While the teams that missed the playoffs are still waiting to see where the pingpong balls land in the lottery, organizations are already making plans for the upcoming NBA draft.
This year's class features a deep pool of talent to give teams value throughout the first round. Game-changing players are available at the top, while teams in the middle and toward the end will find prospects who are capable of contributing early on or down the line.
Although this leaves plenty of options for every franchise, there are still better fits for each squad. Here is a look at a mock draft for the first round, which is set to take place in June.
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
The biggest problem concerning Andrew Wiggins in his only year at Kansas was that he was too passive in important games. However, the freshman was playing with older teammates on a talented squad. This is easily something that can be changed over time.
However, there is no way to teach his pure athleticism and basketball skill. He would provide the Bucks with a legitimate star who can help turn around the team's fortune before too long.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
Philadelphia was simply embarrassing to watch at times this season. The squad lacked talent and could not even compete in most games.
Jabari Parker would be an immediate boost to the offense as arguably the safest player in the class. He can score in a variety of ways and should quickly be a 20-point-per-game scorer in the NBA. The 76ers need star power, and he can provide it.
3. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia
Even though the Magic drafted Victor Oladipo, he is better off when he is playing as a 2-guard off the ball. In that case, Orlando needs someone who can be a true point guard of the future to pair with Oladipo and build for the long haul.
Dante Exum is a bit of a mystery in this draft, but he has plenty of potential as someone who can be an elite scorer or passer at the next level. He impressed people with his speed and quickness at the combine, via Chad Ford of ESPN:
Dante Exum with a 10.75 sec lane agility drill score. Ran a 3.19 second 3/4 sprint. Both scores top among all 2 guards he's testing with.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 16, 2014
ESPN Stats and Info also compares him to current NBA stars:
Dante Exum's 3/4 court sprint time of 3.19 is better than Chris Paul (3.22), Steph Curry (3.28), Damian Lillard (3.34)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 16, 2014
The Magic have other needs, but they would be smart to take a risk to lock up the backcourt for the next decade.
4. Utah Jazz: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
The back problems that held Joel Embiid out of the NCAA tournament are likely to prevent some teams from drafting him too early. However, he is unlikely to fall out of the top 10 regardless of what the medical reports say.
Embiid is an elite interior defender who can make a huge impact on any squad. With Enes Kanter struggling to live up to expectations in the low post for Utah, the Kansas star would be a solid upgrade.
5. Boston Celtics: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
It is true that the Celtics already have a few power forwards on the roster. However, you do not get picky at this point when a potential All-Star is on the board.
Julius Randle is a physical specimen who was dominant for most of his freshman season at Kentucky. He has a tireless motor that allows him to work for rebounds and get easy baskets inside. Even with better athletes attempting to stop him in the NBA, he will be just fine.
6. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
The Lakers would love to see Exum still on the board, but if he is gone, the team needs to find a point guard who can be a leader for the future.
Although Marcus Smart did have problems with his temper and struggled as an outside shooter, he is an elite contributor on both ends of the court and will quickly become a go-to player on any team.
7. Sacramento Kings: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
With DeMarcus Cousins quickly becoming one of the league's best centers, the Kings need to give him more help in the form of a power forward who can take some of the pressure off him in the frontcourt.
Noah Vonleh can take this role as an athletic scorer who can also step outside and drain three-point shots with regularity. He is not the most polished player, but he has nice upside that allows him to be a worthwhile selection in the top 10.
8. Detroit Pistons: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
Few players in the draft can match Aaron Gordon's athleticism. Although he was extremely raw in his first season at Arizona, he still wowed fans at times with his ability to throw down huge dunks.
Even though the Pistons are set in the frontcourt, Gordon can add depth and slowly learn to develop into the superstar he is capable of being.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
The Cavaliers roster as currently constructed is good enough to make the playoffs, despite the poor showing this past season. With another player who can contribute right away, the squad should have no problem avoiding the lottery next year.
Doug McDermott is arguably the most NBA-ready player with his pure scoring ability and skill to make a shot from almost anywhere on the court. He can quickly slide into the rotation with Cleveland and help the team from Day 1.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans Pelicans): Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Although Gary Harris is a bit small for a shooting guard, he has all the tools you want from the position on both ends of the court. He has good quickness and athleticism that allow him to get into the lane and score at the rim or step back and hit a jumper.
On the other end of the court, he can be a shutdown defender thanks to his strength and toughness on the perimeter.
Kyle Neddenriep of the Indianapolis Star compared Harris to another player who is performing well early in his career:
OK, Gary Harris reminds me of Bradley Beal. Realize Harris hasn't played in league yet, just meant they seem similar to me.— Kyle Neddenriep (@KyleNeddenriep) May 6, 2014
Harris was a bit passive at times at Michigan State, but he should provide the 76ers with another quality option on the perimeter.
11. Denver Nuggets: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
With the way the Western Conference continues to improve, it is clear that the Nuggets are still far away from contention. As a result, the squad has to be patient and draft a high-upside player who is capable of becoming a star.
Dario Saric is that type of player with his wide skill set as a point forward who can run an offense or find ways to score by himself. He might need some time to be ready to play in the NBA, but Denver should be willing to wait.
12. Orlando Magic (via New York Knicks): Rodney Hood, SF, Duke
After grabbing a guard with the first pick, the Magic need to improve in the frontcourt. Specifically, the squad needs to add players who can put the ball in the basket.
Rodney Hood is one of the better offensive players in the draft with the ability to make shots from outside or drive to the lane. His length and athleticism will ensure that he gets to the rim often and finishes as much as possible.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
With the uncertain future of Kevin Love, the Timberwolves would be smart to add a potential replacement at power forward. Like Love, Adreian Payne can spread the floor with his outside shooting. However, he can also drive the lane with his above-average athleticism.
Minnesota could use this type of athletic ability on both ends of the court to get back into the postseason.
14. Phoenix Suns: Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
Clint Capela is very raw heading into the draft, but his size at 6'10" and ability in the low post project him to be a quality contributor in the NBA.
The Suns proved this season that they are one of the top young teams in the league. Still, they are a few years away from truly being competitive in the West and should not mind selecting a project like this at the end of the lottery.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
Nik Stauskas took a huge jump from his freshman to sophomore year, changing from a spot-up shooter to someone who can be trusted to lead an offense. His ability to create his own shot should allow him to keep scoring at the next level.
Atlanta already has a quality shooter in Kyle Korver, but Stauskas represents a quality long-term option who can also help out right away.
16. Chicago Bulls (via Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets): Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
With Derrick Rose missing the majority of another season due to knee injuries, the Bulls have to start thinking about a contingency plan at the point guard position. Even D.J. Augustin did not do a great job of running an offense, even with his ability to score.
Tyler Ennis might not have tons of upside like Exum or Smart, but he is always composed with the ball and seems to make the right decision. Whether he ends up being a starter or a backup, he will be a valuable addition to the Bulls.
17. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn Nets): T.J. Warren, SF, North Carolina State
The Celtics selected Randle with the first pick, which should lead the team to add perimeter help with the second selection. T.J. Warren would be a perfect fit as one of the better pure scorers in the class.
He finished third in the NCAA with 24.8 points per game this past season thanks to an elite mid-range game. He will bring immediate scoring to a team that desperately needs it.
18. Phoenix Suns (via Washington Wizards): James Young, SF, Kentucky
James Young might have problems defensively, but he is confident that he can be a star on offense. He explained that he can play either shooting guard or small forward, via Jodie Valade of The Plain Dealer:
I can play both, but I'm more (comfortable) at the two because that's what I played growing up most of my career. I couldn't play it in college because we had so many guys, so I had to play the bigger spot...I feel like I'm in the top five (scorers). I feel like I can do a lot of different things with the ball and off the ball.
He has great length and elite athleticism that allow him to drive into the lane and score virtually anytime he gets the ball.
With the Suns, he could be yet another threat on the perimeter as the squad attempts to contend with the top squads in the Western Conference.
19. Chicago Bulls: Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
Although this might be a bit soon for Cleanthony Early, the Wichita State product showed throughout the season that he is a capable scorer no matter whom he is facing. He knows how to create his own shot and is also a willing defender when asked.
The Bulls will love his intensity, but they desperately need his ability to get points within the offense.
20: Toronto Raptors: Jerami Grant, PF, Syracuse
Toronto shocked many people with its third-place finish in the Eastern Conference, but the team still needs a lot more depth if it wants to compete on a regular basis.
Jerami Grant might not have a wide shooting range, but he can score consistently within 10 feet with the athleticism to make plays at the rim. This would be a perfect fit on a quick team that loves to move the ball down the court.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Dallas Mavericks): P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends (NBDL)
As a result, the squad must add a prospect who can come in and be productive enough to supplement the offense. P.J. Hairston is a great spot-up shooter who can also create space in the lane if needed.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA
The Grizzlies have one of the better defenses in the league, but the offense can use some help. They could seriously use the addition of Kyle Anderson, who has a knack for making everyone around him better.
The 6'8" player was a point guard at UCLA, but he will likely be a wing at the next level. Either way, his vision and passing ability will help make the offense better for whichever team drafts him.
23. Utah Jazz (via Golden State Warriors): Zach LaVine, PG, UCLA
Even though the Jazz drafted Trey Burke last season, they could still use a combo guard with plenty of upside like Zach LaVine. Even though he was a backup in college, he is lightning-quick with the skill to make plays on both ends of the court.
He could come along slowly for a team that is unlikely to win many more games next season no matter what happens in the draft.
24. Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets (via Portland Trail Blazers): C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington
Although Charlotte might be better off grabbing a player with more upside, C.J. Wilcox can help right away for a team that already made the playoffs this season.
He has good size for a guard with a polished game and should be a big-time scorer for an improving young team.
25. Houston Rockets: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
The Rockets had one of the best offenses in the NBA the past two years, but defense has held them back. This is where K.J. McDaniels can help out as a big-time shot-blocker who can also defend the perimeter.
He is a bit undersized for the NBA at 6'6", but he has the length to cause problems for players like LaMarcus Aldridge.
26. Miami Heat: Nick Johnson, SG, Arizona
With the various injuries and age problems with Miami, the squad needs to add depth to the backcourt. This could come from a player who had an incredibly successful career at Arizona.
ESPN's Fran Fraschilla, via Doug Haller of AZCentral.com, discusses why Nick Johnson can make it at the next level:
The thing teams like about Nick Johnson is a little bit of that versatility, and they love his toughness. It's a defensive-oriented system at Arizona right now. They like the fact that he can defend. He's likely to make a roster as a late-first or second-round pick -- beauty is in the eyes of the beholder --but I think being a pure two guard is not his game. It's going to be a guy with some versatility.
Johnson has great athleticism and always had a knack for making big plays at the end of games for the Wildcats. Although he is a bit undersized for a 2-guard, he should contribute to the rotation with the Heat early in his career.
27. Phoenix Suns (via Indiana Pacers): Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
The Suns seem set for some time in the backcourt with Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, but the squad could still use a lot more depth in this area.
Elfrid Payton is hoping to become the next Damian Lillard as a small-school prospect who turns into a star at the next level. While this is a lofty goal, simply being a quality backup to start would be just fine for Phoenix.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Mitch McGary, PF, Michigan
Doc Rivers would love to add a blue-collar worker on the inside like Mitch McGary. The forward has an excellent motor that allows him to go after rebounds and earn putbacks on the offensive end.
On a team that is capable of bringing home a title, adding depth in the frontcourt could be the last piece needed.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
Like many other European players in the draft, Jusuf Nurkic is likely a few years away from being a legitimate contributor in the NBA. However, the Thunder need improvements in the frontcourt and should not mind waiting a few years to get it.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
Anyone who watches college basketball knows what Shabazz Napier is capable of on the basketball court. He almost single-handedly led Connecticut to a national championship with his all-around performance.
While he does not have prototypical height for the league, the Spurs could turn him into a useful player and possible replacement for Tony Parker down the line.
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