While the 2014 NBA playoffs are heating up in anticipation of the conference finals, scouts from all 30 NBA franchises will be present at this week's NBA Draft Combine.
Although it isn't nearly as popular as the NFL's version, the combine will go a long way in determining where top prospects land this summer.
Below I'll project how all 30 first-round selections will play out next month.
*2014 NBA draft order according to NBA.com.
1. Milwaukee Bucks (15-67): Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
As the most NBA-ready prospect in this year's class, Jabari Parker is certainly a strong candidate to have his name called first on draft night. While Parker may not be as exciting a prospect as Andrew Wiggins, he'd be able to step in and make an impact right away for the Milwaukee Bucks, as pointed out by ESPN's Myron Medcalf, via ESPN 99.1 FM:
.@MedcalfByESPN on NBA Draft: "I think Jabari Parker is a guy you can't miss. I think he's the guy I would go with."— ESPN 99.1 (@ESPN991SF) May 14, 2014
In April, Parker explained his decision to forgo his sophomore season at Duke and enter the draft in an essay written for Sports Illustrated:
Ultimately, I boiled my decision down to two simple questions: Which environment -- college or the NBA -- offers me the best opportunity to grow as a basketball player? Which environment -- college or the NBA -- offers me the best opportunity to grow and develop off the court?
The answer to both questions is undeniably the NBA.
There's no question that Parker's ready to take the next step. The only question now is where he'll begin the next chapter of his career.
Based on the number of ping pong balls, Milwaukee is a strong possibility.
2. Philadelphia 76ers (19-63): Andrew Wiggins, SG, Kansas
If Parker comes off the board first, there's no way the Philadelphia 76ers, or any team for that matter, pass on Wiggins, who is an electrifying talent capable of taking over at both ends of the floor.
The 6'8" shooting guard struggled at times during his freshman season at Kansas, but possesses an incredible skill set, can absolutely jump out of the gym and is an elite defender when he's locked in.
3. Orlando Magic (23-59): Dante Exum, PG, Australia
Widely regarded as the top point guard available in 2014, Australia's Dante Exum appears to be an excellent fit in Orlando, where he would team with 2013 first-round pick Victor Oladipo to form one of the league's top young backcourt duos.
4. Utah Jazz (25-57): Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Like former Kansas teammate Wiggins, Joel Embiid is a potential No. 1 pick this summer. However, concerns surrounding his recent back injury could cause him to slide a bit. Nonetheless, with added strength and experience, the 7-footer has a chance to become a superstar down the road.
5. Boston Celtics (25-57): Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
With Rajon Rondo's future still up in the air, the Boston Celtics could target a point guard with their first selection. But Kentucky's Julius Randle is the best player on the board at this stage, and would provide Boston with a physical presence on the interior.
6. Los Angeles Lakers (27-55): Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
With Steve Nash banged up and in the twilight of his career, the Los Angeles Lakers are going to need a point guard for the future and Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart is the best available after Exum.
7. Sacramento Kings (28-54): Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
Arizona's Aaron Gordon is super athletic and could another dimension to the Sacramento Kings' frontcourt in 2014. Although he's undersized at 6'8", 210 pounds, Gordon would provide invaluable intensity.
8. Detroit Pistons* (29-53): Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
As the Detroit Pistons look to begin a new era under the recently-hired Stan Van Gundy, they would be wise to add a change-of-pace floor general in Syracuse's Tyler Ennis.
*Pick goes to Charlotte if it's ninth or lower.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers (33-49): Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
A well-rounded big man who's still developing offensively, Indiana's Noah Vonleh has the length and motor to help turn around a franchise. With the right blend of experience and coaching, his upside is seemingly endless.
10. Philadelphia 76ers* (from New Orleans (34-48)): Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
If the Sixers want to get younger and more athletic, Swiss power forward Clint Capela is an intriguing possibility at No. 10. Capela has drawn comparisons to Oklahoma City Thunder star Serge Ibaka and rightfully so, per Nike Hoop Summit on Twitter:
Clint Capela (@CapelaClint) an impressive 6-11 222 with a 7-4.5 wingspan. Has the many NBA scouts already in attendance intrigued.— Nike Hoop Summit (@nikehoopsummit) April 7, 2014
At 6'11", 222 pounds, Capela brings tremendous size and athleticism to the table, in addition to shot-blocking and rebounding.
*Pick goes to New Orleans if it's in the top three.
11. Denver Nuggets (36-46): Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
Arguably the most lethal shooter in this year's draft, Michigan's Nik Stauskas will be a hot commodity among lottery teams and will likely wind up with a franchise that values offense.
12. Orlando Magic (from Denver via New York (37-45)): Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
After snaring a point guard with their first selection, don't be surprised to see the Orlando Magic take a bit of risk on a prolific college scorer like Creighton's Doug McDermott.
The winner of the Wooden Award this past season with the Bluejays, McDermott has unbelievable range on his jump shot and can score points in a variety of ways.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves* (40-42): Rodney Hood, SG/SF, Duke
Duke's Rodney Hood possesses one of the best mid-range games of any player in this year's draft and brings incredible size and versatility to the table as a 6'8" shooter who can play either the 2 or the 3.
*Pick goes to Phoenix if Suns pass Minnesota in lottery.
14. Phoenix Suns (48-34): James Young, SF, Kentucky
If Kentucky swingman James Young can become a more consistent outside shooter, he has the potential to become a key contributor in the Phoenix Suns' wide open system.
15. Atlanta Hawks (38-44): Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
The Atlanta Hawks could use a high energy player like Gary Harris. The former Michigan State Spartan is a physical guard who excels at penetrating and getting to the rim.
Harris can be a streaky shooter, but when on, he's awfully difficult to guard.
16. Chicago Bulls (from Charlotte (43-39)): Dario Saric, PF, Croatia
While Croatian power forward Dario Saric isn't an athletic prospect, he's a skilled big man capable of creating matchup nightmares for opposing teams. With defensive stalwart Joakim Noah providing resistance around the rim, the Bulls could use a big with immense offensive potential.
And as ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla notes, Saric possesses that potential:
One scary thing about Croatia's Dario Saric is his ability to play NBA SF. Last two pro seasons, he's been mobile PF who drives slow guys.— Fran Fraschilla (@franfraschilla) April 18, 2014
17. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn (44-38)): Zach LaVine, PG, UCLA
As already mentioned, Rondo's future in Beantown is far from settled, and if the Celtics decide to go in a new direction sometime down the road, adding a project like UCLA's Zach LaVine makes sense.
LaVine isn't ready to contribute right now, but he has the measurables and potential to become a difference-maker in the years to come.
18. Phoenix Suns (from Washington 44-38)): Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
Wichita State's Cleanthony Early is an underrated prospect heading into the draft, but would be an ideal fit with the Suns, who could benefit from adding another player with size who can stretch the floor.
19. Chicago Bulls (48-34): Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
Chicago is desperate for a player who can stretch the floor and provide scoring in the frontcourt. Fortunately for the Bulls, Michigan State's Adreian Payne should be available in the middle of Round 1.
Payne's combination of length and explosion will make him a challenging assignment for opposing power forwards.
20. Toronto Raptors (48-34): Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse
The big knock on Syracuse forward Jerami Grant is his unreliable jump shot. However, his motor and athleticism certainly stand out from the rest of this year's draft class and make him an ideal candidate to wind up with the Toronto Raptors.
Grant's energy and rebounding off the bench would be huge for a team looking to take the next step in the Eastern Conference in 2014-15.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Dallas (49-33) via Houston and L.A. Lakers): P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends (NBA D-League)
The Oklahoma City Thunder are clearly among the handful of title contenders in today's NBA, and therefore don't need to knock every draft pick out of the park this summer. The Thunder can afford to take a shot on former North Carolina sharpshooter P.J. Hairston.
Although Hairston has areas where he can improve, his strength and shooting prowess making him an intriguing prospect.
22. Memphis Grizzlies (50-32): K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
The reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Clemson's K.J. McDaniels looks to be an excellent fit for the gritty Memphis Grizzlies, who have forged their reputation on toughness and defense.
23. Utah Jazz (from Golden State (51-31)): Kyle Anderson, PG/PF, UCLA
It's tough to project how UCLA point forward Kyle Anderson will fit in at the next level, but if a team like the Utah Jazz is able to put him in a position where he can play with the ball in his hands and create, he has the potential to become a matchup nightmare for opposing perimeter players.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (from Portland (54-28)): T.J. Warren, SF, NC State
Adding an elite scorer like T.J. Warren would help relieve the pressure on Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker in Charlotte. Warren averaged nearly 25 points per game last season as a sophomore and brings a high motor and impressive defensive prowess to the mix as well.
25. Houston Rockets (54-28): Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan
Expect a team to fall in love with Glenn Robinson III's athleticism and pedigree late in Round 1. His inconsistency at Michigan was a big red flag, but he's a smooth scorer and is explosive on the offensive end.
26. Miami Heat (54-28): Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
Miami may have found a way to overcome its lack of talent and depth in the frontcourt, but if the Heat are going to continue to win titles, it wouldn't hurt to have a skilled big man that defenses would be forced to respect around the rim.
27. Phoenix Suns (from Indiana (56-26)): Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee
Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes would bring some much-needed physicality and toughness to the desert. At 6'8", 250 pounds, Stokes is an outstanding rebounder and an impressive scorer in the paint.
28. Los Angeles Clippers (57-25): Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
With the possibility of Darren Collison leaving town at season's end, bringing in a dynamic point guard like UConn's Shabazz Napier would be a smart move for the Los Angeles Clippers.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder (59-23): DeAndre Daniels, SF, Connecticut
Another former Huskies star, 6'7" small forward DeAndre Daniels was huge for Connecticut en route to winning the national title last month.
For a team like the Thunder, who thrive in transition, Daniels' ability to run the floor and stretch it with his shooting would be an ideal fit.
30. San Antonio Spurs (62-20): Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana Lafayette
At this stage of the first round, overlooked point guard Elfrid Payton would be a steal for the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs could use Payton's athleticism behind Tony Parker and would also be big fans of his unselfishness.
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