Once again, the Cleveland Cavaliers struck gold and were awarded the first selection of a highly talented 2014 NBA draft class. This marks the second consecutive year—and third of the last four—in which Cleveland will select first.
After the Cavaliers' surprising leap to the top of the draft order, the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers were shifted down to picks No. 2 and 3, respectively. This forced the Detroit Pistons out of the top eight, and the team subsequently conveyed its No. 9 pick to the Charlotte Hornets.
Needless to say, June's impending draft figures to be shaken up in a big way. Based on team needs at the top of the draft, we may see prospects come off the board sooner—or later—than originally anticipated.
Let's take a glance at the full outlook for the draft's first round and highlight a few of the more intriguing selections.
2014 NBA Mock Draft
|1||Cleveland Cavaliers||Joel Embiid, C, Kansas|
|2||Milwaukee Bucks||Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas|
|3||Philadelphia 76ers||Jabari Parker, SF, Duke|
|4||Orlando Magic||Dante Exum, PG, Australia|
|5||Utah Jazz||Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky|
|6||Boston Celtics||Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana|
|7||Los Angeles Lakers||Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State|
|8||Sacramento Kings||Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona|
|9||Charlotte Hornets (via Detroit)||Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton|
|10||Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans)||Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse|
|11||Denver Nuggets||Rodney Hood, SF, Duke|
|12||Orlando Magic (via New York)||Dario Saric, SF, Croatia|
|13||Minnesota Timberwolves||Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia|
|14||Phoenix Suns||Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan|
|15||Atlanta Hawks||Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State|
|16||Chicago Bulls (via Charlotte)||Zach LaVine, PG/SG, UCLA|
|17||Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn)||Gary Harris, PG, Michigan State|
|18||Phoenix Suns (via Washington)||Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland|
|19||Chicago Bulls||Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA|
|20||Toronto Raptors||P.J. Hairston, SG, NBDL|
|21||Oklahoma City Thunder (via Dallas)||T.J. Warren, SF, North Carolina State|
|22||Memphis Grizzlies||K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson|
|23||Utah Jazz (via Golden State)||Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse|
|24||Charlotte Hornets (via Portland)||Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana Lafayette|
|25||Houston Rockets||James Young, SF, Kentucky|
|26||Miami Heat||Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut|
|27||Phoenix Suns (via Indiana)||Jordan Clarkson, PG/SG, Missouri|
|28||Los Angeles Clippers||Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan|
|29||Oklahoma City Thunder||Vasilije Micic, PG, Serbia|
|30||San Antonio Spurs||Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia|
Sean O'Donnell's Predictions
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
It may come as a surprise to see Embiid come of the board at No. 1 overall; however, it makes complete sense.
Taking a glance at the Cavaliers' center situation, it's easy to see it is far from settled. Anderson Varejao is getting a bit long in the tooth, Spencer Hawes is heading to free agency and Tyler Zeller isn't the answer.
Embiid has a great deal of potential and plenty of upside. He's shown flashes of his elite post play and athleticism, which will allow him to thrive in the NBA as a long-term starter. Sure, his injury history is a bit concerning; however, early reports indicate he's doing just fine. Adam Zagoria of NBA.com tweeted his impression following Embiid's workout Friday:
All reports out of LA are that Joel Embiid looks fit and healthy...Sounds like the No. 1 pick for now. More coming.— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) May 23, 2014
Plenty can change in the days leading up to the draft, but for now, it appears Embiid is poised to go No. 1 overall.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
The Hornets were one of the few teams that came away as winners following the lottery. Charlotte now gets a top-10 pick in a very talented draft class.
Selecting McDermott at No. 9 overall gives the team a bona fide weapon it would not have dreamed of receiving prior to the lottery. Charlotte could use an outside shooting threat on the wing. McDermott fits the bill nicely, as his ability to create shots and score from all over the court will be highly coveted attributes in this year's draft.
One knock on McDermott has been his lack of athleticism; however, according to a tweet from Adam Levitan of Rotoworld, that's simply not the case:
Don't call Creighton's Doug McDermott unathletic. He posted an eye-opening 36.5 inch max vertical at Combine. Dante Exum did 34.5 inches.— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) May 23, 2014
McDermott's 26.7 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game, .526 field-goal percentage and .449 three-point percentage in his senior season will make him a very welcomed addition in Charlotte.
16. Chicago Bulls: Zach LaVine, PG/SG, UCLA
It should be pretty fair to say that Chicago desperately needs a shooter. Outside of the oft-injured Derrick Rose, this team really doesn't have a serious threat from all over the court. Despite earning a playoff bid this past season, the Bulls ranked just 30th in the league in points per game.
Without legitimate firepower, it's easy to see why they were dismantled by the Washington Wizards in Round 1.
LaVine simply knows how to shoot the ball—he's a natural. He impressed in a big way during the combine's on-court drills. Here's a quick glance at his shooting prowess, courtesy of NBA draft's Vine account:
Not only is his shot-making ability apparent, but his freakish athleticism gives him an incredibly high ceiling in the NBA. His measurements are also phenomenal for a guard. Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead tweeted his reaction:
Had Zach LaVine 24th in my March Mock Draft. His measurements: WOW. 6-5 w shoes, 6-8.25 wingspan http://t.co/zUIt3sLr2w— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) May 15, 2014
LaVine used his length and athleticism to record a top-tier vertical as well, according to a tweet from Jeff Goodman of ESPN:
Zach LaVine checks in with a 41.5-inch vertical -- tied with Nick Johnson and behind Markel Brown and Jahii Carson -- both at 43.5.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) May 16, 2014
A backcourt featuring a healthy Rose and LaVine? That's just unfair.