Predicting What Every 2014 NBA Draft Lottery Team Will Do with Its Pick
As the 2014 NBA draft draws closer, every lottery team faces difficult decisions given how talented this class is.
The crop of studs at the top are highly coveted, so several outside clubs will make trade offers to get in on the party. But which franchises will actually give up their picks? And if so, what will those trades look like?
Will any top-three team trade away its pick? What will the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers do to regain prominence? What kind of swaps will be made later on?
Find out as we predict and break down every lottery selection, whether it's a straight-up pick or involved in a trade.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers Select Joel Embiid, Kansas C
While the Cleveland Cavaliers received the improbable fortune of yet another No. 1 selection, they face a mountain of pressure to handle the pick correctly. Despite having three straight top-five picks (including two No. 1s), the Cavs are a 33-49 club looking for answers.
There are several attractive options in front of them. The top 3-5 prospects available are all tantalizing in different ways, and Cleveland also isn't ruling out trade opportunities, according to The Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer.
Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins are terrific prospects, and the Minnesota Timberwolves may try to send Kevin Love as part of a draft trade. But in the end, Joel Embiid is the prize.
It seems like his back is fine, and his monster workout in Santa Monica is prime evidence. The workout is also the most recent example of how rare his combination of skills and physical tools is.
The Cavs arranged a meeting with him before any other top prospects, and according to ESPN's Andy Katz, they'll be the first team to meet with him. Barring the perfect trade offer, Embiid will be their choice.
2. Milwaukee Bucks Select Jabari Parker, Duke F
Joel Embiid might have been Milwaukee's preference, but since we're predicting him to go No. 1, the Bucks are likely looking at a choice between Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker.
Do the Deer favor Wiggins, the incredibly explosive athlete who's a bit raw but brimming with potential? Or do they like Parker, who may have a slightly lower ceiling but owns the more NBA-ready body and skill set?
It's a tough choice, but Milwaukee will probably end up choosing the Duke Blue Devils star. ESPN's Chad Ford (subscription required) doesn't think Wiggins is in the top two on the Bucks' board, as they prefer the polished offensive skill set Parker offers. His footwork, strength, fluid handling skills and intelligence are all first-rate.
The club's roster could use the dependable firepower Jabari will bring from day one, rather than adding another athlete who's still developing and not guaranteed to be a star.
And let's remember, Parker is no slouch in the athleticism department, and his upside is extremely high as well. There's only a small chance Milwaukee would end up regretting his pick.
3. Philadelphia 76ers Select Andrew Wiggins, Kansas SF
Even though the Philadelphia 76ers weren't lucky enough to land one of the top two lottery spots, they could still have an absolute gem fall into their lap.
Andrew Wiggins is a no-brainer here for the Sixers. He doesn't have the big-man allure of his teammate Joel Embiid or the refined scoring versatility of Jabari Parker, but his budding talent and overwhelming athleticism could flourish in Philly's system.
To say Wiggins' leaping ability, quickness and agility are "elite" is sort of an understatement. He effortlessly rose above everyone in college, and his second- and third-effort jumps were unbelievably explosive. In addition, his first step is lightning-fast for someone who's 6'9", and his lateral quickness makes him a defensive dream.
Wiggins has some work to do to access his potential, but Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie and coach Brett Brown know he'll excel in their uptempo attack. Philly led the NBA in pace in 2013-14, and he'll relish the transition and secondary-break opportunities while supplying solid perimeter defense.
4. Orlando Magic Select Dante Exum, Australia PG
Orlando's need and desire for a future point guard is well-documented, as is the Magic's interest in Australian phenomenon Dante Exum.
In all likelihood, he'll still be there at No. 4, which is great news for GM Rob Hennigan and Co.
Adding the 18-year-old playmaker would give the squad a 6'6" quarterback who shows loads of promise as a scorer and a passer. It would complete the foundation of the backcourt, and he and Victor Oladipo would form one of the most versatile tandems in the league.
If we predicted some draft-altering trades prior to this pick, then maybe Jabari Parker would be in play here. But as of right now, it looks like Exum will be the best option available.
The Aussie guard's upside is tremendous, and it's fueled by his scoring instincts and mature demeanor. Orlando will be more than happy to acquire someone of his caliber with the fourth pick.
5. Utah Jazz Trade the Pick
The Utah Jazz are one of those mid-lottery teams with a chance to trade up, trade down or stay put.
Even though they're surely bummed to fall outside the top four, they wouldn't grossly overpay in trading up for one of those slots. And they probably won't want to drastically alter their frontcourt or backcourt with an available prospect like Noah Vonleh or Marcus Smart.
Vonleh would be a nice choice, but ultimately I believe they'll listen to the most appealing offer to trade down.
B/R's Dave Leonardis points to the Orlando Magic as a prime trade partner. With Dante Exum and Victor Oladipo manning the backcourt of the future, Rob Hennigan can afford to swap Arron Afflalo along with their No. 12 lottery pick and assets to land the No. 5 spot.
So in a predraft or draft-day surprise, I'm predicting the Jazz to trade out of their original spot. The Magic would make back-to-back picks in the top five. They'll take Vonleh, whose size and inside-out impact alongside Nikola Vucevic will soon make Orlando's frontcourt one of the East's best.
6. Boston Celtics Select Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State G
The Boston Celtics likely have their eye on Noah Vonleh, but with the power forward off the board, they'll be operating on their backup plan.
General manager Danny Ainge will consider small forwards for this pick, and he'll also shop the asset and listen to suitors.
But I believe he'll take combo guard Marcus Smart with the pick.
Given the Celts' current roster, the decision doesn't initially compute. But if Boston is serious about moving Rajon Rondo prior to his free agency, then grabbing Smart makes a ton of sense. ESPN's Jeff Goodman (subscription required) thinks Ainge will opt for this angle.
"...Taking a point guard at this spot...would allow him to dangle Rajon Rondo and have a backup plan. Smart is physically ready to play in the league, and his floor game has improved in the past year."
Although he won't pull off a trade involving this No. 6 pick, the selection of Smart will help empower him to make the much-anticipated Rondo trade in the near future.
7. Los Angeles Lakers Select Julius Randle, Kentucky PF
Much like the two teams ahead of them, the Los Angeles Lakers will likely shop their No. 7 spot and see what they can get in return.
Putting together a package for Kevin Love is unlikely because there aren't enough additional assets to offer the Minnesota Timberwolves. And once the dust settles from other draft-day negotiations for lesser targets, Mitch Kupchak and Co. will arrive at the conclusion to keep the pick.
Part of the reason they'll keep the pick is because they'll have a chance to land a stud like Julius Randle.
Remember, Randle started the season in the top-three discussion, and in any other draft he would probably be a top-three pick. With his body and rebounding instincts, he's ready to make an instant impact.
Matt Moore of CBS Sports agrees that the Randle-Lakers marriage is superb: "Randle slips here based on circumstances and winds up in a great situation. Kobe will love his killer attitude."
He's not a franchise-changing superstar, but he's a terrific building block and frontcourt presence.
8. Sacramento Kings Select Aaron Gordon, Arizona F
While the Sacramento Kings would rather land a star veteran than add a youngster, according to NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper, they do realize that this year's draft is abnormally talented and abnormally deep.
As such, general manager Pete D'Alessandro will probably keep the pick.
At this juncture, there are still several appealing options, including several promising forwards and playmakers. The best option among them is hyper-athletic forward Aaron Gordon, who's an outstanding investment on several levels.
The 6'9" freshman is more than just a leaper: He's a stout defender, a great passer and moves superbly without the ball. B/R NBA Lead Writer Jonathan Wasserman explains how he would fit with Sac-Town:
At No. 8, not only is Aaron Gordon arguably the top prospect on the board, but he'd give the Sacramento Kings some valuable, much-needed defensive versatility. He has to work on that jumper, but between his two-way upside, elite athleticism and unteachable intangibles, I'm not sure the Kings can pass on this kind of unique potential.
Basically, he's the type of player whose efforts will contribute to the Kings escaping lottery status in the future.
9. Charlotte Hornets Select Doug McDermott, Creighton F
With foundational pieces Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson taking care of playmaking and low-post heavy lifting, the Charlotte Hornets don't need an earth-shattering talent with this pick.
They need an accurate-shooting small forward, and that's exactly who Doug McDermott is.
He would work extremely well in conjunction with Walker and Jefferson, spacing the floor for both and making timely cuts when necessary. McDermott is used to scoring efficiently even when defenses are specifically game-planning against him, so you can bet he'll be efficient as a spread-out role player in the NBA.
Defensively, he's going to be outmatched at times, but at least he's sharp, alert and puts forth the effort.
In an interview with Jonathan Givony of Draft Express at the NBA Draft Combine, he talked about his desire to make stops on that end: "I'm a competitor. No one gets more ticked off when someone scores on them than me...no one watches more film than me, so I'm going to be mentally ready when I step on the floor."
Steve Clifford can make the most of him within his strong system.
10. Philadelphia 76ers Select Gary Harris, Michigan State SG
After chasing upside at No. 3, the Philadelphia 76ers will use their 10th pick on a proven two-way shooting guard.
Gary Harris' stock may have slipped a bit after he measured 6'2.5" in socks at the NBA Draft Combine, but the Sixers won't have any concerns about picking him here.
Firstly, they already have plenty of size in the backcourt, as Michael Carter-Williams gives Brett Brown defensive flexibility and offensive slashing length.
Next, we should be reminded of how talented Harris truly is. He shined on both sides of the ball in 2013-14 at Michigan State, supplying on-ball and off-ball firepower while defending at a high level.
Finally, the youngest sophomore in the draft put together a robust workout last week, according to ESPN's Chad Ford (subscription required). He was drilling shots from "well beyond" NBA three-point range and looked every bit the part of a top-10 pick in this year's field.
11. Denver Nuggets Trade Pick
Due to their strong, balanced roster, the Denver Nuggets are a prime candidate to trade their pick.
B/R's Dave Leonardis explained the club's current situation, as it's not your average lottery squad:
The Denver Nuggets have all of the makings of a playoff team except for good health. They have an intriguing young coach in Brian Shaw, and they are nearly two deep at every position. It will be tough for a rookie to come in and log decent minutes at any position next season.
At this stage, it's tough to tell who their suitor would be. It could be a squad desperate to land a sleeper prospect, or a team willing to take some salary off the Nuggets' hands. Leonardis noted the Detroit Pistons may want to use their upcoming salary-cap flexibility to get back into the lottery.
Either way, I'm predicting the Nuggets get a deal done. And their trade partner will have its eyes on Michigan guard Nik Stauskas the whole time, as he's arguably the best player available at No. 11. The sweet-shooting Canadian offers magnificent offensive value this late in the draft.
12. Utah Jazz Select Rodney Hood, Duke SF (via Orlando Trade)
Since they traded down to the 12th pick, the Utah Jazz are targeting the best wing shooters available.
In Duke's Rodney Hood, they're getting a low-risk small forward who can contribute immediately. The 6'8" southpaw has a smooth delivery from long range, and he also has a great feel for the game in other areas. In many cases, he could play at the 2.
Not only does he give the Jazz depth on the wing, but he gives them a more-than-serviceable replacement for Gordon Hayward if the restricted free agent bolts this summer.
Overall, Hood doesn't wow you compared to most other upside-based wings in this draft. He's not an elite athlete and doesn't have a great wingspan.
However, he doesn't pose any major concerns or deficiencies, and he can shoot the stuffing out of the ball. A crafty 6'8" shooter almost always translates.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves Select Adreian Payne, Michigan State PF
Entering this offseason, the Minnesota Timberwolves will aim to make upgrades in the shooting department. They would also do well to improve their interior defense and find a positional replacement for Kevin Love, who may be gone sooner than later.
The remaining available prospect best suited to meet most of those needs is Michigan State's Adreian Payne, a 6'10" stretch 4 who's active on both ends.
CBS Sports' Zach Harper, who's based in Minneapolis and also works for Radio 1500 ESPN Twin Cities, thinks the Wolves brass will tab Payne:
(General manager) Flip Saunders loves Tom Izzo at Michigan State and will certainly be aware of just how good Adreian Payne is because of it. With Kevin Love's future in Minnesota in question, Payne is a fantastic fallback plan. He can play either position at the 4 and 5, he can shoot from outside, and he'd help them dominate the boards. If Love leaves, you slide him in as a starter.
Payne will make Minny better instantly, and if Love leaves, he'll help with damage control and expedite the process of climbing back into the playoff picture.
14. Phoenix Suns Trade the Pick
The Phoenix Suns have a boatload of assets in addition to this No. 14 pick. They own No. 18, No. 27 and several expendable frontcourt resources. And they've made it known for a while, as NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper reported, that they're looking to use them in a trade.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have a superstar (some guy named Kevin Love) who will likely walk in 2015 if he's not traded before then.
Flip Saunders and Ryan McDonough will make this happen.
Just a couple days ago, B/R National NBA Featured Columnist Adam Fromal proposed Phoenix sending their three first-round picks plus Alex Len and Channing Frye in exchange for Love. He explains the benefit for both sides:
The Suns have to be dreaming about the possibilities of pairing him with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. As for the 'Wolves, it's tough to see them getting a more appealing package than this, simply because they'd enjoy all sorts of financial and personnel flexibility by adding three first-round prospects in a historically loaded draft class...This is an easy decision.
To round out our lottery predictions, the Timberwolves will use their newfound No. 14 pick on Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis. He bolsters Minny's backcourt rotation and gives Saunders more flexibility to shop Rubio if the club doesn't aim to re-sign him.
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