With the NBA playoffs finally about to get under way, the 2014 NBA draft is now the sole focus for the unlucky—or perhaps, unskilled—teams that won't play another game until the 2014-15 campaign.
Rebuilding teams will focus all of their attention to the draft in hopes of finding a budding star (or two, in some cases) to reshape the franchise. Not all rebuilders are in the market for a franchise-saving player, but there are certainly a few on the lookout.
There doesn't appear to be a player like Anthony Davis or LeBron James in this year's class, but the crop of talent is deep. Barring something drastic, it will be difficult for teams to make a bad selection.
This mock represents the pick that would be best for each of the NBA's 30 franchises.
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, G/F, Kansas
The Bucks are staying in Milwaukee, and the best thing for the franchise would to grab the guy with the highest ceiling at No. 1. That player is, without a doubt, Andrew Wiggins. Sure, there are stretches of games where he's almost non-existent, but Wiggins can take over with his athleticism and natural talent.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
In a special column he wrote for SI.com regarding his decision to enter the NBA draft, Jabari Parker keyed us all in on why he chose the NBA:
Ultimately, I boiled my decision down to two simple questions:
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.
Parker has a ton of potential, but he appeared lost in the NCAA tournament. Parker might not be able to handle the bright lights just yet, but that shouldn't be an issue for the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers are a few years away from serious contention. By then, Parker should be a stud.
3. Orlando Magic: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
The Orlando Magic have needs across the board. With Wiggins and Parker already off the board at No. 3, Orlando will be forced to look to the draft's top center—Joel Embiid. Dewayne Dedmon and Jason Maxiell aren't the future for Orlando. Embiid will be.
4. Utah Jazz: Dante Exum, G, Australia
Dante Exum might still rise up into the top three of this draft. Many NBA executives have yet to watch him in person, and the combine will be the first opportunity for many to witness his talent.
What they'll find is that he has an explosive first step and an improving jumper. He has the size (6'6", 188 pounds) to succeed as a point guard or shooting guard, but his quickness translates better to the point. Utah would love him, but that's if he doesn't go a pick or two higher.
5. Boston Celtics: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
Yes, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk are young big men on the Boston Celtics. So why do they need another, you ask?
Well, that's because Julius Randle would be too great of a talent to pass up here. Randle can score in the paint, and he can also score with his mid-range jumper. Having roster flexibility isn't an issue for rebuilding teams; it's a benefit. If the Celtics are approached by another GM with a trade offer for a young big man, they'll have the flexibility to make a move.
6. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
Steve Nash won't be around forever—despite what he might want us all to think. Next season will probably be his last, so grabbing a young point guard for him to tutor would be ideal. Marcus Smart could benefit from Nash's wisdom.
Kobe Bryant will also be back next year, and Mitch Kupchak thinks he'll be ready for training camp:
With Nash and Bryant teaching Smart how to be both a facilitator and a scorer, the sky is the limit for him.
7. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
Aaron Gordon can't shoot at all, but his athleticism and skills on defense and on the glass make him a safe selection for the Sacramento Kings at No. 7. His offensive game has plenty of room for improvement, but the aforementioned aspects of his game are NBA-ready. Pairing him with DeMarcus Cousins would be a lethal combination on defense.
8. Detroit Pistons: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
According to his agent, Misko Raznatovic, Dario Saric will be declaring for the NBA draft very soon, via DraftExpress.net:
"Dario will declare for the 2014 draft in the next seven days for sure, what's a logical step after the best season in his career. He was voted the best young player in Europe by FIBA, as well as MVP of the Adriatic League."
The Detroit Pistons need a small forward, and while there will be a learning curve for Saric, he should do well with little expectations in Detroit.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Noah Vonleh, F/C, Indiana
The Cleveland Cavaliers need help in the frontcourt. Indiana's Noah Vonleh isn't an offensive machine, but his length helps him effectively redirect shots and grab boards above the rim. The Cavs wouldn't run him out there consistently until he improved on offense, but he's the type of pick that can pay major dividends in a few years.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans): Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
Trading Evan Turner created a need at the 2 for the Sixers. Nik Stauskas' ability to shoot lights out from deep makes him an attractive target for Philly, even if Gary Harris has the more complete game. Stauskas is a playmaker, however, and the instant offense he can provide will help this team tremendously.
11. Denver Nuggets (via New York): Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
After seeing Stauskas go off the board at No. 10, the Denver Nuggets will jump all over Harris with the next pick.
Harris scored 1,025 points in two seasons at Michigan State, despite shooting just 35.3 percent from deep last season. He isn't just an offensive player, however. Harris earned All-Big Ten Defensive Team honors last season as well.
12. Orlando Magic (via Denver): Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
Again, with holes across the board, it will be difficult for the Magic to mess up at No. 12. They desperately need a point guard to run the show, and Tyler Ennis is the right guy for the job. He put together a strong season at Syracuse and was also able to provide us with a few highlights:
He'll play a big role right away in Orlando.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: James Young, SG, Kentucky
James Young had an up and down freshman year at Kentucky, but the guy can shoot. Minnesota could use a few shooters to get to the next level, and Young can have a hand in that improvement right out of training camp.
Shot selection can be an issue for him at times, but that's nothing some NBA coaching and situational preparedness can't fix.
14. Phoenix Suns: T.J. Warren, SF, N.C. State
T.J. Warren is different in that he's a small forward that lacks a polished outside game. Instead, he plays well inside and simply knows how to get the ball in the basket. The Phoenix Suns were a playmaker away from making the playoffs in the tough Western Conference this year. Warren is the guy that can make the difference.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
Consistency at the center position has escaped the Atlanta Hawks, and while a raw talent, Jusuf Nurkic has the potential to solidify the spot. He is a physical player in the post that isn't afraid to rise up in traffic to finish at the rim or grab an offensive board.
16. Chicago Bulls (via Phoenix): Rodney Hood, F, Duke
Defense isn't Rodney Hood's specialty, so that in itself makes this an interesting selection for the defensively sound Chicago Bulls. But his ability to shoot from deep (42 percent last season) makes him an attractive target.
17. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn): Kyle Anderson, G, UCLA
Kyle Anderson is a big point guard that isn't necessarily the most physically gifted. He isn't a superb athlete, but he's a facilitator that knows how to make plays. Rajon Rondo might not be in Boston for long (but then again, who knows?), making Anderson a smart pick. He can learn under Rondo for now and take the reigns from him if the situation presents itself.
18. Phoenix Suns (via Washington): Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
Doug McDermott is an NBA-ready scorer that can step in and play valuable minutes for the Phoenix Suns out of training camp. He isn't very athletic, and his defense is iffy, so it's unknown as to how much success he'll actually have in the NBA. The Suns are in a position to take a risk with him due to his high upside as a scorer.
19. Chicago Bulls: P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends
P.J. Hairston can score inside and outside, and his versatility on offense will make him an attractive target around this time of the first round. Luckily for the Bulls, most teams drafting in this range will be in the market for forwards of some kind. If Hairston is here at No. 19, look for the Bulls to make the pick.
20. Toronto Raptors: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
The only real knock on Adreian Payne is that he is 23 years old. Otherwise, he's a very solid power forward. He can score inside the paint that can defend, rebound and convert from the charity stripe. He's mature as a player and won't try to play outside of himself or his role. He'd be a great fit for an exciting Raptors team.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Dallas): Jerami Grant, F, Syracuse
Jerami Grant is a tweener-forward with incredible athleticism and physical tools. The problem is that he's not really a small forward, and he's not really a power forward. He doesn't shoot well from the perimeter (0-of-5 this season from deep), but he's a little too small for the 4.
A team like the Oklahoma City Thunder can afford to give Grant the time to adjust to the NBA and find his niche. Once he does, this could be a steal at No. 21.
22. Memphis Grizzles: Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn
No player's stock soared higher than Shabazz Napier's this past month. The performance he put on during the NCAA tournament was unbelievable, and he earned himself a first-round selection as a result.
Mike Conley, Nick Calathes and Beno Udrih are the current point guards receiving playing time in Memphis, but Napier is easily an upgrade over the latter two. He also scores like a shooting guard, so he could wind up seeing minutes at the 2 as well.
23. Utah Jazz (via Golden State): K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
K.J. McDaniels is a top-notch shot-blocker at the small forward position that has great length and athleticism—albeit with an offensive skill set that needs improvement. Alongside Exum, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, McDaniels will be surrounded by enough talent to allow him to grow.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (via Portland): Bogdan Bogdanovic, G, Serbia
Bogdan Bogdanovic can shoot from deep, drive to the rim and facilitate for his teammates. The Charlotte Bobcats could use a shooter to play alongside Kemba Walker, and Bogdanovic fits the bill.
25. Houston Rockets: Clint Capela, F, France
The Houston Rockets love transition basketball, and Clint Capela excels in that system. He's athletic and mobile for a big man, plus his ceiling as a defensive prospect makes him a good pick for Houston at No. 25. The Rockets aren't many pieces away from an NBA Finals run—if any at all—and Capela could grow into a solid power forward in the future.
26. Miami Heat: Mitch McGary, PF, Michigan
Mitch McGary is a bit of a wild card here because of a back injury that ended his season in mid-December. If healthy, this is a great pick by Miami. If not, then it'll be a pick the team could end up regretting in the future.
McGary has the potential to post a double-double per night, though, so it's a risk that the Heat should take.
27. Phoenix Suns (via Indiana): Vasilije Micic, PG, Serbia
With their third first-round pick, the Phoenix Suns might look toward Serbian point guard Vasilije Micic. Just 20 years old, Micic is a smart guard that knows how to handle the ball and set up his teammates. He'll likely be stashed for a few years before seeing the court for the Suns, but Micic is worth the wait.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Zach LaVine, G, UCLA
Zach LaVine is ridiculously fast and very athletic, but he isn't very strong and not the most consistent shooter in the class. The Los Angeles Clippers are a great fit for his speed and athleticism, and the team has enough depth for him to sit behind veterans and learn the ins and outs before finding more prominent playing time.
LaVine looks like a future starter in the NBA if he can get stronger and find consistency.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Nick Johnson, SG, Arizona
Nick Johnson thrives in transition, and the Oklahoma City Thunder are a team that makes a living off transition buckets. Running the floor with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook would help take the pressure off of Johnson, as he would clearly be the No. 3 option in that trio.
Thabo Sefolosha and Jeremy Lamb get most of the time at shooting guard right now, but Johnson would command a majority of the minutes if taken here.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Glenn Robinson III, F, Michigan
Glenn Robinson needs to seriously improve from the perimeter to be a successful NBAer, but the San Antonio Spurs are a veteran team that would provide him with plenty of mentors. He has the potential to be a future rotation player, but it really all hinges on that shooting.
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