2014 NBA Mock Draft: Pick-by-Pick Preview for Round 1 Choices

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2014 NBA Mock Draft: Pick-by-Pick Preview for Round 1 Choices
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If you thought the drafting frenzy was over with the NFL draft in the books, think again.

The NBA now takes center stage, with the big day set for Thursday, June 26. The MLB draft occurs even sooner on June 5, but we don't seem to care about that as much.

So basketball it is.

There's plenty of reason to get excited for this year's draft class—which should blow last year's uninspiring group out of the water.

While everyone is beginning to temper expectations of labeling them future Hall of Famers, there's a myriad of talented players waiting to get selected next month.

The draft lottery can throw a wrench into these selections, but for now, the teams are slotted in order of reverse standings, and I'll direct the bottom-feeders to grab the best available prospects rather than addressing needs.

Judgment day can't come soon enough for teams that tanked to procure a brighter future through the annual selection process. Let's take a look at how it could unfold.

 

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

Andrew Wiggins is no longer the no-brainer No. 1 selection after a freshman season that didn't set the world on fire or allow anyone to rationally hype him as the next LeBron James.

But with this type of crazy athleticism, as documented by ESPN's Chad Ford, the Bucks are still getting a future All-Star who will put butts in the seats.

 

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

Jabari Parker posted stronger numbers than Wiggins in his freshman campaign, scoring 19.1 points per game on 47.3 percent shooting.

The 19-year-old gives Philadelphia its star of the future. But not only that. He's an immediate upgrade for a team that should improve considerably if it plays the entire draft right.

 

3. Orlando Magic: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas

It's one thing to forego Joel Embiid with Wiggins and Parker on the board, but the Magic have to strike at No. 3 unless more serious news about his back is unveiled before draft day. It's not every day that people see a young Hakeem Olajuwon in a 20-year-old prospect.

 

4. Utah Jazz: Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia

We know Wiggins, Parker and Embiid, but Dante Exum needs some further introducing. The dynamic combo guard will bring his slender frame and offensive playmaker prowess to the pros, where Utah will find a way to fit him in with Trey Burke.

Exum would prefer to run the show at point despite suggestions that he'd play better off the ball as a shooting guard. "That's the position that has got me here, that's what I want to be going forward," he told Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix.

With this bright a talent, the Jazz will figure something out.

 

5. Boston Celtics: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky

The Celtics aren't getting a Kevin Garnett replacement in Julius Randle, but the Kentucky power forward can impose his will on the post and the glass. According to ESPN Stats & Info, his combine measures revealed some unspectacular results, but his double-double production speaks for itself.

 

6. Los Angeles LakersMarcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State

As it stands right now, the Lakers are in danger of a returning Kobe Bryant shunning his lackluster teammates to take 40 shots a night. Marcus Smart gives the Lakers another scorer who can also facilitate the ball and do everything else in between on both sides.

 

7. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona

Aaron Gordon also flashed some eye-opening hops during the combine, but Numbers Never Lie put the feat in context—reminding us that athleticism does not always foreshadow stardom.

Still, Gordon would complement DeMarcus Cousins well by masking some of his defensive flaws. The versatile forward would boost the Kings' defense while making them fun to watch in transition.

 

8. Detroit Pistons: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse

Brandon Jennings is an incredibly exciting point guard, but not the one Detroit needs to establish a down-low presence with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. The Pistons built an offense exclusively around players looking for their own shot, and none of them are particularly good at shooting.

Tyler Ennis can create for his teammates, and he can offer stronger defensive fortitude at the guard position—two things the jumbled Pistons need to repair their unbalanced squad.

 

9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana

After Kyrie Irving, don't expect the impatient Cavs to be married to anyone on their roster. Noah Vonleh is too good of a value to pass up at pick No. 9. Even if Tristan Thompson, a 23-year-old coming off a strong season, is occupying the floor at power forward.

 

10. Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans): Nik StauskasSG, Michigan

The 76ers got their blue-chipper in Parker. Now they'll look to add a sharp-shooter from long distance to continue the rebuilding puzzle. Nik Stauskas will space the floor and give them some prowess behind the arc with Parker and Michael Carter-Williams attacking.

 

11. Denver Nuggets (via New York): Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State

Denver lacks any prototypical shooting guards. Making Gary Harris the perfect fit at pick No. 11. He can shoot, amplify the defensive pressure and occasionally handle the ball for Ty Lawson

 

12. Orlando Magic (via Denver): Dario Saric, SF, Croatia

Orlando continues to load up on young talent with Croatia's Dario Saric—a 6'10" small forward with a well-rounded offensive game on the inside and outside. He'll take some of the offensive burdens away from Arron Afflalo for one of the league's rising teams.

 

13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton

Kevin Love can shoot with aplomb, but nobody else on Minnesota can make use of Ricky Rubio's superb passing on the wing. The T-Wolves toss aside Doug McDermott's defensive flaws to take a pure scorer that can light up the scoreboard from deep.

 

14. Phoenix Suns: Rodney Hood, SF, Duke

There's a reason the NBA lends itself so well to a Game of Thrones parody: It's an unjust world where the 48-win Suns have to watch the playoffs and wait for fall to come to start anew.

Another weapon on the perimeter can give them an added boost, and Rodney Hood is just the player to enhance Phoenix's playoff push.

 

15. Atlanta Hawks: James Young, SF, Kentucky

James Young won't hurt Atlanta's effort to keep raining threes, but he can also finish around the basket—something that isn't exactly Kyle Korver's cup of tea. The Hawks may actually earn their playoff spot with a .500 record next time with Young and a healthy Al Horford.

 

16. Chicago Bulls (via Charlotte): T.J. Warren, SF, NC State

T.J Warren averaged 24.9 points per game during his sophomore season, shooting 58.2 percent on two-pointers—all without a deep jumper. They don't build models like that much these days.

Chicago is the perfect place for the tough scorer to thrive as it looks for someone to fill the void left behind by Luol Deng.

 

17. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn): Kyle Anderson, PG/SF, UCLA

Boston can use some depth behind the oft-injured Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley.

Kyle Anderson is a rare talent who successfully shifted from small forward to point guard despite speed concerns, and his versatility as a passer, scorer and rebounder from multiple positions makes him worth the investment.

 

18. Phoenix Suns (via Washington): P.J. HairstonSG, Texas Legends (NBA D-League)

Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe can't each log 48 minutes a night (although that would be awesome to watch). P.J. Hairston delivers a much-welcomed spark off the Suns' bench who can create instant offense when the team's top playmakers need a breather.

 

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

Carlos Boozer has one year left on his costly contract, and the Bulls will likely part ways with the power forward if they can't pawn him off sooner. Adreian Payne gives Chicago a shooter without sacrificing size, and he's a low-risk selection with the team's second choice of the round.

 

20. Toronto Raptors: Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland

Without a clear contributor on the board, Toronto stashes Clint Capela, a supremely athletic big man who can inflict chaos around the basket. He's worth it in the long run—even if the Raptors have to wait at least a year or two for some payoff.

 

21. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Dallas): Jerami Grant, SF/PF, Syracuse

First, the bad: Jerami Grant did not hit a single three-pointer last season.

The good? He's an athletic forward with a wide reach and intriguing inside game. His upside justifies a late Round 1 selection.

 

22. Memphis Grizzlies: Cleanthony Early, SF/PF, Wichita State

While his NCAA tournament success helped his draft cause, 23-year-old Cleanthony Early does not look as alluring as the 19- and 20-year-olds floating around draft boards.

He's not the highest upside play, but Early can shoot the ball as Memphis' small forward and gives the imposing Grizzlies even more size.

 

23. Utah Jazz (via Golden State): K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson

K.J. McDaniels is an intriguing prospect who can erase shot opportunities (2.8 blocks per game as a junior) while creating some on the other end. An improved shooting stroke would make him a fantastic NBA contributor.

 

24. Charlotte Bobcats (via Portland): Zach LaVine, PG/SG, UCLA

Zach LaVine's draft stock is hard to peg. His potential could vault him to lottery consideration even though his collegiate production hardly warrants a first-round look.

An aggressive team very well may strike earlier, but this is a good spot for Charlotte to add an explosive scorer to the bench.

 

25. Houston Rockets: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette

The secret could come out well before draft day, and that may skyrocket Elfrid Payton's draft value. The junior point guard does not receive much attention due to his background at the little-discussed Louisiana-Lafayette, but he's big and speedy enough to eat up minutes in Houston's rotation.

 

26. Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut

Shabazz Napier was the star during the Huskies' NCAA title run, but his unselfish style bodes well to slipping into the background as a role player for Miami. He can maintain rhythm as a distributor, do the heavy lifting on defense and sink the long ball when left open.

 

27. Phoenix Suns (from Pacers): Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia

Phoenix has bolstered its perimeter with Hood and Hairston, and the team now turns its attention down low. The club's third pick this round allows them to shoot for the stars with Jusuf Nurkic—a towering center who will hopefully pan out better than Alex Len.

 

28. Los Angeles Clippers: Mitch McGary, PF, Michigan

The Clippers grab Mitch McGarywhose draft stock dipped due to a back injury that cost him most of last season. Some Blake Griffin insurance on the reserve unit wouldn't hurt for a squad that's loaded with smaller scorers on the bench.

 

29. Oklahoma City ThunderBogdan BogdanovicSG/SF, Serbia

The frugal Thunder won't mind if Bogdan Bogdanovic needs a little time before joining the NBA circuit when he arrives. He can surround Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook with an outside shooter and crafty scorer.

 

30. San Antonio Spurs: Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan

The Spurs take intriguing, incomplete players and turn them into polished products. Their next project is Glenn Robinson. If he can shoot higher than 30.6 percent from three-point range then he will stick around as an NBA small forward.

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