The 2014 NBA draft order is set, team needs are apparent and we know what prospects have to offer. However, predicting where each will land remains a quizzical endeavor.
After all, smoke screens and rumors run amok at this point in the year.
Attempting to sift though these rumors in an effort to determine whether they are fact or fiction remains a daunting task.
Based on what we know—or what we think we know—let's take a shot at predicting the first round of June's impending draft.
Draft Viewing Information
Date: Thursday, June 26
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
The Cavaliers' center situation is rather unsettled, which could lead the team to select Joel Embiid here. However, passing up on an athletically gifted prospect like Wiggins who has the potential to dominate on both ends of the court will prove to be too difficult. Cleveland is still developing as a team, and Wiggins will need to do the same. He comes into a perfect situation.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Milwaukee lacks a threatening presence in its frontcourt. Embiid is a fantastic rebounder and shot-blocker on the defensive end and is reliable in the post offensively. Selecting Embiid here suddenly turns the Bucks' frontcourt from a weakness to a strength.
Embiid's back appears to be doing just fine right now. Take a look at this tweet from Bleacher Report:
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
It's no secret that the 76ers need a big-time scorer to pair with Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel. Parker has fantastic range and can score in a variety of ways. He's absolutely NBA ready and will make an immediate impact on a young team looking to rebuild.
4. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, PG, Australia
Even though there is still little known about Exum in comparison to other top prospects, his performance at the combine reassured NBA executives that he's well worth a high draft selection. Exum is mature beyond his years and will form a dynamic backcourt with Victor Oladipo.
5. Utah Jazz: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
Utah already has a vastly improving frontcourt. However, adding Randle to the mix gives this team a huge boost on both ends of the court. Randle's ability to accumulate double-doubles using his aggressive, rim-attacking style of play will do wonders for the Jazz immediately.
6. Boston Celtics: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
Vonleh improves Boston's defense in a big way right from the beginning—he's already a dominant defender and rebounder. Last year, he began to show flashes of range on the offensive side of the court. If he can keep developing his shot, he'll be a huge impact player for years to come.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
A great ball-handler and distributor, Smart lives up to his name—he's very intelligent on the court. He's coming into a perfect situation in Los Angeles. He'll be able to learn under the tutelage of Kobe Bryant and become Bryant's eventual replacement when he decides to retire.
8. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
Gordon brings a high level or energy to Sacramento. He has a big motor and is effective in the paint on both ends of the court, racking up rebounds and driving to the rim with aggression. He'll become a very dangerous weapon in the NBA if he can improve his jumper.
9. Charlotte Hornets (via Pistons): Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
The Hornets are very much an improving basketball team. Adding another scoring threat should be enough to put them over the top. McDermott is easily the best shooting prospect in this year's draft. He's a low-risk selection who is NBA ready and will put up plenty of points in Charlotte.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via Pelicans): Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
Saric is a legitimate scoring threat and solid rebounder with the passing ability of a guard. His ability to create shots for himself and his teammates will go a long way with the scoring ability of Parker, whom the Sixers selected earlier in the draft.
11. Denver Nuggets: Gary Harris, PG, Michigan State
Despite measuring a bit smaller than anticipated at the combine, Harris is still one of the better perimeter defenders in this year's draft class. Coming from Tom Izzo's system at Michigan State, he is capable of producing immediately for a team that can light up the scoreboard when firing on all cylinders.
12. Orlando Magic (via Knicks): James Young, SF, Kentucky
The Magic solidified its backcourt earlier in the draft by selecting Exum. Now, the focus shifts to the front. Young has natural scoring ability and can be a major threat from the wing once he can find some consistency from the perimeter. This team is now stacked with scoring options.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
Kevin Love appears to be heading elsewhere. Luckily for the Timberwolves, Nurkic is available here and would provide a promising replacement. Nurkic has great size and plays with a high level of energy. Pairing him with Nikola Pekovic gives this team a formidable frontcourt.
14. Phoenix Suns: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
Phoenix has a solid backcourt comprised of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. Adding Stauskas gives the Suns some size and another outside scoring threat in their rotation. He has the speed to help this team stretch the floor and can contribute to its fast-paced attack.
Here's a good look at Stauskas, courtesy of a tweet from Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders:
15. Atlanta Hawks: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
Atlanta gets another big man here to add to a talented front court. Payne may not have an incredibly high ceiling, but he's steadfast and will be an instant contributor. He can stretch the floor, play solid defense and has a nice stroke from downtown.
16. Chicago Bulls (via Hornets): Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
The point guard position needs to be a priority for the Bulls entering the draft. This team cannot rely on the oft-injured Derrick Rose forever. Ennis has the necessary skill set to become a playmaker for a Bulls team that needs an offensive spark.
17. Boston Celtics (via Nets): P.J. Hairston, SG, NBDL
The Celtics are looking to climb back into contention. Adding an experienced player like Hairston here would pay dividends. Hairston has been playing well in the Developmental League after leaving North Carolina, lighting up scoreboards against near NBA-level competition. He's a solid shooter and can make an instant impact in Boston.
18. Phoenix Suns (via Wizards): Zach LaVine, PG/SG, UCLA
Phoenix continues to add scoring threats to its backcourt. Adding LaVine here gives the team another solid option going forward. LaVine is a gifted athlete with a smooth stroke. He'll need some time to develop, but that's just fine given the Suns deep backcourt.
Just how athletic is LaVine? Here's a nice look, via a tweet from Bleacher Report:
19. Chicago Bulls: T.J. Warren, SF, North Carolina State
The Bulls add another scorer here in Warren after taking Ennis three picks earlier. Warren has great length and a nice touch on the offensive end of the court. He has a solid jumper, is aggressive inside and can rebound.
20. Toronto Raptors: Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA
Anderson is a bit of a tweener, but his skill set should allow him to flourish from a variety of positions in the NBA. He can pass, shoot and rebound, although his defense could use a bit of work. Still, he is ready to contribute immediately on an improving Raptors team.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Mavericks): Rodney Hood, SF, Duke
The Thunder have two outstanding scorers in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but adding another offensive threat to take some pressure off the duo would be highly beneficial. Hood has great range and can score from anywhere. He'll be a valuable rotational piece on the wing.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
McDaniels doesn't have overwhelming size, but he plays much bigger than he looks. A fantastic shot-blocker on the perimeter, he'll provide a big boost to an already sound Grizzlies defense. He improved on the offensive end of the court last season and will help this team generate points.
McDaniels flashed his speed at the combine, according to a tweet from Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic:
NBA draft combine 3/4-court sprint high/low. Fastest: Clemson's K.J. McDaniels, 3.10. Slowest: Baylor's Isaiah Austin, 3.55.— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) May 16, 2014
23. Utah Jazz (via Warriors): Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG, Serbia
After the Jazz upgraded their frontcourt with Randle earlier in the draft, they'll look to improve the backcourt here. Bogdanovic is a great perimeter shooter that gives Utah a nice outside threat while Randle crashes the boards.
24. Charlotte Hornets (via Trail Blazers): Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse
Charlotte added a shooter in McDermott earlier in the draft, and they'll grab another forward here. Grant doesn't have the shooting prowess like McDermott, but he is highly athletic and is a great defender—two qualities McDermott lacks. Adding Grant gives the Hornets a great deal of versatility.
25. Houston Rockets: Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
The Rockets need some help at the power forward position, and the lengthy Capela could be a great answer. He's quick for a big man and projects to be a solid defender in the NBA. Capela's size and deceptive speed should allow him to contribute right away should the Rockets decide to bring him overseas this year.
26. Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
The Heat could look to add a point guard here with Mario Chalmers heading to free agency. Napier lit it up in the NCAA tournament and has a skill set that should allow him to contribute in the Heat's backcourt rotation immediately. He's a great fit for a team in win-now mode.
27. Phoenix Suns (via Pacers): Mitch McGary, PF, Michigan
After the Suns went with some backcourt prospects earlier in the draft, it's time to look at a big man. McGary runs the floor well and is aggressive when attacking the rim. He's solid on the defensive end of the court and can serve as a solid rebounder for Phoenix.
Take a look at McGary's scouting report, courtesy of a tweet from Jonathan Givony of Draft Express:
New on DX: Mitch McGary Updated Scouting Report http://t.co/uoa3ndBACw— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 8, 2014
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
The Clippers already have one of the best guards in the league in Chris Paul, and his counterpart Darren Collison rounds out a great duo. Payton is athletic and defensively sound. He won't be asked to start in the near future but will be a great rotational piece in the Clippers backcourt.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington
Oklahoma City adds Wilcox here for depth and an insurance policy should Reggie Jackson depart to free agency after next season. Wilcox may not be a top-tier scorer, but he has the athleticism to get to the basket and can help this fast-paced offense stretch the floor.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia
Porzingis has tremendous upside at the age of 18. He is a solid outside shooter for a big man and is highly athletic. He'll have to bulk up if he's to be a true power forward. However, the Spurs are a deep team and can give him the necessary time to develop before calling him into action.