While the playoffs are still underway, the 2014 NBA draft lottery is one of the most monumental events of the offseason for teams finishing short of the postseason.
Though the event is not always celebrated by some executives who had hopes of a playoff berth this season, it's a joyous time for teams at the top of the board. By the end of the night, fans will know if their year of torture was worth it in the long run, with their draft selection fate being sealed.
In a year when depth is a perceived strength in this class, the names at the top are certainly worth befuddling fans for an entire season. Can't-miss prospects like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid are the big names, but there's not much drop-off with Julius Randle, Dante Exum and Aaron Gordon.
With the NBA draft lottery officially getting underway on Tuesday night, here's a look at the updated selection order and a breakdown of the top draft prospects.
|7||Los Angeles Lakers|
|16||Chicago Bulls (From Charlotte)|
|17||Boston Celtics (From Brooklyn)|
|18||Phoenix Suns (From Washington)|
|21||Oklahoma City Thunder (From Dallas via Houston and L.A. Lakers)|
|23||Utah Jazz (From Golden State)|
|24||Charlotte Hornets (From Portland)|
|27||Phoenix Suns (From Indiana)|
|28||Los Angeles Clippers|
|29||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|30||San Antonio Spurs|
|33||Cleveland Cavaliers (From Orlando)|
|34||Dallas Mavericks (From Boston)|
|36||Milwaukee Bucks (From L.A. Lakers via Minnesota and Phoenix)|
|37||Toronto Raptors (From Sacramento)|
|39||Philadelphia 76ers (From Cleveland)|
|40||Minnesota Timberwolves (From New Orleans)|
|42||Houston Rockets (From N.Y. Knicks)|
|47||Philadelphia 76ers (From Brooklyn via Dallas and Boston)|
|48||Milwaukee Bucks (From Toronto via Phoenix)|
|52||Philadelphia 76ers (From Memphis via Cleveland)|
|53||Minnesota Timberwolves (From Golden State)|
|54||Philadelphia 76ers (From Houston via Milwaukee)|
|56||Denver Nuggets (From Portland)|
|58||San Antonio Spurs (From L.A. Clippers via New Orleans)|
|59||Toronto Raptors (From Oklahoma City via N.Y. Knicks)|
|60||San Antonio Spurs|
Breakdown of Top Prospects
No discussion about the 2014 NBA draft can take place without mentioning Wiggins.
The former Kansas star came into the college basketball season as the No. 1 player in the draft and did nothing to change that perception. Even without an appearance at the NBA combine, Wiggins still made a huge impression, per Chad Ford of ESPN:
Wiggins is the resounding favorite by draft analysts to be the first player off the board. Where teams go after that point is anyone's guess, but the selections thereafter might be based on preference.
Parker appears to be the most likely player to go next. After Embiid's lone season with the Jayhawks was derailed by back and knee injuries, Parker was viewed as the No. 2 pick in the draft.
But that might not necessarily be the case, as Mark Heisler of Forbes.com notes:
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.”
Unfortunately, Embiid missed the NCAA Tournament with a stress fracture in his back, a recurrence of an injury he suffered in high school which prompted Kansas to send him to Los Angeles for a second opinion.
Which prospect will be the best pro player?
The latter part of that discussion is what scares teams away. While Embiid is clearly an immensely talented player on the court, it's his ability to remain on the floor that has teams worried.
All three of the aforementioned players have stood out on the college stage this past year. But one foreign player is now being seen as a potential top-five pick with the draft just over one month away.
Dante Exum, a 6'6" point guard from Australia, wowed spectators at the NBA combine with his size and workouts. The 18-year-old spoke about his approach to the NBA offseason, per NBC Sports, via Yahoo Sports:
The most important thing I've learned is what gets you on the court is what gets you in the NBA, and most important keeps you in the NBA. That's the one thing I've taken very seriously, is how I prepare for games, prepare for my workouts. That is the one thing that is going to keep me in the NBA so I can have a long career. [...]
I want to go with a team that's a good team, somewhere where I can fit right in, point guard or no point guard; it doesn't really matter. I'm willing to go into a role where I can learn or learn from experience. I guess there's really no bad situation, but there are better situations.
While Exum is this year's biggest mystery player, no one doubts the athleticism of either Randle or Gordon. Other top talents like Noah Vonleh, Marcus Smart and Gary Harris are ripe for the picking, so nearly every lottery pick could wind up producing an NBA-ready player in the future.
As the draft fates for every franchise are sealed on Tuesday night, the destination for every one of the top players will be determined on June 26.
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