The Cleveland Cavaliers dipped into their pool of draft lottery magic again and earned the rights to the No. 1 pick for the third time in four years.
As a result, they get to have their pick in one of the most loaded draft classes in years, presuming they don’t use it as trade bait. Whom Cleveland selects will send a ripple effect throughout the rest of the first round.
With that in mind, let’s predict what that ripple effect will look like in our updated first-round mock draft.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Joel Embiid, Kansas
The Cleveland Cavaliers have a need for a franchise-altering center (who doesn’t?), and they will take the high-risk, high-reward path of drafting Joel Embiid.
Yes, the Kansas product has an injury history, but he can anchor Cleveland’s defense for years to come with his rebounding and shot-blocking. What’s more, he will find a number of easy opportunities on the low block when Kyrie Irving penetrates and draws the attention of the defense.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
The Milwaukee Bucks will be more than happy to grab Andrew Wiggins as the player with the most upside in the entire class.
His athleticism and elite talent on both ends of the floor will instantly improve the Bucks’ 2014-15 outcome, and he will give this team its first legitimate star in years.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, Duke
Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix thinks this is an easy pick for the Philadelphia 76ers: "Parker is widely viewed as one of the draft's most NBA-ready players. It's still unclear what forward position Parker can defend, but he can score at either for a Sixers team that finished last in points per possession. This seems like a no-brainer."
Jabari Parker is an elite scorer, even if his defense comes into question. Philadelphia needs his offense more than perhaps any team in the league.
4. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, Australia
If Dante Exum’s comments are any indication, he would be more than happy to play alongside Victor Oladipo in Orlando, via John Gonzalez of CSN Philly: “Most teams that are looking at me are trying to look at a two point guard setup. The way that system works is where you can get it to either point guard and they can kind of run the show.”
Opposing ball-handlers will have a difficult time in creating any type of offense against that combination.
5. Utah Jazz: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
The Utah Jazz theoretically locked up the power forward position in the near future with the Derrick Favors extension, so they will pass on the litany of options there with the No. 5 pick.
Instead, they will pull the trigger on Marcus Smart as a backcourt mate to pair with Trey Burke. Smart is arguably the top perimeter defender in this class, and his ability to score will improve Utah’s offense in his rookie season.
6. Boston Celtics: Noah Vonleh, Indiana
Part of the reason that Noah Vonleh is seen as a potential top-10 pick is the fact that he makes a basketball look like a pingpong ball, via Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders:
As possibly the best rebounder in the 2014 class, Vonleh will anchor a young Boston team in the paint alongside Jared Sullinger.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle, Kentucky
Pau Gasol isn’t coming through that door in all likelihood, so the Los Angeles Lakers will pull the trigger on Julius Randle.
At 6'9", he is a bit shorter than the ideal NBA power forward, but his strength and ability to grab any rebound that comes within his vicinity make up for it. He will bully his way to the rim in the Lakers offense and convert on easy putbacks because of his ability to hit the glass.
8. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon, Arizona
The Sacramento Kings already have DeMarcus Cousins as a space-eater down low, so they will select an athletic specimen to complement his game with the No. 8 pick.
That is exactly what Aaron Gordon is. He will take advantage of the extra space on the blocks opposite of Cousins when double-teams come and soar above the rim to convert easy opportunities.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Adreian Payne, Michigan State
This is a bit early for Adreian Payne, but the Charlotte Bobcats need another playmaker.
Payne is an ideal match with Al Jefferson because the Michigan State product can stretch the floor with his outside shot. It will make it more difficult to focus too much attention on Jefferson, and when he needs a breather, Payne is more than capable of banging around down low and attacking the glass.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Gary Harris, Michigan State
The Philadelphia 76ers already grabbed Parker and have Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel on the roster. That means all they really need is a shooting guard to continue the infusion of talented youth.
Gary Harris is one of the best shooters in the entire class, and he will provide some solid defense as well. Look for him to compete for a starting spot right away on that squad.
11. Denver Nuggets: Dario Saric, Croatia
Dario Saric isn’t a known commodity in the United States, but he is an incredibly skilled stretch forward who has a triple-double skill set.
He is a formidable passer, can handle the ball, attacks the glass on both ends and is more than capable of finding the basket from down low or mid-range.
12. Orlando Magic: James Young, Kentucky
We already have Exum and Oladipo in Orlando, why not make it a three-headed fast-break monster?
James Young is one of the best finishers in the draft class, and he will be more than willing to fill the lanes alongside those two speedy basketball players. Young can also stretch the floor from behind the three-point arc.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Doug McDermott, Creighton
Doug McDermott’s three-point range is well-documented, and he will help the Minnesota Timberwolves make up for the lost scoring if they do trade Kevin Love. However, McDermott is a better athlete than he gets credit for, via Jeff Goodman of ESPN:
If defenders press up too much on the shot, he can use that vertical leap to finish in the lane.
14. Phoenix Suns: Nik Stauskas, Michigan
The Phoenix Suns love to employ an uptempo offensive attack, and Nik Stauskas gives them yet another shooter who can spot up in transition.
What’s more, at 6'6" he gives a team with two shorter guards some height on the perimeter, which should help in the rebounding department.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Jusuf Nurkic, Bosnia
Al Horford is an injury risk, and the Atlanta Hawks need some depth down low.
Nurkic is a physically bruising big man who is a double-double threat on any given night. He will give the Hawks more of a presence down low and on the boards, which was sometimes an issue last year, given how many three-pointers they shot in Horford’s absence.
16. Chicago Bulls: Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
It stings to say this, but counting on Derrick Rose to play an entire season is a dangerous road to take for the Chicago Bulls.
Tyler Ennis will give Chicago some depth at the point guard spot, but he is much more than just a temporary stopgap. He is a floor general with a high basketball IQ who almost always puts his teammates in the right position to score.
What’s more, he is a solid defender who is capable of scoring the ball himself when needed.
17. Boston Celtics: Kyle Anderson, UCLA
The Boston Celtics grabbed a big man earlier in the draft, so they will scoop up a dynamic floor general in Kyle Anderson with the No. 17 pick.
Rajon Rondo may not be in Boston for long, so the team could use some stability in the backcourt. Even if Rondo stays, Anderson is more than capable of playing off the ball.
He does a little bit of everything and will post solid scoring, rebounding and assist numbers even as a rookie.
18. Phoenix Suns: Jerami Grant, Syracuse
As we already mentioned, the Suns like to play uptempo, and Jerami Grant is the type of versatile forward who can run the floor like a guard.
He isn’t the best shooter, but his defense and finishing ability at the rim will be more than welcome in Phoenix.
19. Chicago Bulls: Rodney Hood, Duke
Parker got all the love at Duke, but David Locke, the radio voice of the Utah Jazz, recognized Parker wasn’t the only NBA-ready player who was lacing it up for Mike Krzyzewski:
The Bulls need scoring, and Rodney Hood can do that in spades. He can attack the rim off the bounce, pull up from behind the three-point line or mid-range and find open teammates with his solid passing.
20. Toronto Raptors: Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
Kyle Lowry may be on the way out, so the Toronto Raptors will look for a point guard in the draft.
Shabazz Napier proved himself more than worthy of going in the first round during an impressive NCAA tournament run, and his defense, shooting ability and overall control on the floor could mean he starts in Year 1.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: P.J. Hairston, North Carolina/NBDL
It has become painfully obvious for the Oklahoma City Thunder during their series with the San Antonio Spurs that they need another scorer outside of the Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka triumvirate.
P.J. Hairston is one of the best pure scorers in this draft class, and his seasoning in the NBA D-League will only help in the near future. Look for him to connect on open threes when the stars draw too much defensive attention in Oklahoma City.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Zach LaVine, UCLA
The Memphis Grizzlies are one of the most intimidating teams in the entire league on the defensive end, but they need playmakers to put the ball in the basket.
Zach LaVine is an ideal pick for Memphis because he can attack the rim off the dribble, spot up from the perimeter and give Mike Conley a breather at times with his versatility. LaVine will score plenty of points in Memphis’ offense thanks to his explosiveness alone.
23. Utah Jazz: Clint Capela, Switzerland
Clint Capela is somewhat of a mystery for American basketball fans, but his measurables should have front offices excited, via Jonathan Wasserman of Turner Sports:
Ideally, Capela could play center alongside Favors, but he has the versatility to play forward if needed. He is a monster on the boards and will give Utah’s offense yet another threat, especially if the team can grab Smart with its earlier pick.
24. Charlotte Hornets: K.J. McDaniels, Clemson
The Charlotte Hornets already scooped up Payne earlier in the draft, and now they add a scoring small forward to the roster in K.J. McDaniels.
The Clemson product could use some improvement on his jumper, but he is nearly impossible to stop from getting to the rim. If he can get in the paint off the dribble and force the interior defenders to collapse, he could find Payne and Jefferson for easy finishes all season.
25. Houston Rockets: Jordan Adams, UCLA
At this point, it is difficult to trust any of the Houston Rockets guards outside of James Harden with the basketball in crunch time. Jordan Adams will give the team another ball-handler who can score and dish out assists.
If nothing else, he will improve the depth of a backcourt unit that is somewhat shaky after the playoff loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
26. Miami Heat: Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
The Miami Heat love to surround LeBron James with three-point shooters, but what’s to say they cannot surround him with an explosive athlete who just so happens to have a three-point shot in his arsenal?
Cleanthony Early can do a little bit of everything in the half court, but he is also a tremendous finisher in transition. When Miami’s defense turns up the intensity and creates fast-break chances, Early will be right there alongside James and company at the rim.
27. Phoenix Suns: Mitch McGary, Michigan
The Phoenix Suns have a plethora of first-round picks, so they can afford to take a chance on one.
Mitch McGary missed the majority of the 2013-14 campaign for Michigan with injury, but his potential was on full display during the Wolverines’ run to the national title the year before. When healthy, he is a rebounding force who can put the ball in the basket on the low block.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette
Elfrid Payton will be something of a Chris Paul lite for the Los Angeles Clippers when Paul needs a breather.
Payton will fit in perfectly in the Clippers’ fast-paced attack as a floor general who is always looking to get out in transition.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee
The Thunder probably wish they had Jarnell Stokes on their roster right now, given the glaring hole on the roster without Ibaka.
Stokes is a rebounding machine who can put the ball in the basket from mid-range or on the blocks. What’s more, he is a solid shot-blocker who can anchor a defense down low.
30. San Antonio Spurs: T.J. Warren, North Carolina State
T.J. Warren may not jump off the page athletically, but he knows how to put the ball in the basket. Chad Ford of ESPN suggested as much:
Warren gives the San Antonio Spurs some more depth at the wing position, which is something they will need if Manu Ginobili ever decides to retire. Warren will create plenty of open shots for himself and his teammates with the ball in his hands.
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