The 2014 NBA playoffs are in full swing, but with nearly half the league in offseason mode, mock draft season is just getting started.
On Friday, the league used random drawings to break four separate ties in the regular-season standings in an effort to determine the 2014 NBA draft order. Only one tiebreaker was required to determine the order for the 14 lottery teams, with the Utah Jazz edging out the Boston Celtics for the fourth-best odds in next month's lottery.
Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic will all be crossing their fingers during the NBA draft lottery on May 20 in hopes of winning the No. 1 overall pick.
With Friday's tiebreakers providing us with a better idea of what the first-round draft order will look like come June 26, here I'll project how all 30 picks will unfold.
*2014 NBA draft order according to NBA.com.
1. Milwaukee Bucks (15-67): Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
The Milwaukee Bucks ranked 28th in the NBA in scoring last season and desperately need a spark to turn things around under new ownership in 2014-15. Therefore, the Bucks would be best suited to draft the most NBA-ready scorer available this summer: Duke's Jabari Parker.
SportsCenter breaks down the significance of Parker's decision to enter the draft:
Jabari Parker will be 5th Blue Devil to go pro after freshman year. Previous 4: Corey Maggette, Luol Deng, Kyrie Irving, Austin Rivers.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 17, 2014
Parker discussed his decision to go to the NBA in an essay for Sports Illustrated:
I realize how much of a privilege and an honor it is to join the ranks of the NBA. I will do everything in my power to help deliver championships to the franchise that drafts me. At the same time, I recognize the obligation to represent the league in an admirable way off the court.
Parker is a versatile small forward who can score inside and out. He isn't the elite athlete that Andrew Wiggins is, but his basketball IQ, motor and rebounding prowess make him a stellar prospect.
2. Philadelphia 76ers (19-63): Andrew Wiggins, SG, Kansas
After acquiring Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams in Round 1 a year ago, the Philadelphia 76ers would be wise to target the super-skilled Wiggins, who possesses unrivaled athleticism and versatility.
Given his defensive prowess, Wiggins has the potential to fill the void left by Andre Iguodala's departure in a trade two summers ago.
3. Orlando Magic (23-59): Dante Exum, PG, Australia
The Orlando Magic need a player who can penetrate and create for others, and there's no one in this year's draft class better at doing just that than Aussie Dante Exum.
At 6'6", the 18-year-old floor general would be a much more dangerous option than Jameer Nelson.
4. Utah Jazz (25-57): Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Despite the presence of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, the Utah Jazz can't afford to pass on dynamic 7-footer Joel Embiid, who moves exceptionally well and plays with great energy. The Cameroon native could help the Jazz improve on the glass in 2014-15 and add a new dimension to Utah's front court.
5. Boston Celtics (25-57): Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
Kentucky's Julius Randle isn't going to turn things around for the Boston Celtics all by himself, but the 6'9" power forward has an NBA-ready body and an incredible motor that make him a top-five prospect.
Randle averaged a double-double for the Wildcats as a freshman this past season and would provide the Celtics with a huge boost on the glass, as noted by ESPN Stats & Info:
Julius Randle led all players in double-doubles this season with 24, 2nd-most by a freshman in D-I history (Michael Beasley, 28 in 2007-08).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 22, 2014
6. Los Angeles Lakers (27-55): Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
Steve Nash's career is winding down and the Los Angeles Lakers need a young talent to play with the ball in his hands. Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart could be just that for the Lake Show.
Smart can play either role in the backcourt and is excellent at penetrating and finishing at the rim.
7. Sacramento Kings (28-54): Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
Arizona's Aaron Gordon is a sensational athlete, a high-energy player and an exceptional defender who can step in and make an immediate impact for the Sacramento Kings.
His jump shot will have to improve if he's going to become a consistent threat on offense, but his upside is too good to pass up for any team at this stage.
8. Detroit Pistons* (29-53): Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
The Detroit Pistons could use some help in the assist department, and Syracuse's Tyler Ennis certainly fits the bill as a point guard who sees the floor extremely well and is a phenomenal passer.
Ennis would be a nice complement to Brandon Jennings.
*Pick goes to Charlotte if it's ninth or lower
9. Cleveland Cavaliers (33-49): Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
After striking out with Anthony Bennett in 2013, the Cleveland Cavaliers should target Indiana's Noah Vonleh in Round 1 this summer. His freshman numbers with the Hoosiers aren't eye-popping, but his rebounding prowess and physicality on the interior suggest a bright future in the NBA.
10. Philadelphia 76ers* (from New Orleans (34-48)): Dario Saric, PF, Croatia
After snagging Wiggins at No. 2 overall, look for the Sixers to continue to add athleticism and skill by drafting Croatia's Dario Saric, a 6'10" power forward with court vision and handles.
According to Saric's agent, Misko Raznatovic (via DraftExpress.com), the 20-year-old is expected to enter this year's draft:
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.
Saric must improve in several areas before he can become a part of a solid NBA rotation, but you can't teach his measurables.
*Pick goes to New Orleans if it's in the top three
11. Denver Nuggets (36-46): Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Gary Harris is a strong, physical shooting guard who can slash to the rim, hit the mid-range shot or create for himself. The Denver Nuggets would likely be delighted if he fell to them at No. 11.
12. Orlando Magic (from Denver via New York (37-45)): Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
A Naismith College Player of the Year winner in 2013-14, Creighton's Doug McDermott is an elite shooter with incredible range. His lack of athleticism is a bit of a concern, but at 6'8", he won't have a tough time getting shots off at the next level.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves* (40-42): Rodney Hood, SG/SF, Duke
One of the best shooters available this summer is Duke's Rodney Hood, who brings exceptional size to the table at 6'8". Hood's defensive shortcomings are concerning, and he'll need to get stronger, but as a shooter with unlimited range, he's a likely lottery pick.
Hood is also well-conditioned, per Duke Basketball on Twitter:
Iron Duke award for most minutes played goes to Rodney Hood, leading the team with 1,150 minutes played.— Duke Basketball (@dukebasketball) April 16, 2014
*Pick goes to Phoenix if Suns pass Minnesota in lottery
14. Phoenix Suns (48-34): James Young, SF, Kentucky
The Phoenix Suns are already one of the most entertaining teams in the NBA. Add explosive swingman James Young to the mix, and you may just have a Western Conference playoff team in 2014-15.
15. Atlanta Hawks (38-44): P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends (NBA D-League)
P.J. Hairston is a scorer with deep range on his jump shot. In time, he could provide a huge boost offensively for the Atlanta Hawks, who must become more explosive if they hope to challenge for Eastern Conference supremacy.
16. Chicago Bulls (from Charlotte (43-39)): Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
A versatile guard with elite shooting touch, Michigan's Nik Stauskas would be an ideal fit with the Chicago Bulls, where he could benefit from Derrick Rose's penetration and help bring a scoring punch to the Windy City.
17. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn (44-38)): Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
It remains to be seen how much longer Rajon Rondo will be a Celtic, but if Boston does decide to draft a point guard this summer, Connecticut's Shabazz Napier would be a name to watch for.
Napier is almost the polar opposite of Rondo, a dynamic scorer with deep range and a soft shooting touch. And although Napier is a superb defender, much like Rondo, his limited size and low assist numbers could be cause for pause.
18. Phoenix Suns (from Washington (44-38)): Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
Similarly to Alex Len a year ago, Bosnian center Jusuf Nurkic wouldn't be able to help the Phoenix Suns right away, but in time he could become a strong presence in the paint.
At 6'11", 280 pounds, Nurkic looks comfortable down low and displays soft touch offensively.
19. Chicago Bulls (48-34): Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
After trading veteran Luol Deng to Cleveland last season, the Bulls are in the market for a talented small forward. Wichita State's Cleanthony Early is extremely versatile and plays with the physicality and toughness that head coach Tom Thibodeau demands.
20. Toronto Raptors (48-34): Kyle Anderson, PG/F, UCLA
Kyle Lowry will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end and if the veteran point guard signs elsewhere for more money, the Toronto Raptors will be in the market for a new floor general.
In such a scenario, UCLA's Kyle Anderson would be a potential target for Toronto at No. 20. The 6'9" point forward is tremendous at seeing the floor and using his length to get where he wants to go. Anderson is also an improved shooter, showcasing a strong mid-range game.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Dallas (49-33) via Houston and L.A. Lakers): Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
A long, super athletic power forward with deep range on his jump shot, Michigan State's Adreian Payne would be an excellent fit with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder already have the pieces in place to win an NBA championship, so adding a dynamic scorer like Payne is simply a bonus.
22. Memphis Grizzlies (50-32): Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse
Syracuse's Jerami Grant is the perfect player for the Memphis Grizzlies late in Round 1. An explosive athlete with an unrelenting motor, the 6'8" small forward embodies the grittiness that has come to define the Grizzlies.
23. Utah Jazz (from Golden State (51-31)): T.J. Warren, SF, NC State
Utah struggled to get solid production from the small forward position in 2013-14, relying on Richard Jefferson and Jeremy Evans. Therefore, the Jazz should look to pick up a young, versatile small forward late in Round 1.
NC State's T.J. Warren averaged nearly 25 points per game as a sophomore with the Wolfpack in 2013-14.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (from Portland (54-28)): Zach LaVine, PG, UCLA
UCLA's Zach LaVine is one of the more polarizing prospects in the 2014 NBA draft. His athleticism and size suggest he'll be successful at the next level, but a lack of strength and consistency are concerns.
If he goes in Round 1, look for him to come off the board somewhere outside of the lottery.
25. Houston Rockets (54-28): K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
The Houston Rockets' biggest weakness is on defense, where they've struggled to keep opponents off the board. As a result, watch for Houston to target a lockdown defender late in the first round this summer.
Clemson's K.J. McDaniels averaged nearly three blocked shots per game as a junior in 2013-14 en route to earning ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors and possesses the athleticism to stay in front of opponents on the perimeter.
26. Miami Heat (54-28): Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
Like Oklahoma City, Miami has the core in place to keep winning championships. However, the Heat's biggest weakness in recent years has been their lack of depth in the front court.
That's where Swiss forward Clint Capela would help out a lot. At 6'11" with a 7'5" wingspan, the European's defense and rebounding would provide Miami with a huge boost down the road.
27. Phoenix Suns (from Indiana (56-26)): Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee
Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes could step in right away in Phoenix and immediately help the Suns on the glass and in the paint, where his strength and toughness make him a load to handle.
28. Los Angeles Clippers (57-25): Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan
An exceptional athlete with explosive leaping ability and length, Michigan's Glenn Robinson III would be a perfect fit in L.A., where he could help fill the Clippers' void at small forward.
If he can become a more consistent shooter, his basketball IQ and effortless style will allow him to become an immediate contributor on a championship-caliber team.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder (59-23): C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington
Adding another outside shooter who can also help out on defense can't hurt the Thunder. And that's exactly what Washington shooting guard C.J. Wilcox brings to the table as an NBA prospect.
30. San Antonio Spurs (62-20): DeAndre Daniels, SF, Connecticut
Connecticut's DeAndre Daniels stepped up his game big time in the 2014 NCAA tournament, helping lead the Huskies to their second national title in four seasons.
With Daniels' draft stock as high as its ever going to be, it wouldn't be at all surprising if he entered his name and wound up landing on a contender late in Round 1.
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