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NBA Mock Draft 2014: Forecasting Each Team's Actions in Loaded Class

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NBA Mock Draft 2014: Forecasting Each Team's Actions in Loaded Class
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Now that the intrigue of the NBA draft lottery has worn off, to a certain degree (or is it outrage?), we can focus on what truly matters: mock drafts.

Since the 2014 class is being hailed as the best in recent memory from top to bottom, it can be difficult to both figure out where each prospect's stock aligns and how each prospect fits with 30 franchises that are looking to either improve right away, build for the future or do some semblance of both.

With the big day on the horizon, here is a look at how teams should act in the first round based on a combination of value and need.

 

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (33-49): Andrew Wiggins, SG, Kansas

Let's stop with the Joel Embiid talk at No. 1.

That's not to say anything against Embiid as a player, but Cleveland is going to want to make a decision that is both smart and impactful to add to what is already a loaded core, as Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders illustrates:

Wiggins is as good as it gets, and he would give the Cavs a young nucleus that will be quite scary once it is fully developed.

 

2. Milwaukee Bucks (15-67): Jabari Parker, SF, Duke

USA TODAY Sports

Jabari Parker is close behind Wiggins in most ways, so it makes sense that Milwaukee will also take the safe route in order to best build its franchise.

The allure of Embiid is strong, but Parker presents fewer health risks and more potential production. He does not solve the team's issue in the middle, but he gives the Bucks a legitimate No. 1 scorer.

 

3. Philadelphia 76ers (19-63): Noah Vonleh, PF/C, Indiana

Surprise?

Maybe not. There is a reason Noah Vonleh is overtaking the likes of Julius Randle on some draft boards, as noted by WDRB Sport's Rick Bozich.

Vonleh arguably has the best upside of any prospect in the class, and he will make an immediate impact in Philadelphia on the glass.

 

4. Orlando Magic (23-59): Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia

At 18 years of age, Dante Exum has plenty of developing to do.

But Exum's ability to play the point would fill a huge need in Orlando, as Victor Oladipo is more of a 2-guard. While still raw, Exum can create offense for others once he adapts to the speed of the league, and he can also become an elite scoring option himself.

 

5. Utah Jazz (25-57): Joel Embiid, C, Kansas

Embiid's slide finally stops with Utah.

While arguably the biggest immediate difference-maker in the draft, concerns about Embiid's health are enough to get him to fall.

The Jazz won't have any worries as the value outweighs the risks here. If Embiid is healthy, he is a franchise centerpiece that can changes the fortune of any organization in a hurry.

 

6. Boston Celtics (25-57): Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State

Kennedy notes that Marcus Smart's combine performance, in tandem with his great skill set, have the NBA high on his stock: 

It’s easy to see why teams are intrigued by Smart, with his enormous frame, potential to cause matchup problems and impressive athleticism. Smart also has an excellent work ethic. To get an idea of how much he loves the game and how hard he works, consider that he left the hotel on Thursday night to get in a late-night workout at DePaul University. 

Smart is a massive point guard (6'3", 227 lbs) who can be an elite defender right away. He would also give the Boston Celtics some strong insurance with nobody truly knowing what the deal is with Rajon Rondo.

 

7. Los Angeles Lakers (27-55): Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse

Los Angeles will hate missing on Smart, but Tyler Ennis is a great way to recover, and he could perhaps be a better all-around contributor right away.

Ennis is one of the most pro-ready prospects in the class, and he can handle high-pressure situations if the coaching staff asks him to do so.

Given the state of the Lakers roster and franchise overall, Ennis is a smart pick for the as the organization continues to rebuild.

 

8. Sacramento Kings (28-54): Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky

Creating a Kentucky tandem underneath the rim is likely the best thing the front office can do in this scenario.

DeMarcus Cousins needs a running mate down low, and Julius Randle is that and much more.

As another very pro-ready prospect, Randle could team with Cousins to provide plenty of offense and make the lane a no-fly zone for opposing slashers.

 

9. Charlotte Hornets (43-39): James Young, SF, Kentucky

Make that two Wildcats in a row, as Charlotte will have a hard time passing on a prospect such as James Young, who just oozes potential.

Young is drawing comparisons to great scorers of past and present, as Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com writes.

Young would be quite the addition to a budding roster in need of another great scoring option. He won't be perfect right away, but he is a strong prospect who will prosper sooner rather than later.

 

10. Philadelphia 76ers (from New Orleans [34-48]): Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan

Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

Philadelphia will surely be irate that Young is off the board, but from a pure shooting standpoint, Nik Stauskas is probably the better prospect, both now and in the future.

Stauskas can shoot with the best names in the NBA already, and he would fit well with a young core that seriously needs an outside threat to free up space in the middle.

 

11. Denver Nuggets (36-46): Rodney Hood, SG/SF, Duke

Denver is another team that needs help putting the ball in the hoop.

As simple as that sounds, there is no easy answer for a talent-depleted roster. But Rodney Hood is a heck of a way to get started in the right direction thanks to his sound all-around scoring ability.

 

12. Orlando Magic (from Denver via New York [37-45]): Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State

Orlando needs a better answer on the low block next to Nikola Vucevic.

With that in mind, Adreian Payne is an easy selection given the alignment of need and value. Kennedy encapsulates Payne's overall stock best:

Payne is close to maxed-out in terms of his ability, but that's not a bad thing from a safety standpoint. He'll contribute right away, and he'll continue doing so for a long time.

 

13. Minnesota Timberwolves (40-42): Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton

Doug McDermott is another one of this year's pure shooters who would be an obvious fit in Minnesota, regardless of the outcome of the Kevin Love saga.

McDermott is one of those glue pieces that can make everyone around him better, even if it is not obvious on the stat sheet each night. Like Payne, McDermott has likely reached his ceiling, but that's an eye-of-the-beholder ordeal.

 

14. Phoenix Suns (48-34): Aaron Gordon, PF/SF, Arizona

Gary Dineen/Getty Images

So the Phoenix Suns didn't tank.

As a result, the Suns get to pick a little lower than everyone imagined, but they also get to scoop up a key contributor down low with Aaron Gordon.

Gordon won't change the franchise as a whole, but he could serve as a key cog on an overall impressive roster in a ridiculously deep conference.

 

15. Atlanta Hawks (38-44): Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State

Gary Harris has seen his stock jump all over the place lately, as noted by Kyle Austin of MLive.com.

Harris is an elite scorer who needs to thrive next to a sound point guard. He sounds like the perfect fit for Atlanta, a team that needs a 2-guard to run with Jeff Teague

 

16. Chicago Bulls (from Charlotte [43-39]): Zach LaVine, PG, UCLA

Chicago has to find better scoring options in a hurry as it looks to get younger and stay in contention in a weak conference.

UCLA's Zach LaVine is a popular choice here by many, and the shoe certainly fits.

LaVine can run the point and score at a fast clip when asked. His overall athleticism translates well to both ends of the court, and he could be one strong piece of a mini-rebuild in the Windy City.

 

17. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn [44-38]): Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland

With an extra point guard in hand, Boston can beef up beneath the rim with a bit of a project player in Clint Capela.

Capela is raw, but his scoring ability is noteworthy. Some depth behind Brandon Bass would be nice, even if Capela is not quite ready to go right away. Capela's development would be a critical piece in the team's rebuild.

 

18. Phoenix Suns (from Washington 44-38): Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State

After nabbing Gordon to get more physical on both ends down low, Phoenix would be more than happy to grab Cleanthony Early.

Labeled by many as one of the draft's most prospects thanks to elite athleticism and upside, NBA on ESPN relayed words from Chad Ford regarding Early's performance at the combine:

Early is a developmental prospect the Suns would love to have coming off the bench. His athleticism alone would make him an immediate contributor.

 

19. Chicago Bulls (48-34): Dario Saric, PF/SF, Croatia

Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

Yes, the Bulls are already technically set at the 4, but the addition of a long-term option who can play the 3 as well makes sense for a team with two first-round picks.

Dario Saric does not have to come in and contribute right away as a rookie, but he will prove to be an instrumental piece as the Bulls continue to revamp a roster in flux.

 

20. Toronto Raptors (48-34): Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse

Toronto may end up having bigger fish to fry depending on how Kyle Lowry's trip to free agency works out, but Jermai Grant helps to solve a depth issue.

Grant's overall ability may help to place him in the starting lineup, too. A solid defender and good-enough scorer at this point, the ceiling for Grant is quite remarkable given his measureables.

 

21. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Dallas [49-33] via Houston and L.A. Lakers): P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends (NBA D-League)

P.J. Hairston is a bit of a risk given his dismissal from North Carolina, which forced him to spend a year in the D-League, but Oklahoma City would have no qualms about picking up such a sound scoring talent and throwing him into a great environment.

Hairston would give the Thunder an upgrade over Thabo Sefolosha right away, as his deep range and slashing ability would be the perfect fit in the Thunder offense.

 

22. Memphis Grizzlies (50-32): Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut

ESPN's Fran Fraschilla puts it best:

Shabazz Napier is a leader who makes any coach comfortable when the game is on the line. Given Memphis' impressive starting rotation, Napier won't start for a few years or more, but he'd be a sound addition to a great roster and a heck of an option off the bench.

 

23. Utah Jazz (from Golden State [51-31]): Kyle Anderson, SF/PG, UCLA

Kyle Anderson can do it all, whether it is banging down low or dishing out assists thanks to his elite court vision.

This type of versatility will come in handy in Utah, where the rebuild rages on after nabbing Embiid earlier in the round.

Speaking of Embiid, he will surely benefit from the playmaking ability Anderson brings to the table from any spot on the court.

 

24. Charlotte Hornets (from Portland [54-28]): T.J. Warren, SF, North Carolina State

T.J. Warren seemingly scored at will in college, so do not be shocked when the Charlotte Hornets double-dip on talented scorers at the 3-spot.

Warren can act as a versatile weapon, anyway. At this point, he is a great value, and he would provide more depth with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist still being a work in progress.

 

25. Houston Rockets (54-28): K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson

Throughout his career, K.J. McDaniels terrorized the ACC, a conference surely happy to see him go. Last year, McDaniels compiled averages of 17.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.

McDaniels would a scary weak-side shot-blocker in tandem with Dwight Howard. The Rockets certainly will not mind his offensive prowess, either. In other words, he would be an outstanding pick for a team that figures to continue to be in title contention next season.

 

26. Miami Heat (54-28): Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia

The big Bosnian Jusuf Nurkic is far and away the second-best center in the 2014 class, which at this point in the round means he is approaching steal territory.

For the Miami Heat, that means a chance to select a player who could beef up a weaker position right now while also looking toward the future. Nurkic is a bit of a project, but by no means will he have to play right away.

 

27. Phoenix Suns (from Indiana [56-26]): Jahii Carson, PG, Arizona State

It is a tad important to note that the Suns were the first NBA team to truly give Jahii Carson a shot, as illustrated by Tim Ring of KTVK-TV:

Darko Bandic/Associated Press

Carson would be a strong piece off the bench for a team that shocked many a year ago and has done nothing but improve in a big way thus far.

 

28. Los Angeles Clippers (57-25): Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana Lafayette

Elfrid Payton is a seriously promising prospect who needs to work on his jump shot before transcending to the status of instant starter at the next level.

With the Los Angeles Clippers, Payton will have plenty of time to do just that as he acts as the spell behind Chris Paul. Depth is an integral part of any Western Conference contender at this point, so Payton will be a welcome addition so late in the first round.

 

29. Oklahoma City Thunder (59-23): Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee

Depth will be the priority for the Thunder so late in the first round, so it's not hard to see the team grabbing a pro-ready backup like Jarnell Stokes.

Stokes will not have to do much right away barring injury, but he's surely ready to be passed the baton when ready. A banger down low who can mop up the glass, Stokes would provide great depth for a team that is primed for more title shots.

 

30. San Antonio Spurs (62-20): Semaj Christon, PG, Xavier

With the injury scare to Tony Parker in the playoffs, it quickly became apparent how dearly the San Antonio Spurs need better depth at the point.

That's where Semaj Christon comes into play. Christon sees the court well, can score with ease and has an incredible amount of upside. Add in the fact that he'd get to learn from Parker, and that's a heck of a way to end the first round.

 

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