The sports world is in mock-draft mode, but the majority of that is dedicated to the NFL. Flying under the radar is one of the deepest NBA drafts we’ve seen in years—as you’re about to see in this 2014 NBA mock draft. Talented players are on the board all the way into the second round, which means there will be a sizable influx of young talent to bring fresh blood into the association.
Before we get to the picks, some logistical information. Firstly, the full draft order has yet to be determined, so these picks are based on regular-season records.
Secondly, we’re not sure which players are entering the draft or not, so some of the players in this mock draft will not enter the draft.
Now, to the podium where Adam Silver is about to announce his first-ever first-round draft pick.
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
The combination of injury concerns and the duo of John Henson and Larry Sanders (assuming Sanders gets his act together) makes the Bucks pass on Joel Embiid and add star power to their perimeter.
Andrew Wiggins was picked apart during his lone year at Kansas, but he still had a spectacular year. He may not walk into the NBA as a superstar, but he still has every tool you could dream of. He is definitely going to be an elite perimeter defender at the next level, and his improving three-point shot should help him round out his offensive game.
Furthermore, the upside is tantalizing if he can put it all together. Milwaukee makes the easy pick and locks up the “surest” player in the draft.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
It’s back-to-back Jayhawks to open the draft, as there’s no way Joel Embiid should slip past pick No. 2. Given the depressing roster the 76ers trotted out there during the season, virtually every position is an area of need, and Embiid has too much upside to pass on—assuming that his back injury isn’t a long-term concern.
In fact, if Embiid is fully healthy, the Sixers may have landed the steal of the draft at pick No. 2. That’s how good he can be.
He is unquestionably raw, but that’s to be expected given how new he is to the game. At the very least, he gives you top-10 rim protection, which is in itself a very valuable thing. Nerlens Noel is better suited to play power forward anyway given his frame and athleticism, and the twin towers duo would be nearly impossible to finish against at the rim.
Embiid has the highest ceiling of any player in this draft, and the trio of Embiid, Noel and Michael Carter-Williams could make the tankapalooza thing completely worthwhile.
3. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia
Taking Jabari Parker or Julius Randle might be tempting here, but the Magic have a few intriguing forwards like Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson. Furthermore, while Dante Exum is a question mark, he would be the perfect complement to Victor Oladipo in the backcourt.
For starters, Exum’s size (6’6”) and defensive versatility would cover up Oladipo’s (6’4”) lack of height against bigger 2-guards.
Moreover, the Magic experimented with Oladipo as their point guard but his vision and playmaking skills aren’t quite ready for him to take on the role of primary ball-handler and facilitator.
Exum, on the other hand, has shown the ability to be a true point guard despite his towering frame. While he could play shooting guard, ESPN’s Chad Ford reports that he “really wants to be an NBA point guard.”
With a young core of players in the frontcourt, Orlando would be best served taking the Australian playmaker and giving them a star-studded backcourt.
4. Utah Jazz: Jabari Parker, SF/PF, Duke
Talk about a perfect fit. Much has been made about Jabari Parker’s religious beliefs (Mormonism) and how he would be an instant star in Utah. While some may consider that overblown, it’s important to remember that such a trait is a huge consideration for a small-market team that has trouble attracting the bigger free agents.
Parker’s religion makes him more likely to stay in Utah than other prospects, and that’s a huge check in the pros column for the Jazz front office.
Then there’s the fact that he is a legitimately tremendous basketball player. If he’s on the board, there’s no way they pass on him.
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated breaks down Parker’s strengths and weaknesses:
Parker has proved to be a prolific college scorer (19.1 points per game), a strong rebounder (8.7) and a developing three-point shooter (35.8 percent). His defensive problems against Mercer were a high-profile reminder of Parker's biggest question marks. Teams still aren't sure which forward position Parker will play in the NBA -- or if he can defend either one. Still, a strong-scoring/weak-defending forward can thrive in the NBA. Right, Carmelo?
Despite those defensive and athletic shortcomings, Parker is a tough, smart basketball player who understands how to fit into team concepts to win. He can help change the culture in Utah with Trey Burke.
5. Boston Celtics: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
This pick doesn’t really fill a huge need, considering that “a more athletic Jared Sullinger” is a comparison you’ll often hear about Julius Randle. Furthermore, this pick may change drastically depending on what (if anything) happens to Rajon Rondo—with Marcus Smart being the likely pick to replace Rondo in the event of a trade.
But Randle is the best player still on the board. His ability to finish against length and “tweener” status are concerns, but his offensive versatility and athleticism would be hard to pass up.
6. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
Marcus Smart’s decision to return to Stillwater was a nightmare, and that will prompt scouts and fans to overanalyze the situation. Don’t fall into that trap.
Yes, his shooting form needs work, but the positives greatly outweigh the negatives. He’s a fierce competitor, a pesky defender at the point guard position, a physically gifted man and a true point guard.
He barrels his way to the rack at will and rebounds very well for his position, too. The Lakers need to think about life without Kobe Bean Bryant, but Smart can contribute alongside Kobe in the meantime.
7. Sacramento Kings: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
The Sacramento Kings have far too much talent to be picking this high in the draft, but they find themselves in the top 10 yet again and can snag Noah Vonleh at pick No. 7.
For starters, power forward is the only glaring need on the roster, but Vonleh fits in nicely with the team.
He’s athletically gifted but offensively challenged. Fortunately, with talented scorers like DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas around him, the Hoosier can focus on grabbing rebounds and blocking shots.
8. Detroit Pistons: Aaron Gordon, SF/PF, Arizona
This roster is a mess, filled with parts that don’t fit well together. The good thing about Aaron Gordon is that he is totally flexible in terms of system and position—he’ll just do whatever it takes to win.
Gordon is a tremendously versatile defender who plays hard, and he could form a terrifying defensive frontcourt with Andre Drummond and Josh Smith.
Greg Monroe’s status is still up in the air, but Gordon would be a magnificent replacement for him.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Realistically, a large part of this roster needs to be blown up, including finding a new running mate in the backcourt for Kyrie Irving. There have been plenty of reports of division between Irving and Dion Waiters, but Harris makes sense even if Waiters is kept on the roster.
Waiters needs the ball in his hands, so he makes much more sense as a sixth man who can run the show with the second unit.
Harris, on the other hand, is excellent with the ball in his hands and is a very good three-point shooter. The frontcourt is still a mess, and losing Luol Deng in free agency could force the front office to reach for a small forward like Doug McDermott or James Young, but Harris is the perfect marriage of fit, talent and value.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans Pelicans): Dario Saric, SF/PF, Croatia
Dario Saric’s NBA status is still up in the air, which could prevent him from going this early, but there are a few reasons to believe the Sixers would still pick him. For starters, they’ve shown the willingness to wait for prospects before and they clearly have a long-term plan in mind if they draft Joel Embiid. With such a young core, it might not bother the Sixers if Saric doesn’t come over right away.
More importantly, Saric is a tantalizing prospect with the talent to be a very good NBA player whenever he does come over to America.
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated again provides the breakdown:
Saric is having a terrific season for Croatia's KK Cibona, leading the Adriatic League in scoring and rebounding. Executives say he is physically stronger this year and has the polish to develop into a strong point forward.
Even though he’s 6’10”, he’s best suited as a small forward, and he would give the Sixers a crafty and proven scorer as well as the longest team in the NBA (Embiid, Noel, Saric and Carter-Williams win in a landslide).
11. Denver Nuggets (via New York Knicks): Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
The Nuggets are craving a shooting guard that can actually shoot from downtown, and while Nik Stauskas has pretty glaring defensive limitations, he can shoot the air out of a basketball.
Pairing a long-range bomber like Stauskas with the impossible-to-stay-in-front-of Ty Lawson would help both of them succeed.
12. Orlando Magic (via Denver Nuggets): Doug McDermott, PF, Creighton
As discussed before, the Magic have a number of intriguing young players in their frontcourt, but they could really use a knockdown shooter.
Doug McDermott is much more than “just” a shooter, however. He’s a crafty scorer with a variety of moves and fakes which allow him to finish around the rim, but he is an elite shooter who would be a very effective role player at the very least.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Rodney Hood, SF, Duke
Rodney Hood is a perfect fit for the Minnesota Timberwolves, as Zach Harper of CBSSports explains:
This may be the best-case scenario for the Wolves. They get to keep their pick and add a player who could be a starter at the small forward position. Hood can create shots for himself, others, and hit from downtown. He's exactly what the Wolves need.
The Timberwolves need all the floor-spacing they can get with Ricky “I Won’t Shoot” Rubio at the point guard position, and Hood gives them that.
Additionally, he’s a very solid perimeter defender. He’s a great choice for the T’Wolves.
14. Phoenix Suns: James Young, SG/SF, Kentucky
As a versatile wing who can score and defend, Young is a nice fit for the surprise team of last season. With the status of Eric Bledsoe and P.J. Tucker in the air, Young can come in and be a replacement for both thanks to his athleticism and size.
His outside shot needs work, but he has as much as any of the Kentucky freshmen and could be the best pro prospect of the bunch.
I’d say that’s good value at No. 14.
15. Atlanta Hawks: T.J. Warren, SF/PF, NC State
Upon first glance, this pick may look a little redundant with all the big bodies the Hawks have on the roster, but it makes sense for two reasons.
Firstly, while GM Danny Ferry would love to add a floor-stretching small forward, there isn’t one on the board right now that would make sense.
Furthermore, Paul Millsap’s contract comes off the books next year, and Warren would be able to step into that role if necessary.
Aside from fit, Warren is a deadly scorer who would give the Hawks a go-to option late in the shot clock or late in games.
16. Chicago Bulls (via Charlotte Bobcats): P.J. Hairston, SG/SF, D-League
After being dismissed by North Carolina, Hairston took his game to the D-League, where he played very well.
Scouts are enamored with his size, defense and shooting stroke, and he’d give the Bulls nice insurance in case Jimmy Butler leaves as well as a possible starting small forward.
17. Phoenix Suns (via Washington Wizards): Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
After addressing a position of need earlier in the draft, the Suns can afford to take a flier on a project with tremendous upside.
Even though the frontcourt did surprisingly well with players like Miles Plumlee and the Morris twins stepping up, Capela has amazing potential in the frontcourt.
It might take a few years, but he should be worth the wait.
18. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn Nets): Zach LaVine, SG, UCLA
Zach Harper of CBSSports explains why it would be hard for GM Danny Ainge to pass on LaVine at this point:
Throwing LaVine to Boston here gives them the potential of a dynamic, versatile backcourt mate for Rondo. He can score from all over, initiate the offense, and could help give them one of the toughest perimeter's to match up with on a nightly basis.
LaVine is an explosive athlete with tremendous upside who would be a great fit in Beantown.
19. Chicago Bulls: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
Assuming that this is the season when the Bulls finally amnesty Carlos Boozer, adding frontcourt depth is imperative. Fortunately, Adriean Payne falls right into their lap in this mock draft, and he’s a great fit.
Payne plays very hard on both ends of the court and can contribute immediately as a rotational big man.
Moreover, his ability to stretch the floor from the power forward spot is a nice bonus that could give Chicago intriguing pick-and-pop options with the duo of Derrick Rose and Payne.
20. Toronto Raptors: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
Tyler Ennis falls this far due to team needs in the teens and his unproven defense and athleticism. If he’s still on the board here, the Raptors absolutely have to draft him.
For starters, it would be a great boost for an already rabid fanbase to add a talented young Canadian player to “Canada’s Team.”
Additionally, Ennis can step in as the starting point guard from Day 1 in the event that Kyle Lowry finds a new home in free agency.
21. Memphis Grizzlies: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
The Grizzlies could really use an upgrade at the small forward position unless you think they’re happy starting an over-the-hill Tayshaun Prince.
McDaniels brings defense, athleticism and solid scoring ability—three traits Memphis would happily welcome.
22. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Dallas Mavericks): Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
The Thunder could really use some perimeter shooting, but they’ll take a flier on the best player available.
Despite his conference, that’s Cleanthony Early. He plays hard on both ends of the court and displayed an improved three-point shot last year—a skill the Thunder definitely need.
23. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Jerami Grant, SF/PF, Syracuse
This pick doesn’t really fill a great need after selecting Parker earlier in the draft, but Grant is definitely the best player still on the board, and his elite athleticism means the Jazz can find a spot for him somewhere in the rotation.
He plays hard on defense, is a tough rebounder and has the potential to play as an undersized power forward if he puts on more weight.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (via Portland Trailblazers): C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington
The Bobcats played surprisingly good defense this season, but they need more offensive firepower, which makes C.J. Wilcox the pick here.
Wilcox can shoot and break you down off the dribble, and he’d be a nice fit in the backcourt alongside Kemba Walker.
25. Houston Rockets: Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA
That Kyle Anderson falls this far shows exactly why he’s such an intriguing and mysterious prospect. He is clearly talented and has a really high basketball IQ, but he’s not athletic, and it’s uncertain whether he’ll be able to guard his position in the pros.
Nevertheless, the value is just too good to pass up at this point, and he gives the Rockets a nice playmaker for the secondary unit.
26. Miami Heat: Roy Devyn Marble, SF, Iowa
The Heat roster could look very different depending on what happens in free agency, but the current team needs more scoring and shooting.
That’s what Roy Devyn Marble provides in spades. He’s a heat-check guy who can get hot from beyond the arc and also has the ability to put it on the floor and get buckets.
27. Phoenix Suns (via Indiana Pacers): Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG, Serbia
Bogdanovic could come in right away and take Gerald Green’s spot as the sixth man thanks to his ability to light it up from downtown.
He also provides insurance at shooting guard in case Eric Bledsoe leaves in free agency.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Mitch McGary, C, Michigan
Even though he missed most of last season, the Clippers would rapidly pull the trigger on adding more frontcourt depth to their roster.
McGary can’t score, but he’s a solid finisher that would thrive with Chris Paul setting him up. His energy, rebounding and screen-setting ability (an overlooked skill) make him a perfect fit for the Clips.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin
Sam Dekker gives OKC the perimeter shooting it so desperately needs. He won’t give you much else at the professional level, but the Thunder don’t have many needs so they would be satisfied with adding a proven shooter.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Mario Hezonja, SG, Croatia
Not only do the Spurs love drafting foreign players, but Hezonja is an exceptionally talented player who could use a couple more years in Europe. Sounds like a Spurs-like move to me.