NBA Draft 2014: The Top 50 Big Board and Where Every Player Could Land

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterApril 22, 2014

NBA Draft 2014: The Top 50 Big Board and Where Every Player Could Land

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    The 2014 NBA draft field is beginning to take shape with deadlines coming and going for prospects in the NCAA.

    Next up is the NBA combine, which takes place in Chicago and runs from May 14-18. The NBA lottery goes down on May 20, and the NBA early entry withdrawal date (for international prospects) follows on June 16.

    From now until then, expect prospects to be in training mode for the big day.

    Our big board is a ranking of the top 50 prospects who've either declared for the draft or are expected to declare, not the order in which we're projecting them to be selected. For the rankings, we've taken a number of different factors into account and weighed them appropriately. Upside, NBA-readiness, work ethic—these are just some of the things we're looking for when determining who's going to thrive after college. 

    Any prospect who's announced that he'll be returning to school has been left off this board. 

     

     Stats courtesy of ESPN, Sports-Reference.com, Draftexpress.com and Eurobasket.com

50. Dwight Powell, Stanford, 6'10", PF, Senior

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    USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Projection: Second Round

    Draft Status: Auto-Eligible 

    Dwight Powell didn't take the jump he needed to make in order to boost his NBA draft stock, but there's still some talent and potential left in that athletic, 6'10", 240-pound frame. 

    Powell averaged 14 points a game this season, right around where he was last year, only his rebounding and three-point numbers both took major hits. 

    He's a big man who tends to drift on the perimeter, looking stuck somewhere between the 3 and 5 positions. But there's no doubting Powell's skills as a face-up and back-to-the-basket scorer—just where they fit in an NBA offense. 

    For what it's worth, he passes the eye test, and chances are he'll look sharp in individual workouts. 

49. Johnny O'Bryant, LSU, 6'9", PF, Junior

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected Draft Range: Second Round

    Draft Status: Declared

    Johnny O'Bryant averaged 15.4 points a game as a junior at LSU, though his rebounding fell off and his ugly turnover rate of 3.2 per game remained the same. 

    He sure has the physical build of an NBA power forward at 6'9", 256 pounds. O'Bryant combines strength with touch in the post, where he can create his own shot at the low block or elbow.

    In three contests against Kentucky's big front line, O'Bryant went for 29 points and nine boards in the first, 20 and 12 in the second and 18 and seven in the third. 

    He has to improve his decision-making and shot selection, and he must continue polishing up that jumper, but O'Bryant has a game worth gambling on in the second round.

48. Aaron Harrison, Kentucky, 6'6", SG, Freshman

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected Draft Range: Second Round

    Draft Status: Undecided

    Despite his postseason heroics, the game-winning jumpers Aaron Harrison nailed didn't answer the questions scouts have had all year. Everything about him seemed average, from his shooting and scoring to his athleticism and defense. 

    He did score 13.7 points a night, and he's shown a nice feel for the game playing off the ball, whether he's spotting up, pulling up or slicing through the lane. Harrison can knock down shots in a variety of different ways, and he's got the size for the position to get them off. 

    But without any standout strengths, he just hasn't given NBA decision-makers a reason to reach for him in the draft.

47. Patric Young, Florida, 6'9", PF/C, Senior

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    Projected Draft Range: Second Round/Undrafted

    Draft Status: Auto-Eligible

    Patric Young was the anchor for the top defensive team in the country, and he was also the SEC's Defensive Player of the Year. 

    That might be his calling in the pros, given that his scoring average has risen less than a point over the past three years. 

    He's a finishing target off lobs and dunks, but Young's sales pitch to the NBA should center around the physical presence he offers as an interior enforcer. 

    And I could think of a number of teams that could get tougher up front. Young is worth a second-round pick for a team with an immediate need for his specialty.

46. James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina, 6'9", PF, Junior

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected Draft Range: Second Round

    Draft Status: Declared

    When James Michael McAdoo had guys like Kendall Marshall, Harrison Barnes and John Henson to play off in 2012, he looked great sticking to his strengths as an off-ball playmaker. Tip-in dunks, backdoor lobs, slashes to the rim, fast-break buckets—that's McAdoo's bread and butter.

    Over the past two seasons, he struggled as a featured member of the offense forced to create his own shots and scoring opportunities. 

    The good news is that McAdoo will be able to resume his role as an off-ball playmaker in the pros, where he'll have more talent around him and less responsibility. 

    The bad news is that McAdoo didn't hit one three-pointer in three years at North Carolina, and he never finished a season above 64 percent from the line. 

    His ceiling looks a bit lower than it did a few years ago, but late in the draft, it's worth a second-round pick to see what he can do with better players to play off.

45. Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee, 6'8", PF, Junior

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected Draft Range: Second Round

    Draft Status: Declared

    Jarnell Stokes averaged a double-double for Tennessee this season, and it's not hard to figure out why. At 6'8", 260 pounds, Stokes uses his butt and wide frame to carve out space, and his nose for the ball and soft hands to make plays on the glass or at the rim. 

    Offensively, he's got some nice footwork and a back-to-the-basket game, but he's not much of a face-up scorer or shooter. Stokes also looks smaller than his listed height, and it will be interesting to see how he measures at the NBA combine. 

    As an undersized, under-the-rim power forward who can't defend the hoop or play outside the paint, Stokes' sales pitch will have to center around his rebounding and low-post game.

44. Russ Smith, Louisville, 6'0", PG/SG, Senior

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    USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Projection: Second Round

    Draft Status: Auto-Eligible

    Russ Smith changed his approach a little bit as a senior, and it likely improved his chances in this year's draft. 

    He raised his assist average to 4.6 from 2.9 a game—something he needed to do in order to avoid the undersized scorer label. Smith looked more like a playmaker this year, doing a more efficient job of picking his spots as a shooter and distributor. And in the process, he still dropped 18.2 points a game while improving his field-goal and three-point percentages significantly. 

    He might not have starting potential, but if I'm a team looking for a cheap source of offense or firepower off the bench, Smith seems like an ideal second-round pick. 

43. Markel Brown, Oklahoma State, 6'3", SG, Senior

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    Denis Poroy

    Projected Draft Range: Second Round

    Draft Status: Auto-Eligible 

    Markel Brown is up there with some of the top athletes in the draft field, and over the course of his four-year career at Oklahoma State, he's added some skills to match the hops. 

    Brown developed a lethal mid-range game that he can generate on his own with pull-up and step-back jumpers. He also improved as a passer and playmaker, finishing the season with a career-high 2.9 assists a game.

    At 6'3", he's clearly undersized for a 2-guard, but as a potential defensive ball-stopper at the point and opportunistic scorer off the ball, there's a place for a kid with this type of athleticism and skill.

42. Bogdan Bogdanovic, Serbia, 6'6", SG/SF, 1992

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    Projected Draft Range: Late First Round to Second Round

    Draft Status: Expected to Declare 

    Bogdan Bogdanovic is having a big year for Partizan, averaging 14.8 points and 3.7 assists on 37 percent shooting from downtown in Euroleague. 

    He has great size for the wing to match some crafty playmaking ability off the dribble. Bogdanovic does a real nice job of finding those openings in the defense and attacking them as either a driver or shooter.

    His jumper has ultimately become his go-to offensive weapon—in 46 Euroleague and Adriatic League games combined, he hit 97 three-pointers.

    A crafty passer and perimeter scorer, Bogdanovic has been one of Europe's most productive players in 2013-14. 

41. Andrew Harrison, Kentucky, 6'6", PG, Freshman

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    USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Range: Late First Round to Second Round

    Draft Status: Undecided

    Andrew Harrison had trouble applying his talent to the point guard position at the college level, though he did step it up in the NCAA tournament, specifically against Louisville and Wichita State, when he combined for 34 points and 10 assists.

    He's obviously skilled with the ball in his hands—Harrison's handle meshed with his size allows him to play over the defense as a passer and shooter. 

    But it's his poor decision-making and minimal athleticism that caused him to struggle so frequently as a primary playmaker. Harrison has trouble beating his man off the dribble, which resulted in contested shots and passes, made evident by his disastrous 36.7 percent field-goal percentage and 4-2.7 assist-to-turnover ratio. 

    Though skilled, Harrison has some major adjustments to make if he wants to crack a rotation. 

     

40. DeAndre Daniels, Connecticut, 6'9", SF, Junior

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    USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Range: Late First Round to Second Round

    Draft Status: Declared 

    DeAndre Daniels broke out at just the right time for both his team and NBA draft stock. 

    He always looked the part, but he played it in the NCAA tournament, when he dropped 20 points on Florida and 27 on Iowa State.

    At 6'9", Daniels is a smooth athlete with long arms, and he can finish above the rim or create his own shot in the mid-range. This year, he raised his three-point percentage to 41.7 percent from 30 percent, a good sign moving forward, given Daniels looked more like a tweener without a jumper as a sophomore. 

    A late bloomer on the scene, Daniels still has plenty of polishing up to do, but he's got the physical tools and skill set that's going to attract some NBA attention. 

39. Isaiah Austin, Baylor, 7'1", PF/C, Sophomore

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    USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Range: Late First Round to Second Round

    Draft Status: Declared 

    At 7'1", Isaiah Austin's remarkable size and refined skill made him a prospect to watch out of high school. But in two years at Baylor, he's struggled to make a consistent impact and ultimately find his sweet spots on the floor. 

    At just 225 pounds, Austin isn't exactly an anchor in the middle, as he pulled in just 5.5 rebounds a game this season. However, he's got a real nice touch in the mid-range, and he's proven to be capable of stretching the floor as an outside threat. In the post, he's got the shot-making ability to convert over-the-shoulder with the turnaround or jump hook.

    He also blocked 3.1 shots a game this year, putting his length and reach to good use. 

    Austin was invisible far too often at Baylor, but don't be surprised to see a general manager ignore his college production and draft him earlier based on potential. 

38. Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado, 6'6", PG/SG, Junior

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    USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Range: Second Round

    Draft Status: Undecided

    Spencer Dinwiddie suffered a torn ACL back in January, and it's obviously something that's going to dent his 2014 draft stock. But at full strength, we're talking about a first-round talent. 

    At 6'6", he's got the handle and vision to run the point, along with the scoring skill set to play off the ball. Before going down, he was averaging 14.7 points and 3.8 assists to only 1.8 turnovers a game. He's a danger in the drive-and-dish game, and he's averaged at least seven free-throw attempts per game in each of his last two seasons. 

    Dinwiddie was also hitting 41.3 percent of his three-pointers prior to the injury, and his pull-up game has been a strength throughout his college career. 

    Considering explosiveness was never a big part of his game, his torn ACL shouldn't shatter his future outlook. You probably won't find this type of backcourt versatility anywhere else in the second round. 

37. Nick Johnson, Arizona, 6'3", PG/SG, Junior

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    NBA Draft Range: Late First Round to Second Round

    Draft Status: Declared

    Nick Johnson's best opportunity to boost his stock might come in May at the NBA combine, where he'll be able to show off his jaw-dropping hops and sick athletic ability up close. 

    On the floor, he's a bit of a tweener at the pro level, without the size to play the 2 or the instincts to run the point. 

    I like Johnson as a spark off the bench who can pressure ball-handlers, create off the dribble, connect from outside and finish high above the rim. 

    As a 6'3" scorer, Johnson probably isn't a full-time player, but between his athleticism, motor, shot-making skills and IQ, he's definitely got something positive to offer.

36. Jordan Clarkson, Missouri, 6'5", PG/SG, Junior

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    USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Range: Late First Round to Second Round

    Draft Status: Declared

    Jordan Clarkson is your textbook combo guard who handles the ball and creates with a score-first mindset. 

    He averaged 17.5 points and 3.4 assists, acting as Missouri's primary playmaker. At 6'5", he's got an excellent blend of size, quickness and athleticism, which he uses to penetrate the perimeter, score in the lane and drive-and-kick to teammates. 

    Clarkson didn't shoot the ball particularly well this year, having made only 28.1 percent of his three-pointers, but he did hit 83.1 percent of his free throws, and when locked in, he showed he can knock down shots in bunches.

    He doesn't have a true NBA position, but there's some offensive upside here if Clarkson can improve his shooting range and consistency.  

     

35. Mitch McGary, Michigan, 6'10", PF/C, Sophomore

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    USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Range: Second Round

    Draft Status: Undecided

    Mitch McGary missed most of the year with a back injury, but despite providing scouts with such a small sample size to evaluate, it's pretty clear what he's bringing to the table. 

    At 6'10", McGary has the mobility to run the floor and a nose for the ball to dominate the glass. He also has soft hands and excellent passing instincts out of the post, and in limited doses we've seen him knock down that elbow jumper.

    He'll be 22 years old coming off a serious back injury by draft day, so he'll need to really impress in workouts to generate legitimate first-round interest.

34. Deonte Burton, Nevada, 6'1", PG, Senior

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    USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Range: Late First Round to Second Round

    Draft Status: Auto-Eligible

    One of the most explosive guards in the country, Deonte Burton went on to average 20.1 points a game as a senior for the Wolf Pack, converting at an impressive 47.1 percent rate from the floor. 

    He's athletic, strong and physical, and with above-the-rim hops he's awfully tough to contain as an attacker. Burton was really efficient this year, finishing 55 percent of his two-point attempts. He also sported a beautiful 10.4 percent turnover percentage, averaging just two per game on the year despite having the ball in his hands often. 

    Burton's job was to score for Nevada, but he did manage to average a career-high 4.4 assists this season. 

    He's been on a losing team, so there really hasn't been much buzz following him. But Burton might be one of the sneakiest late-round pickups in this draft.

33. Jerami Grant, Syracuse, 6'8", SF/PF, Sophomore

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    USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Range: Mid-First Round to Late First Round

    Draft Status: Declared

    The eye test confirms that Jerami Grant fits the profile of an NBA forward. But at this point, he just doesn't have the skill set to match the tools. 

    Long, mobile and wildly athletic, Grant does most of his damage in the paint off one-dribble drives, lobs, cuts and putbacks off offensive rebounds. And with the ability to explode above the rim and the coordination to catch-and-finish everything around it, he's a tough cover off the ball. 

    However, at 6'8", 210 pounds, Grant doesn't exactly have the strength or post game to play the 4. And considering how limited he is off the dribble, along with the fact he didn't make one three-pointer as a sophomore, it's tough to picture him playing small forward. 

    He's shown promise in the mid-range, but if Grant can't stretch the floor by playing behind the arc, he could be vulnerable to falling between positions. 

32. Glenn Robinson III, Michigan, 6'6", SF, Sophomore

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    NBA Draft Range: Late First Round to Second Round

    Draft Status: Declared

    Glenn Robinson III looked good in spurts and stretches, but his tendency to drift has kept his draft stock in check.

    As a sophomore, Robinson struggled to consistently assert himself without a setup man like Trey Burke in the lineup. 

    You saw the talent in flashes—he's a high-flyer in the open floor, a target for lobs and cuts and a threat on the perimeter. Scouts had just wished they saw more of a steady stream of production.

    Despite failing to make that sophomore jump, Robinson declared for the draft, and I'm not sure I blame him. He might be better off developing around better playmakers and under more concentrated individual coaching. 

31. Damien Inglis, France, 6'9", SF, 1995

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    NBA Draft Range: Late First Round to Second Round 

    Draft Status: Expected to Declare

    Damien Inglis was invited to take part at this year's Nike Hoop Summit, after first standing out at last year's Nike International Junior Tournament in London.

    Inglis' role for his team in France was limited this year, and he got only 15 minutes for the World Team during the summit. But at just 18 years old, his potential seem obvious, particularly on the defensive end. 

    He measured in at 6'8.5" with a ridiculous 7'3" wingspan for a small forward. With those measurements, along with his quickness and athleticism, Inglis projects as an exceptionally versatile defensive weapon. 

    Offensively, he can handle the ball, get to the rack and knock down shots from the perimeter. He's also an excellent passer, and he made a number of pretty dishes against Team USA. 

    The sample size he's given scouts is small, but the upside he's flashed is big. I'm a fan. 

30. C.J. Wilcox, Washington, 6'5", SG, Senior

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    USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Projection: Late First Round to Second Round

    Draft Status: Auto-Eligible 

    Anyone out there looking for a shooting specialist should have C.J. Wilcox's name highlighted on their boards. He nailed 301 three-pointers in four years at Washington, finishing each season above 36 percent from downtown. 

    He can shoot off the catch or off the dribble, guarded or open. And at 6'5" with a quick release, there's good reason to believe he'll continue to get off shots in his wheelhouse. 

    There isn't much upside here, but if there's a playoff team looking for a sniper, Wilcox could be an option in that late first round. 

29. Vasilije Micic, Serbia, 6'4", PG, 1994

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    NBA Draft Range: Late First Round to Second Round

    Draft Status: Declared

    Vasilije Micic turned heads against USA at Eurocamp last summer, and he carried his strong play into 2014 for Mega Vizura. Micic finished third in the Adriatic League in assists this season, a reflection of his pure point guard instincts as a passer and facilitator. 

    Though not overly quick or explosive, Micic finds ways to get to his spots on the floor, and at 6'4", he's able to see it without a problem.

    Micic's upside and defensive outlook both appear limited, and he just fractured his hand, though it's not expected to keep him out long.

    He looks like your prototypical backup point guard at this stage, assuming he's able to keep up with the speed on the perimeter. 

28. T.J. Warren, North Carolina State, 6'8", SF, Sophomore

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    USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Range: Mid-to-Late First Round

    Draft Status: Declared

    T.J. Warren should stir up some interesting debate in draft rooms, considering he finished No. 3 in the country in scoring.

    He averaged 24.9 points per game as a sophomore, and at 6'8" he's got the size and mobility to play small forward in the pros. But with short arms, limited shooting range and underwhelming explosiveness, it's fair to question how well his game will translate.

    He made just 26.7 percent of his three-pointers this season, and you don't see too many wings who can't stretch the floor as a shooter. 

    Still, Warren managed to make 58 percent of his two-point attempts. Pull-ups, floaters, runners, turnaround jumpers, fast breaks—he finds ways to score in a variety of different ways inside the arc.

    If he's ever able to extend that range and become a consistent long-range threat, Warren could be a steal in that mid-to-late first round. 

27. Jabari Brown, Missouri, 6'5", SG, Junior

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    USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Range: Late First Round to Second Round

    Draft Status: Declared

    Jabari Brown blew up for 19.9 points as a junior, lighting up defenses from every spot on the floor. 

    He nailed 2.3 three-pointers a game at a 41 percent clip, showing off that quick, effortless release and deep shooting range. 

    Brown complemented his jumper with a strong attack game—he got to the line 7.6 times a night and didn't seem scared to take and give contact. 

    His weaknesses stem from his uninspiring defensive effort, but in a supporting role, his ability to knock down shots and finish plays off the ball is really on point. 

    I've got Brown pegged as one of this year's biggest sleepers. 

26. K.J. McDaniels, Clemson, 6'6", SG/SF, Junior

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    USA TODAY Sports

    NBA Draft Range: Mid-First Round to Second Round

    Draft Status: Declared

    K.J. McDaniels had a breakout year in Clemson, and he's emerged as a name to watch on the NBA draft front.

    Easily one of the top athletes in the country, McDaniels spent a good portion of his time above the rim his junior year, where he blocked 100 shots and led the ACC with 2.8 per game. 

    Offensively, he's got a quick first step and an explosive last one. A strong driver and terrific finisher, McDaniels is at his best on his way to the rack.

    His perimeter scoring game has been what's holding him back—he shot just 30.4 percent from downtown, and he missed a number of tough, long two-pointers. 

    McDaniels ultimately has to do a better job of creating and converting his looks away from the basket, but his two-way upside seems strong enough to generate first-round interest. 

25. P.J. Hairston, Texas Legends, 6'6", SG

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    Sergio Hentschel/Getty Images

    NBA Draft Range: Mid-First Round to Second Round

    Draft Status: Expected to Declare

    P.J. Hairston averaged 21.8 points a game with the Texas Legends of the D-League, showcasing that smooth perimeter scoring arsenal. He's got a quick release from downtown and the ability to separate for a jumper off the dribble. 

    At 6'6" with long arms, imposing strength and NBA-level athleticism, Hairston has the physical makeup of a pro 2-guard. He gets to and finishes at the rim before or after contact. 

    Hairston aces the eye test, and if he performs well in workouts against some of the college guys he didn't get to face in 2013-14, he could be a candidate to rise up boards during the predraft process. 

24. Shabazz Napier, Connecticut, 6'1", PG, Senior

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    NBA Draft Range: Mid-First Round to Second Round

    Draft Status: Auto-Eligible

    It took all four years, but Shabazz Napier will enter the draft with his stock having peaked.

    He was awfully convincing during his NCAA tournament run. He's quick, elusive and dangerous from outside, but the one thing that stood out about Napier was his confidence and presence. He commanded that Connecticut offense.

    Napier is a shifty breakdown guard with point guard vision, a money pull-up jumper and three-point range.

    If I'm a team looking for an NBA-ready backup, Napier seems like a cost-effective option in this year's mid-to-late first round. 

23. Kyle Anderson, UCLA, 6'9", PG/SF, Sophomore

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    Projected Draft Range: Mid-First to Late First Round 

    NBA Draft Range: Declared

    Versatile or tweener? Kyle Anderson will probably remain one of the tougher prospects to peg, given his unique blend of physical tools and skills. 

    Anderson just has a natural feel for that point guard position, which, at 6'9", is pretty darn unusual. He averaged 14.6 points, 8.8 boards and 6.5 assists per game this year, stats that reflect the mismatch he presented on a night-to-night basis. 

    But with slow feet and minimal athleticism, there are major questions surrounding his defensive position and offensive outlook. 

    On the other hand, Anderson could be the steal of the draft if he finds the right setting that allows him to play to his strengths. 

22. Clint Capela, Switzerland, 6'11", PF/C, 1994

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    NBA Draft Range: Mid-First Round to Second Round

    Draft Status: Declared

    Clint Capela didn't really move the needle at this year's Nike Hoop Summit, where he finished with just five points and three boards in 14 minutes of action. At this point, he's just a little too limited offensively to offer much at the NBA level. 

    However, he did measure in at 6'11" with a massive 7'4.5" wingspan, which can be a problem for opposing frontcourts when paired with an above-the-rim athlete like Capela. 

    He's an explosive finisher around the rim with excellent shot-blocking and rebounding tools and instincts. 

    But if a team does take Capela in the first round, it's probably because they didn't feel anyone left could help them now.

21. Adreian Payne, Michigan State, 6'10", PF, Senior

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Projected Draft Range: Mid-First to Late First Round 

    Draft Status: Auto-Eligible

    By adding a legitimate jumper, Adreian Payne helped establish an identity for himself as a stretch power forward. 

    He nailed 44 three-pointers at a 42.3 percent clip this season, showing the ability to shoot off the catch or with the pull-up off the dribble. And he looks real smooth delivering it.

    Payne improved his low-post game as a scorer over the shoulder, and he remains a strong finishing target for dump-offs and lobs.

    He doesn't rebound particularly well for his position, and he averaged less than a block per game defensively. Add the fact he's already 23 years old, and Payne's ceiling appears limited. 

    But as a pick-and-pop or drive-and-kick target and physical presence on the interior, Payne should be worth a mid-first-round pick for a team looking for immediate depth up front. 

20. Rodney Hood, Duke, 6'8", SF, Sophomore

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    Projected Draft Range: Mid-First to Late First Round 

    Draft Status: Declared

    At 6'8" with deceptive athleticism and a sweet 42-percent three-point stroke, Rodney Hood could step into an NBA rotation and knock down shots immediately. 

    And that combination of size, mobility and outside accuracy is going to be his flotation device in the pros. If all else fails, he'll always have that ability to stretch the floor and shoot over the defense. 

    However, he struggles getting to the rack (3.9 free-throw attempts per game) and he doesn't rebound at all (3.9 boards per game). 

    Defensively, he lacks the lateral quickness to contain more athletic wings on the perimeter, and he finished with just 25 steals on the season. 

    There probably isn't much upside with Hood, but he'll be a nice mid-round option for a team that could use some shot-making and offensive versatility. 

19. Cleanthony Early, Wichita State, 6'8", SF, Senior

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Projected Draft Range: Mid-First to Late First Round 

    Draft Status: Auto-Eligible

    Cleanthony Early moved the needle for himself during the NCAA tournament when he lit up Kentucky for 31 points and seven boards. It was significant, given most of his production at Wichita State has come against mid-major competition.

    At 6'8", he's got the size and athleticism of an NBA wing, and he boosted his three-ball up to 37.5 percent.

    In terms of weaknesses, he's got one that stands out immediately, and that's his poor assist rate. He finished with just 27 assists the entire season, or .8 per game. 

    Early isn't going to make anyone else better as a creator off the dribble, but in the right fit with playmakers around him, he could pose as a threatening opportunistic scorer who can drive, shoot and finish off the ball.

18. Zach LaVine, UCLA, 6'5", SG, Freshman

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    Ringo H.W. Chiu

    Projected Draft Range: Late Lottery to Late First Round 

    Draft Status: Declared

    Zach LaVine just might be this year's ultimate boom-or-bust draft option, given the upside he's flashed in limited doses and the minimal production he's got to show for it. 

    LaVine didn't get much playmaking responsibility behind three older guards in UCLA's lineup, but he was able to earn scouts' attention with the touches that he got. 

    He's quick, shifty and explosive in the open floor, where he finishes high above the rim when given a runway to take off from. He's also shown off a perimeter game, having made 48 three-pointers at a 37.5 percent clip.

    But his decision-making in terms of shot, dribble and pass selection is poor, and as a 180-pound combo guard, LaVine's body isn't ready for NBA contact.

    The potential upside with LaVine is huge—he just seems a little too far from reaching it. 

17. James Young, Kentucky, 6'6", SG/SF, Freshman

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Projected Draft Range: Late Lottery to Mid-First Round 

    Draft Status: Declared

    James Young played a big role in Kentucky's run to the national title game by providing an offensive spark to the lineup as a flamethrower and slasher. 

    And that's likely going to be his role in the NBA as well.

    Though his jumper was somewhat inconsistent throughout the year, Young has proved he can knock down shots in bunches, open or covered. 

    He plays strictly off the ball, and he has the scoring range to comfortably complement what's around him.

    But Young struggled mightily on defense this season—he got torched at times on the perimeter and showed minimal awareness as a helper.

    He's got a few areas of his game he'll need to fine-tune, but his offensive skills and upside should hold mid-first-round value. 

     

16. Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette, 6'3", PG, Junior

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    Sarah Bentham

    Projected Draft Range: Mid-First to Late First Round

    Draft Status: Declared 

    Not only did Elfrid Payton light it up offensively with averages of 19.2 points, six boards and 5.9 assists, but he was also named the Lefty Driesell Defensive Player of the Year.

    At 6'3", he's got terrific size and athleticism for the point guard position, which plays to his strengths as an attacker and threat off the dribble. Payton takes long yet decisive steps, while his change-of-direction quickness allows him to slice right through the defense.

    Payton hit only 30 three-pointers combined his last two seasons, but his pull-up game has improved and his mechanics are promising.

    Plus, he just turned 20 years old, which is young for a junior. And he's gotten some good experience under his belt playing for USA's FIBA World Championship team last summer. 

    With strong workouts, I wouldn't be surprised to see Payton fly up draft boards, given his glowing physical profile and long-term upside.

15. Doug McDermott, Creighton, 6'8", SF/PF, Senior

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    Frank Franklin II

    Projected Draft Range: Late Lottery to Mid-First Round 

    Draft Status: Auto-Eligible

    Though Doug McDermott's 26.7-point-per-game scoring attack isn't likely to translate, his shot-making ability should.

    There's a difference—McDermott isn't going to be featured in an NBA offense the way he was at Creighton, where he finished with the third-highest usage rate in the country, per sports-reference.com. McDermott projects as a guy who can play catch-and-finish basketball in a supporting role, which Mike Miller, Kyle Korver and Ryan Anderson have successfully done. 

    Spot-up shooting, cuts through the lane, flashes in the mid-range—McDermott's ability to get himself open and knock down shots without needing to dribble is what should allow him to excel despite lacking much speed, athleticism or strength.

    Having racked up only five blocks and eight steals the entire season, McDermott is clearly limited defensively, which puts a cap on his ceiling. But it shouldn't diminish the value of his offensive skills, which could be used in practically every NBA rotation.

14. Jusuf Nurkic, Bosnia, 6'11", C, 1994

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    Projected Draft Range: Late Lottery to Late First Round

    Draft Status: Expected to Declare

    Size always matters in the NBA, but with Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein returning to school, it might be even more valuable this year, given how few centers are available. 

    At 6'11", 280 pounds, Jusuf Nurkic is a monster who moves with grace. Between his size, length, quick foot speed and soft touch, he's a giant target off pick-and-rolls and drive-and-dishes, and he can score in the post with his back to the rim.

    And he's just crushing it abroad in the limited action he's been seeing for Cedevita. In six Croatian A-1 League games in April, Nurkic is averaging 11.2 points, six boards and 1.3 blocks in just 17 minutes of action. 

    It's been a trend throughout the year, as he finished with the highest Player Efficiency Rating of anyone in the Adriatic League, per draftexpress.com.

    Nurkic is no longer a name to just sleep on. He's become a name to know, and lottery teams are likely fully aware of him. 

13. Nik Stauskas, Michigan, 6'6", SG, Sophomore

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    Projected Draft Range: Late Lottery to Mid-First Round 

    Draft Status: Declared

    It's tough to argue with anything Nik Stauskas did offensively as a sophomore. 

    He averaged 17.5 points while maintaining that lights-out 44 percent three-point stroke. Stauskas became a legitimate go-to option for playmaking—he averaged 3.3 assists per game, more than doubling his total from last season. And he got to the free-throw stripe 117 more times, a reflection of the threat he's become off the dribble. 

    Step-backs, pull-up jumpers, quick-release spot-up three-pointers from 25 feet out—Stauskas' perimeter scoring arsenal is lethal. 

    Unfortunately, he's just too easy to beat as a perimeter defender. He had only 20 steals the entire season. 

    Still, at 6'6" with adequate athleticism, a high IQ and an elite three-point shot, Stauskas can probably fill an immediate need for a number of NBA teams. 

12. Mario Hezonja, Croatia, 6'6", SG/SF, 1995

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    Projected Draft Range: Late Lottery to Mid-First Round (likely 2015)

    Draft Status: Undecided

    There's a good chance we won't see Mario Hezonja declare for the draft until 2015, considering he's only playing 11 minutes a game in Spain.

    But his talent and upside have already been established and presented to NBA scouts following his MVP showing at the Under-16 European Championships back in 2011.

    He's been quiet throughout the season for Barcelona's senior team—until mid-March, when he went for 29 points in a 20-minute offensive clinic. 

    Step-back jumpers, reverse layups, nifty moves off the dribble, above-the-rim alley-oops—you name it. Hezonja's one big game this year was enough to confirm the initial belief that he's a special talent. 

    He'll ultimately have to learn how to score within an offense and make plays without the ball, but there's lottery upside here whenever he declares. 

11. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse, 6'2", PG, Freshman

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    Nick Lisi

    Projected Draft Range: Late Lottery to Mid-First Round

    Draft Status: Declared

    A smooth operator with the ball, Tyler Ennis' feel for the game and point guard position is as natural as it gets. 

    He doesn't lift off like John Wall or blow by like Kemba Walker—Ennis plays at his own pace out there, which he's able to control as a floor general of the offense. 

    In his first year on the job playing 35.7 minutes a game, he finished top 10 in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio while guiding the Orange to an impressive record during the year. 

    But there are questions regarding Ennis' outlook, given his lack of athleticism, quickness and strength. He was also hidden a bit in Syracuse's zone, and his isolation defense, something important for a point guard who has to contain dribble penetration, might not be up to speed. 

    Regardless, you can't go wrong with a high-level decision-maker like Ennis, whose true allure stems from his ability to make his teammates better. I'm leaning toward the Andre Miller comparison. 

10. Gary Harris, Michigan State, 6'4", SG, Sophomore

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    Kiichiro Sato

    Projected Draft Range: Late Lottery to Mid-First Round

    Draft Status: Declared

    One of the more complete 2-guards in the class, Gary Harris looks to have established himself as a safe bet this June.

    He averaged 17.1 points a game this season, looking more aggressive as a scorer on and off the ball. Without it, he moves exceptionally well, as he's always getting himself open looks by curling around screens, cutting through the lane or popping out behind the arc for a spot-up jumper. 

    Harris improved his one-on-one game this year as well, though he struggles getting to the rack, having made only 25 shots at the rim in the half court, per draftexpress.com. And he attempted just 4.1 free throws per game. 

    He's going to end up having to rely heavily on that jumper. He connected on only 35.2 percent of his 6.6 three-point attempts per game. 

    Still, he's proven to be a capable shooter, and at just 19 years old, he's got plenty of room for growth.

9. Dario Saric, Croatia, 6'10", SF/PF, 1994

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    Petr David Josek

    Projected Draft Range: Lottery

    Draft Status: Declared 

    Dario Saric has had a dominant individual year abroad, where he was named 2013 FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year and MVP of the Adriatic League, which he led in both scoring and rebounding. 

    At 6'10", Saric can do it all, from creating off the dribble and spotting up from outside to scoring in the post and controlling the glass. 

    He recently hired a new agent, Misko Raznatovic, who spoke with Jonathan Givony of Draftexpress.com about his client's future intentions. 

    "Dario's ultimate dream is to be a NBA All-Star and he absolutely does not accept anything less than that. 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 told Givony. 

    "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," his agent told draftexpress.com. "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."

    Until he makes a final call, Saric will sit at the No. 9 spot on our board.

8. Aaron Gordon, Arizona, 6'9", PF, Freshman

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Projected Draft Range: Lottery

    Draft Status: Declared

    Aaron Gordon's blend of high-end athleticism and two-way versatility is what drives his NBA upside. 

    He actually finished No. 1 in the country in defensive win shares, per sports-reference.com. Gordon flashed the foot speed and length to guard wings on the perimeter, along with the size and discipline to man the post. 

    Offensively, he's still limited, but his ability to finish above the rim and score opportunistically have allowed him to make plays within the offense despite lacking a refined skill set to go to. 

    Gordon even raised his three-point percentage to a respectable 35.6 percent by the end of the season, a number he'll need to carry over.

    He'll have to improve his off-the-dribble game in the half court, as well as his dreadful 42.2 percent free-throw stroke, but the potential versatility (passing, scoring, defending, rebounding) he has to offer is just too enticing. 

7. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, 6'4", PG/SG, Sophomore

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    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    Projected Draft Range: Top 10

    Draft Status: Declared

    Marcus Smart's draft stock isn't where it was this time last year, but his NBA projections shouldn't have changed much.

    He averaged 18 points a game this year, getting most of his points on the way to the rim and around it. He's quick, athletic and strong, with the ability to break down the perimeter and finish after contact inside the arc. 

    Smart's most glowing strength might actually come at the defensive end. He finished top 10 in the country in steals in back-to-back seasons. If he's not charging a passing lane or pickpocketing a ball-handler, he's providing relentless pressure as an on-ball or help defender.

    His on-court decision-making, shot selection and outside shooting could all use work, but that shouldn't keep Smart from making a positive impact. Despite the up-and-down season, I wouldn't expect him to slip too far down anyone's board.

6. Julius Randle, Kentucky, 6'9", PF, Freshman

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Projected Draft Range: Top Seven

    Draft Status: Declared

    Julius Randle's combination of power and athleticism led to 24 double-doubles this season. He's just a bully on that low block and an overwhelming presence on the glass. He initiates and ultimately embraces contact inside, sometimes using it to bounce off his man and separate into one-handed shots around the rim. 

    With quick feet and shifty shoulders, Randle is too tough for slower big men to contain in face-up situations—particularly at the elbow and in the mid-range. 

    However, he'll need to add a jumper to complement his heavily interior-oriented brand of ball. And given his lack of length and awareness at the defensive end, Randle really projects more as a one-way player in the paint. 

    He's going to have adjustments to make in the pros, but the right ones could lead to a whole lot of success.

5. Noah Vonleh, Indiana, 6'10", PF, Freshman

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    Projected Draft Range: Top Seven

    Draft Status: Declared

    Few prospects did more with less than Noah Vonleh, who turned a 21.4 usage rate into 11.3 points and an Big Ten-leading nine rebounds per game.

    At 6'10", 240 pounds with a 7'4" wingspan, he's got a body built for the interior with a fitting skill set to match it. Vonleh showed off his back-to-the-basket game in the post, from hop-steps into jump hooks and drop-steps into layups. He finishes with both hands, and he has a release point high enough to shoot right over the defense. 

    He's also shown off the outside stroke to complement his inside game, having nailed 16-of-33 three-point attempts. 

    Almost a year younger than Kentucky's Julius Randle with around five extra inches of length and a more promising jumper, Vonleh is our top true power forward option on the board.

4. Dante Exum, Australia, 6'6", PG/SG, 1995

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    Projected Draft Range: Top Five

    Draft Status: Declared

    Dante Exum is all about upside and potential, and if you watched him light up the 2012 and 2013 FIBA World Championships and the 2013 Nike Hoop Summit, it probably wasn't tough to spot. 

    At 6'6", Exum has serious size, athleticism and explosiveness for a primary ball-handler. He runs the point as a scoring playmaker. With a lightning-quick first step and the height to play over the defense, he is a tough cover off the bounce, where he can get to the rim and finish above it or create for others in the passing game. 

    He needs to become a more consistent shooter, but when locked in, he's proven he's capable of heating up as a spot-up or pull-up threat. 

    Exum also projects as a blanket defender, while his high IQ and basketball genes (father played for North Carolina) only sweeten the deal. 

3. Jabari Parker, Duke, 6'8", SF/PF, Freshman

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Projected Draft Range: Top Three

    Draft Status: Declared

    Jabari Parker might be No. 3 on our board, but depending on how the lottery shakes out, I would still recommend him as a No. 1 overall candidate to the right franchise. 

    He's the safest option on the board with an NBA-ready body and offensive game. It would be tough to knock the Bucks if they won the lotto and went with Parker, who looks like the surest thing in the field and a perfect fit in the lineup. 

    Parker cooled off a bit from outside throughout the year, but between his step-backs, pull-ups and jab steps into jumpers, he's shown he can create and make good shots for himself away from the basket. 

    However, Parker might be most effective in the post, where he can score with his back to the rim or by attacking his man off the bounce. 

    His defensive outlook is ultimately the weight holding him down. Parker struggled throughout the year closing out on shooters, containing dribble penetration and keeping his man from getting position down low. 

    But given the value of consistent offense and Parker's upside as a scorer, he's really a quality option at any spot on this draft board. 

2. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, 6'8", SF, Freshman

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Projected Draft Range: Top Three

    Draft Status: Declared

    Whether Andrew Wiggins met your expectations, there's no denying his talent, skill set or two-way upside.

    The question is if he can tap into it on a regular basis. 

    But think about it this way: At this point, Wiggins is still athleticism over skill, with a game predicated on quickness, explosiveness and big-time hops—not calculated moves or offensive polish. 

    And he still averaged 17.1 points for a premier team loaded with weapons. Just imagine what Wiggins might look like when he tightens up his game.

    He even finished with a higher true shooting percentage and more three-pointers made than Jabari Parker, who many pegged as the better perimeter scorer a month into the season. 

    Wiggins has flashed the whole package, including lockdown defensive potential at multiple positions. He just has to put it all together. 

1. Joel Embiid, Kansas, 7'0", C, Freshman

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    Projected Draft Range: Top Three

    Draft Status: Declared

    Between the upside that's attached to a two-way 7-footer, along with his eye-opening raw talent and the visible progress he made throughout the season, Joel Embiid has been top dog on our board for the majority of the year.

    And unless we hear the back injury he suffered in early March could be a long-term concern, Embiid will remain at No. 1.

    Offensively, he's flashed it all, from spin moves and dream shakes to lefty jump hooks and up-and-unders. And he's shown the touch to match his footwork and agility. 

    If you've ever seen him warm up or practice, you know he's got the stroke to knock down jumpers from outside as well. He nailed a handful of them as a freshman, and he looked more and more comfortable from the stripe as the season progressed. 

    Defensively, Embiid can change a game just by being in it. At 7'0" with a 7'5" wingspan, quick feet and a nose for the ball, his presence around the rim is tremendous. He blocks shots and changes others. He provides defensive margin for error, given his ability to erase teammates' mistakes on the perimeter by providing backup support in the paint. 

    The lottery is likely to determine just who'll be going No. 1, as each franchise appears to have different needs, but if we're starting a team from scratch, Embiid is the guy we'd choose to build around.