While the 2014 NFL draft will continue to generate headlines throughout the weekend, two-thirds of the NBA will continue their offseason efforts ahead of next month's 2014 NBA draft.
The next big event on the offseason schedule is the 2014 NBA draft lottery on May 20. For those teams that missed out on the playoffs this spring, the lottery will offer a shot at the No. 1 overall pick and a potential franchise-altering prospect.
With draft day less than two months away, here I'll run through the entire first round and break down my predictions for every pick.
*2014 NBA draft order according to NBA.com.
1. Milwaukee Bucks (15-67): Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
Duke's Jabari Parker is the most NBA-ready player in this year's draft class and can help the Milwaukee Bucks right away. In addition to his physical abilities, Parker's work ethic and mentality reflect exactly what you hope to see in a franchise player, per SI.com:
"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."
Unfortunately, this team is still several pieces and years away from contending.
2. Philadelphia 76ers (19-63): Andrew Wiggins, SG, Kansas
Although Andrew Wiggins doesn't appear ready to dominate at the next level like Parker, his athleticism and upside trump every other prospect available and will make him a top pick this summer. He could easily go No. 1 overall to Milwaukee, but in this scenario, he lands with the Philadelphia 76ers.
3. Orlando Magic (23-59): Dante Exum, PG, Australia
It's time for an upgrade at point guard in Orlando. The Magic could really benefit from pairing 6'6" Australian floor general Dante Exum with Victor Oladipo in the backcourt.
4. Utah Jazz (25-57): Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Kansas' Joel Embiid has the potential to go No. 1 overall this June, but questions about his back will likely cause him to slip a few spots. At No. 4, the Utah Jazz would likely jump at the chance to select him.
The Jazz desperately need a boost on the boards, and Embiid would help them on both ends of the floor.
5. Boston Celtics (25-57): Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
With Embiid off the board, the Boston Celtics target Kentucky's Julius Randle, a physical power forward with an NBA body. Randle fills a key need for Boston and possesses the motor to become an instant fan favorite in Beantown.
6. Los Angeles Lakers (27-55): Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
Steve Nash is still under contract for another season in L.A. However, the two-time league MVP has seen his health and skill set diminish in recent years. Therefore, the Lakers would be wise to target a point guard in Round 1.
Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart is quick, strong and ultra competitive, as pointed out by NBA writer Zach Palmer:
Marcus Smart has that Lowry drive game. All strength and craftiness.— Zach Palmer (@FmrTankCommandr) May 4, 2014
7. Sacramento Kings (28-54): Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
If the Sacramento Kings are going to improve on last year's 28-win season, they'll need a player like Aaron Gordon, an unrelenting forward who can defend multiple positions and make the unnoticed plays that sometimes decide the outcome.
8. Detroit Pistons* (29-53): Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
Syracuse's Tyler Ennis isn't going to wow anyone from an athletic standpoint, but his change of pace and ability to see the floor make him a surefire lottery pick. If Ennis can continue to work on his weaknesses and improve his shooting touch, he has the skill set to become a productive NBA point guard.
And all indications are that he'll continue to improve, per SN 590 The Fan's Tim and Sid:
When asked what will help Tyler Ennis become a good pro, Ennis responded, "All I know is working hard and going to the gym." #timandsid— Tim and Sid (@timandsid) May 1, 2014
If the Detroit Pistons take him here, he could play behind Brandon Jennings and provide a unique pace for the second unit.
*Pick goes to Charlotte if it's ninth or lower.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers (33-49): Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
At No. 9 overall, Indiana's Noah Vonleh is arguably the best player still on the board and could contribute to the Cleveland Cavaliers as a gritty power forward who can also stretch the floor.
10. Philadelphia 76ers* (from New Orleans (34-48)): Dario Saric, PF, Croatia
Croatia's Dario Saric isn't going to be able to help an NBA team anytime soon, but he's a promising prospect. At 6'10", Saric is an extremely skilled power forward who can handle the ball, create for others and make an impact on the glass.
*Pick goes to New Orleans if it's in the top three.
11. Denver Nuggets (36-46): Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Gary Harris' shooting percentages dropped during his sophomore season at Michigan State, but his ability to penetrate and provide energy off the bench would be significant for a team looking to break into the Western Conference playoff picture next season.
12. Orlando Magic (from Denver via New York (37-45)): Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
Player of the Year Doug McDermott may lack the quickness and athleticism to dominate at the next level, but as a lethal shooter with unlimited range, he'd be a big-time addition for Orlando.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves* (40-42): Rodney Hood, SG/SF, Duke
Rodney Hood's exceptional range and shooting prowess make him a likely lottery pick. At 6'8", Hood brings tremendous size to the table as a shooting guard but can also excel at the 3 spot.
*Pick goes to Phoenix if Suns pass Minnesota in lottery.
14. Phoenix Suns (48-34): James Young, SF, Kentucky
Kentucky sharpshooter James Young isn't the most consistent outside shooter, but he showed tremendous improvement over the second half of the season.
Young would be an excellent fit in Phoenix's wide-open offensive attack.
15. Atlanta Hawks (38-44): P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends (NBA D-League)
A terrific shooter who can also get to the rim, P.J. Hairston is ready to step in and provide instant offense for an NBA team. Hairston averaged 14.6 points per game and shot 39.6 percent from beyond the arc in his final season at North Carolina in 2012-13.
16. Chicago Bulls (from Charlotte (43-39)): Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
If the Chicago Bulls' first-round playoff exit taught us anything, it's that they desperately need shooting. Michigan's Nik Stauskas is a dead eye from distance, as noted by CBS Sports' Gregg Doyel, and has the handles to create his own shot off the dribble.
Nik Stauskas has 15 points on six shots, and he's just silly. Just absurdly good.— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelCBS) March 30, 2014
17. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn (44-38)): Zach LaVine, PG, UCLA
If the Boston Celtics or any other team selects UCLA's Zach LaVine in the middle of Round 1, it'll be because of his enormous potential. At 6'5", 180 pounds, LaVine boasts incredible size and length for the position.
However, he has some developing to do before he can maximize on those assets.
18. Phoenix Suns (from Washington (44-38)): Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
A versatile forward who could excel in Phoenix's fun-to-watch system, Wichita State's Cleanthony Early would provide the Suns with shooting and rebounding off the bench. The 23-year-old averaged 16.4 points per game for the Shockers last season, scoring from inside and out.
19. Chicago Bulls (48-34): Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
Again, Chicago needs players who can stretch the floor and knock down jump shots on a consistent basis. Therefore, Michigan State's Adreian Payne makes a lot of sense at No. 19. The explosive 6'10" power forward can be a factor running the floor in transition and also stretch the floor with his deep range.
Payne hit 42.3 percent of his threes last season with the Spartans.
20. Toronto Raptors (48-34): Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse
Jerami Grant's inconsistency and unreliable jump shot limited him at Syracuse and will be something to watch for in the NBA. However, his athleticism and energy are undeniable.
Grant has all the makings of an excellent role player off the bench.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Dallas (49-33) via Houston and L.A. Lakers): Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
The Oklahoma City Thunder can afford to stash a player overseas for another season or two, and that's why Swiss power forward Clint Capela makes sense for the Western Conference powerhouse late in Round 1.
Capela is extremely raw offensively but offers size, rebounding and defense at 6'11" with a 7'5" wingspan.
22. Memphis Grizzlies (50-32): K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
The defensive-minded K.J. McDaniels appears to be the perfect prospect for the Memphis Grizzlies, who have been one of the league's toughest and top defensive teams in recent seasons.
23. Utah Jazz (from Golden State (51-31)): Kyle Anderson, PG/PF, UCLA
UCLA's Kyle Anderson is incredibly versatile as a 6'9" power forward who is most effective with the ball in his hands on the perimeter. The point forward sees the floor exceptionally well and can shoot the ball from anywhere, hitting 48.3 percent from downtown last season.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (from Portland (54-28)): T.J. Warren, SF, NC State
The Charlotte Bobcats need scoring, and T.J. Warren can provide that. Warren averaged nearly 25 points per game last season with the Wolfpack and is arguably the third-best scorer available in 2014 behind Parker and McDermott.
25. Houston Rockets (54-28): Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan
Michigan's Glenn Robinson III is an explosive athlete who could bring a different skill set off the bench at the small forward spot. Robinson didn't score a ton of points in college but is a capable scorer with a phenomenal understanding of the game.
26. Miami Heat (54-28): Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
The Miami Heat's biggest weakness has been their lack of size and skill down low. And with the team contending for the Larry O'Brien Trophy year after year, it can afford to draft a project like Bosnia's Jusuf Nurkic.
At 6'11", 280 pounds, the 19-year-old is not only strong but also has soft hands and displays nice touch around the basket.
27. Phoenix Suns (from Indiana (56-26)): Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee
Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes would bring some much-needed toughness and physicality to Phoenix's frontcourt. At 6'8", 250 pounds, Stokes is a handful on the boards and is a capable scorer around the rim, connecting on 53 percent of his shots last season with the Volunteers.
28. Los Angeles Clippers (57-25): Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
The L.A. Clippers have Chris Paul, but Darren Collison's future is still up in the air. If Collison opts out and heads elsewhere this offseason, a spot should open up behind Paul.
UConn's Shabazz Napier could learn a lot from the Clippers' All-Star and provide lights-out shooting off the bench in the process.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder (59-23): C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington
Washington's C.J. Wilcox can defend on the perimeter and shoot the lights out on the other end. He'd be a superb pickup for the Thunder, who would benefit from adding another outside shooter.
30. San Antonio Spurs (62-20): Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana Lafayette
Louisiana Lafayette point guard Elfrid Payton would be the best player available at this stage of Round 1 and would be awfully tough to pass on for San Antonio.
Payton maximizes on his speed and length defensively and is an unselfish player on the offensive end, traits that make him a great fit for the Spurs.
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