The 2014 NBA draft features several quality prospects who will make an impact in the NBA, but the order in which they are selected June 26 will affect the way teams' futures unfold.
Taking someone with a high ceiling at No. 1 is a risk because nobody knows if that ceiling will be reached. Sometimes, taking the most NBA-ready player is the best move. It'll be up to the scouts and executives of each team to determine which player is the best fit for their squad.
The Association will take on a ton of fresh new faces June 26. But which uniforms will the draft's top prospects be wearing after the event concludes?
Below are my projections.
|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||Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona|
|7||Los Angeles Lakers||Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State|
|8||Sacramento Kings||Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana|
|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||James Young, SF, Kentucky|
|14||Phoenix Suns||Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan|
|15||Atlanta Hawks||Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland|
|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)||Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State|
|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||Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn|
|23||Utah Jazz (via Golden State)||Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse|
|24||Charlotte Hornets (via Portland)||C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington|
|25||Houston Rockets||K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson|
|26||Miami Heat||Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana Lafayette|
|27||Phoenix Suns (via Indiana)||Jordan Clarkson, PG/SG, Missouri|
|28||Los Angeles Clippers||Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan|
|29||Oklahoma City Thunder||Nick Johnson, SG, Arizona|
|30||San Antonio Spurs||Vasilije Micic, PG, Serbia|
Kenny DeJohn's Predictions
Joel Embiid—Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers love center Joel Embiid. Chris Mannix of SI.com confirmed that belief with this tweet:
Getting Embiid's medicals--which are being protected like they are the nuclear launch codes--is first on David Griffin's to-do list.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) May 21, 2014
Embiid is the best big man in the class, but Cleveland's interest in him is interesting. After shockingly receiving the No. 1 overall pick in the draft lottery, the Cavaliers put themselves in a fantastic position to nab either Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, both considered the best overall prospects in the class.
Instead, Embiid appears to be No. 1 on their board.
This isn't a knock on Embiid. The Kansas product was great last season, averaging 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. His size (7'0", 250 lbs) is appealing because it is NBA-ready. He isn't afraid to bump bodies down low, and he is effective in boxing out more athletic big men and grabbing boards above the rim.
Still, one can't help but question general manager David Griffin's interest. Last year, the team selected Anthony Bennett No. 1 overall instead of going with a guy like Victor Oladipo. We all know how that turned out.
Jabari Parker—Philadelphia 76ers
Jabari Parker is a great fit for the Philadelphia 76ers at No. 3. ESPN's Chad Ford (subscription required) agrees, and he predicted that Parker would go to Philly in his latest mock draft, via Elliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com:
Not an ideal set-up for the Sixers who were after Wiggins. But Parker gives the a terrific scoring option to pair with their young athletes in Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel. Parker could average 20 PPG as a rookie in Philly. Look for Dante Exum to be a real possibility here, too. They could end up shopping Carter-Williams or just pairing the two together in the backcourt.
Parker is the most NBA-ready scorer in the class. Ford alluded to the fact that he could average 20 points per game as a rookie, but I'm telling you that he will. Parker has a great all-around game on offense. He can take the ball down low and play in the post, play well off the dribble by driving into the lane and he can even step out and pop a jumper.
Many thought Andrew Wiggins would be the Sixers' target. If he's here at No. 3, then expect them to pull the trigger. But chances are that he'll go No. 2 to the Milwaukee Bucks.
A young trio of Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel and Parker is exactly what the Sixers need to contend in the near future. A backcourt of Carter-Williams and Parker could compete with John Wall and Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards as the best young backcourt in the NBA.
Aaron Gordon—Boston Celtics
It wouldn't be a bad idea for the Boston Celtics to grab Aaron Gordon at No. 6. Sure, they have Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger already at power forward, but Gordon is an unbelievable athlete with defense that is beyond NBA-ready.
Athletically, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe thinks it's fair to compare him to Blake Griffin:
Griffin, one of the most exciting players in the league, has developed an offensive game that makes him dangerous on both ends of the floor. The same could happen to Gordon, and the Celtics won't want to miss out on that kind of potential.
Drafting for potential at No. 1 overall is a risk. But given that Boston is picking sixth and also has the No. 17 pick in Round 1, it can afford to go with potential here.
By taking Gordon, the team also has the flexibility to deal either Olynyk or Sullinger for help in other areas. Teams generally shouldn't draft in order to create logjams and trade away talent, but this situation is one that makes sense for Boston.