NBA Mock Draft 2014: Selections That Would Improve Each Team

Brian Mazique@@UniqueMaziqueCorrespondent IIIMay 30, 2014

Mar 21, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Andrew Wiggins (22) dunks the ball against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels in the first half during the 2nd round of the 2014 NCAA Men's  Basketball Championship at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

There's good reason to suggest the Cleveland Cavaliers should trade the top pick in the NBA draft—aside from the fact that they've had it twice in the last three years and still haven't made the playoffs.

If Cleveland stays in the top four, it can add a few assets from the team that is trying to move up and still acquire a potential organization-changing prospect with its top pick.

All of that is fun to ponder, but we don't have enough information regarding potential draft-day swaps just yet.

For now, we'll play this mock draft straight without speculation on trades. All of these picks would make the teams better than they were last season.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas

SANTA MONICA, CA - MAY 8:  NBA Draft prospect Joel Embiid behind the scenes on May 8, 2014 at Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user
Juan Ocampo/Getty Images

This is the first mock where I've placed Embiid in the top spot. It's not because I haven't seen his immense talent and upside. The hesitation has been caused by the uncertainty surrounding the back injury he suffered at the end of last season.

At a recent workout, he impressed everyone. Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski said:

Here's a look at highlights from the workout:

Embiid is even joking that he might be able to play a little forward in the NBA. He showed off his handle on Instagram:

Even as dominant as he looked here, it still seems like Duke's Jabari Parker might be a better fit. But who could blame Cleveland for taking a big man who could potentially be the next Hakeem Olajuwon?

2. Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke

Showing up for workouts fit and focused only helped to grow Parker's draft stock.

The Bucks not only need a wing scorer but could also use a positive and professional influence in the locker room.

Parker has the game and mindset to help turn things around in Milwaukee.

3. Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Wiggins, SF/SG, Kansas

As far as explosive athleticism and overall ceilings go, Wiggins is the top prospect. Because there are questions as to whether he has the alpha male trait, he's not going to be seen as a sure thing.

That's a blessing for the 76ers, who could really use him on the wing. A team anchored by Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel, Thaddeus Young (if he stays), Tony Wroten and the player the team drafts at No. 10 looks wildly athletic and dangerous.

4. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia

From a pure talent level, Exum should be mentioned in the same breath as Embiid, Wiggins and Parker. Because he didn't play college basketball in the United States, he's more of an unknown.

That said, it wouldn't be surprising to see him move into the top three.

If he stays here, he'll be the next cornerstone for the Magic franchise. He and last year's lottery selection Victor Oladipo will form an exciting and young backcourt.

5. Utah Jazz: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana

NEW YORK - MAY 20: NBA Legend Julius Erving measures his hands with draft prospect Noah Vonleh at a reception prior to the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery on May 20, 2014 at the ABC News' 'Good Morning America' Times Square Studio in New York City.  NOTE TO USER:
Jennifer Pottheiser/Getty Images

With amazing length (11.75" hands and a 7'4.25" wingspan) and a diverse skill set, Vonleh is an intriguing big-man prospect.

The Jazz could lose Enes Kanter after this season or trade him on draft day or during the season.

The big man from Turkey is set to become a restricted free agent after the upcoming season. Vonleh is a better complement to Derrick Favors because of his ability to shoot the ball from the outside.

6. Boston Celtics: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky

Randle is a workhorse on the low block. He's big, strong, quick and agile. He does need to work on his outside shooting, but it's easy to imagine him becoming a double-double machine in the NBA.

Boston doesn't have much scoring on the block right now. He could give the team a much-needed force close to the basket.

7. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State

There are a few things Smart needs to improve upon, like his outside shot. But because of his competitiveness and desire to be better, teams should feel confident he'll reach his potential.

Rodger Bohn of SLAM magazine noticed Smart willing his shots in at a recent workout:

The Lakers need to draft a potential leader who is capable of taking the reins from Kobe Bryant when he walks away. At this point in the draft, Smart is the best option.

8. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona

Gordon has tremendous athleticism and a little more versatility to his game than what he showed in college. He's also a willing defender and a solid personality.

The Kings need all of the above to try to change their losing culture.

9. Charlotte Hornets: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton

Everyone knows McDermott can shoot the rock, but he surprised people with his 36" max-vertical leap at the NBA combine.

This interview with Bleacher Report talks about his nickname "Dougie McBuckets."

While he won't be mistaken for Gordon anytime soon, he isn't quite as bad of an athlete as many believed. Still he projects as a long-range gunner in the NBA.

That should be good for Charlotte, even though the ninth pick might be a bit of a reach for such a player. The team was 23rd in the NBA in three-point shooting this season, so it could certainly use the help.

10. Philadelphia 76ers: Dario Saric, SF/PF, Croatia

PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 7: Dario Saric #12 of the World Select Team drives against Shabazz Muhammad #10 and James Robinson #8 of the USA Junior Select Team during the 2012 Hoop Summit on April 7, 2012 at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USE
Sam Forencich/Getty Images

Because of all the hype Exum has received, Saric is flying under the radar in regard to top international talent. 

He's still a multitalented 6'10" forward with intriguing potential.

Taking Saric here would give the 76ers a prospect to dangle in trades or make Thaddeus Young expendable. They could also hold onto Saric and Young with the aforementioned nucleus.

11. Denver Nuggets: James Young, SF/SG, Kentucky

Young has tremendous athleticism and is willing and able to take tough shots off the dribble or from a spot-up position.

Denver doesn't have a ton of contributors from the wing positions. Danilo Gallinari missed the entire season because of a torn ACL but has said he will be ready for training camp.

Young would still make for a formidable wingmate with Gallinari or insurance in the event the rehabilitation process is delayed.

12. Orlando Magic: Rodney Hood, SF, Duke

With a smooth left-handed stroke from the outside and just enough handle to create his own shot, Hood has some value as a wing scorer.

With Oladipo, Exum and Nikola Vucevic on board, the Magic could use a shooter to help space the floor. Hood could give them that.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan

Stauskas is an ultraconfident, lights-out shooter with decent athleticism. He won't be a high flyer, but he's not stiff when it comes to lateral movement or slashing.

The Wolves have long needed a dependable shooter to pair with Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love. It remains to be seen whether the latter will remain with the team, but Stauskas' skill set should still be attractive to the Wolves.

14. Phoenix Suns: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia

At 6'11", 280 pounds, the 19-year-old Nurkic is already a load on the block. He uses his body well and shows a solid basketball IQ.

The Suns desperately need a physical presence in the middle. With three first-round picks, the team can afford to take a bit of a risk on such a young big with solid upside.

15. Atlanta Hawks: Zach LaVine, PG/SG, UCLA

SAN DIEGO, CA - MARCH 23:  Zach LaVine #14 of the UCLA Bruins drives against Trey Pinkney #10 of the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks in the second half during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Viejas Arena on March 23, 2014 in
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

McDermott and LaVine are the two players with the most boom-or-bust potential in the draft. LaVine jumps out of the gym, handles the ball and shows a solid shooting stroke. That said, he is pretty raw and showed some inconsistency in his one year at UCLA.

Atlanta could simply draft the best player available at this spot in the first round, and it seems as though that would be LaVine.

16. Chicago Bulls: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse

Ennis is a more athletic but slightly smaller version of Andre Miller. He plays fundamentally sound, understands how to set teammates up and has natural instincts for the game.

The Bulls must address their point guard situation. Pending free agent D.J. Augustin probably played himself out of the Bulls' price range, just like Nate Robinson did the year before. Kirk Hinrich is aging and a fraction of the player he once was. He's also an unrestricted free agent.

Derrick Rose is clearly the man when he returns, but because he's missed all but 10 games of the last two seasons, the team has to have some insurance.

Ennis fits the bill.

17. Boston Celtics: T.J. Warren, SF, N.C. State

Some players have a knack for putting the ball in the basket. It may not always be pretty, but Warren gets it down. Best of all, he can do it from various spots on the floor.

His skill set seems like a great fit alongside Rajon Rondo, who is always a willing passer. Warren could be a solid sixth man to help give the C's second unit a boost as well.

18. Phoenix Suns: Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland

"Raw" and "athletic" are the two terms you most often hear associated with Capela. "Long" is another adjective that fits as well.

Per DraftExpress, he is 6'11" with a 7'4.25" wingspan. He looks to be a talented young big who needs some time to develop. The Suns could draft and stash Capela to allow him to develop and keep the salary requirement for this slot at a minimum.

19. Chicago Bulls: Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA

Add another name to the boom-or-bust list. Anderson is 6'8.5" and averaged 8.8 rebounds, 14.6 points and 6.5 assists.

He's a point forward with the strength to play power forward if a team goes small. His ball-handling and vision make him a fit at point guard. There are scenarios where Anderson could play every position besides center.

The issue is his lack of elite athleticism. Can he guard players in the NBA consistently?

The Bulls may need to dump Mike Dunleavy Jr. to pursue some of the bigger fish in free agency. If that happens, there will be an opening at small forward. Anderson's basketball IQ and versatility make him a fit in Chi-Town.

20. Toronto Raptors: Kristaps Porzingis, C/PF, Latvia

Anytime a kid stands 7 feet tall and displays better-than-average athleticism, he's going to draw a crowd.

The Raptors already have Jonas Valanciunas, but Porzingis has the skills to play alongside him as a large power forward.

An international Twin Towers effect could be interesting in Toronto.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State

Payne might be the best stretch 4 in the draft. His size and the range on his jump shot make him an exciting prospect.

Imagine incorporating his skill set with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. The pick-and-pop option is tantalizing.

22. Memphis Grizzlies: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State

Because he's not a dynamic athlete or a very big shooting guard, Harris' stock may fall by draft day. If he slips this far, Memphis should jump on him.

The team needs a 2-guard who is capable of offering some scoring punch.

23. Utah Jazz: Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA

Despite the fact that Adams didn't wow teams with his NBA combine numbers, he played and shot the ball well.

He has very long arms and great instincts for the passing lanes. His perimeter defense and ability to knock down open jump shots make him a solid three-and-D prospect.

He could be insurance if the team loses Gordon Hayward in free agency or in a sign-and-trade deal.

24. Charlotte Hornets: P.J. Hairston, SG, D-League

Hairston is an offensive sixth man waiting to happen in the NBA. Combine Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford and Dion Waiters together, and you have Hairston.

A player like that shouldn't be picked this late in the draft. Had he stayed at North Carolina, he wouldn't be.

As it stands, the Hornets could grab one of the steals of the draft at No. 24.

25. Houston Rockets: Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn

Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

Jeremy Lin's days in Houston are numbered. When he does depart, the team will need a point guard to either start or play behind Patrick Beverley—assuming he stays there long term.

Napier is a proven winner with a high hoops IQ and a sharp shooting eye. Both fit well with Dwight Howard and James Harden.

26. Miami Heat: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson

As pure athletes go, McDaniels is one of the most impressive. He doesn't just jump high, he's audacious with his mad dashes to the rim and offensive glass.

Because of his blend of explosiveness and aggression, he's a potential All-Defensive-Team type of presence.

The Heat could use a player like that to take pressure off LeBron on that end of the floor.

27. Phoenix Suns: Glenn Robinson III, SF/SG, Michigan

GR3 has the size, skills and athleticism to be a big-time scorer in the NBA, but does he have the assertiveness? In all honesty, not much separates him from a player like Wiggins.

But can GR3 take the next step toward becoming a top-notch scorer? Playing for Jeff Hornacek did wonders for Gerald Green's game.

Perhaps the same thing could happen for GR3.

28. Los Angeles Clippers: Mitch McGary, PF, Michigan

McGary will probably never be a star, but he can be a dependable and active big man off the bench. Think about a bigger and more athletic version of Nick Collison.

That type of player would be a good fit as a backup for DeAndre Jordan.

29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette

As a disruptive force on the defensive end and potential playmaker for an offense, Payton looks great. Unfortunately, his jump shot is not good. He made just 29 percent of his threes last season in college.

Still, a young, athletic point guard looking to defend and create could be a great fit in Oklahoma City behind Westbrook.

30. San Antonio Spurs: Patric Young, PF/C, Florida

Apr 5, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Florida Gators center Patric Young (middle) controls a rebound against the Connecticut Huskies in the second half during the semifinals of the Final Four in the 2014 NCAA Mens Division I Championship tournament at AT&T Sta

Young looks like he should be playing tight end in the NFL. He's massively strong and surprisingly athletic. His defensive prowess might make some think of Ben Wallace.

That wouldn't be a bad M.O. if that's how things pan out.

The Spurs would pick up one of the young bigs who could eventually eat up some of Tim Duncan's minutes when he retires.

Salary information per SpotracStatistics per Sports Reference and Basketball-Reference. Combine performance numbers and measurements per, unless otherwise noted.


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