The ping-pong balls have finally settled, and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ ridiculous stretch of good luck on NBA draft lottery nights has continued.
The Cavs won the rights to the top pick for the third time in four years and the second year in a row, which is incredible considering their odds coming into the event, via ESPN:
The Cleveland Cavaliers have won the NBA Draft Lottery once again. Before the lottery, they had a 1.7% chance of getting the first pick.— ESPN (@espn) May 21, 2014
So who will Cleveland take in this loaded draft class? Read on to find out that and more in this updated mock draft of the entire first round.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Joel Embiid, Kansas
Andrew Wiggins may have the highest ceiling in this draft, but the Cavaliers have a glaring hole at center, and Joel Embiid is the perfect man to fill it.
Presuming he remains healthy, which is a serious assumption, Embiid can control the game from the lane on both ends. He is an elite shot-blocker and grabs any rebound that comes within his vicinity. He also has a gradually developing post game and would pair nicely with Kyrie Irving.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
Cleveland’s decision to draft Embiid means the Milwaukee Bucks get Wiggins.
Wiggins’ skill set has been discussed at length, but his athleticism, quickness and ability to jump out of the gym are what give him such incredible potential. He has the capability of being an elite defender already, and his offense will only improve as he gets more professional seasoning.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, Duke
Jabari Parker may just win the Rookie of the Year because of his ability to score from anywhere on the floor.
Who would you rather have?
He has a post-up game, mid-range shot, three-point range and can attack the rim off the bounce. Parker needs to improve his defense, overall athleticism and quickness, but he will put up impressive numbers alongside Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel.
4. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, International
The Orlando Magic get the fourth man in the elite foursome at the top of the draft, and he may just fit their system better than anyone else.
Dante Exum is a point guard in a versatile small forward’s body, and he will match nicely with Victor Oladipo. The two of them will harass opposing ball-handlers all season, which will lead to turnovers and easy opportunities in transition.
Whether it will lead to a playoff appearance remains to be seen.
5. Utah Jazz: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
The Utah Jazz already have Trey Burke at the point guard spot, but Marcus Smart has the ability to play off the ball as well.
He is arguably the top perimeter defender in the 2014 draft class and is a pure scorer on the offensive end. Smart was overshadowed this year by the freshmen in the college game, but he will make an impact right away at the next level.
6. Boston Celtics: Noah Vonleh, Indiana
Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com is very high on Noah Vonleh:
Vonleh is going to fly up draft boards, and could maybe even overtake Embiid before all is said and done. The Indiana power forward has the right combination of skill and size to make him an elite player at the next level.
It may be a bit of a stretch to project Vonleh ahead of Embiid, but the Indiana product was one of the best rebounders in all of college basketball. This pick will give the Boston Celtics some much-needed depth down low along with Jared Sullinger.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle, Kentucky
The Los Angeles Lakers may be losing Pau Gasol to free agency this offseason, so they will look for power forward types in the upcoming draft.
Julius Randle doesn’t have the ideal size to bang around down low in the NBA, but he is a rebounding machine and incredibly strong. He will find a way to make it work in Los Angeles with all that raw talent.
8. Sacramento Kings: Doug McDermott, Creighton
Shooting translates to all levels of basketball, pure and simple.
Doug McDermott shoots it better than anyone in the entire 2014 class, and this pick will allow DeMarcus Cousins more room to operate down low. It will be much more difficult for opponents to crash down on Cousins with McDermott spotting up from behind the three-point line.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Aaron Gordon, Arizona
Aaron Gordon has been working on his weaknesses leading up to the draft if his recent comments are any indication, via Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:
I overhauled my free throws. I didn't have a consistent free throw shot. I had a consistent jump shot. I had about three different ones before; now I have one. But my free throws were disconnected from my jumper. I would get to the peak of my shot, and then shoot it. What I've done is connected my three, my pull-up, my 17-footer and my free throw. They are all the same shot, and it feels great. Everything feels smoother.
If Gordon really does improve his jumper, the Charlotte Hornets will be getting a steal at No. 9. He is already one of the most dynamic athletes in this draft class, so if defenders have to respect his shooting touch, they will be in trouble.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Gary Harris, Michigan State
The infusion of youth and talent continues in Philadelphia with the No. 10 pick as the 76ers snatch up Gary Harris from Michigan State.
He has one of the best shooting strokes in this class, and he is also one of the top perimeter defenders. A starting lineup that primarily consists of Harris, Parker, Noel and Carter-Williams will be scary in a couple of years, especially in a weak Eastern Conference.
11. Denver Nuggets: Adreian Payne, Michigan State
The Denver Nuggets need playmakers who can also play solid defense, and that is a perfect way to describe Adreian Payne.
He can stretch the floor with perimeter shooting, bang around down low, swat shots into the middle of the lower deck and control the boards on both ends. The versatile Payne does a little bit of everything on the floor, and he will certainly help Denver improve its defense as a rookie.
12. Orlando Magic: James Young, Kentucky
The Orlando Magic grabbed a dynamic point guard to pair with Oladipo earlier in the draft, so now they will turn to a small forward who is more than capable of running the floor with those two.
James Young has the potential to be a tremendous scorer given his shooting touch and ability to attack the rim off the dribble. He will gladly take advantage of all the open looks he receives playing alongside Exum.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Dario Saric, International
Kevin Love may be out the door, so the Minnesota Timberwolves will need someone to fill that power forward role.
Dario Saric may not be a finished product just yet, but his versatility and athleticism make him an intriguing option in this draft. He will help replace some of Love’s rebounding and eventually become a solid scorer at the NBA level.
14. Phoenix Suns: Rodney Hood, Duke
On paper, there is very little that Rodney Hood can’t do.
He can defend anything from a point guard to a smaller power forward, can attack the rim off the dribble, can hit the three-pointer and is a deadeye free-throw shooter. What’s more, he has the potential to be a solid rebounder, and the Phoenix Suns will take him in something of a best-player-available move at No. 14.
15. Atlanta Hawks: P.J. Hairston, North Carolina/NBDL
P.J. Hairston’s off-court issues may have ended his North Carolina career, but it could have him better prepared for the professional level, as Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders noted:
The Atlanta Hawks need more scoring and playmakers on the perimeter, and Hairston can do a little bit of everything with his shooting stroke and athleticism. Throw in the fact that he has NBDL experience, and this could be a steal at No. 15.
16. Chicago Bulls: Nik Stauskas, Michigan
We have discussed the Chicago Bulls’ need for offense in previous mock drafts, and that certainly hasn’t changed in the meantime.
Nik Stauskas is one of the best perimeter scorers in the entire 2014 class, and he will open up the floor for a healthy Derrick Rose or Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson down low. The Bulls could certainly use Stauskas’ confidence behind the three-point line.
17. Boston Celtics: Zach LaVine, UCLA
Jonathan Wasserman of Turner Sports gives a favorable comparison for the athletic Zach LaVine, even though the UCLA product didn’t put up big-time numbers in his brief college career:
If Lance Stephenson can leave college [too] early and develop into a solid player while in the pros, so can Zach LaVine— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) May 21, 2014
LaVine’s draft stock is all about upside, and the Boston Celtics will pull the trigger at No. 17, especially since Rajon Rondo’s future is anything but clear. LaVine brings elite athleticism to the table and can soar above defenders on his way to the rim.
18. Phoenix Suns: Jusuf Nurkic, International
The Suns grabbed their NBA-ready small forward with the No. 14 pick, so now they will look for a long-term project at No. 18.
Jusuf Nurkic is one of the best centers in this class, but he likely still needs a year or two to develop into a difference-maker in the NBA. Fortunately for the Suns, they have a number of picks in this year’s draft and can afford to wait.
19. Chicago Bulls: Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
The reality for the Bulls is they may have to prepare for a life without a healthy Rose for the foreseeable future given how the past two years have unfolded. Taking Tyler Ennis with the No. 19 pick is a solid insurance policy, and he can take some of the burden off Rose when the Chicago point guard is healthy.
Ennis is a floor general who has a high basketball IQ and is always looking to involve his teammates. He can also score when needed.
20. Toronto Raptors: Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
The Toronto Raptors may lose Kyle Lowry to free agency, so they will look for a point guard with the No. 20 pick.
Shabazz Napier is fresh off a national title at Connecticut and brings elite talent to the floor on both ends. He will create scoring opportunities for his teammates and find the basket himself, but it is his defense that also stands out.
It was no accident that the Huskies shut down opposing guards during their title run in the Big Dance.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jerami Grant, Syracuse
The Oklahoma City Thunder need more defense, and Jerami Grant provides that in spades.
The Syracuse product leaves a lot to be desired in the jump shooting category, but his athleticism allows him to shut down opposing ball-handlers and forwards. He is also more than capable of getting to the rim and creating offense that way.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Clint Capela, International
The Memphis Grizzlies are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, and the rich will only get richer during the draft.
Clint Capela’s incredible wingspan makes him an elite defender who can swat shots, swallow up rebounds and dart into passing lanes. Look for him to slide into the rotation down low with Memphis’ bigs right away.
23. Utah Jazz: K.J. McDaniels, Clemson
The Jazz grabbed one of the best guards in the draft with the No. 5 pick in Smart, so now they will turn their attention to the forward position.
K.J. McDaniels is a great defender, which is something Utah desperately needs more of, and he is nearly impossible to stop from getting to the basket. He isn’t the best shooter, but he finds ways to score by getting to the rim with ease.
24. Charlotte Hornets: T.J. Warren, North Carolina State
The Charlotte Hornets are looking for athleticism in this draft to surround Al Jefferson, and they will add to that category with the explosive T.J. Warren.
The North Carolina State product is one of the better pure scorers in this draft, and his explosive first step and strong frame allows him to get to the rim with relative ease. He will take advantage of the opportunities that double-teams on Jefferson open up.
25. Houston Rockets: Jordan Adams, UCLA
The Houston Rockets need productive depth in the backcourt behind James Harden, and that is exactly what Jordan Adams provides.
He is necessarily the quickest or most explosive guard in the draft, but he produces solid numbers all around and will help in the rebounding department. If nothing else, it will give Houston a solid guard who can control the ball and limit the turnovers that were crippling in the playoffs.
26. Miami Heat: Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
The Miami Heat may be on their way to a three-peat, but that is largely because of LeBron James. There are plenty of holes when the rest of the team is put under the microscope.
Cleanthony Early gives the aging Heat a dynamic athlete who provides elite-level defense, a solid post-up game, formidable three-point shooting and another rebounding option. He can play anything from the shooting guard to power forward, so he can mix and match with the versatile James nicely.
27. Phoenix Suns: Kyle Anderson, UCLA
The Suns scooped up a big man and a forward, so now they will look to the backcourt with the No. 27 pick.
Kyle Anderson is a triple-double threat every time he steps on the floor, and he can play both the point guard and shooting guard roles. That will give the Suns some crucial depth across the board as they shoot for the playoffs next season.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette
The Los Angeles Clippers could use a reliable backup point guard behind Chris Paul, and the athletic Elfrid Payton is a good place to start.
You would be hard-pressed to find many more players in this draft with better speed than Payton, which will certainly lend itself well to the Lob City style of play in Los Angeles. He will be more than willing to throw some of those alley-oops when Paul needs a breather.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee
Eliot Shorr-Parks pointed to recent history when discussing Oklahoma City’s need for more interior depth: “Seeing what the team looks like with power forward Serge Ibaka will cause the Thunder to jump all over Stokes, who is one of the best rebounders and post-defenders in the draft.”
Jarnell Stokes can do a little bit of everything in this draft, and he will give this Thunder team that needs more scorers outside of Ibaka, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant another option on the offensive end.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Glenn Robinson III, Michigan
The San Antonio Spurs are something of a flawless machine that just hums along every year, but they could use another young wing player with speed and length to help on the defensive end.
Glenn Robinson III can score from anywhere on the floor and could give San Antonio another Kawhi Leonard-type talent. Spurs fans would probably be fine with that.
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