With the right choices, every team in the 2014 NBA draft has a chance to land a key piece for its long-term plans.
The biggest names in this draft class have been hyped for months, but teams picking outside the top 10 will still be able to get some significant value out of their picks. Everyone picking in the first round will be able to get a young player who could contribute now as well as improve over time.
That means we'll have to pay attention to whom the NBA's most successful franchises nab as well as whom the lottery teams grab. Some of the contenders could wind up with effective players on championship-caliber teams next season.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Embiid presents Cleveland its best chance to finally make its way out of the lottery.
With Kyrie Irving already in place as a franchise point guard, the Cavs need to get a two-way big man to build around. Embiid's 7'0" frame and massive wingspan will allow him to be an imposing rim-protector from Day 1, and his fluid movements should help him strengthen his already strong post-up game.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
The Bucks have Larry Sanders to anchor the interior D and are hoping Giannis Antetokounmpo grows into a shutdown wing defender.
In terms of the offensive end, Milwaukee still needs a go-to guy, and Parker is the best this class has to offer as a primary scorer. He can create his own shot, score inside at will and knock down threes—a combination that will give his fellow Bucks more room to operate as defenses shift to stop Parker.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
Given Philly's frenetic offensive pace, it's going to need to rebuild around athletes who can excel in transition.
Wiggins' half-court offense is still developing, but he'll immediately cause havoc for opposing defenses when the Sixers get out on the break. His speed and athleticism will also give Philly's perimeter defense a nice boost, which will help Michael Carter-Williams develop with some help around him.
4. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, PG, Australia
Orlando needs to surround Victor Oladipo with supplementary ball-handlers as he grows into a professional point guard, and Exum has exactly the skill set to pair with him.
Though Exum also isn't prepared to run an NBA offense yet, he's 6'6" and a stellar athlete with the off-the-bounce skills to break down defenses and get to the rim. He'll give the Magic a dynamic two-point guard offense without sacrificing size on the other end.
5. Utah Jazz: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
Enes Kanter hasn't panned out as a frontcourt partner with Derrick Favors, so Utah is going to have to pivot and get a more capable scoring forward.
Randle's brute-strength post-up game jumps out at you first, but he actually has a nicely varied offensive arsenal. In addition to backing down his defenders to score at the rim, he can face up and either drive past his man or beat him with a mid-range jumper.
6. Boston Celtics: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
Considering Boston just spent the past season with the earthbound Jared Sullinger as its center, the Celtics could use some length and leaping ability inside.
That's where Vonleh comes in. He has the physical makeup to defend the rim nicely once he adds a bit more muscle, and he already has the jumper to help Boston space the floor on offense to make room for Rajon Rondo drives.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
As Kobe Bryant ages, the Lakers are going to need someone else to take a share of the ball-handling duties.
Smart is a capable distributor who can use his speed and strength to get past guards and make plays inside the arc. Working with Kobe should help Smart work out the kinks in his jump shot, and Smart will make life easier for Bryant by guarding the other team's most threatening scorer.
8. Sacramento Kings: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
With Rudy Gay hitting free agency this summer, Sacramento is going to need a new wing scorer.
McDermott won't be able to score inside quite as well as Gay, but he'll be an even more complete offensive player. Between his deadly three-point shooting and his pull-ups when he takes defenders off the dribble, he'll be able to produce while spacing the floor around DeMarcus Cousins.
9. Charlotte Hornets (via Detroit): Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
Speaking of balancing the offense, the former Bobcats will need to surround Al Jefferson with some more shooting.
Not only will Stauskas be a great three-point option, but he has the athletic ability to put the ball on the floor and get into the lane when the defense plays him too closely. Between him and Kemba Walker, the Hornets are going to be dangerous.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans): Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
Wiggins will help Philly stop opposing wings, but it will still need help inside.
Once again, Gordon will be particularly useful to the Sixers because of his ability to get out and run on the break, but his biggest impact will be how he uses his physical gifts defensively. His quickness, hops and wingspan will let him compile strips and blocks in bunches, making the paint a more treacherous area for Philly foes.
11. Denver Nuggets (via New York): Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Harris gives Denver a prototypical shooting guard prospect who can hit outside shots as well as drive by closing-out defenders to score in half-court sets. Most importantly, he has the legs to run with Lawson in transition and help the Nuggets put up more points in that department.
12. Orlando Magic (via Denver): Rodney Hood, SF, Duke
With the backcourt in place, the Magic just need to surround it with scorers.
Nikola Vucevic is already around to receive passes on the block, and now Hood will be able to support Oladipo and Exum on the wing. As a three-point shooter and penetrator off the bounce, he'll inject some more life into the offense.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: James Young, SF, Kentucky
The Wolves have offensive talent at nearly every position, but small forward has been an exception for them.
Young has explosive athleticism and a sweet three-point stroke, giving Minnesota even more firepower from the wings. With Ricky Rubio dishing from the point, it's vital that Minnesota put as many scoring options around him as possible if it wants to snap its playoff drought.
14. Phoenix Suns: Zach LaVine, PG, UCLA
The Suns shocked the league en route to 48 wins last season, running opponents out of the gym with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. But when one or both sat, they were much more beatable.
LaVine helps solve that problem by giving Phoenix another freakish athlete in its backcourt corps. The 6'6" point guard is raw, but he'll be able to learn the nuances of the position while playing alongside very capable teammates who will let him lean on his physical gifts and only serve as a secondary ball-handler.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
Atlanta nearly made it out of the first round of the playoffs without Al Horford due to their three-point shooting, and Saric helps the Hawks build on that strength.
He's not going to outdo Kyle Korver in that regard, but the Croatian can knock down shots from the corners and give Atlanta more height at small forward than it currently has. That will also allow the Hawks to be more creative with small-ball second-unit lineups to increase their bench scoring.
16. Chicago Bulls (via Charlotte): Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
Tom Thibodeau's defense has kept him from getting shooting from his big men, but Payne could help him change that.
He is a 6'10", 245-pound power forward with legitimate three-point range, and if Thibs can teach Carlos Boozer to do his part in the Chicago D, then Payne shouldn't have a problem. Once Payne becomes integrated into the Bulls rotation, they'll have more room for Derrick Rose to drive and Joakim Noah to operate inside.
17. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn): Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
Regardless of what Rajon Rondo's future holds, Payton will be a nice injection of talent for Boston.
Like Rondo, Payton is a rangy, athletic 6'3" point guard. If the rookie can learn some of the veteran's all-world passing tricks, the Celtics might have their replacement if Rondo decides he wants out, and their depth benefits if Rondo sticks around.
18. Phoenix Suns (via Washington): Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA
Anderson can help Phoenix make its half-court offense as potent as its transition game.
The guy called "Slow-Mo" won't be much help on the fast break, but his passing skills will allow both Phoenix guards to play off the ball at the same time. When Dragic and Bledsoe play together, that offense will be destructive, and when LaVine plays, the UCLA forward will help keep pressure off his college teammate.
19. Chicago Bulls: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
D-Rose's perpetual knee concerns mean that Chicago must invest in a young point guard to back him up.
From Ennis' time playing under Jim Boeheim's zone, there's evidence he can internalize the principles of a system defense, and his quickness and length should make him a solid defender under Thibodeau. As long as he can play his role on that end and knock down some threes, he'll provide some nice insurance.
20. Toronto Raptors: Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia
Porzingis is the first draft-and-stash prospect off the board, but he's too tantalizing for Toronto to pass up.
A true 7-footer, Porzingis' natural position is power forward, with the athleticism to become a faceup scorer in the NBA. In another year or two, he could form a natural big-man pairing with Jonas Valanciunas and give the Raptors a ton of size inside.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Dallas): Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
As long as OKC is built around speed and length, it will need giant grinders to man the center position.
The 6'11", 280-pound Nurkic has the bulk to battle any player who enters the paint and the quickness to slide across and provide help when need be. His basketball IQ is lacking at this point in his development, but he'll be in a great situation to learn.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
Early will provide Memphis some always-needed scoring punch while meshing with the grit-and-grind Grizzlies philosophy.
He has nice strength for a small forward, which he can use to crash the boards for rebounds and to separate from his defender before he shoots. With range extending beyond the arc, he will be a big help to Memphis' spacing, and he'll be able to bang with bodies on the other end along with his teammates.
23. Utah Jazz (via Golden State): Jordan Clarkson, PG, Missouri
Utah needs to add more dynamism to its backcourt, and the 6'5" Clarkson should be a nice get in that regard.
He'll serve a dual purpose for the Jazz. Given his size, he can play as an off-ball guard in lineups with Trey Burke and then hone his point guard skills by handling the ball when he leads the second-unit offense.
24. Charlotte Hornets (via Portland): T.J. Warren, SF, North Carolina State
In the Bobcats era, Charlotte frequently invested in local talent from ACC teams, and the Hornets will continue that tradition with Warren.
As an iso scorer off the bench, he will feast on second-unit wings. He's not too fast or a great leaper, but he can use slight feints to create all the space he needs to go up with jumpers from unorthodox angles. Against lesser defenders, he'll put up a good chunk of points that way.
25. Houston Rockets: Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
Houston needs to find a suitable power forward to pair with Dwight Howard, and Capela has the potential to grow into that guy.
Already he's shown a nice mid-range jumper and the athletic ability to play as a faceup forward, which would give Howard the space to operate in the low post. With a season or two more of seasoning in Europe, Capela could be a nice addition to the Rockets.
26. Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
All Miami needs its point guard to do is play solid on-ball defense and spot up for three-pointers.
Napier can give the Heat even more than that, adding elite free-throw shooting and great leadership skills to the mix. His biggest weakness is his tendency to commit turnovers, but playing in an offense that often asks him to play off the ball will limit that downside.
27. Phoenix Suns (via Indiana): Thanasis Antetokounmpo, SF, Delaware 87ers (NBA D-League)
The older brother of Giannis, Thanasis will give Phoenix a freak athlete to defend the wings just as Dragic and Bledsoe do in the backcourt.
In a pinch, he has the speed to stick with point guards in man matchups, and at 6'8", he can use his height and leaping ability to give power forwards problems. He'll also contribute by running the floor in transition and spotting up for threes on offense.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends (NBA D-League)
The Clippers have plenty of swingman shooters, but very few who can create their own shots.
Hairston doesn't excel at much else, but he can do that much. Both with the Legends and at UNC, he burned defenses with his shooting from well beyond the arc and his ability to take defenders off the bounce and pull up on a dime.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA
The Thunder have a couple of pretty solid scorers in place, to say the least, but they're always looking for more defenders off the bench.
Unlike most OKC prospects, Adams isn't much of an athlete, but he's a disciplined man defender who can shoot the long ball well enough to keep the spacing on the offensive end. Consider him a natural replacement for the departing Thabo Sefolosha.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Mario Hezonja, SG, Croatia
R.C. Buford will maintain San Antonio's emphasis on international drafting regardless of whether Gregg Popovich decides to return following the NBA Finals.
In Hezonja, the Spurs get an intriguing shotmaker who could grow into a 6'8" successor to Manu Ginobili. He has the head for the game to figure out how to participate in the ball-movement-heavy San Antonio offense—something few 19-year-olds could say.
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