First off, some applause.
In anticipation of what many regard as a once-in-a-decade type of draft class, teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers have put on a clinic in tanking. Sure, injuries have partially derailed their seasons, but no one proved capable of losing quite like these guys.
So, hats off to them.
The Orlando Magic, Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers also did commendable jobs, and now that the regular season is complete, the draft lottery will do the rest to determine whether or not Tank-A-Palooza 2014 was all worth it.
Here's a look at the complete selection order before the ping-pong balls inevitably shake up the first 14 picks on May 20.
NBA Draft Order
|2014 NBA Draft Order (Pre-Lottery)|
|Pick No.||Team||Acquired From|
|6||Los Angeles Lakers|
|10||Philadelphia 76ers||New Orleans Pelicans|
|12||Orlando Magic||Denver Nuggets, via New York Knicks|
|16||Chicago Bulls||Charlotte Bobcats|
|17||Boston Celtics||Brooklyn Nets|
|18||Phoenix Suns||Washington Wizards|
|21||Oklahoma City Thunder||Dallas Mavericks|
|23||Utah Jazz||Golden State Warriors|
|24||Charlotte Bobcats||Portland Trail Blazers|
|27||Phoenix Suns||Indiana Pacers|
|28||Los Angeles Clippers|
|29||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|30||San Antonio Spurs|
- Philadelphia 76ers receive New Orleans Pelicans' first-round pick unless it is in the top five.
- Charlotte Bobcats receive Detroit Pistons' first-round pick unless it is in the top eight.
- Denver Nuggets receive New York Knicks' first-round pick.
- Orlando Magic receive one of Denver Nuggets' two first-round picks (whichever of Denver's or New York's is lowest).
- Phoenix Suns receive Minnesota Timberwolves' first-round pick unless it is in the top 13.
Which environment -- college or the NBA -- offers me the best opportunity to grow as a basketball player?
Which environment -- college or the NBA -- offers me the best opportunity to grow and develop off the court?
The answer to both questions is undeniably the NBA.
Now that the Duke superstar has officially put his name in the draft hat, the No. 1 pick undoubtedly comes down to three players: Parker and Kansas' duo of Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid.
Really, the lottery will ultimately decide who hears his named called first on June 26, as the top pick will come down to a question of best fit.
Parker is most ready to contribute right away. Flashing an ability to score from every part of the court, the 6'8", 235-pound star has defensive issues but is a good bet for 15 points per game as a rookie.
Wiggins and Embiid have higher ceilings, but they are bigger projects. The Canadian has freakish athleticism and drool-worthy physical tools, while the Cameroonian has a gaudy blend of size, agility and feel for the game. There are concerns about the latter's health, but he also comes at a more premium position.
ESPN's Seth Greenberg summed it up:
If a team that is built to contend immediately wins the lottery, the top pick will likely be Parker. If a franchise still in rebuild mode lands the top spot, the honor will go to Wiggins or Embiid.
No matter how it shakes out, though, the three teams that draft these young gentlemen will come out as winners.
That's not to say there is a shortage of talent after that trio, though. Julius Randle is an explosive, powerful big man. Marcus Smart is a difference-maker on the defensive end with potential on offense. Australian Dante Exum, the most mysterious talent at the top of draft boards, is an electrifying combo guard with the ability to fill it up in a hurry.
No matter what order you want to arrange this group, it's as talented of a top-six as we've seen in quite some time—and we haven't even mentioned studs like Aaron Gordon, Noah Vonleh, Gary Harris and the best college basketball player on the planet, Doug McDermott.
This year's class is worth the hype, and the teams that put themselves in position for a high draft pick will soon be reaping the benefits.