NBA teams looking to scoop up some quality big men in the upcoming 2014 NBA draft received some unfortunate news from the Commonwealth recently when both Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein and Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell announced they would be returning to school.
Cauley-Stein let Kentucky fans know of his intentions via Twitter:
I'm proud to say I'm coming back for my junior year. I still have an empty spot to fulfill and in no rush to leave the best fans in the USA!— Willie Cauley-Stein (@THEwillieCS15) April 14, 2014
While Harrell and Cauley-Stein are staying put, Michigan’s Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III both declared for the draft, and the basketball world is anxiously awaiting Jabari Parker’s eventual decision.
With those recent announcements in mind, let’s take a look at a mock draft for the entire first round.
*Since the order of the picks have not yet been determined, they were borrowed from Draft Express’ latest mock for this exercise.
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
Jabari Parker may be ready to contribute immediately, but the high ceiling on Andrew Wiggins will be too much for the Milwaukee Bucks to pass up.
The Bucks need star power and a face of the franchise, and it isn’t difficult to imagine Wiggins as one of the faces of the Association in three years. He can score from anywhere, is a solid defender and will certainly sell some tickets right away.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, Duke
If the Bucks grab Wiggins, the Philadelphia 76ers will respond in kind and grab Parker (assuming the Duke product doesn’t stay in school).
A young core of Nerlens Noel, Michael Carter-Williams and Parker could provide some excitement for a fanbase that suffered through a number of losses this season.
Parker is a polished offensive prospect who boasts a post game, mid-range shot and touch from behind the three-point line. He is also a terrific rebounder, which makes up for his room for growth on the defensive side.
3. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, International
Fair or not, the ghost of Greg Oden and other big men with health concerns will loom over Joel Embiid in preparation for the draft.
The Orlando Magic won’t take a chance on the injury-prone Embiid and will instead take Dante Exum. The Australian point guard will team up with Victor Oladipo to stifle opposing ball-handlers and get out in transition with regularity.
4. Utah Jazz: Joel Embiid, Kansas
The Utah Jazz will also be weary of Embiid’s health but ultimately be too enticed by his potential.
Embiid has a chance to be an absolute force on the defensive side of the ball and will pair nicely with Trey Burke going forward. Presuming they both stay healthy, that is a solid one-two punch for Utah to build around.
5. Boston Celtics: Julius Randle, Kentucky
The Boston Celtics are just outside the range to land one of the three potential superstars in Parker, Wiggins and Embiid, so they will respond in kind by taking the best player available. CBS Sports’ Matt Moore thinks that will be Julius Randle, even if it isn’t the ideal fit:
“The fit isn't perfect here, with Jared Sullinger already in place, but Randle is the best player available and the most likely star player of the remaining field.”
6. Los Angeles Lakers: Aaron Gordon, Arizona
The Los Angeles Lakers will draft their answer to Blake Griffin across town when they select Aaron Gordon from Arizona.
Gordon can jump out of the gym and get out in transition with the speed of some guards. His athleticism is apparent right away, and he is also a solid defender who sways shots and attacks the glass.
7. Sacramento Kings: Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
There are questions about Isaiah Thomas’ long-term future in Sacramento, so the Kings will look for a point guard of the future in the draft.
Tyler Ennis is the closest thing to a prototypical distributor in this class, and he will immediately take control of Sacramento’s offense and get his teammates involved. He can also score when called upon, but Ennis’ biggest draw is his ability to control the tempo of the game and rack up assists.
8. Detroit Pistons: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
The Detroit Pistons ideally have their frontcourt in place for years to come, so they will look to the backcourt for some young assets in the draft.
Marcus Smart will be their initial choice, thanks to his scoring ability and defensive prowess. Yes, he can hit from behind the three-point line and attack the rim with an explosive first step, but Smart’s ability to disrupt opposing offenses makes him incredibly valuable.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Doug McDermott, Creighton
The Cleveland Cavaliers have young talent in place in the form of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson, but they could use a shooter who can stretch the floor for those assets.
Doug McDermott is arguably the best scorer in the entire draft class, and you would be hard-pressed to find a better option to spot up from behind the three-point line when opposing defenses collapse on Irving or Thompson.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (from Hornets): Gary Harris, Michigan State
The 76ers already have Carter-Williams at point, Noel down low and Parker at small forward in this hypothetical, so they will look for a shooting guard with the No. 10 pick.
Gary Harris can score from almost anywhere in the half-court set, and he is also a solid perimeter defender. His prowess on both sides of the ball will help him earn significant minutes right away in the Philadelphia system.
11. Denver Nuggets (from Knicks): Noah Vonleh, Indiana
The Denver Nuggets have struggled on defense all season, which ultimately cost them a chance at competing for the playoffs again.
Noah Vonleh is a tremendous rebounder who also alters shots down low. He will give Denver a much-needed presence down low and also help out on the low block in the scoring department.
12. Orlando Magic (from Nuggets): Rodney Hood, Duke
The Orlando Magic have some solid pieces down low and already drafted a guard to go with Oladipo in this mock, so they will look for a formidable small forward with the No. 12 pick.
Rodney Hood may have played in Parker’s shadow for much of the year, but he is a tremendous defender and can score from anywhere on the floor. Hood is difficult to stop when he wants to get to the rim, and he also rarely misses from the perimeter if he gets an open look.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: T.J. Warren, North Carolina State
T.J. Warren showed the basketball world what he is capable of when he dominated Xavier in the NCAA tournament, and he will also impress in individual workouts leading up to the draft.
All that means he will be taken with the No. 13 pick in the draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, who will use him as an elite scorer alongside Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio. Warren will have plenty of open looks right away and will deliver on them.
14. Phoenix Suns: Nik Stauskas, Michigan
The Phoenix Suns nearly made the playoffs this season and will look to add even more scoring early in the draft.
Michigan’s Nik Stauskas is one of the best shooters in this entire class, and he is a better-than-advertised finisher at the rim as well. He would find plenty of open shots in the Suns’ up-tempo offense and put up impressive numbers right away.
15. Atlanta Hawks: James Young, Kentucky
We, like so many others, are working under the assumption that James Young will enter the draft, but his godfather Sean Mahone let Central Kentucky News know that it isn’t a done deal:
I am not even certain what the deadline is for deciding. That shows how we are not fixated on the draft. That is just an innocent admission of where we are and what we have been thinking about. It’s just been chaos the last few weeks during this incredible run with a lot of late night worries and anxiety and then some great, great moments. That was our focus, not next year.
If Young does enter the draft, the Atlanta Hawks will scoop him up as a versatile forward who is capable of scoring in bursts. He would pair nicely with Al Horford for years to come.
16. Chicago Bulls (from Bobcats): Kyle Anderson, UCLA
We have discussed at length in these mock drafts the need for offense in Chicago, and there are few players in this draft who do more with the ball in his hands than UCLA’s Kyle Anderson.
He is a terrific scorer, who can shoot from the outside, post up smaller defenders and get to the rim. Anderson also regularly sets up teammates with prolific passing and attacks the glass on both sides of the floor. He is a triple-double threat every time he steps on the floor, which is something Bulls fans should be accustomed to this year with Joakim Noah.
17. Phoenix Suns (from Wizards): Dario Saric, International
The Suns addressed backcourt depth earlier in this mock, so they will go for the versatile forward with the No. 17 pick.
CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish lets fans know why Dario Saric would be a valuable pick for Phoenix: “Saric is a long wing and one of the world's most interesting prospects. He's capable of playing some minutes at power forward, and big enough to score on most small forwards."
18. Boston Celtics (from Nets): Zach LaVine, UCLA
It remains to be seen whether Rajon Rondo will be in Boston for the long term, so the Celtics will look to the backcourt with their first pick in the draft.
Zach LaVine is an explosive athlete who can score from anywhere on the floor, set up his teammates for open shots and thrill fans with rim-rattling dunks. He would be a formidable piece going forward for Boston, regardless of whether Rondo is still on the roster or not.
19. Chicago Bulls: P.J. Hairston, North Carolina
The Bulls will look for more offense with the No. 19 pick, and P.J. Hairston provides that in spades.
The North Carolina product has top-10 talent, but his off-court issues forced him to the NBDL this year. He can hit from the outside and attack the rim and will likely become a better defender gradually in Chicago’s system.
20. Toronto Raptors: Adreian Payne, Michigan State
The Toronto Raptors would be getting great value at No. 20 with Adreian Payne if the Michigan State big man is still around.
He can stretch the floor with his perimeter jumper, attack the rim like a guard and swat shots into the fifth row if opposing shooters aren’t careful. There is very little Payne can’t do on the court, and his presence this low in the first round is a testament to how loaded this class truly is from top to bottom.
21. Memphis Grizzlies: K.J. McDaniels, Clemson
Much like the Bulls, the Memphis Grizzlies need offense. K.J. McDaniels from Clemson provides just that.
Parrish of CBS Sports points out why McDaniels is worth a flyer in the first round: “No player improved his stock more with a junior season than McDaniels. He's an explosive wing who doesn't shoot it well but can really attack the rim.”
22. Dallas Mavericks: Jordan Adams, UCLA
The Dallas Mavericks could use some young talent that can score in the backcourt, and Jordan Adams will provide just that.
He is a solid rebounder for his position as well, so Adams’ presence will help on both sides. Adams could be a formidable leader for a second unit thanks to his energy and diverse skill set.
23. Utah Jazz (from Warriors): Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
The Utah Jazz already got their big man of the future in this mock, so they will look for a stretch forward with this pick in Cleanthony Early.
Early dominated Kentucky even in defeat in the NCAA tournament and likely earned himself a few more dollars in the process. He can score from the low block, hit from mid-range and shoot from beyond the three-point line. Early is also a solid rebounder and could fit in alongside Embiid and Burke nicely.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (from Trail Blazers): Clint Capela, International
There are very few teams in the NBA that would turn down an uber-athletic power forward who is quick enough to beat taller defenders off the dribble and big enough to post up smaller ones.
That is exactly what Clint Capela is, and the Charlotte Bobcats will take him as a best-player-available type pick with the No. 24 selection.
25. Houston Rockets: Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
Shabazz Napier won a national championship at Connecticut and gave his draft stock a tremendous boost in the process.
James Harden and Dwight Howard are the two mainstays in Houston, so the Rockets will have no issues taking a game-changing point guard with their first-round pick. Napier can control the pace with his ball-handling and passing skills, score when needed and shut down opposing guards with regularity.
26. Miami Heat: Jerami Grant, Syracuse
The Miami Heat need to get younger and healthier around LeBron James if they hope to compete for rings every single season.
Jerami Grant will give Miami a versatile piece who can play either shooting guard, small forward or even power forward at times, so whichever player needed a blow on the floor would have a potential sub. He needs to improve his long-range shot, but he is a solid rebounder and defender and can finish through contact when he attacks the rim.
27. Phoenix Suns (from Pacers): Mitch McGary, Michigan
The Phoenix Suns got a guard and forward already in this draft, so they will take a chance on Mitch McGary down low.
McGary is only in the first round because Cauley-Stein and Harrell both returned to school.
If McGary entered the draft last season, he may have been a top-10 pick, but he missed the majority of the season for Michigan with injury, which will scare plenty of teams off.
When healthy, McGary is a tremendous rebounder who can score on the low block. He was arguably Michigan’s best player in its run to the national title game two seasons ago during the tournament, even with Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. on the roster.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Mario Hezonja, International
The Los Angeles Clippers like to get out and run, and adding Mario Hezonja to the rotation will give them a three-point shooter and athlete who will be able to score on those fast breaks.
Hezonja may be a relatively unknown prospect in this draft, but he can make a name for himself if put in the right situation. Playing next to Chris Paul in the backcourt is almost always a good situation.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jusuf Nurkic, International
The Oklahoma City Thunder could use some more depth down low, and the announcements from Harrell and Cauley-Stein mean another potential second-round pick sneaks into the first round.
Jusuf Nurkic may be a long-term project, but he has soft touch at the rim and can score with regularity. He also attacks the glass and can help alter shots on the defensive end.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Glenn Robinson III, Michigan
Robinson III is heading to the NBA, and the San Antonio Spurs will give him a chance to crack their rotation right away.
Robinson is a tremendous athlete who probably never tapped into his full potential at Michigan. If there is any team in the league that will maximize Robinson’s talent, it is the Spurs. Look for him to be a second-unit playmaker who can score from almost anywhere on the floor and provide a solid force on the glass.
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