NBA Mock Draft 2014: Best Bet for Each Selection in Round 1

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IApril 28, 2014

Kansas NCAA college freshman basketball player Andrew Wiggins, middle, speaks between coach Bill Self, left, and his mother Marita Payne-Wiggins, right, during a news conference at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan., Monday, March 31, 2014. Wiggins announced he would be entering the NBA draft. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Orlin Wagner

The 2014 NBA draft was going to be so legendary that ESPN The Magazine's Jeff Goodman reported an anonymous general manager was tanking to land the top pick. 

That projection of this class may have been a tad overzealous, but there's still no denying there is a wealth of talent to be had. Teams that are relegated to watching the playoffs from home will have a decent consolation prize with the upcoming draft. 

That is especially true with the the teams that come out closest to the top at draft lottery on May 20. 

Patience has never been my strong suit. So, although the lottery will change the outlook of the upcoming draft, I'm tearing into my mock draft already. 

Going strictly on on the final standings from the regular season, here is my projection for the first round. 

1. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas

Andrew Wiggins was the inspiration for a big chunk of the hype surrounding this class. He didn't quite live up to the insane amounts of hype.

He flashed his athletic dominance while at Kansas during his freshman year and is still an attractive option at No. 1. However, Wiggins lacks consistency and polish in his game, which is understandable given he is 19 years old.

The Bucks, or whichever team lands the No. 1 pick, must take the best player available. Wiggins has the highest ceiling of any prospect in this class, and even in a worst-case scenario, his is not all that low. 

2. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke

If Wiggins was prospect No. 1 heading into this past college basketball season, Jabari Parker was No. 1A. Parker flashed his polished offensive game all season at Duke. He averaged 19.1 points per game last season while shooting 47.3 percent from the field. 

He also didn't display the greatest conditioning and will be a defensive liability in the NBA. Despite his faults, Parker will give the 76ers the kind of potential go-to scorer they desperately need. 

3. Orlando Magic: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas

Joel Embiid is hard to project. On the one hand, he is 7'0", 250 pounds and moves well. He also has decent hands and a developing touch. His offensive game needs work, but he is a natural on defense. He has the potential to be a solid center on both ends of the court in the NBA. This is enough to warrant consideration at No. 1. 

There is a concern, however. Embiid suffered through back injuries at Kansas that ended his season early. CBS' Gregg Doyel sums up his situation well: 

The team that picks Embiid -- and he'll be picked early; I'm hearing no later than third overall, barring medical reports that are worse than what NBA teams already know about him -- will be drafting a guy with a broken bone in his back right now. A broken bone. In his back! In the NBA he will be asked to play 80 or so regular-season games in five months, every year, and to expand that to 100 or more games in six or seven months once the team starts making the playoffs. At Kansas he couldn't play 34 games in 4 1/2 months without being injured.

With the promise of Parker and Wiggins, the top two teams will be able to resist the lure of a center. Embiid won't slide past No. 3, however, no matter who has the pick. 

4. Utah Jazz: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky

At 6'9", Julius Randle's lack of length keeps him just a tier below the top three in this draft. He is a wonderfully talented inside presence, however. Randle has the strength and moves to score and grab rebounds at an All-Star level. 

The Jazz could use his instant impact to their interior presence. 

5. Boston Celtics: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana

Playing on an Indiana team that underwhelmed, Noah Vonleh hasn't had the kind of hype of the other top prospects, but there is no denying his potential. He is 6'10", 240 pounds and has plenty of athleticism.

He averaged 11.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game in his freshman season, and he would give the Celtics a potential cornerstone player in the frontcourt. 

6. Los Angeles Lakers: Dante Exum, G, Australia 

Dante Exum has the talent, athleticism and length that is driving scouts crazy despite the fact he has not been playing against the best competition.

Yahoo's Marc J. Spears helps highlight:

If he is on the board when the Lakers make their selection, it would work out well for both sides. Apparently, as Sean Deveney of Sporting News reported, Exum wants to be a Laker and "the concern among some front-office executives around the league" is that he could "go so far as to try to angle his way onto the Lakers."

Meanwhile, the Lakers need an exciting, young athlete to help energize the fans and organization. 

7. Sacramento Kings: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse  

The Sacramento Kings could use a power forward to pair alongside DeMarcus Cousins. If they get a shot at one of the top two, I believe they will go in that direction. 

In this scenario, they will turn to point guard. Isaiah Thomas is a restricted free agent, and he could get an offer the Kings don't want to match. Although the young ball-handler averaged 6.3 assists per game last season, with Cousins down low, the Kings could use more of a distributing point guard. Tyler Ennis can be that guy. 

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix sums up his skill set well: 

NBA executives love playmakers like Ennis who excel in the pick-and-roll. Ennis isn’t a great shooter, but he protects the ball (3.68-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, ninth in Division I), is rarely rattled and appears to be most comfortable in high-pressure situations. Point guard has become the NBA’s most valued position, and Ennis has the makeup of a very good one.

8. Detroit Pistons: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State

Detroit needs someone to bring stability to the point guard position. Marcus Smart had his up and downs after entering this past season with huge expectations, but his talent is undeniable.

He will have to add polish to his game to be a true point guard in the NBA, but he will also be able to contribute right away. 

9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona 

Aaron Gordon's raw offensive game will keep him from being a go-to scorer in the NBA until he puts in time and hard work on his post moves.

Despite that, he is a relatively safe pick. He is an excellent defender and a strong rebounder. The Cavs can't afford to whiff on another lottery pick. 

10. Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans): Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan

There's never been any doubting Nik Stauskas’ ability to shoot. The perimeter threat will be a good piece as the 76ers reshape themselves.

Stauskas has also developed into a more well-rounded player. He is now a strong lottery selection. 

11. Denver Nuggets (via New York): Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State 

Denver needs another another weapon in the backcourt to line up with Ty Lawson. Gary Harris will bring quality minutes on offense and defense and help ease Lawson's scoring load.

12. Orlando Magic (via Denver): Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton

Doug McDermott's elite offensive skill set could have him going off the board sooner than this pick. I believe the fact that he is going to have a hard time guarding someone in the NBA will leave him around until a little deeper in the lottery. 

If nothing else, he will bring a quick scoring punch off the bench. 

13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Rodney Hood, SF, Duke 

With the looming possibility of Kevin Love departing Minnesota for a warmer climate and a playoff team, the Minnesota Timberwolves could really use a lucky bounce of the pingpong ball.

As it is, at No. 13 the Timberwolves will be looking for a role player. Rodney Hood is a solid athlete with a good stroke, but his lack of defense will limit his impact.

14. Phoenix Suns: James Young, SF, Kentucky 

Phoenix could use someone who can shoot the three and defend. On top of that, small forward P.J. Tucker is a free agent.

James Young is a perfect fit for those needs.

15. Atlanta Hawks:  Kyle Anderson, G/F, UCLA

Kyle Anderson is a unique player. He has the height of a power forward, the ball-handling of a point guard and the speed of a fifth grader.

If Anderson can figure out how to defend in the NBA, he will be a matchup nightmare. The Hawks could use Anderson's offensive creativity.

16. Chicago Bulls (via Phoenix): Dario Saric, SF, Croatia 

It is difficult to know what direction the Bulls will go with this pick. If the stars align and somehow the Bulls land potential free agent Carmelo Anthony, chances are they aren't going to draft a small forward.

Now, let's say the stars stay wherever they are when they aren't aligned, then small forward is a good selection. If Dario Saric is on the board, it is a great selection. 

Saric is not the typical European prospect. He has the body and mentality to handle the physical play of the NBA. He has also has a well-rounded game and can be an asset on both ends of the court. 

17. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn): Cleanthony Early, PF, Wichita State

At the heart of Wichita State's undefeated regular season was hard-working Cleanthony Early. Early isn't going to dominate in the NBA, but he will be able to provide valuable minutes on both ends of the court. Boston needs the depth in the frontcourt. 

18. Phoenix Suns (via Washington): Mitch McGary, PF, Michigan

As Sports Illustrated points out, Mitch McGary's basketball career is headed to greener pastures:

The circumstances are not ideal, but it won't keep this physical big man out of the first round. The Suns would welcome McGary's rebounding into the fold.  

19. Chicago Bulls: Jordan Clarkson, SG, Missouri

The Chicago Bulls would be wise to add a little depth to a backcourt that can't stay healthy. Jordan Clarkson is a raw offensive player, but he is a great defender.

Clarkson would thrive in Tom Thibodeau's defensive system.

20. Toronto Raptors: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State 

Adreian Payne needs to add muscle to his wiry frame, but the potential is there. He showed vastly improved offensive skills this past season while averaging over 16 points per game. 

The Raptors could use his length while also not putting too much on him early. 

21. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Dallas): P.J. Hairston, SG, North Carolina/D-League 

P.J. Hairston was solid in the D-League while averaging 21.8 points per game on 45.3 percent field-goal shooting and 35.8 percent three-point shooting.

The Thunder need depth in the backcourt, and Hairston would be a candidate to add minutes right away. 

22. Memphis Grizzlies: Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut

Can anyone remember when the Grizzlies haven't needed a backup point guard? They could do a lot worse in that department than Shabazz Napier.

NCAA tournament-darling Napier will provide an offensive punch and a steady hand off the bench. 

23. Utah Jazz (via Golden State): T.J. Warren, SF, North Carolina State 

The Utah Jazz need a scoring punch to bring off the bench. T.J. Warren will bring that. He may not ever bring much else to an NBA court, but the quick scoring burst he can provide gives him value.

24. Charlotte Bobcats (via Portland): K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson 

The Bobcats need to add to their young core, and at No. 24, they aren't going to find a safer pick than ACC Defensive Player of the Year K.J. McDaniels. 

McDaniels is a phenomenal athlete, and while his offensive game needs development, he will be able to contribute off the ball. 

25. Houston Rockets: Clint Capela, PF,C Switzerland

Clint Capela is nearly 7'0" and his wingspan is much longer than that. He needs serious bulk, but he has everything needed to be an elite shot-blocker. 

His fluidity and long arms have been grabbing attention. Sportando tweeted this update: 

Capela is a project, but he would have the right big men in place in Houston to learn from. 

26. Miami Heat: Zach LaVine, G, UCLA 

The Miami Heat won't be able to do much but try to identify a raw talent and hope he develops into a playmaker.

Zack LaVine was inconsistent in his freshman season at UCLA after getting off to a strong start. He has the tools to be a quality weapon in the NBA, but he still had a lot to prove. He would have benefited from another year at UCLA, but he has enough talent to make this a worthwhile pick for the Heat.

27. Phoenix Suns (via Indiana): Nick Johnson, SG, Arizona

Nick Johnson's aerial exploits at Arizona had to grab the attention of the Suns. Phoenix could use a jolt of athleticism in the backcourt behind  Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. 

28. Los Angeles Clippers: Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee

With Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers have plenty of above-the-rim talent in the frontcourt. Jarnell Stokes is not that type of player, and he is short for his position. 

He was also a double-double guy in college and will be able to provide some minutes in the NBA. 


29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia

The Thunder need a low-post scorer. Drafting at No. 29, they aren't going to find a sure or instant thing in that department.

Jusuf Nurkic is a 19-year-old who needs bulk, but he also has good hands and solid feet around the rim. The Thunder can afford to take a project pick. 

30. San Antonio Spurs: Roy Devyn Marble, SG, Iowa

Roy Devyn Marble is a smart player with a great shooting touch. He is not the most athletic player and will struggle to get his own shot. 

However, all of this makes him a great fit for Gregg Popovich and the Spurs.  


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