There is still plenty of time before the 2014 NBA draft takes place on Thursday, June 26, at the Barclays Center in New York, but basketball fans have already turned their focus to where the top prospects will land.
With top names like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid all waiting to hear which team will select them on draft day—the Cleveland Cavaliers have the No. 1 pick for the third time in four years—the sport is buzzing about the 2014 draft class.
Here is the full first-round draft order, predictions for every team and a focus on the player to watch during the festivities.
|1||Cleveland Cavaliers||Andrew Wiggins||Kansas|
|2||Milwaukee Bucks||Joel Embiid||Kansas|
|3||Philadelphia 76ers||Jabari Parker||Duke|
|4||Orlando Magic||Dante Exum||Australia|
|5||Utah Jazz||Julius Randle||Kentucky|
|6||Boston Celtics||Aaron Gordon||Arizona|
|7||Los Angeles Lakers||Noah Vonleh||Indiana|
|8||Sacramento Kings||Marcus Smart||Oklahoma State|
|9||Charlotte Hornets||Doug McDermott||Creighton|
|10||Philadelphia 76ers||Nik Stauskas||Michigan|
|11||Denver Nuggets||Gary Harris||Michigan State|
|12||Orlando Magic||Dario Saric||Croatia|
|13||Minnesota Timberwolves||Rodney Hood||Duke|
|14||Phoenix Suns||James Young||Kentucky|
|15||Atlanta Hawks||Tyler Ennis||Syracuse|
|16||Chicago Bulls||Adreian Payne||Michigan State|
|17||Boston Celtics||Zach LaVine||UCLA|
|18||Phoenix Suns||Jerami Grant||Syracuse|
|19||Chicago Bulls||T.J. Warren||NC State|
|20||Toronto Raptors||Kyle Anderson||UCLA|
|21||Oklahoma City Thunder||P.J. Hairston||UNC/Texas Legends|
|22||Memphis Grizzlies||Jusuf Nurkic||Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|23||Utah Jazz||K.J. McDaniels||Clemson|
|24||Charlotte Hornets||Cleanthony Early||Wichita State|
|25||Houston Rockets||Jordan Adams||UCLA|
|26||Miami Heat||Shabazz Napier||Connecticut|
|27||Phoenix Suns||Clint Capela||Switzerland|
|28||Los Angeles Clippers||Elfrid Payton||Louisiana-Lafayette|
|29||Oklahoma City Thunder||Mitch McGary||Michigan|
|30||San Antonio Spurs||C.J. Wilcox||Washington|
Draft Order via NBA.com. Projections via Donald Wood
First-Round Prospect To Watch: Joel Embiid, Center, Kansas
While much of the talk surrounding the 2014 NBA draft has been focused on prospects Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, the player basketball fans must be watching in the first round should be talented Kansas center Joel Embiid.
Not only does Embiid have the size to be a dominant center in the NBA, but he also has the raw athletic skill to be a force on the defensive glass and in the offensive zone as a scoring big man who can still rebound.
Just how big is Embiid? Chad Ford of ESPN shared his measurements at one of his latest workouts on Twitter:
Joel Embiid's measurements at the workout on Fri: 7' 1" in shoes, 7' 5.75" wingspan, 9' 5.5" standing reach.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 25, 2014
Embiid racked up an impressive 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds in his first year at Kansas, but teams will be drafting the center for his long-term potential to grow into his body and blossom into a star in the NBA.
When asked about Embiid and the back injury that kept him out of the NCAA tournament, Bill Simmons of Grantland talked about exactly what he saw from the center during a private workout and how much upside he possesses:
He wasn’t playing against anyone, just going through a two-hour workout with Will Perdue. Here’s what I can tell you: He moves around as effortlessly as a 7-foot Serge Ibaka; he’s such an athletic freak that he’s one of those ‘still going up as he’s finishing the dunk’ guys; his freakish wingspan might make Jay Bilas pass out; he has been playing basketball for only four years (which seems impossible); he gave up a world-class volleyball career; he has 3-point range; he can shoot jump-hooks with both hands already; he couldn’t have seemed more coachable/agreeable/likable; he’s a hard worker with a goofy sense of humor; his voice is just a touch Mutombo-y (deep with a heavy African accent); and his friends call him ‘Jo-Jo.’ And again — his back seemed totally fine.
For those fans still skeptical about Embiid’s back, Bleacher Report shared a video of the prospect working out and showing no lingering issues with the injury:
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports was also at Embiid’s private workout in Santa Monica last week and gave the center the ultimate vote of confidence:
Watching Joel Embiid in workout for league executives in Santa Monica. Impossible to imagine passing on him at No. 1.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 23, 2014
While Wojnarowski and other experts believe Embiid is an option at No. 1 overall, Sam Amico of Fox Sports and Alex Kennedy of BasketballInsiders.com doubt that he will go that high:
Sounding as if Joel Embiid basically out of running for No. 1 pick. Sources say #Cavs' extremely leery of potential for longterm back issues— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) May 23, 2014
Joel Embiid is an option at No. 1 for the Cavaliers, although I'm curious to see if his injury will affect his draft stock. Big ? right now.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) May 21, 2014
Regardless of whether the Cleveland Cavaliers will take Embiid with the No. 1 overall pick or not, there is little doubt that he will not make it out of the top three selections. He is clearly one of the top prospects in the draft.
Where will Joel Embiid be drafted?
Milwaukee must analyze Embiid’s back injury closely. If doctors and team officials have any doubt about the long-term stability of the injury, trading out of the No. 2 pick could yield several high selections in the coming years from a franchise willing to make a deal.
Even if Milwaukee trades the No. 2 overall pick, Joel Embiid will be the second player taken in the 2014 NBA draft. The Bucks would be smart to take him, though.
Predicted Landing Spot: No. 2 Overall to the Milwaukee Bucks
*Stats via NBA.com.