Let the conspiracy theories begin.
A new commissioner certainly isn't going to be enough to put an end to the age-old tradition of fans clamoring foul play when it comes to the NBA draft lottery, especially with Cleveland once again coming away with the No. 1 pick.
Especially with these kind of numbers:
Now on the clock for the next month, the Cavaliers get the enviable task of picking between limitless upside in Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid, or going with a sure-fire immediate contributor in Jabari Parker.
Let's take a gander at how the first round now stands post-lottery, along with a case for each of the top-three prospects, according to DraftExpress.com and ESPN's Chad Ford's (subscription required) big boards, as the No. 1 pick.
Selection Order and Pick Projections
|2014 NBA Draft Order and Projections|
|1||Cleveland Cavaliers||Andrew Wiggins||Kansas|
|2||Milwaukee Bucks||Joel Embiid||Kansas|
|3||Philadelphia 76ers||Jabari Parker||Duke|
|4||Orlando Magic||Dante Exum||Australia|
|5||Utah Jazz||Julius Randle||Kentucky|
|6||Boston Celtics||Aaron Gordon||Arizona|
|7||Los Angeles Lakers||Noah Vonleh||Indiana|
|8||Sacramento Kings||Marcus Smart||Oklahoma State|
|9||Charlotte Hornets||Doug McDermott||Creighton|
|10||Philadelphia 76ers||Nik Stauskas||Michigan|
|11||Denver Nuggets||Gary Harris||Michigan State|
|12||Orlando Magic||Dario Saric||Croatia|
|13||Minnesota Timberwolves||Rodney Hood||Duke|
|14||Phoenix Suns||James Young||Kentucky|
|15||Atlanta Hawks||Tyler Ennis||Syracuse|
|16||Chicago Bulls||Adreian Payne||Michigan State|
|17||Boston Celtics||Zach LaVine||UCLA|
|18||Phoenix Suns||Jerami Grant||Syracuse|
|19||Chicago Bulls||T.J. Warren||NC State|
|20||Toronto Raptors||Kyle Anderson||UCLA|
|21||Oklahoma City Thunder||P.J. Hairston||UNC/Texas Legends|
|22||Memphis Grizzlies||Jusuf Nurkic||Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|23||Utah Jazz||K.J. McDaniels||Clemson|
|24||Charlotte Hornets||Cleanthony Early||Wichita State|
|25||Houston Rockets||Jordan Adams||UCLA|
|26||Miami Heat||Shabazz Napier||Connecticut|
|27||Phoenix Suns||Clint Capela||Switzerland|
|28||Los Angeles Clippers||Elfrid Payton||Louisiana-Lafayette|
|29||Oklahoma City Thunder||Mitch McGary||Michigan|
|30||San Antonio Spurs||C.J. Wilcox||Washington|
The Case for Andrew Wiggins
Umm, have you seen this picture (of course you have)?
OK, so maybe a mere photo isn't enough to entrench Wiggins at the top of your big board, but it is yet another reminder that he is a rare athletic specimen.
Like all 19-year-old prospects, there are rough edges. Wiggins' lack of assertiveness, most notably, reared its ugly head several times last season, especially during Kansas' early NCAA tournament exit against Stanford.
However, players with his blend of immense physical gifts, skill set and intangibles don't come around often. The young Canadian's explosive athleticism will make him an All-World defender and impossible to stop when he gets a step toward the hoop. If he adds a consistent jump shot—hardly a difficult proposition as he shot 34.1 percent from beyond the arc and caught fire for stretches last season—you're looking at an All-Star for a very long time.
“I always put myself No. 1 above anybody else," said Wiggins on ESPN's First Take, via ZagsBlog.com's Adam Zagoria. "That’s just me. I got a lot of confidence in myself."
As a young freshman (he reclassified in high school), Wiggins averaged 17.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.0 block per game with a 56.3 true shooting percentage while playing in arguably the best conference in America—and most considered it a disappointing campaign.
Wiggins is the complete package, and those numbers are only going to go up at the next level.
The Case for Jabari Parker
While Wiggins' physical tools are something to behold, Parker's offensive versatility and refinement at such a young age are truly unique.
You can nitpick all you want about the Chicago native's defense, but this is a guy who would have averaged 15 per game for several NBA teams last year. He can score from every square inch of the floor and play every single style of basketball. He has the elite basketball IQ and all-around game to take whatever the defense gives him. And he has the athletic ability to do things like this:
Utah Jazz radio announcer David Locke further discussed Parker's wide-ranging offensive skill set:
The Duke standout may not have a ceiling in the clouds like Wiggins or Embiid, but there are plenty of All-Star games and potential scoring titles in his future.
And as someone who can clearly make a big impact right away, he comes with a much higher floor than anyone else in this draft.
The Case for Joel Embiid
Passing on someone with Embiid's amalgam of size and skill is something that earns general managers pink slips.
With just three years of organized basketball under his belt, the 7'0" center often looked like the most dominant all-around player in the country last year. His numbers may not jump off the page, but remember, he averaged just 23.1 minutes per contest.
According to Sports-reference.com, he was first in the Big 12 in player efficiency rating (28.2), first in defensive rating (90.9) and second in win shares per 40 minutes (.213), better indicators of his impact.
The talk in NBA circles surrounding Embiid, via Forbes contributor and veteran NBA reporter Mark Heisler, is nothing short of amazing:
If there’s no consensus No. 1 pick in the press, one super prospect emerged in the minds of the NBA people I talked to. That was Embiid, the 7-0, 250-pound (as listed by Kansas) freshman who started around No. 5 on sheer size and raw potential and realized enough of it to to rocket to No. 1 in mid-season when a GM told me, “His ceiling is Hakeem Olajuwon. His basement is Serge Ibaka.”
Embiid's size and athletic ability make him a clear candidate to protect the rim and control the glass. However, considering his lack of experience, he already has amazing offensive polish—displaying good footwork and touch in the post, along with an ability to pass out of double teams.
Health concerns are obviously a worry, but if the 20-year-old continues to develop at the same clip, he has the unparalleled upside at a thin position to reward the risk-takers in droves.
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