Teams participating in the 2014 NBA draft lottery should feel less pressure to win the drawing than they have in years.
There is no consensus No. 1 overall pick like Anthony Davis was in 2012. And there's no shortage of prospects worthy of the No. 1 pick, like there was in 2013.
Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid are so promising and evenly matched that they'll leave any franchise that lands a top three selection feeling like they won the lottery.
Here are each team's odds to land the first overall pick according to NBA.com, as well as predictions of who they'll choose at their projected selection.
|NBA Lottery Odds|
|6||Los Angeles Lakers||6.3%|
|10||New Orleans Pelicans||1.1%|
|12||New York Knicks||0.7%|
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker (SF, Duke)
At just 22 years old, Brandon Knight averaged a career-high 17.9 points per game this season to lead the Bucks in scoring. That isn't enough to be the No. 1 offensive option when the next highest scorer for most of the season averaged just 12.1.
More than anything, Milwaukee needs a face of the franchise, a No. 1 offensive option. Parker and Wiggins have the potential to be just that.
Parker just projects to make an easier transition to the NBA as a scorer. He weighs 41 more pounds than Wiggins and averaged 2.0 points per game more than him in college.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Wiggins (SG, Kansas)
Trading Evan Turner left the 76ers with no one on the wing capable of consistently creating his own shot. While Parker is more pro-ready, Wiggins is the superior athlete.
He also doesn't need the ball in his hands as much, which will make it easier for him to vibe with Michael Carter-Williams. The NBA Rookie of the Year point guard averaged 16.7 points and 6.3 assists per game. He needs a scorer to pass to more than one to take the ball out of his hands.
3. Orlando Magic: Joel Embiid (C, Kansas)
Center Nikola Vucevic had the highest player efficiency rating (PER) on the Magic last season, but Embiid is the best player on the board by far. As gifted as Parker and Wiggins are, Embiid got closer to cementing himself as the No. 1 pick than either of them. Then he suffered a back injury before the NCAA Tournament, which confused matters a bit.
If healthy, Embiid would give Orlando the rim protector Vucevic couldn't be last season. Vucevic averaged just 0.82 blocks per game while Embiid averaged 2.6 in 23.1 minutes.
4. Utah Jazz: Julius Randle (PF, Kentucky)
Enes Kanter is a defensive liability alongside a mediocre defender in Derrick Favors. This season, Kanter allowed opposing power forwards to average a PER of 27.7 according to 82games.com (15.0 is the NBA average). That's nearly the equivalent of transforming whoever he matches up with into Kevin Love, who finished 2014 with a 26.97 PER.
Randle isn't an all-world defender either. But by leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, the 6'9", 225-pound big man proved he's a force in the post and one of the most pro-ready players in the draft.
5. Boston Celtics: Aaron Gordon (PF, Arizona)
As intriguing of a prospect as Dante Exum is, Boston would be unwise to give up on a Rajon Rondo-Avery Bradley backcourt so soon. Injuries to both last season derailed what could've been, but Chris Forsberg of ESPN pointed out that, when they've actually been alongside one another, they've dominated.
Aaron Gordon is one of the best athletes in the draft. A frontcourt with Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, who combine for approximately 500 pounds, needs an injection of athleticism.
6. Los Angeles Lakers: Dante Exum (PG, Australia)
All but five Lakers are scheduled to become free agents this summer. Given that they need essentially everything, picking the best available player is their best option. Exum, perhaps the only prospect not named Parker, Wiggins or Embiid capable of sneaking into the top three, could be a steal at sixth overall.
7. Sacramento Kings: Marcus Smart (PG, Oklahoma St.)
Isaiah Thomas, who averaged 20.3 points and 6.3 assists per game last season, is a free agent this summer. If he leaves, Sacramento needs a replacement and Smart fits the bill. But even if Thomas stays, Smart should still be the selection.
At 6'4", 225 pounds, Smart has the size to start alongside Thomas. The Kings' first-round pick last year, Ben McLemore, sure hasn't earned the starting shooting guard gig. He finished his rookie campaign with a pitiful 7.8 PER.
8. Detroit Pistons: Noah Vonleh (PF, Indiana)
The Charlotte Bobcats will receive this pick if it falls outside the top eight.
Vonleh didn't shoot often from beyond the arc at Indiana. But when he did, he converted with impressive efficiency, shooting 48.5 percent.
Detroit is already loaded down low with Andre Drummond, Josh Smith and, depending on if he stays this summer, Greg Monroe. New head coach Stan Van Gundy loves a good stretch 4, though. And, with Josh Smith shooting 26.4 percent from downtown, the Pistons don't have a competent one on their roster.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Nik Stauskas (SG, Michigan)
Cleveland finished 22nd in the NBA in scoring this past season. Kyrie Irving, who averaged 20.8 points per game, needs more help. Stauskas would provide it.
The Wolverine averaged 17.5 points per game last season, shooting 47.0 percent from the field and 44.2 percent from beyond the arc. He isn't the nearly defender that Gary Harris is, but Stauskas is far more efficient offensively. Cleveland just needs to get as much scoring as it can out of this pick.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Dario Saric (PF, Croatia)
The New Orleans Pelicans will keep this pick if it falls inside the top five.
According to ESPN (subscription needed), Saric likely won't come to the NBA until 2016 or later. Philadelphia showed willingness to wait for Nerlens Noel to return from a torn ACL last year. Showing patience again for Saric, the best player on the board, could pay dividends.
The 6'10", 223-pound point forward is versatile enough to eventually fill the 76ers' hole at small forward left by Turner.
11. Denver Nuggets: Gary Harris (SG, Michigan State)
Denver can do better at starting shooting guard than Randy Foye. He averaged 13.3 points per game and a PER of only 13.3 last season.
Pairing the 6'4", 210-pound Harris with the undersized 5'11", 195-pound Ty Lawson looks troublesome on paper. But Harris is one of the top perimeter defenders in the draft. He also averaged 16.7 points per game for the Spartans last season.
12. Orlando Magic: Tyler Ennis (PG, Syracuse)
The Orlando Magic will receive the less favorable of the previous pick and this one traded from the New York Knicks to the Nuggets.
Orlando is desperate for a point guard. Jameer Nelson, at 32 years old, sure isn't its future at the position. And Victor Oladipo fits better at the 2.
If the Magic don't grab a floor general with their early first round pick, they need to snag one here. Ennis, who averaged 12.9 points and 5.5 assists per game last season, just happens to also be one of the top prospects on the board.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Doug McDermott (SF, Creighton)
The Phoenix Suns will receive this pick if it falls outside the top 13.
Minnesota finished 26th in the league in three-point percentage during the regular season. McDermott would change that.
One of the best scorers in college basketball history, he shot 44.9 percent from downtown as a senior after shooting over 48.5 percent the previous two years.
14. Phoenix Suns: James Young (SF, Kentucky)
P.J. Tucker started 81 games at small forward for the Suns last season, but they could do better at the position. While he only averaged 9.7 points per game and a PER of 13.3, opposing threes averaged a PER of 15.4 against him according to 82games.com.
Young averaged 14.3 points per game for the Wildcats as a freshman and he'll only turn 19 years old in August.
David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report and editor at Wade-O Radio.
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