The playoffs are the current focus of several NBA squads, but the 2014 NBA draft is what the Association's less talented teams are now shifting their attention to.
The draft is set to take place on June 26, and there is still a lot of time for teams to make decisions on their top needs and most coveted prospects. The teams selecting at the top will make no-brainer decisions, but it'll be the picks outside of the lottery that require a bit more time and thinking.
It's not all that often that young players are capable of stepping into prominent roles right away, but there are a few players in this draft who have the potential to do so. But after they go off the board, who will follow?
Here's how Round 1 of the 2014 NBA draft will shape up.
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
Andrew Wiggins averaged 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game during his lone season at Kansas. While those numbers are strong, there were short lapses of focus that saw him struggle. This doesn't appear to be a major issue, however.
Aside from the offensive side of the ball, Wiggins has also made strides on defense:
This is especially appealing to NBA scouts, and the Milwaukee Bucks won't hesitate to grab him at No. 1 as a result.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, SF/PF, Duke
I personally like Jabari Parker's chances to excel as early as next season. He is the most polished scorer in the class, and his versatility on offense is astonishing.
The Philadelphia 76ers can use help in all facets of the game. Parker can help in the post, but he can also pop out to the three-point line and hit from deep. This is one of those no-brainers.
3. Orland Magic: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Joel Embiid is an animal in the paint, and the Orlando Magic have holes seemingly everywhere on the roster to fill. The best option for them at No. 3 would be to take Embiid as a force in the paint and defensive stalwart. He's a guy they can build around.
Couple him with Victor Oladipo, and the Magic will have a solid young base to build around.
4. Utah Jazz: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
The Utah Jazz have needs in the paint. Marvin Williams isn't an ideal option at power forward, whereas Randle can come in from training camp and start at the position. Look for big rebounding totals from Randle in the beginning. His scoring will come around as he adapts to the NBA style of play.
5. Boston Celtics: Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia
The Boston Celtics will draft Dante Exum as the point guard of the future if there are plans to get rid of Rajon Rondo, but he offers the team the versatility to play well at shooting guard as well. That's likely where he'll see the most time from the start.
Exum is a rare talent and would be worth a top-three pick if the top of the class weren't so deep.
6. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
Marcus Smart isn't a guy who can single-handedly turn around the Los Angeles Lakers, but his addition will certainly help. The health of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash will be paramount to the team's success.
Nash will be crucial to the development of Smart, even if he isn't healthy. Learning how to play the point guard position from one of the game's best ever makes this a perfect situation from the Oklahoma State product.
7. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
Defense is what catches the attention of scouts when talking about Aaron Gordon. He is athletic, fast and capable of guarding pretty much anyone on the floor. Offensively, though, he needs a ton of work. Ben Watanabe of NESN.com points out his offensive shortcomings:
Gordon’s offensive skills might be a bit underrated, but nobody disputes that he is still developing as a shooter, passer and dribbler. In other words, pretty much everything involved with basketball offense. Analysts will repeat his 42-percent free throw shooting mark all day long, and his .495 field goal percentage seems low for a player who dunked so much.
The overwhelming potential is there, however. The Sacramento Kings can do much worse than Gordon at No. 7.
8. Detroit Pistons: Dario Saric, SF/PF, Croatia
Dario Saric is a versatile forward who plays mostly at the 3. That said, he can play significant minutes at power forward if needed. He is an interesting international prospect with the potential to be a great player in this league.
The Detroit Pistons are in a position to take a risk on such a player. Don't be shocked if this is their selection at No. 8.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Noah Vonleh, PF/C, Indiana
Kyrie Irving needs help. Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett are still works in progress, so the Cleveland Cavaliers will likely look toward Noah Vonleh at No. 9. The big man has fantastic length to help him compete against the game's more athletic interior players. This is a safe pick.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (from New Orleans): Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Gary Harris is a great perimeter player who, paired with Parker and Michael Carter-Williams, can bring legitimacy back to Philly's NBA franchise.
He spent just two seasons at Michigan State, but he quickly became one of the Spartans' most dynamic players. Look for both Parker and Harris to play big minutes early on.
11. Denver Nuggets: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
Nik Stauskas isn't your typical lights-out shooter from deep. He doesn't post up in the corner and wait for a teammate to get doubled before calling for the ball.
Instead, Stauskas is capable of handling the ball well and creating his own shots. This makes him a rare talent. So rare, in fact, that the Denver Nuggets won't let him slip past No. 11.
12. Orlando Magic (from New York): Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
Tyler Ennis isn't extraordinarily athletic, but his ability to both score and distribute makes him one of the top point guard prospects in the class. Pairing him with Oladipo would help ease the pressure on him, and having Embiid down low will help make his job of distributing a lot easier. Orlando is a great fit for Ennis.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Rodney Hood, SF, Duke
Rodney Hood is a terrific scorer, even if he wasn't always the most consistent player on the floor for Duke last season. Minnesota could use some help in the scoring department, making this a good fit for him. While he might not be one of the top players on the team right from the start, Hood can provide quality minutes.
14. Phoenix Suns: T.J. Warren, SF, North Carolina State
T.J. Warren is an extremely interesting talent. Despite being a small forward, Warren is exceptional at making plays in the paint. He routinely grabs offensive boards and goes up for the putback, often looking to score in this way as opposed to scoring outside.
The Phoenix Suns aren't many pieces away from contending in the Western Conference. Warren is the type of player this team needs.
15. Atlanta Hawks: James Young, SG/SF/ Kentucky
Shooting is James Young's thing, and the Atlanta Hawks could certainly use another shooter on the perimeter. Despite making the playoffs this season, the Hawks are far from perfect. With multiple holes to fill before next year, look for Young to be the first piece of the puzzle.
16. Chicago Bulls (from Charlotte): Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
Dan Feldman of NBC Sports is reporting that Carlos Boozer likely won't be with the Chicago Bulls next season, as the team is looking to trade him before having to amnesty him. This would create an opening for Taj Gibson at power forward, but it would also create room for another forward to come in and grab minutes.
Adrien Payne could be that guy. He's mature as a player and a big-time presence in the middle. Payne fits the gritty mentality of the Bulls well.
17. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn): Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
The Boston Celtics have a flurry of young big men in Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, but passing up on the defensive and rebounding skills of Clint Capela would be a bad idea. The Swiss excels in both of those areas, and a young team like Boston could always use help defensively.
18. Phoenix Suns (from Washington): Doug McDermott, PF, Creighton
Doug McDermott is one of the hardest players to project in this draft. He offers elite scoring, but his defense is also questionable. There's also no telling how his less-than-athletic style of play will translate to the NBA.
Adding McDermott to go along with Warren would really improve Phoenix's offense. Both players simply know how to score, and watching them on the court together would be exciting.
19. Chicago Bulls: Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA
Kyle Anderson played point guard at UCLA, but the tall ball-handler is best suited to play small forward in the NBA. He can shoot well and create for himself and his teammates. As a small forward with extensive experience at the point, he can help make Chicago's offense even more fluid and unselfish. This is a great pick here.
20. Toronto Raptors: Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse
Athleticism is Jerami Grant's best quality, and the Toronto Raptors love young, athletic players who can score (see: DeMar DeRozan).
The Raptors are a young team on the rise in the Eastern Conference, and adding Grant to the fold will help ensure that they return to the postseason again next season. He'll probably start as a rotational player given the fact that he needs a little work on his jumper, but look for him to get quality minutes down the stretch.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Dallas): P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends
P.J. Hairston can shoot like few others in this class. While he doesn't offer a whole lot on offense, you can rest assured knowing that he'll be able to shoot. The Oklahoma City Thunder really have few holes, so they can afford to take a player based on upside at No. 21.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG, Serbia
Another good shooter, Bogdan Bogdanovic is an international star. The 21-year-old played an integral role on the Serbian national team in the European championships in Slovenia, and his experience in relatively big games will make him a smart choice for the Memphis Grizzlies.
23. Utah Jazz (from Golden State): Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn
An unbelievable performance in the NCAA tournament pretty much locked down a Round 1 selection for Shabazz Napier. He is ready to be an impact player right away, and the Jazz will certainly use him in a role that he'll succeed in.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (from Portland): Zach LaVine, SG, UCLA
Zach LaVine has the makeup of a future starter in the NBA, and a young team like the Charlotte Bobcats should look to draft those kinds of players. After being bounced out of the first round of the playoffs by the Miami Heat, the Bobcats need to look for consistency in all facets of the game. LaVine can help provide that.
25. Houston Rockets: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
K.J. McDaniels is a defensive beast at small forward. His ability to record blocks is rare for the position, but his length and overall athleticism are what make it possible.
The Houston Rockets could always use help on defense. Chandler Parsons is locked into small forward right now, but McDaniels would find time as a rotational player who comes in for defense. His skills on offense in transition are also a reason why he fits so well with Houston.
26. Miami Heat: Mitch McGary, C, Michigan
Injuries and off-court issues aside, Mitch McGary is a talented NBA prospect set to go late in Round 1 or early in Round 2.
The Heat represent a good fit for him. There will be little pressure for him to succeed given the overall talent of the team, and the presence of some of the game's best veterans will help ease his transition into the league. They'll also help to keep him in check.
27. Phoenix Suns (from Indiana): Elfrid Payton, PG, LA-Lafayette
Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe are firmly entrenched at both guard positions for the future, but bringing in a guy like Elfrid Payton would vastly help to improve the Suns' backcourt depth. Payton is a solid all-around point guard whom head coach Jeff Hornacek won't worry about running out there for 15-plus minutes a game.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: DeAndre Daniels, SF, UConn
The Los Angeles Clippers love transition basketball, and DeAndre Daniels excels in filling the lanes in transition. He is very athletic, though he doesn't really have one definitive skill offensively. He can do a little of everything while excelling in nothing, but there's plenty of time to develop some different skills.
On a deep Clippers team, Daniels will have time to grow.
29: Oklahoma City Thunder: Nick Johnson, SG, Arizona
Nick Johnson loves transition basketball, and the Thunder love to run given Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant's athleticism. Johnson could fit right in at shooting guard behind Thabo Sefolosha, though I wouldn't be surprised if he found starter's minutes come midseason.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
Cleanthony Early is a legitimate scorer at small forward. The San Antonio Spurs could always use help in that department. Even though their aging team defies the odds year after year, there will come a time when the likes of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan need to pass the torch.
Kawhi Leonard is in line for said torch, but he'll need a running mate or two. Early is a candidate for such a role.
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