The vast majority of NBA organizations have already entered the offseason, so we ought to look ahead to the tantalizing 2014 draft as well.
This year's draft class isn't just about the potential stars at the top of the board; it's also one of the deepest crops of prospects in recent memory. No matter how late your team is selecting this year, there is value to be had. Even the non-tankers will have plenty of reasons to celebrate when it comes their time to select on draft night.
But which talents will go to which teams? Let's mock draft it and break down the entire first round. projection.
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
The Bucks are desperate for someone who can take over the game on both ends of the floor with his skill and athleticism. Wiggins already has the physical gifts for the job, and the polish will come.
We're talking about a team that entered this season with every intention to make the playoffs, then won a whopping 15 games. They need a reason to get excited, and Wiggins is a plenty good reason.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
Michael Carter-Williams can't really do anything with the frenetic Sixers offense without some scoring around him.
Enter Parker, the most well-rounded scoring threat this class has to offer. He'll destroy opponents inside when he leaks out in transition or slashes into the lane, and he can step out and knock down threes to keep the Philly offense effectively spaced.
3. Orlando Magic: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Nikola Vucevic has done a fine job at center for the Magic, but they could really use a true rim protector inside to anchor their young group on defense.
Embiid has the size, strength and length to develop into an elite post player on offense as well as defense. Playing him alongside Vucevic would give Orlando an imposing frontcourt in which the vet has defensive help and the rookie can learn to score inside gradually.
4. Utah Jazz: Dante Exum, PG, Australia
At 6'6", Exum is absolutely quick enough and agile enough to handle the point guard position at the next level, but he's a steadier scorer right now than he is a facilitator.
Putting him in the same backcourt as Trey Burke would give the Utah Jazz a sorely lacking degree of explosiveness without burdening Exum with full-time ball-handling duties. Even so, Burke can capably play off the ball as well, meaning Exum will still have plenty of opportunities to create.
5. Boston Celtics: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
Julius Randle would probably be the best big prospect, and certainly the most NBA-ready one, left on the board at this point, but he wouldn't make sense even for a Boston team in search of a stronger frontcourt. Pairing the 6'9" Randle with the 6'9" Jared Sullinger will leave the Celtics very vulnerable to shots at the rim.
Vonleh has the athleticism and the mid-range game to develop into a very good offensive power forward, and at a rangy 6'10", he's a better fit alongside Sully for defensive purposes.
6. Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
Randle fits just fine with the Lakers, though.
Since Pau Gasol's contract expires this summer, L.A. won't return anything resembling reliable frontcourt offense next season. Randle already has the strength to bully his way inside and the shot to knock down 15-footers if the defense lets him, giving the Lakers the opportunity to establish an inside-out game with him and Kobe Bryant while he's still around.
7. Sacramento Kings: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
Isaiah Thomas will still be the go-to Sacramento Kings point guard, but at 6'4" with a solid jumper, Smart can be productive without the ball in his hands as well.
Furthermore, it would be novel for the Kings to acquire someone known for his defensive prowess who could maybe turn around that pitiful unit.
8. Detroit Pistons: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
The Pistons are going to be an inside-first team as long as Andre Drummond is around, let alone Josh Smith and Greg Monroe (a restricted free agent this summer).
That means some Detroit point guard needs to get them the ball and somehow keep the defense from crashing down on them. Brandon Jennings did not succeed on either count last season, so bringing in another ball-handler with a surer shot in Ennis should help.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
Ever since LeBron James skipped town, Cleveland has gotten basically no production from the small forward spot. That includes a disappointing return on the Luol Deng investment, which will likely end when he enters free agency in July.
Saric can produce around the rim as well as fire off a reliable jumper, giving Kyrie Irving another perimeter offense beyond Dion Waiters. The 6'10" Croatian will also allow the Cavs to experiment with smaller lineups if they so desire.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans): Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
Given the pace at which Philadelphia plays, its forwards have to be willing and able to run as well as bang around inside.
The 6'8" Gordon doesn't project as an NBA power forward for every team, but he does for Philly. A Gordon-Nerlens Noel tandem would present a long-armed terror to anyone trying to penetrate that defense, and Gordon gets down the floor as well as anyone who will be tasked with covering him.
11. Denver Nuggets (via New York): Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Like the Cavs and their small forwards, the Nuggets haven't gotten anything out of their shooting guards in ages.
They'd be giddy if Smart slipped, allowing them to play him next to Ty Lawson in two-point guard lineups, but Harris is a fine alternative. He's the pure shooting guard Denver needs, able to knock down the shots Lawson creates for him as well as break down defenses as a secondary ball-handler.
12. Orlando Magic (via Denver): Rodney Hood, SF, Duke
Parker was deservedly the biggest star at Duke, but Hood was a dynamic offensive weapon in his own right.
Considering it's unclear how Tobias Harris and Moe Harkless will develop from here on out, Hood is exactly the wing scorer Orlando needs to improve in the short- and long-term.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
Kevin Love's sweet shooting has overshadowed Minnesota's lackluster production from the small forward spot, but this team could really use another spot-up option.
McDermott will be a constant concern for defenses whenever he's on the court, opening more space inside for Love to operate and giving Ricky Rubio yet another assist target.
14. Phoenix Suns: Zach LaVine, PG, UCLA
Phoenix came out of nowhere to blitz the league this past season, creating matchup nightmares by surrounding Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe with shooters at the three forward spots.
That said, the Suns dropped off noticeably whenever one of the two point guards left the floor. LaVine gives them another superb athlete, allowing Phoenix to maintain the integrity of its strategy when one of the starters rests without overburdening the raw youngster with full on-ball duties.
15. Atlanta Hawks: James Young, SF, Kentucky
Atlanta has shooting at every position on the floor, but Young can also make an offensive impact with his physical ability.
As his off-the-bounce game matures, he'll provide a more varied alternative to Kyle Korver or DeMarre Carroll without hurting Atlanta's impeccable spacing.
16. Chicago Bulls (via Charlotte): Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
During the Tom Thibodeau era, Chicago has never been interested in playing small for the sake of the offense, limiting the shooting they could get from the power forward position.
Payne can score on the block and from beyond the arc, and he's strong and smart enough to find a fit in Thibs' unforgiving defensive system. This is a low-upside pick, but one that fills a very specific niche.
17. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn): Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
Stauskas could conceivably go nearly 10 picks earlier than this, but shooting guard isn't the high-demand position it used to be due to the proliferation of multiple-PG offenses.
Boston's tandem of Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley fits that billing, but the Celtics could still use a true shooter in its backcourt. If Stauskas can do one thing at an elite level, it's that.
18. Phoenix Suns (via Washington): P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends
Gerald Green's volume scoring became an unexpectedly significant element to the Suns offense last season; when Green sat, his teammates struggled to create their own shots like he could.
Hairston will have no such trouble. He's a more consistent spot-up threat than Green, and he'll be able to put the ball on the floor and find openings in the mid-range as well.
19. Chicago Bulls: Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse
This is a pure depth pick, though Grant does have the potential to improve.
Mike Dunleavy wasn't supposed to hold down the small forward spot himself, but that became a necessity following the Deng trade. Grant will give Chicago some another body and some much needed energy at that position going forward.
20. Toronto Raptors: Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA
DeMar DeRozan has emerged as a true go-to scorer now that he isn't sharing shots with Rudy Gay anymore. That said, Toronto doesn't have a second-unit guy who can replicate DeRozan's game.
Adams doesn't quite have DeRozan's athleticism, but he's nonetheless a capable offensive player who will be able to give the Raptors a boost off the bench when needed.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
Both due to his individual improvement and injuries to Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson has turned into a vital piece of this OKC team, but when his rookie contract expires after the 2014-15 season, the stingy Thunder are unlikely to retain him.
Payton is another tall, lengthy, speedy point guard that the Thunder love so much. He's a big-time transition threat already, and with the chance to develop further, he can be a fine Jackson replacement.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Mario Hezonja, SG, Croatia
The grit-and-grind philosophy lives forever in Memphis, but the Grizz will always need to find more shooters if they want their scoring to complement their defense.
Hezonja is a ridiculous shot-maker and an incredible talent to find this late in the draft. Even if he stays with Barcelona's senior team another year, this is a valuable get for Memphis.
23. Utah Jazz (via Golden State): Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA
In part because of Utah's struggles at the point in recent years and in part because of Gordon Hayward's facilitation ability, the Jazz have grown accustomed to point-forward play.
Anderson has the passing gene, which will be a welcome addition to Utah's second unit if Hayward comes back this summer; otherwise, Anderson will be able to replace some of Hayward's production if he goes elsewhere.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (via Portland): T.J. Warren, SF, North Carolina State
The Hornets to be could not score consistently last season with anyone other than Al Jefferson. Kemba Walker is still a legitimate weapon, but he needs other options around him to produce.
Warren is a big defensive minus, but he can step in and contribute offensively right now. Hopefully Steve Clifford can shore up his game on the other end, but offense-defense swaps with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist wouldn't be the worst compromise.
25. Houston Rockets: Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
Now that Houston already has so much talent in place, it has the infrastructure to stash a forward overseas and pair him with Dwight Howard a little later.
Capela has loads of athleticism and is working on an eclectic offensive game, which is exactly the sort of skill set about which the Rockets would be well served to keep patient.
26. Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
The last time the Heat drafted a heroic college point guard with a knack for bulldog defense and clutch shooting, they got Mario Chalmers, whose style of play is quietly key to Miami's strategy.
Napier knows how to win, but he does not need to be the go-to guy to succeed. He'll willingly play without the ball in his hands and will defer to the established leadership, making him the ideal rookie for an established contender.
27. Phoenix Suns (via Indiana): Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
Early projects as a true small forward no matter where he goes, but don't be shocked if Phoenix goes ahead and plays him at the 4-spot anyway.
He's got some strength to him and is tough-enough player to battle bigger guys inside, even if he won't always win those bouts. His shooting stroke and ability to beat closing-out defenders off the dribble will more than make up for that.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Nick Johnson, PG, Arizona
Darren Collison quarterbacks L.A.'s second unit, but he's due a raise this summer, so the Clippers have to think about a new backup point guard.
Johnson is not nearly the offensive threat Collison is, but he's a tough, heady player capable of setting up the many Clippers spotting up for threes. He'd also be a welcome defensive improvement over Collison.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
Ever since they parted ways with Jeff Green, the Thunder have not had anyone who can score at Kevin Durant's position when the 2014 MVP sits.
That might be all McDaniels can do, but he has the athleticism to grow into a more complete player. For now, he'll be able to help OKC just by virtue of being a non-Durant, non-Westbrook scoring option.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
Even if Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich retire after this season, as long as R.C. Buford runs that front office, the Spurs will stay the Spurs.
That means drafting a talented, intriguing true center in a draft light on bigs. Even if Nurkic isn't ready to come over right away, he's 6'11", 280 pounds, and San Antonio would prefer he take Duncan's place when he's readiest, not just at the earliest convenience.
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