The 2014 NBA draft is one of the most anticipated events on the basketball calendar this year, and the focus has already shifted to where the latest mock draft has the top prospects landing.
While there is plenty of talent in the 2014 class, many NBA fans are most interested in where potential stars like Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins will spend the early portion of their careers.
Here is how the first round is predicted to shake out.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
According to Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com, the Cleveland Cavaliers are leaning toward selecting Kansas center Joel Embiid with the No. 1 overall selection. There has been a concern about Embiid’s back injury, but Cleveland is obviously very interested in the athletic big man.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
Assuming that the Philadelphia 76ers don’t trade up to the No. 1 spot, as ESPN’s Chard Ford is reporting could happen, the Milwaukee Bucks will find the franchise’s next top star with Kansas small forward Andrew Wiggins.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
Most teams selecting No. 3 overall would be just on the cusp of getting a bona fide game-changer, but with the depth in this class the Philadelphia 76ers will have the chance to select Duke forward Jabari Parker, who is all of that and more.
4. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia
While the Orlando Magic will likely miss out on the three top prospects in the draft, the raw talent of Australian guard Dante Exum will be a welcome addition to a backcourt that already has Victor Oladipo.
5. Utah Jazz: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
The departures of low-posts players like Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap have put plenty of pressure on Derrick Favors, and the Utah Jazz need a player who can alleviate some of the stress. Kentucky’s Julius Randle fits the mold to perfection.
6. Boston Celtics: Aaron Gordon, SF/PF, Arizona
The Boston Celtics need serious help. Adding a versatile forward like Arizona's Aaron Gordon, who can do many things well, is a great start, but Boston must add much more talent if the team wants to contend sooner rather than later.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Noah Vonleh, PF/C, Indiana
If the Los Angeles Lakers choose not to bring back forward Pau Gasol and don’t trade away the team’s first-round selection, Indiana center Noah Vonleh would be a smart long-term addition to the franchise.
8. Sacramento Kings: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
The Sacramento Kings have a talented group of players already, but the addition of a point guard with as much skill at both ends of the floor as Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart would be an ideal selection at No. 8 overall.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
Creighton shooting specialist Doug McDermott is not one of the flashiest players in the draft, but he knows how to fill a role and execute his job to perfection. As the son of a coach, McDermott will be the on-court leader the Charlotte Hornets need.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
There will be quite a few bright spots on the 76ers roster after they grab Jabari Parker at No. 3 overall, but the addition of a talented shooting guard who can fill the basket like Michigan’s Nik Stauskas is a necessary move.
11. Denver Nuggets: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
The run on shooting guards will continue when the Denver Nuggets grab Michigan State’s Gary Harris at No. 11. As one of the top snipers in the 2014 class, Denver will have the offensive weapon it needs on the perimeter.
12. Orlando Magic: Dario Saric, SF/PF, Croatia
Initially, the raw size (6'10", 223 lbs) of Croatian forward Dario Saric indicates that he would be a low-post banger, but he is so much more than that. The Orlando Magic are looking for offensive weapons, and with serious scoring finesse around the net, Saric is a legitimate option at No. 12 overall.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Rodney Hood, SF, Duke
The Minnesota Timberwolves should be trying to get better fundamentally, and there are few players as smart as Duke forward Rodney Hood. This would be an addition that would help to limit turnovers and keep the ball alive for the Wolves.
14. Phoenix Suns: James Young, SF, Kentucky
There are several options for the Phoenix Suns at No. 14 overall, but the best long-term answer would be Kentucky forward James Young. The prospect is rough around the edges, but he would be an affordable addition with major upside.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
The Atlanta Hawks need a point guard; it’s that simple. While there are several options, none fit the bill better than Syracuse dual-threat stud Tyler Ennis.
16. Chicago Bulls: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
If the Chicago Bulls finally cut ties with power forward Carlos Boozer this offseason, the possible addition of Michigan State forward Adreian Payne would help the franchise add even more tenacity to the lineup.
17. Boston Celtics: Zach LaVine, PG, UCLA
The rebuilding process for the Boston Celtics will continue when the franchise selects UCLA guard Zach LaVine at No. 17 overall. While he will fill a need off the bench for now, there are questions about his long-term potential.
18. Phoenix Suns: Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse
There is a chance that the Phoenix Suns will go with a shooting guard who can hit shots from outside here, but the better option is Syracuse small forward Jerami Grant. With the ability to create offense on his own and drive the net, he will be a dynamic addition to the Suns.
19. Chicago Bulls: T.J. Warren, SF, North Carolina State
If Boozer leaves Chicago, the franchise will be desperate for depth at the forward positions. After taking Adreian Payne at No. 16, the Bulls should follow it up by selecting T.J. Warren of N.C. State.
20. Toronto Raptors: Kyle Anderson, SF/PG, UCLA
Unlike many other NBA teams, the Toronto Raptors are built for an offense that runs through the forward positions and back to the guards. One player who would fit this mold perfectly is UCLA point forward Kyle Anderson.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: P.J. Hairston, SG, UNC/Texas Legends (NBA D-League)
The Oklahoma City Thunder need players who can step in immediately and make an impact off the bench. Former North Carolina star P.J. Hairston would be the likely addition for the win-now franchise.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Memphis Grizzles need depth off the bench at the low-post positions, and international prospect Jusuf Nurkic has the rebounding ability to be a force.
23. Utah Jazz: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
After adding depth at the power forward position, the Utah Jazz will be looking to add a small forward who can generate offense on his own. Clemson’s K.J. McDaniels is the right option at No. 23 overall.
24. Charlotte Hornets: Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
Wichita State forward Cleanthony Early isn’t the flashiest player left on the board or the most well-known, but he is exactly what the Charlotte Hornets are looking for in the latter stages of the first round.
25. Houston Rockets: Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA
The Houston Rockets could be in for a huge offseason with free agency, but on draft day they must take the best player available. At No. 25 overall, there are few with as much upside as UCLA shooting guard Jordan Adams.
26. Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier likely doesn’t have what it takes to be a long-term starter in the NBA, but as a player coming off the bench with talent and tenacity, he would be a great addition for the already skilled Miami Heat.
27. Phoenix Suns: Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
The Phoenix Suns will round out a solid first round if they add more depth with Swiss power forward Clint Capela. This would be an educated risk, but one that could pay major dividends down the road.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
Despite the greatness of point guard Chris Paul, he is getting older and the team must start to watch his health. Adding a mature guard who can eat minutes like Louisiana-Lafayette point guard Elfrid Payton would be the best course of action to take.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Mitch McGary, PF, Michigan
This selection for the Oklahoma City Thunder will come down to one simple question: does the worry about Michigan power forward Mitch McGary’s injuries outweigh his potential offensive production in the low post? Frankly, OKC needs the scoring.
30. San Antonio Spurs: C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington
The key for the San Antonio Spurs will be adding youth. The team needs players who can eventually take over for its top stars, and Washington shooting guard C.J. Wilcox is a player who would fit Gregg Popovich’s game plan.
All height/weight information courtesy of DraftExpress.com.
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