The Miami Heat may have superstars land in their laps, but the surest way for most NBA teams to contend for championships is by stocking up in the draft.
The 2014 draft offers plenty of potentially franchise-changing talent, and the Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks and the rest of the squads picking in the top 10 are hoping to land the next elite player in the league.
With that in mind, read on for a complete first-round mock draft.
NBA Draft Basics
Date: June 26
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
The Cleveland Cavaliers have to weigh the upside of Joel Embiid with the understood injury risk that comes with a big man who had back problems in college.
Still, we are talking about a 7'0" center who can swat any shot in the lane, grab rebounds on both ends of the floor and score from the low block. He also has a developing mid-range jumper and can find open teammates with the pass when double-teamed.
Ultimately, elite centers are far too rare in today’s NBA to pass up.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
Cleveland's selection of Embiid means the superstar-craved Milwaukee Bucks will scoop up Andrew Wiggins with the No. 2 selection as a critical step in their rebuilding efforts.
His spot as a surefire top-five pick is largely because of his upside, as he can score from anywhere on the floor, grab rebounds and bring incredible defense to the table. In fact, his defense is what separates Wiggins from Jabari Parker.
The Bucks will build their entire franchise around Wiggins.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
Parker may not have the upside of Wiggins, but he is ready to step into the NBA right now after a year in Mike Krzyzewski’s system.
He will fit in alongside Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel as a stretch forward and score with regularity in Philadelphia’s potential uptempo attack. Parker can hit from three, post up smaller defenders and serve as a solid rebounder on both ends of the floor.
4. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, PG, Australia
Sean Deveney of Sporting News noted just how long the journey has been for Dante Exum from Australia:
Exum is so high on so many draft boards because of his ability to slash the lane with an explosive first step, hit from beyond the arc and impact the game on the defensive side with his lateral quickness and harassing hands.
Pair him with Victor Oladipo in the backcourt, and the Orlando Magic will be ready to force turnovers on a daily basis.
5. Utah Jazz: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
Noah Vonleh may be the best rebounder in the draft, and he will be a double-double threat every time he steps on the court at the NBA level.
His athleticism and length allow him to crash the glass on both ends of the floor, but his developing mid-range jumper is what makes him so dangerous on the offensive end. The Utah Jazz will pair him with Trey Burke as an inside-outside duo that can improve as their careers progress.
6. Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State
Rajon Rondo may not be in Boston for the long term, which makes Marcus Smart an ideal draft pick.
He has the versatility to play alongside Rondo if the Boston point guard stays or take over the ball-handling role if he leaves. What’s more, Smart is a force on both ends of the floor, which can’t be said about most of the top guards in any draft.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
While Julius Randle is definitely a unique talent, there is some reason for concern, as a scout in a story by ESPN’s Ryen Russillo pointed out:
He goes one way, tries to knock everyone over. He’s so left-hand dominant it was comical. If you put him in a gym by himself, could he make a right-handed layup? He’s a good athlete but didn’t always use it. A lot of his stuff, offensively, won’t work in the NBA. It’s going to be a huge adjustment for him.
Of course, the elite players always make those adjustments, and the Los Angeles Lakers will see the rebound machine as a potential replacement for Pau Gasol.
8. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
DeMarcus Cousins is a double-double threat down low who can dominate on the low block, but the Sacramento Kings could use an athletic forward alongside him.
Aaron Gordon is the perfect prospect to fill that role.
The Arizona product can burst up the court like a guard, finish at the rim in explosive fashion and contribute in the rebounding department. He would be a solid complement to Cousins’ interior game.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Doug McDermott, F, Creighton
The Charlotte Hornets need to surround Al Jefferson with more scorers, and Doug McDermott will take advantage of those outside looks more effectively than anyone else in this draft.
He was the best three-point shooter in college basketball, but he can do more than just that. He can post up smaller defenders and grab rebounds at an impressive rate, which will appeal to a Charlotte team that needs all-around players outside of Jefferson.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
The Philadelphia 76ers are clearly looking for a wing, as Jeff Goodman of ESPN noted:
They need a shooting guard to go with Noel, Carter-Williams and Parker (in this hypothetical), and Gary Harris is well-suited for that role. He can hit from anywhere on the floor and plays the solid defense that most Michigan State products do upon entering the NBA.
Whenever defenses collapse on Carter-Williams or double Noel, Harris will be ready to hit from behind the arc.
11. Denver Nuggets: Dario Saric, F, Croatia
Dario Saric may not register on the radar of many American basketball fans, but he is a versatile scorer who can do a little bit of everything on the floor.
He has a smooth shooting stroke that extends to the three-point line, can pass effectively when teammates flash into space and is a solid ball-handler. Throw in his rebounding abilities and multipositional talent, and he deserves to be an early selection.
12. Orlando Magic: Rodney Hood, F, Duke
The Orlando Magic solidified their backcourt already in this mock, so now they will go for a stretch forward who can score from anywhere on the floor.
Rodney Hood was overshadowed by Parker at Duke, but he is automatic from the free-throw line, has a formidable mid-range shot, can drain it from downtown and is a potentially impressive defender when engaged.
He will fit in nicely next to Oladipo and Exum.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
If the Minnesota Timberwolves lose Kevin Love, they will need a double-double threat to replace him at power forward.
Payne is a rebounding machine, can score on the low block and can hit from behind the three-point line, which sounds a lot like Love. Of course, it’s far too early to compare Payne to an NBA superstar, but all the talent is there.
14. Phoenix Suns: James Young, SF, Kentucky
The Phoenix Suns love to run in their uptempo system, and James Young is one of the best finishers in transition in this draft.
When you throw in his ability to hit from the outside, solid rebounding skills and underrated defense, he fits in nicely with the Suns’ talented backcourt.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
The No. 15 pick may be a bit early for Jusuf Nurkic, but the Atlanta Hawks could use another low-post threat next to Al Horford, especially since the star was injured this past season.
The Hawks have a number of three-point threats, including the other big men, but they could use another true rebounder. Nurkic is a strong rebounder who could develop into a solid offensive player with some seasoning in the NBA.
16. Chicago Bulls: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
It’s not a secret that the Chicago Bulls need more scoring, and Nik Stauskas provides just that.
The Michigan product’s three-point shooting stroke is well-documented, but he does more than just shoot. He assumed the role of go-to scorer in the Wolverines offense this season, and he improved his ball-handling skills and finishing ability at the rim because of it.
17. Boston Celtics: T.J. Warren, F, North Carolina State
The Boston Celtics addressed their uncertainty at point guard early in this draft, and now they will grab some much-needed scoring at No. 17.
T.J. Warren is one of the best players in this draft from mid-range and in, and he has the chance to be a 20-plus scorer at some point in his professional career. He finishes at the rim, spins past defenders while controlling the ball and has a jumper to match.
A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com thinks Warren would be a major boost to the Boston offense:
18. Phoenix Suns: Zach LaVine, G, UCLA
The Suns will look in Zach LaVine’s direction for many of the same reasons they will take Young from Kentucky at No. 14.
LaVine will provide some solid depth in their fast-paced attack thanks to his overall upside. He will thrill fans with his high-flying dunks, has the handles of a point guard and can hit from the outside. What’s more, he is versatile enough to play point or shooting guard.
19. Chicago Bulls: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
The Bulls grabbed some offense earlier in this draft, and now they will pick up an insurance policy for Derrick Rose at point guard.
Tyler Ennis may not be as flashy or athletic as Smart or Exum, but he controls the tempo of a game and is an extension of the coach on the floor. He knows when to score on his own, but he is always looking to involve his teammates as a distributor.
Carmelo Anthony would certainly appreciate that if he ends up in Chicago.
20. Toronto Raptors: Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
Even if Kyle Lowry re-signs with the Toronto Raptors, they could use some productive depth in the backcourt.
Shabazz Napier proved his worth in the NCAA tournament with an incredible title run and will take that experience to the NBA level. He can hit from the outside, distribute to teammates and lock down opposing ball-handlers on the defensive end.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Clint Capela, PF/C, Switzerland
Kendrick Perkins isn’t exactly a strength down low for the Oklahoma City Thunder, and they could use some more depth in that area.
Clint Capela is versatile enough to play center next to Serge Ibaka or power forward because of his length and athleticism. It will take a few years for him to become a consistent contributor on the offensive end, but his rebounding skills will translate right away.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Chris Wilcox, SG, Washington
Chris Wilcox may not be a lock for the first round, but his scoring ability will entice the Memphis Grizzlies.
He is one of the best pure shooters in this draft, and he will give the offensively challenged Grizzlies a much-needed option on the outside when defenses collapse on Memphis’ talented bigs.
23. Utah Jazz: Jerami Grant, F, Syracuse
The Toronto Raptors found out that Jerami Grant isn’t exactly a shooter, as Josh Lewenberg of TSN noted, but that won’t deter the Jazz from picking him up:
Despite the lack of shooting, Grant can attack the rim off the bounce, contribute in the rebounding department and hit from mid-range. He will fit in nicely with Burke and Vonleh for the foreseeable future.
24. Charlotte Hornets: Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA
The Charlotte Hornets grabbed McDermott earlier in this mock, and they already have Jefferson down low.
Therefore, they will grab another playmaker on the perimeter in Jordan Adams. He doesn’t have elite athleticism, but his nose for the basket and rebounding ability will be more than enough to entice the Hornets.
25. Houston Rockets: Kyle Anderson, G, UCLA
The Houston Rockets need more depth in the backcourt after a disappointing exit in the playoffs, and Kyle Anderson gives them someone who can play point guard or shooting guard.
Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough noted that Anderson doesn’t necessarily need a position to be effective, via Matt Petersen of NBA.com:
That’s a good question. I think he’s a basketball player. He’s extremely skilled at that size. He’s very long. He has a unique passing ability and feel for the game that sets him apart. He also rebounds very well, especially for a perimeter guy.
26. Miami Heat: P.J. Hairston, G, NBDL/North Carolina
Dwyane Wade’s knees have a limited lifespan, so it may be smart for the Miami Heat to look in the shooting guard department in the upcoming draft.
P.J. Hairston is a scoring machine who has some professional experience after playing in the NBDL. He is well-suited to play alongside LeBron James, because he can hit the plenty of open threes that will open up in Miami’s offense.
27. Phoenix Suns: Mitch McGary, C, Michigan
After looking on the outside early in the draft, the Suns will snatch some more interior depth late in the first round.
Mitch McGary is an injury risk after missing the vast majority of the past season at Michigan, but he showed what he is capable of on the court in the previous year’s NCAA tournament. He has the chance to develop into a double-double threat in Phoenix’ high-paced offense and provide a stabilizing force down low on defense.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
Elfrid Payton has been busy impressing a number of people in the offseason, per ESPN’s Goodman:
He would fit in seamlessly in the Los Angeles Clippers’ uptempo offense as Chris Paul’s backup. Payton loves to get out in the open court and run, and he will be more than comfortable throwing lob passes to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
Payton is also more than capable of scoring plenty of points on his own.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Cleanthony Early, F, Wichita State
Cleanthony Early can score from anywhere on the floor and will take advantage of the open looks that playing with two superstars automatically creates. He showed what he is capable of against Kentucky against future NBA picks, and he will fit in nicely with the Thunder.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee
Although it may seem like it, Tim Duncan won’t play forever.
The San Antonio Spurs will grab his future replacement in Jarnell Stokes. He can grab rebounds on both ends of the floor, score from the low post and swat shots from opponents who venture into the lane.
The track record in San Antonio for big men and forwards suggests Stokes will be effective at the next level.
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