It's officially June, which means anticipation for the 2014 NBA draft is entering the home stretch and the clock is running out for teams to make franchise-changing decisions.
Each team drafting with a high lottery pick has its needs, but certain players in the mix are awfully tough to pass up regardless of the current roster. Balancing that line will be tough for a couple of teams that will see their top preferred players go off the board early.
Let's break into a fresh mock draft to see what the best option for each team in the first round is.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
Andrew Wiggins has long been the crown jewel of this draft class, and that hasn't changed in one season of college basketball.
The former Kansas star's supreme athleticism and leaping ability are without question, but he showcased in 41-point games and big-time performances that he's capable of becoming a superstar. You know what you're getting—and don't, at the same time—with Joel Embiid, and Jabari Parker is more of an impact player right away. But neither will reach the ceiling Wiggins is bound for.
The 19-year-old's incredible length for a player who can line up at shooting guard is off the charts as well, per ESPN's Chad Ford:
That sort of length alongside Kyrie Irving could give the Cavs a feared young backcourt and a trade asset in Dion Waiters. Anderson Varejao isn't great, but Tristan Thompson has shown signs of being a game-changer, and blowing that up for Embiid when you can add Wiggins to the fold doesn't make as much sense.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Joel Embiid, Kansas
Milwaukee may only have the second overall pick after posting the NBA's worst record, but the Bucks are in an awfully nice position, as USA Today's Sean Highkin notes:
Wiggins may be a better fit, but Embiid offers exponentially more than any Bucks frontcourt member can offer. Larry Sanders regressed immensely in 2013-14 after a big contract signing, causing rifts in the locker room, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Embiid could be a franchise-shaping replacement to put alongside budding star John Henson.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, Duke
The Sixers need a franchise player, and with the third pick, they're pretty much guaranteed to get one. Jabari Parker might actually be the best fit for them—he's ready to potentially lead the team in scoring right away, and he knows how to contribute on the glass and in other facets of the offense to make an easy transition. With Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel and some other pieces, a thriving Parker could be just what Philadelphia needs.
4. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, Australia
Additions of Victor Oladipo and Tobias Harris had Orlando making some strides in 2013-14, but not enough to get out of the league's cellar. Jameer Nelson will be 33 before the end of next season, and that could give point guard of the future Dante Exum the opportunity to grow into his game-changing role.
5. Utah Jazz: Aaron Gordon, Arizona
The Jazz need a formidable big man to pair alongside either of their emerging centers, Enes Kanter or Derrick Favors. Aaron Gordon would be the perfect match, as his athleticism will pair up nicely with either of those big men.
6. Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
Marcus Smart is a steal anywhere outside the top five of any draft, and the Celtics will get a huge value here that meshes well on their roster. Smart thrives when he doesn't have to be the primary ball-handler, and Rajon Rondo's defined role will allow the Oklahoma State product to focus directly on scoring.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle, Kentucky
Much like the Celtics, the Lakers get a steal in Julius Randle. Los Angeles will have to fill a huge hole if Pau Gasol leaves, and Randle's ability to score and play big will give him early success despite the fact that he is just one year out of high school.
8. Sacramento Kings: Noah Vonleh, Indiana
Yahoo Sports' Marc Spears reported that Sacramento might deal pick No. 8 for Kevin Love. But if that doesn't come to fruition, the Kings will need to address the lack of potential in the frontcourt outside of DeMarcus Cousins. Noah Vonleh as a massive power forward alongside him could be lethal in two or three years.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Doug McDermott, Creighton
Doug McDermott could be one of many pieces Charlotte will need in order to take the next step. The Hornets have a young core nestled around Al Jefferson that got them to the postseason, and drafting a sharpshooter on the outside in McDermott will add a very important wrinkle to the offense.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Jusuf Nurkic, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Other than Nerlens Noel, who still hasn't played in an NBA game, the Sixers don't have much rebounding prowess. Jusuf Nurkic would help to dissolve that problem in the coming years, as his size (6'11" and a hefty 280 pounds) will allow the 19-year-old to develop into a boards-cleaner.
11. Denver Nuggets: James Young, Kentucky
The Nuggets need more contributors capable of going off in order to avoid missing the playoffs again, and James Young is that type of player. He took over games in the NCAA tournament with his pure ability to shoot the rock from outside, and his developing game and his great length make him a surefire lottery pick.
12. Orlando Magic: Dario Saric, Croatia
No matter who they draft at No. 4, the Magic will have plenty of needs heading into 2013-14—one of them being a high-potential athletic forward. Dario Saric fits the mold, as the 6'10" power forward can play a Dirk Nowitzki-style game that stretches the defense.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
The Timberwolves may be set to embark on a new era without Kevin Love, and a young stud point guard to threaten Ricky Rubio's starting spot would be a bold yet savvy move. Tyler Ennis showcased a game-changing ability in certain games at Syracuse, and if he gets anywhere near that level in the NBA, he will be leaps and bounds ahead of Rubio.
14. Phoenix Suns: Nik Stauskas, Michigan
There's no telling how well Nik Stauskas will translate to the NBA, but one part of his game that will undeniably make the transition is his outside shooting. Stauskas can light up the nets with the best of them, and that will fit in well alongside the facilitative nature of Goran Dragic and the explosiveness of Eric Bledsoe.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Adreian Payne, Michigan State
The Hawks simply weren't the same without Al Horford last season. While they impressed by making the playoffs and taking Indiana to a Game 7, they missed his impact. Adreian Payne is the type of player Atlanta can insert with any combination in the frontcourt, and he'll be able to thrive with his offensive game and a mix of size and physicality that makes him a stout defender.
16. Chicago Bulls: Rodney Hood, Duke
For anyone who's been living under a rock the past two postseasons, the Bulls are in desperate need of a reliable scoring punch in the backcourt. Rodney Hood is young enough to develop slowly but long and talented enough to be effective on offense as soon as the Bulls need him—which just so happens to be now.
17. Boston Celtics: Clint Capela, Switzerland
After getting a surefire impact player in Marcus Smart, the Celtics will look to win big on the international market with Clint Capela. The Swiss native is big enough at 6'11" to make his defensive abilities stand out right off the bat, and his nearly seven-and-a-half-foot wingspan is up to scratch with the best at the position.
18. Phoenix Suns: P.J. Hairston, NBDL
The Suns are looking to get to the playoffs after just missing out in 2013-14, and to continue the improvement, they'll need to make some splashes with their three first-rounders. P.J. Hairston has proved his worth at North Carolina and then in the NBA D-League, and that bodes awfully well for his chances of making a positive impact early on.
19. Chicago Bulls: Jerami Grant, Syracuse
According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Carlos Boozer is headed out the door and Taj Gibson is set to replace him in the starting lineup. That means the Bulls will need some big-bodied help right away, and Jerami Grant's emergence as a featured part of the Orange lineup makes him a solid fit.
20. Toronto Raptors: Kyle Anderson, UCLA
Few players in the draft can mesh scoring, rebounding and dishing out assists as well as Kyle Anderson. The UCLA standout knows how to leave his fingerprints on an offense, and that will be valuable for a bench unit in Toronto that is looking to find a way to help a star-studded starting lineup.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: T.J. Warren, N.C. State
As told by Oklahoma City's Western Conference Finals defeat, the Thunder bench just isn't where it needs to be to compete for championships. T.J. Warren isn't the savior, but his ability to defend and dominate one-on-one will force him into the rotation quickly.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: K.J. McDaniels, Clemson
Add Memphis to the list of teams that couldn't get squat from their benches in the playoffs. In fact, the Grizzlies need help in scoring across the board in the backcourt, and K.J. McDaniels—one of the nation's best pure scorers at Clemson last year—fits the mold of what Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger needs.
23. Utah Jazz: Gary Harris, Michigan State
With Trey Burke and Gordon Hayward in the fold, the Jazz could use another standout young guard like Alec Burks to play bench minutes and reinvigorate the offense. Gary Harris can score at will at the shooting guard spot and has the complete game that could help him develop into the starter alongside Burke.
24. Charlotte Hornets: Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette
It will take more than one or two first-rounders for Charlotte to make the jump from playoff team to serious playoff contender, but Elfrid Payton can help the cause. With experience as the star at Louisiana-Lafayette, Payton also boasts the quickness and length to play early on.
25. Houston Rockets: Jordan Adams, UCLA
Houston needs help at the wing position in order to take the step toward becoming a title contender, and Jordan Adams can make an impact there. Adams can put the ball in the basket at a high level, and a Houston bench that already puts up a lot of points will receive an added boost.
26. Miami Heat: Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee
Chris Andersen is virtually the only pure rebounder on the Heat team. In order to help in that regard, the league's worst rebounding team and two-time defending champ will look to Jarnell Stokes—who was one of the nation's best rebounders, especially on the offensive glass, at Tennessee.
27. Phoenix Suns: Kristaps Porzingis, Latvia
With the third of three first-round picks, the Suns will roll the dice with an international stud. Kristaps Porzingis could very well be taken before Phoenix picks at No. 27, but if he isn't, his 7'0" frame will be too much to pass up.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
The Clippers are in a position where they can draft a hit-or-miss prospect, and Shabazz Napier could be a huge hit. Los Angeles struggled to replace Eric Bledsoe last season, but Napier's ability to score in bunches could be the perfect replacement.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Mitch McGary, Michigan
Other than Serge Ibaka, there's little to be excited about as far as Oklahoma City's frontcourt goes. Mitch McGary has lottery-pick talent, and a back surgery that kept him out of most of last season allows the Thunder to get a great value on him.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Isaiah Austin, Baylor
The sad reality is that soon, the Spurs will be without Tim Duncan. It will be a by-committee effort to replace the San Antonio stars, and Isaiah Austin will be able to shoulder some of the load on the glass when that day comes.
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