NBA Mock Draft 2014: Complete 1st-Round Outlook Before Combine

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IMay 14, 2014

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins (22) during overtime of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Conference men's tournament in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, March 13, 2014. Kansas defeated Oklahoma State 77-70 in overtime. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

The NBA Draft Combine doesn't exactly have the same life-altering effect as the NFL's version. 

As ESPN's Chad Ford reported, many of the top prospects won't even participate in the drills: 

Still, while the top 10 isn't going to change much, the combine has a way of putting underrated prospects on the radar and shaking up the first round before the lottery and free agency further alter the outlook. 

With that in mind, let's take a look at the most recent first-round projection before prospects are put on display in Chicago

1. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF, Kansas

Much like Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, Andrew Wiggins will be put through the ringer in the weeks leading up to the draft. The 19-year-old will see his drive and killer instinct questioned, thanks in part to an up-and-down freshman season and a forgettable finale in the NCAA tourney. 

However, also like Clowney, Wiggins' physical tools will be too difficult to ignore. Boasting freakish athleticism, a smooth offensive game and first-team potential on the defensive end, the Canadian is a rare prospect. 

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

The lottery could very well change this pick, as Joel Embiid's upside at a scarce position makes him a strong candidate here. Nevertheless, with Nerlens Noel already in town, Sam Hinkie will go with the safest player in the draft.

Questions about Jabari Parker's size and defensive ability are still evident, but there is no prospect in this draft with more impressive offensive polish and versatility. Capable of scoring from anywhere on the floor and playing any type of game—transition, battling it out underneath—Parker is a candidate for 17 points per game right off the bat. 

3. Orlando Magic: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas

The Orlando Magic have a need at point guard as well as talent in the frontcourt with Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic. With two lottery selections, though, general manager Rob Hennigan can afford to take the best player available here, especially if said player is Embiid.

Despite playing organized basketball for only three years, the Cameroonian already displays terrific offensive touch and a feel for the game to go with his rare blend of size, athleticism and agility. Despite injury concerns, an upside that has drawn comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon means there is no way he'll fall past No. 3. 

4. Utah Jazz: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky

Some are torn as to whether Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors can anchor Utah's frontcourt in the future, but general manager Dennis Lindsey is certainly confident in the duo, via the Deseret News' Jody Genessy:

Still, Julius Randle gives the Jazz a strong, physical interior presence with a dangerous offensive game that stretches to mid-range.

5. Boston Celtics: Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia

Not only does Dante Exum serve as elite insurance with uncertainty surrounding Rajon Rondo's future in Boston, but the explosive Australian combo guard provides a fantastic scoring punch next to the pass-first point guard. 

6. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State

Marcus Smart didn't do his draft stock any favors during a tumultuous and controversy-ridden sophomore season, but this is still the intelligent, hard-nosed player many were enamored with after his freshman campaign with the Cowboys. 

The Lakers need a point guard of the future, and although Smart is an inconsistent shooter, he can get into the lane and is a difference-maker on the defensive end. 

7. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona

The Sacramento Kings have plenty of offensive talent with guys like Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas, but an upgrade is needed on the defensive end, where they gave up an unhealthy 106.3 points per 100 possessions last season. 

Aaron Gordon provides just that. 

An absolutely freakish athletic specimen, the 18-year-old has the ability to guard on the perimeter or use his trampoline-like hops to protect the rim. His offense has a way to go, but his athleticism and defense will help him make an impact right away in Sacramento. 

8. Detroit Pistons: Doug McDermott, SF/PF Creighton

Last season, the Detroit Pistons finished 29th in three-point shooting. Doug McDermott not only helps stretch the floor, but he brings a versatile offensive skill set that could help take some of the load off Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings

Dougie McBuckets isn't a great defender, but he's a better fit at small forward than Josh Smith, who may move to power forward with Greg Monroe hitting restricted free agency. 

9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana

It's tough to imagine Noah Vonleh slipping much further than this. The Indiana product is still a bit of a work in progress, but he quietly rebounded and defended (steal and block percentage) at a better rate than the more highly touted Randle. 

Throw in his unique ability to shoot from the outside, and Vonleh is a tantalizing prospect with immense upside. 

10. Philadelphia 76ers: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan

After adding Parker at No. 2, the Sixers continue to pile up offensive punch, bringing in Nik Stauskas. While the Michigan standout proved as a sophomore he has impressive athleticism and combo-guard qualities with the ball in his hands, his deadeye shooting ability next to Michael Carter-Williams and Tony Wroten will be crucial for this team. 

A starting five of Carter-Williams, Stauskas, Parker, Thaddeus Young and Noel is incredibly promising. 

11. Denver Nuggets: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State

One of the smoothest players in the draft, Gary Harris can score from all three levels and is a tremendous perimeter defender. Even at just 19 years of age, he's a well-rounded player capable of making an impact right away at the next level. 

For a Nuggets team not interested in a rebuild, this is a great fit. 

12. Orlando Magic: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse

The Magic went with best available talent with their first pick, and it works out as they are able to address their greatest need at this spot. 

Tyler Ennis isn't the most athletic player on the planet, but he's an incredibly intelligent, mature floor general. You put the Syracuse product around young, talented players such as Embiid, Victor Oladipo and Tobias Harris, and you watch everyone around him get better. 

13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Dario Saric, SF/PF, Croatia

Dario Saric's stock has been steadily rising since averaging 22.0 points, 13.0 rebounds and 6.5 assists at the ABA Final Four with Cibona, and it's unlikely he falls outside the lottery. 

Kevin Love is obviously entrenched at the power forward spot, but Saric can do a little bit of everything on the offensive end and can play at either the 3 or 4. 

14. Phoenix Suns: Rodney Hood, SG/SF, Duke

Rodney Hood doesn't have a sky-high ceiling, but with an NBA-ready body, (6'8", 201 lbs) a tremendous stroke from beyond the arc and the ability to lock down defensively, the 20-year-old has the look of a role player who will play right away. 

That's ideal for the Suns, who need depth on the wing and were a game away from the postseason this year. 

15. Atlanta Hawks: James Young, SG/SF, Kentucky

DeMarre Carroll had a nice season, but the journeyman 27-year-old who will be a free agent in the summer of 2015 probably isn't the future at small forward for the Atlanta Hawks. 

James Young may need a season before he makes a real impact, but he's a long lefty (6'6.5" with a 6'11" wingspan) with strength, athleticism and a deadly jump shot. 

16. Chicago Bulls: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State

It would be hard to dream up a better fit for the Chicago Bulls. 

Adreian Payne not only brings the toughness and intensity that Tom Thibodeau would welcome, but the explosive big man would add an inside-out scoring ability to one of 2013-14's worst offensive teams

17. Boston Celtics: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia and Herzegovina 

Although Kris Humphries' impending free agency provides some room for the C's to improve, it's still likely "rebuild mode" for Danny Ainge's squad. 

That allows Boston to roll the dice on someone like Jusuf Nurkic. The towering true center could need another season overseas, but he has the strength, agility and footwork reminiscent of Nikola Pekovic. 

18. Phoenix Suns: Jerami Grant, SF/PF, Syracuse

Jerami Grant will be dubbed a tweener. He doesn't have ideal size (6'8") to play power forward, and he lacks the jump shot to find his offense from the perimeter, as many small forwards are able to do. 

And it doesn't matter.

Grant's Inspector Gadget-like length (7'2") quells the problem of his height, and he combines that impressive frame with unbelievable athleticism and explosiveness. He's a bit of a project, but with three first-round picks, the Suns aren't going to get immediate production out of all their rookies. 

19. Chicago Bulls: T.J. Warren, SF, North Carolina State

Chicago continues to address their offensive woes, adding T.J. Warren, one of the best pure scorers in the draft. 

The 2014 ACC Player of the Year won't ever be the quickest or most athletic player on the court, but he will remind Bulls fans of Luol Deng with his hard-working nature and ability to use his size to his advantage on both ends of the court. 

20. Toronto Raptors: Kyle Anderson, PG/SF, UCLA

Anderson plays at a deliberate—read: slow—pace, and his lack of quickness may hurt him on the defensive end. However, this is arguably the most unique player in the draft, with the ability at 6'9" to handle the ball and distribute like a point guard. 

"Slo-Mo" is difficult to project, but at the very least, he would give a burgeoning Raptors squad a dangerous playmaker in the second unit.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends

If Thabo Sefolosha departs via free agency, Jeremy Lamb may soon be headed for the starting lineup. Reggie Jackson is very talented, but that leaves very little depth on the perimeter. 

P.J. Hairston's ugly departure from North Carolina didn't help his stock, but he played well during his D-League stint, reminding scouts of his picture-perfect jumper and impressive offensive arsenal. 

22. Memphis Grizzlies: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette

The Memphis Grizzlies finished 26th in bench scoring during the 2013-14 regular season. Chris Wallace and Co. should be in the market for a scorer.

Elfrid Payton is just that. The man who helped put Louisiana-Lafayette on the map is still a bit raw, but he has a deadly first step and elite quickness, allowing him to get to the rim at will. 

23. Utah Jazz: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson

The Jazz were the worst defensive team in the NBA last season, and after adding Julius Randle with their first pick, it's time to address the perimeter. 

K.J. McDaniels, who blocked an astounding 2.8 shots per game and has outstanding athleticism, is one of the best wing defenders in the entire draft. 

24. Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets: Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State

Cleanthony Early just has the look of an NBA player. 

An explosive athlete who thrives in transition, the Wichita State star has an inside-out offensive game and is a physical force inside the paint. There are worries about his size and where he'll fit, but he should have no trouble making a quick transition to the NBA. 

Charlotte has a need on the perimeter, and getting Early here represents tremendous value. 

25. Houston Rockets: Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA

Jordan Adams' jump shot and natural scoring ability make him a logical fit with the offensively minded Houston Rockets. Averaging 23.1 points per 40 minutes to go with a scorching true shooting percentage of 60.0 percent, the UCLA star was quietly one of the most efficient offensive players in the nation. 

Perhaps more importantly, though, he brings a defensive ability (2.6 steals per contest) and competitiveness that Houston sorely lacked in the postseason. 

26. Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut

Although it's Shabazz Napier's undefinable qualities that often receive the most praise (toughness, winning mentality, knack for making clutch shots), let's not forget this is one of the most electrifying players in the draft. 

Napier is a wizard with the ball in his hands, can create shots for himself or others and has a deadly step-back jumper. The Heat would welcome his instant offense and shooting ability off the bench in a heartbeat. 

27. Phoenix Suns: Clint Capela, PF/C, Switzerland

It's going to be difficult for a third rookie to make the Suns' roster, so if this pick isn't traded, expect it to be used on the future. 

Clint Capela is extremely raw and still needs to add bulk (6'11", 222 lbs), but with a ridiculous 7'4.5" wingspan and explosive athleticism, the 19-year-old has tantalizing potential for a year or two down the road. 

28. Los Angeles Clippers: Zach LaVine, PG/SG, UCLA

This is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Los Angeles gets a Russell Westbrook clone with unbelievable athletic gifts, and Zach LaVine, who isn't ready to make a significant impact in the NBA, gets to learn behind the best point guard in the NBA. 

29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Mitch McGary, C, Michigan

Mitch McGary missed nearly his entire sophomore campaign with a back injury and then left Michigan on less-than-ideal terms. As a result, his stock has plummeted. 

Still, this is a guy who looked like a lock for the lottery last March, competes harder than anyone you'll see and is more skilled than he gets credit for. Don't be surprised if he sneaks into the first round. 

The Thunder drafted Steven Adams last year, but with Kendrick Perkins entering the last year of his deal, there is a need to add more frontcourt depth. 

30. San Antonio Spurs: C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington

C.J. Wilcox is one of the draft's best shooters, but he showed a well-rounded game as a senior with the Huskies, displaying the ability to put the ball on the floor or score from mid-range. 

Manu Ginobili, Danny Green and Marco Belinelli are all nearing the end of their contracts, and Wilcox would be a nice addition to Gregg Popovich's always-important second unit. 


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