With the NBA Finals nearing a possible conclusion, the focus will slowly shift from those players in the league to those rookies entering the league.
Really, nothing else needs to be said about this year's event. It brings the fun of the NFL draft without all of the predraft nonsense about work ethics and fictional comparisons to football players.
Here's the order for the first round of the NBA draft, followed by two of the big questions heading into June 26.
|7||Los Angeles Lakers|
|21||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|28||Los Angeles Clippers|
|29||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|30||San Antonio Spurs|
What Will the Cleveland Cavaliers Do at No. 1?
Perhaps this question should be, How will the Cleveland Cavaliers screw this one up?
The Cavs did draft LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in the first round, but here's the list of Cleveland's seven other first-rounders since selecting James in 2003:
|2006||25||Shannon Brown||Michigan State|
|2008||19||J.J. Hickson||NC State|
|2009||30||Christian Eyenga||DR Congo|
|2012||24||Jared Cunningham||Oregon State|
Jared Cunningham was traded on draft night, which the Cavs parlayed into Tyler Zeller, so he doesn't count. Christian Eyenga was also the last pick in the first round, so you can't expect that pick to turn into much; therefore, Cleveland can't be dinged too much.
Aside from those picks, the Cavaliers were really, really bad for the most part. The jury is still out on Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson.
Surely, Cleveland will select Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker with the first overall pick. They can't mess this up, right?
Embiid has become the favored pick for many fans, but ESPN's Chad Ford (ESPN Insider subscription required) thinks Dan Gilbert's win-now mentality might entice general manager David Griffin to look elsewhere:
Griffin is under the same mandate that Grant was. Gilbert wants the Cavs out of the lottery and in the playoffs in 2015. While Embiid might have the biggest upside of anyone in the draft, he also is the least NBA-ready of the top prospects. Big men always take a little longer to develop, and while Embiid is both athletic and skilled, his basketball IQ remains low, he can get frustrated when things are not going his way and many GMs are predicting he's going to be a foul magnet as a rookie.
Embiid is fresh off his workout in Cleveland, per ESPN.com. If the franchise was ever going to be scared off the Kansas star, this is the weekend it will happen.
He posted a photo to Instagram with the caption "Having fun in Cleveland," so he's at least saying the right things.
Still, it's anybody's guess at this point where the Cavs are leaning. Fox Sports Ohio's Sam Amico reported that Cleveland is far from a final decision:
Whomever the Cavaliers choose, their decision will have a big impact on the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers.
Who Is This Year's Tim Hardaway Jr.?
Teams drafting in the 20-30 range are unlikely to get an MVP-caliber player, but as the New York Knicks showed last year, plenty of talent is still available after the lottery. Tim Hardaway Jr. was selected 24th overall but turned into one of the best rookies from the 2013 class.
In 2012 Kenneth Faried, Reggie Jackson and Jimmy Butler all went toward the end of the first round.
With this being one of the deeper draft classes in a few years, it only makes sense that players who might have been drafted in the 10-15 range in other drafts will ultimately go later.
Some of the candidates most likely to fall into this category include Cleanthony Early, K.J. McDaniels, P.J. Hairston, T.J. Warren, Shabazz Napier and Mitch McGary. Early, Hairston and Warren are all good scorers, while McGary and McDaniels do more of the dirty work. You only need to watch the NCAA tournament to see what Napier can do.
Any of those players is more than capable of becoming a regular contributor for his new team.