playing for a team that prefers to push the tempo.
26. Miami Heat: Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland, 6'11", 1994
Clint Capela fared better during the measurement portion of the Nike Hoop Summit than he did during the actual game, and it's likely to cost him some draft-day dollars.
He checked in at 6'11", 222 pounds with a massive 7'4.5" wingspan, but he finished with just five points and three boards in the main event.
Capela looked awfully limited offensively against Team USA, and quite frankly, he just wasn't involved much.
There's first-round potential here, but at this point consider Capela more of a long-term project.
27. Phoenix Suns (via Indiana): Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette, 6'3", Jr
Elfrid Payton took his game to the next level after spending the summer playing with USA's Under-19 FIBA World Championship team.
As a junior, Payton averaged 19.2 points, 6.0 boards and 5.9 assists, and he was named Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year, thanks in large part to his 2.3 steals per game.
He has great size for the position, along with the quickness and shiftiness to consistently break down the defense and make plays as a scorer or passer.
Payton has to improve his jumper and shooting range, but he's a year younger than most juniors, and with decent mechanics, his outside stroke looks fixable.
Corban Goble of Grantland.com recently profiled Payton and noted his improved outside shooting consistency.
There's still plenty of upside for Payton to hit if he's able to tighten up a few areas of his game. The Suns could use a backup point guard, and Payton would offer some nice value 27 picks deep.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Nick Johnson, PG/SG, Arizona, 6'3", Junior
Nick Johnson took that next step as a junior, and he's made a pretty strong case for himself as a late-first-round option.
But it starts and ends with his athleticism. The floor is Johnson's trampoline—he has some wild bounce around the rim, where he finishes a number of plays with ease despite his 6'3" size.
Scouts and executives will get to see it up close at the NBA Draft Combine—an event where Johnson might be able to move the needle for himself.
He's also a capable shooter, active defender and high-IQ guard. Johnson doesn't have a natural position at the pro level, but off the bench he should have the ability to provide a spark.
29. OKC Thunder: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson, 6'6", Junior
K.J. McDaniels is explosive— he can seemingly go from zero to 60 within the blink of an eye.
He averaged 17.1 points for Clemson this season, with most of his scoring opportunities occurring on the way to the basket.
McDaniels plays high above the rim at both ends of the floor. He actually led the ACC in blocks per game (2.8) despite standing just 6'6".
His jumper has been erratic, both inside and outside the arc, but McDaniels' high-level athleticism alone could be first-round worthy.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Isaiah Austin, C, Baylor, 7'1", Sophomore
It wasn't the best year for Isaiah Austin, who saw his rebounding and scoring averages take significant hits. But nothing can take away his 7'1" size and shot-making ability, something that's likely to generate buzz during team workouts prior to the draft.
Austin can knock down shots in a variety of different ways—through over-the-shoulder hook shots on the low block, turnaround jumpers at the elbow or via spot-up three-pointers.
He hasn't been able to assert himself consistently at Baylor, though, where he often went multiple games without making an impact.
However, Austin did block 3.1 shots a game this year, and he started to come on offensively late in the season.
He's going to get late-first-round looks based on his size alone. Outside of Kansas' Joel Embiid and Bosnia's Jusuf Nurkic, the projected field is mostly 1s, 2s, 3s and 4s.
Austin clearly has talent, and if there was ever a team that knew how to find it in a player, San Antonio is it.