NBA franchises have been waiting for 2014 mock drafts to come to life since the class—headlined by Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid—was pegged the best since 2003.
This draft could change the landscape of the league. Not only is it loaded with talent, but multiple teams possess two first-round picks that, if they nail them both, will take them to another level.
Here is an updated first-round mock.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: SF Jabari Parker, Duke
Vitals: 19 years old, 6’8”, 241 pounds
Freshman stats: 19.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.2 blocks per game
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman (subscription required) originally reported that, according to sources, Cleveland will select Embiid if he's healthy. Well, Goodman later reported that Embiid will need surgery Friday to repair a fractured foot. Cleveland wants to win now, so it won't wait for Embiid to recover.
As a result, Parker should be the favorite to hear his name called No. 1. His offensive skill set is far more polished than Wiggins', he boasts the superior basketball IQ, and he's the surest thing in the class.
Sure, a perimeter defense of Parker, Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters would be abysmal, but this is the same franchise that drafted undersized power forwards in the top four picks of two out of three drafts. Its picks don't always make sense.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: PG Dante Exum, Australia
Vitals: 18 years old, 6’6”, 196 pounds
U-19 World Championships Stats: 18.2 points, 3.8 assists, 1.7 steals per game
When Brandon Knight played at point guard last season, his opponent outplayed him by a player efficiency rating (PER) of 0.7 according to 82games.com. At shooting guard, though, Knight dominated his matchup by a PER of 8.5. He's a better fit at shooting guard, and Exum would allow him to slide to the 2.
Not only that, but Exum would help hide the only reason that Knight hasn't already slid to the 2—a lack of length. Knight is 6'3", which is problematic against longer 2s. Exum, at 6'6", though, could eliminate those matchup problems by defending taller players.
Exum may not be in the draft's Big Three, but a source told Sporting News' Sean Deveney that the Bucks were considering him before Embiid's injury.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: SG Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
Vitals: 19 years old, 6’8”, 200 pounds
Freshman stats: 17.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.2 steals per game
This is Wiggins' floor. If he slipped past the third overall pick, every NBA draft insider would faint from the shock.
Even more than the fact that the 76ers are desperate for go-to scorer on the wing, Wiggins is the best (healthy) prospect available by far. There's a drop-off between Wiggins, Parker, Exum and Embiid, and the rest of the class. Embiid is an option here, but Philadelphia may be pushing its luck if it drafts two injured centers in back-to-back years.
4. Orlando Magic: C Joel Embiid, Kansas
Vitals: 20 years old, 7’0”, 250 pounds
Freshman stats: 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.6 blocks per game
Orlando doesn't need a center. It has Nikola Vucevic. But Vucevic's ceiling isn't even close to Embiid's.
Embiid may be injury prone, but with a chance to grab the best prospect in the draft at fourth overall, Orlando must consider pulling the trigger. Vucevic will never make Magic fans forget about Dwight Howard—Embiid could.
Orlando isn't ready to win now, so waiting on Embiid to rehab isn't an issue. And point guard may be a greater need, but there are several point guards that will be available at No. 12 who won't be the reach that Marcus Smart would be here.
5. Utah Jazz: PF Noah Vonleh, Indiana
Vitals: 18 years old, 6’10”, 247 pounds
Freshman stats: 11.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.4 blocks per game
Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Utah VP of player Personnel Walt Perrin views Derrick Favors as a center, which could lead to the trading of Enes Kanter, who also fits better at the 5 than 4. Three power forwards—Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon and Julius Randle—would solve the Jazz's big problem down low. But Vonleh is their top option.
Favors is 6'10". Pairing him with the shorter Gordon or Randle could be problematic. Vonleh is the largest and can shoot the best of the three 4s. He's more athletic than Randle and is more polished offensively than Gordon.
6. Boston Celtics: PF Aaron Gordon, Arizona
Vitals: 18 years old, 6’9”, 220 pounds
Freshman stats: 12.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.0 blocks per game
Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix reported the Celtics are “locked in” to drafting Gordon.
Gerald Wallace is their only player under contract next summer without a player or team option. Boston could have a whole new roster entering the 2015-2016 campaign, but no matter who else forms its rotation, Gordon is a player who'll fit alongside anyone due to his motor and defensive prowess.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: PF Julius Randle, Kentucky
Vitals: 19 years old, 6’9”, 234 pounds
Freshman stats: 15.0 points, 10.4 rebounds, 0.8 blocks per game
After extending 35-year-old Kobe Bryant's contract, Los Angeles now has no choice but to go all-in to win the next two years. This will be an extremely difficult task given the state of its roster. There's a high probability the Lakers trade this pick for a veteran, but if they don't, a pro-ready player like Randle would help them accomplish their short- and long-term goals.
Replacing the often-accused-of-being-soft Pau Gasol, Randle's toughness would be a breath of fresh air for Los Angeles fans.
8. Sacramento Kings: PG Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
Vitals: 20 years old, 6’3”, 227 pounds
Sophomore stats: 18.0 points, 4.8 assists, 2.9 steals per game
Sacramento will regret not drafting a point guard here if Isaiah Thomas walks this summer. Ray McCallum would be left as the Kings' starter, which likely wouldn't thrill DeMarcus Cousins.
Even Thomas he re-signs, Smart's size would help counteract the 5'9", 185-pound Thomas' lack of it.
9. Charlotte Hornets: SG Nik Stauskas, Michigan
Vitals: 20 years old, 6’7”, 207 pounds
Sophomore stats: 17.5 points, 3.3 assists, 0.6 steals per game
Gerald Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist hit a combined zero threes this postseason. Charlotte is a couple competent scorers away from being a legitimate playoff contender.
Stauskas is arguably the top pure shooter in the draft. He nailed at least 44.0 percent of his threes both years at Michigan.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: PF Dario Saric, Croatia
Vitals: 20 years old, 6’10”, 223 pounds
Croatian A-1 Liga 2013-14 stats: 16.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals per game
Wiggins is raw. Nerlens Noel is raw. Philadelphia isn't ready to win anytime soon.
That's why it should select Saric, who probably wouldn't join the 76ers for another year or two but would be worth the wait when he does. He has by far the most potential left on the board.
11. Denver Nuggets: SG Gary Harris, Michigan State
Vitals: 19 years old, 6’5”, 205 pounds
Sophomore stats: 16.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.8 steals per game
Denver surrendered the third-most points in the NBA during the regular season. Embiid would be perfect, but his range is still a bit out of the Nuggets' reach.
More likely is Harris, who's arguably the best on-ball defender in the draft. He has the athleticism and ball-handling ability to fit alongside Ty Lawson in their run-and-gun offense.
12. Orlando Magic: PG Elfrid Payton, Louisiana Lafayette
Vitals: 20 years old, 6’4”, 185 pounds
Junior stats: 19.2 points, 5.9 assists, 2.3 steals per game
Point guard is Orlando's greatest need with Jameer Nelson turning 32 years old. Nelson has a couple years of effective basketball left in him, but he won't still be a starting-caliber floor general by the time Orlando is a playoff contender again.
Tyler Ennis and Zach Lavine could go here too, but Payton is more explosive than Ennis and more polished than Lavine.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: SF Doug McDermott, Creighton
Vitals: 22 years old, 6’8”, 218 pounds
Senior stats: 26.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 0.2 steals per game
Kevin Love's preseason departure looks more likely than ever after ESPN's Marc Stein reported that the Golden State Warriors are now willing to offer Klay Thompson alongside David Lee and a first-round pick for Love.
Lee would start in place of Love at power forward, but the Timberwolves' other forward position needs to be upgraded. McDermott shot 44.9 percent from downtown this year, which just slightly more efficient than Corey Brewer's 28.0 percent. McDermott would be an instant upgrade.
14. Phoenix Suns: PG Zach Lavine, UCLA
Vitals: 19 years old, 6’6”, 181 pounds
Freshman stats: 9.4 points, 1.8 assists, 0.9 steals per game
Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding reported that Lavine recorded a 46-inch vertical at his workout with the Lakers. Lavine is kind of a big deal. His college numbers may be underwhelming, but so were Russell Westbrook's.
Phoenix has nothing at point guard behind Goran Dragic.
15. Atlanta Hawks: SF James Young, Kentucky
Vitals: 18 years old, 6’8”, 213 pounds
Freshman stats: 14.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 0.8 steals per game
Chances are that 33-year-old Kyle Korver won't be an effective starter through the remainder of his contract, which lasts until the summer of 2017. He's also the only Atlanta wing who averaged double-digit points this postseason.
Over a half-dozen wings will likely hear their names called after the lottery, and Young is the best of the deep bunch.
16. Chicago Bulls: PG Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
Vitals: 19 years old, 6’3”, 182 pounds
Freshman stats: 12.9 points, 5.5 assists, 2.1 steals per game
Derrick Rose has played just 49 total games the past three seasons. His backup, D.J. Augustin, is a free agent.
Chicago would be wise to spend one of its two first-round picks on insurance in case it can't re-sign Augustin and/or Rose suffers another injury.
17. Boston Celtics: C Jusuf Nurkic, Bosnia
Vitals: 19 years old, 6’11”, 280 pounds
Croatian A-1 Liga 2013-14 stats: 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.1 blocks per game
According to ESPN's Chris Forsberg, Boston promised Jared Sullinger it'd acquire a center to play alongside him. Next to the 260-pound Sullinger, Nurkic would give Boston one of the heaviest big-man duos in the league (you decide whether that's a good thing or not).
Boston didn't have a player on its team average over 0.9 blocks per game last season.
18. Phoenix Suns: SG Rodney Hood, Duke
Vitals: 21 years old, 6’9”, 208 pounds
Sophomore stats: 16.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 0.7 steals per game
Phoenix's backcourt is small. Dragic is 6'3" and Eric Bledsoe is 6'1".
Hood's three-point shooting ability (42.0 percent from three-point land last season) is not only vital in the Suns' run-and-gun offense, but his length would be useful when longer guards give Dragic and Bledsoe trouble.
19. Chicago Bulls: SF T.J. Warren, NC State
Vitals: 20 years old, 6’8”, 220 pounds
Sophomore stats: 24.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.8 steals per game
Only Atlanta and the Memphis Grizzlies had a worse field-goal percentage this postseason than the Bulls. In fact, Mike Dunleavy was their only perimeter player who shot better than 41.1 percent from the field.
Chicago needs more scoring, and it won't find more than it would from Warren at this point in the draft.
20. Toronto Raptors: PG Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
Vitals: 22 years old, 6’1”, 175 pounds
Senior stats: 18.0 points, 4.9 assists, 1.8 steals per game
Kyle Lowry or Greivis Vasquez walking in free agency would leave the Raptors with only five players on their roster who averaged more than 5.0 points per game this postseason.
They must draft the best available point guard here because re-signing both Lowry and Vasquez is unlikely.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: PF Adreian Payne, Michigan State
Vitals: 23 years old, 6’10”, 239 pounds
Senior stats: 16.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 0.9 blocks per game
Payne hit 42.3 percent of his shots from downtown last season. Having played four years in college, he also should be able to start right away.
A stretch 4 that could help the Thunder win now would be invaluable to a team that only shot 32.3 percent from beyond the arc in the playoffs.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: SF Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
Vitals: 23 years old, 6’7”, 210 pounds
Sophomore stats: 16.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 0.8 steals per game
Memphis shot at least 2.3 percent worse than every other playoff team this postseason.
Out of the four different wings worthy of being drafted here, Early makes the most sense because he's the most pro-ready and the best shooter. It also helps that he plays the 3, which the Grizzlies need more than the 2.
23. Utah Jazz: SF Jerami Grant, Syracuse
Vitals: 20 years old, 6’8”, 214 pounds
Sophomore stats: 12.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 0.8 steals per game
Grant didn't hit a three-point shot last season. That's his greatest weakness by far.
If the Jazz are patient enough to wait for him to develop a shot, he has an incredibly high ceiling due to his size and athleticism. And given that the Jazz aren't close to playoff contention, they should be willing to be patient.
24. Charlotte Hornets: PF Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee
Vitals: 20 years old, 6'9", 262 pounds
Junior stats: 15.1 points per game, 10.6 rebounds per game, 0.9 blocks per game
The Associated Press reported that Josh McRoberts has opted out of his contract (h/t ESPN).
He could re-sign with the Hornets, but they can't count on it. If he leaves, they'd be left with just Bismack Biyombo and Cody Zeller alongside Al Jefferson.
25. Houston Rockets: SG P.J. Hairston, North Carolina
Vitals: 21 years old, 6’5”, 229 pounds
Sophomore stats: 14.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals per game
Only four players on the Rockets scored more than 8.7 points per game this postseason. That isn't to say they need more offense, but instead more depth.
Hairston should be their best guard off the bench besides Jeremy Lin from Day 1.
26. Miami Heat: PG Jordan Clarkson, Missouri
Vitals: 22 years old, 6’5”, 186 pounds
Junior stats: 17.5 points, 3.4 assists, 1.1 steals
Mario Chalmers will be a free agent this summer. It's unlikely the Heat will be able to retain him, nor do they need to with Norris Cole outperforming him at times this year.
With Cole stepping into the starting lineup, Miami would need a new backup point guard.
27. Phoenix Suns: PF Clint Capela, Switzerland
Vitals: 20 years old, 6’11”, 222 pounds
French LNB Pro A 2013-14 Stats: 9.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks per game
Phoenix has four draft picks. All four players aren't making its active roster next season.
With their final pick of Round 1, the Suns should roll the dice on the prospect with the highest potential because he won't crack their rotation as a rookie anyway.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: PF Mitch McGary, Michigan
Vitals: 22 years old, 6’10”, 250 pounds
Sophomore stats: 9.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.9 steals per game
Jared Dudley, at 6'7", will be the Clippers' tallest reserve under contract this summer. They're desperate for length with big men Glen Davis and Ryan Hollins free agency-bound.
McGary's size and motor should allow him to make an instant impact off the bench.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: SF K.J. McDaniels, Clemson
Vitals: 21 years old, 6’6”, 195 pounds
Junior stats: 17.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.8 blocks per game
Thabo Sefolosha will be a free agent this summer. His minutes began to disappear in the playoffs, but the Thunder would benefit from filling his role as a defensive specialist.
McDaniels could not only do that, but he'd be also less of an offensive liability than Sefolosha.
30. San Antonio Spurs: PF Kyle Anderson, UCLA
Vitals: 20 years old, 6’9”, 230 pounds
Sophomore stats: 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals per game
With Saric long gone, that leaves Anderson as the best fit in the draft to step into Boris Diaw's point forward role should he leave in free agency.
Diaw is also 32 years old, so even if he re-signs the Spurs could find a successor.
David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report. He tweets, too.
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