When the top three overall prospects skip the entire thing, it's understandable why the importance of the NBA Draft Combine is seemingly plummeting with each new year.
While that may be true, though, that doesn't mean there aren't takeaways worth noting. Learning the true size of players is always crucial, while others get a chance to show off athleticism or shooting ability that scouts or pundits previously underrated.
So, with the prospect showcase in the books and Tuesday's lottery standing as the next event to provide a major shakeup, let's take a look at the current first-round forecast.
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF, Kansas
The biggest winner of the combine? The guy who didn't show up.
It's certainly not something that anyone who has been paying attention didn't already know, but this picture that quickly went viral reminded us of Andrew Wiggins' rare athleticism:
According to Wiggins' agent, via ESPN's Chad Ford, that would be an insane 44" vertical jump. The 19-year-old Canadian is still a bit raw, but his natural tools make him a potential game-changer on both sides of the ball. There will be lots of debate over this pick, but Wiggins' ceiling will win out in the end.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, SF/PF, Duke
That's fine for the Sixers. Jabari Parker may not have the upside of Wiggins, but he presents far less risk and is more likely to contribute right away.
Built in the Carmelo Anthony mold, the Duke superstar has some defensive problems, but his combination of offensive polish, versatility and basketball IQ are untouchable when it comes to 19-year-old prospects—even in this stacked class. He can score from any spot on the court and play any style of game.
One play, he'll run the break like a point guard. The next, he'll do this:
Pair him with fellow youngster Nerlens Noel, and Philadelphia immediately becomes the favorite to produce the Rookie of the Year for the second season in a row.
3. Orlando Magic: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
If not for injury concerns, Joel Embiid likely wouldn't even slip this far. Players with his blend of skill and size don't come along very often.
The Orlando Magic's biggest need isn't at center—Nikola Vucevic is a rising star—but this is a pure value pick. Embiid has only been playing organized basketball for three years, but the Cameroonian already displays tremendous offensive polish and footwork to go with his ability as a rim protector and rebounder.
There's risk involved here, but there's also risk of kicking yourself for the next decade if you let him slip past you and he lives up to his potential.
4. Utah Jazz: Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia
The main candidates for the Utah Jazz here are Dante Exum and Julius Randle. That presents an intriguing decision, as Dennis Lindsey is pretty set at both positions with Trey Burke and Derrick Favors.
While Exum is better at operating with the ball in his hands, it became apparent at the combine, via Ford, the Australian has the size to spend time at the 2:
Dante Exum measured 6-6 in shoes, 196 pounds with a 6'9.75 wingspan. That's huge for a NBA PG.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 15, 2014
Exum not only gives the Jazz a dynamic scoring punch at guard, he serves as another ball-handler to help take some of the pressure off the second-year Burke.
5. Boston Celtics: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski—and Woj is never wrong—this pick could be in play as the Boston Celtics attempt to woo Kevin Love away from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
No matter who is eventually slotted to pick here, though, it's difficult to imagine Julius Randle falling out of the top five.
The Kentucky standout can sometimes struggle against length, but he is a physical brute with relentless energy who cleans up the glass and can score either out of the post or facing the basket. He has even cracked the top three on some big boards, via NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper:
Talked to another exec today who said he has Julius Randle at 3, ahead of Wiggins. Heard that late in the tournament as well.— Scott Howard-Cooper (@SHowardCooper) May 16, 2014
The Celtics, a team in need of a point guard, will take Randle and run.
6. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
Marcus Smart did his best job to drag down his draft stock during a tumultuous sophomore campaign, but don't forget how many were enamored with this kid after his first season with the Cowboys. He is still an intelligent, hard-nosed player who can get into the lane at will and make a major difference on the defensive end.
Although Smart is still an inconsistent shooter, he provides a fire and intensity that the rebuilding Lakers would be smart to welcome.
7. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas give the Sacramento Kings heaps of offensive punch, but Mike Malone could use help on the other side of the ball, where his team gave up an unhealthy 106.3 points per 100 possessions last season.
Enter Aaron Gordon.
The 18-year-old was unsurprisingly a star during the athletic portion of the combine, with a 32.5" no-step vertical and 39.0" max vertical, per draftexpress. And as he said afterwards, via Sports Illustrated's Brian Hamilton, there's room for improvement:
At NBA Combine, they had to raise max vertical jump apparatus for Aaron Gordon. Gordon: "I felt like I could have jumped higher." Oh, OK.— Brian Hamilton (@BrianHamiltonSI) May 16, 2014
Gordon is still extremely raw on the offensive end, but he uses those physical gifts to his advantage on defense. He is agile enough to switch on the pick-and-roll, and clearly has enough trampolines in his shoes to protect the rim.
8. Detroit Pistons: Doug McDermott, SF/PF Creighton
The future of restricted free agent Greg Monroe may decide where the Detroit Pistons go with this pick. For now, however, let's operate under the assumption that someone gives Monroe a massive deal and new president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy elects to move in a different direction.
That allows Josh Smith to move to a more natural power forward position, and the Pistons to grab Doug McDermott to play on the wing. Dougie McBuckets, arguably the best shooter in the draft, instantly improves Detroit's second-worst three-point shooting, but he is a versatile offensive weapon who can score from anywhere on the court.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
It was somewhat of a quiet freshman season for Noah Vonleh, who averaged just 11.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per contest for the struggling Hoosiers. However, his advanced numbers were quite impressive. According to sports-reference.com, he was first in the Big Ten in rebounding percentage, fourth in defensive rating, fifth in true-shooting percentage, seventh in block percentage and eighth in PER.
His measurements at the combine, via The Boston Globe's Baxter Holmes and Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy, didn't hurt, either:
Mass native Noah Vonleh has 2nd biggest wingspan at NBA combine (7-4 1/4) behind Baylor's Isaiah Austin (7-4 1/2).— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) May 16, 2014
Noah Vonleh's hands are 11.75 inches - the second-largest in NBA combine history. He first palmed a basketball at "six or seven years old."— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) May 16, 2014
This is a "best player available" pick for the Cavs.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
After nabbing Parker with their first selection, the Sixers continue to pile up offensive firepower, bringing in Nik Stauskas.
The Michigan standout, along with McDermott, is one of the draft's two best outside shooters. He's also a combo guard who can handle the ball and take some of the pressure away from Michael Carter-Williams whenever necessary.
11. Denver Nuggets: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Gary Harris doesn't turn 20 until September, but it doesn't really feel like we're dealing with a teenager here. Seriously polished and well-rounded for his age, Harris is a tremendous shooter from mid- and long-range and can defend both wing positions.
This is ultimately a very safe pick, and that's exactly what the Nuggets, who will be looking for someone who can make an impact right away, need.
12. Orlando Magic: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
Tyler Ennis has always seemed like somewhat of a silent assassin, but when asked at the combine if he was the best point guard in this draft, via Kennedy, he displayed supreme confidence:
Definitely. I think I have the ability to lead a team, I think I have the ability to make others better and I think I’m able to put those together into a true point guard, who is also able to score when my team needs me. There are a lot of guys who can really score the ball, maybe some who can score better than me, but none that can put together the whole package as a point guard better than I can in this draft.
Exum and Smart might have something to say about that, but it would be difficult to argue against Ennis' point that he isn't the most rounded.
Known more for his cool demeanor and unflappability in clutch situations, the Syracuse star distributes (5.5 assists per game), takes care of the ball (1.7 turnovers per game), defends (2.1 steals) and can score. As Ford noted, he is also more athletic than people give him credit:
Tyler Ennis posted the second fastest modified lane agility score in the #NBACombine Is he still unathletic?— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 16, 2014
The Magic need a point guard, and Ennis helps tie together a really talented roster.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Dario Saric, SF/PF, Croatia
Dario Saric not only gives the Minnesota Timberwolves some Kevin Love insurance with his ability to play power forward, but he's a versatile offensive playmaker who can fit at other spots on the court in case Love stays in Minnesota long term.
The 20-year-old Croatian is a tantalizing prospect. He can do a little bit of everything, as evidenced by his 22.0 points, 13.0 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game at the ABA Final Four with Cibona, and this is really solid value near the end of the lottery.
14. Phoenix Suns: Rodney Hood, SG/SF, Duke
Rodney Hood doesn't present the biggest upside, but he has an NBA-ready body (6'8.5", 208 lbs, per DraftExpress.com) and can shoot the lights out:
Rodney Hood can flat out shoot it.... https://t.co/P0d8Z14wsw— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) May 8, 2014
Although he has potential on the defensive end, he still needs work in that area. Right now, he's mostly just a scorer who will be able to provide a spark off the bench. That's perfect for the Suns, who are in need of depth on the wing and were just a game away from the postseason this year.
15. Atlanta Hawks: James Young, SG/SF, Kentucky
The combine was good to James Young, who measured at 6'6.75" and 213 pounds with a bird-like 7'0" wingspan. He also showed off solid athleticism with a 35.5" max vertical.
Teams like to see those numbers, and when you combine his ideal physical attributes with his age (doesn't turn 19 until August) and the progression he showed near the end of the season, his arrow is undoubtedly pointing up.
This is a great get for the Hawks, who will eventually have to find a replacement for DeMarre Carroll.
16. Chicago Bulls: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
There's a common misconception that seniors don't offer any upside, and Adreian Payne is proof.
The Michigan State star is strong, explosive and has an inside-out scoring ability that is rare for players size. Throw in his toughness, intensity and willingness to protect, and it seems like a perfect match for Tom Thibodeau's team.
17. Boston Celtics: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Again, the Celtics are a bit of a wild card, but if they don't end up trading, they will likely remain in rebuild mode for at least another year.
That allows Danny Ainge to roll the dice on someone like Jusuf Nurkic. The towering true center could need another season of development before playing in the NBA, but he has the makeup—strength, agility and footwork—to be very good in this league.
18. Phoenix Suns: Jerami Grant, SF/PF, Syracuse
Some worry about Jerami Grant's height (6'7.75"), but as Bleacher Report's Fred Katz noted, that doesn't really matter.
Jerami Grant measured with almost a 7-3 wingspan and an 8-11 standing reach. Jeez. That's like a Cody Zeller-style standing reach.— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) May 15, 2014
Grant is a bit of a project, but he combines that Inspector Gadget length with unbelievable athleticism and a relentless motor around the rim on both sides of the ball. His potential will be too difficult for Phoenix to pass up at No. 18.
19. Chicago Bulls: T.J. Warren, SF, North Carolina State
The Chicago Bulls already grabbed a dynamic offensive weapon in Payne, and they continue to address those scoring woes by adding T.J. Warren, who poured in 24.9 points per contest at a remarkable 52.5 percent clip last season.
The 2014 ACC Player of the Year isn't the most athletic player, and he needs to continue to work on his outside shot, but he is a hard worker who uses his size and strength to his advantage. He gets buckets, and the Bulls could use a scorer like him off the bench.
20. Toronto Raptors: Kyle Anderson, PG/SF, UCLA
Despite a tremendous sophomore season, Kyle Anderson has plenty of critics—his lack of speed and athleticism cause many to wonder how his skill set will transfer to the next level.
Still, this is one of the most interesting players in the draft, as he stands at just under 6'9" yet has arguably the best vision and passing skills in this year's class.
"Slo-Mo" is one of the most difficult players to peg in this draft, but worst-case scenario, he serves as an offensive-minded distributor off the bench. The Raptors could do worse at No. 20.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends
With Thabo Sefolosha likely on his way out via free agency, Jeremy Lamb is probably headed for the starting lineup. That leaves essentially zero bench depth in the backcourt outside of Reggie Jackson.
There will always be question marks surrounding players who leave school like P.J. Hairston did, but there's no questioning the former Tar Heel's offensive ability. He is a deadly shooter but also has the size and strength to pose as a threat off the dribble.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Zach LaVine, PG/SG, UCLA
Zach LaVine was one of the clear winners at the combine, as Ford noted:
Zach LaVine with a 41.5 inch max vert. No surprise but still a WOW.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 16, 2014
Zach LaVine with the best lane agility score of the day 10.42 seconds. Freak athlete. #NBACombine— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 16, 2014
He's still extremely raw and will likely need a year or two to develop, but his unbelievable athleticism makes it easy to see why many are quick to draw comparisons to Russell Westbrook. If he's still around at this point, which is looking less likely every day, the Grizzlies will snatch him up.
23. Utah Jazz: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
The Jazz were the worst defensive team in the NBA last season, and although Exum is an electric talent, he doesn't really address that need.
K.J. McDaniels, on the other hand, blocked an astounding 2.8 shots per game and has a solid blend of strength and athleticism, making him easily one of the best perimeter defenders in this class.
24. Charlotte Hornets: Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
Cleanthony Early is a bit of a tweener, but as Ford argued, via NBA on ESPN, he is showing the ability to play at the 3, which would make more sense considering his size:
Early is an explosive athlete who can thrive in transition and has shown the ability to get hot from the outside. The Hornets need help on the perimeter, and if they are convinced he can play the 3, they won't hesitate to grab him.
25. Houston Rockets: Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA
Jordan Adams averaged 23.1 points per 40 minutes and had a true shooting percentage of 60.3 percent last season, quietly making him one of the most efficient offensive perimeter players in the nation.
The Houston Rockets will undoubtedly like to see those numbers, but Adams' ability to defend (2.6 steals per game) and compete is what really makes this an attractive pick for Daryl Morey's team.
26. Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
For what Shabazz Napier lacks in size, he makes up for in toughness, electrifying quickness and a deadly step-back jumper.
There is absolutely zero room to question this kid after what he did the past four years in Storrs, and he should have little trouble providing an instant offensive punch off Miami's bench.
27. Phoenix Suns: Clint Capela, PF/C, Switzerland
The Suns aren't likely to make room right away for three first-round picks, so expect Ryan McDonough to use this selection on the future.
Clint Capela is the perfect way to do that. The Switzerland international is very raw, but at 6'11" with a rangy 7'4.5" wingspan and tremendous athleticism, his future is bright. Give the 20-year-old a year or two to improve his feel for the game and add strength to his lanky frame, and he has the potential to be a dominant shot-blocker and rebounder.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
Not only do the Los Angeles Clippers get a backup point guard with a deadly first step and elite quickness, but Elfrid Payton gets to learn the game from the best point guard in the NBA.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Mitch McGary, C, Michigan
The Oklahoma City Thunder added Steven Adams last year, but Kendrick Perkins should be on his way out soon, and there will be a necessity to add some depth in the frontcourt.
Mitch McGary dealt with injury problems all year and then left Michigan on an extremely sour note, but he is a tireless competitor, a physical force on the glass and pretty skilled for a player his size. On potential alone, he'll sneak into the first round.
30. San Antonio Spurs: C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington
C.J. Wilcox's gorgeous, picture-perfect stroke puts him right on the heels of McDermott and Stauskas when it comes to the best long-range shooters in the class. At the combine, though, he showed off much more, measuring well and displaying great athleticism, via Ford and ESPN's Kevin Pelton:
James Young with a 35.5" max vert. CJ Wilcox with a 37.5" max vert.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 16, 2014
C.J. Wilcox's wingspan measured at nearly 6-10 at the NBA Draft Combine, which is excellent for a 2-guard.— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) May 15, 2014
Manu Ginobili, Danny Green and Marco Belinelli are all nearing the end of their contracts, and Wilcox would be a perfect fit in that second unit.