For some NBA franchises, the 2014 draft order makes for the most exciting night they've had in years.
The Philadelphia 76ers enter with a league-high seven selections. The Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns have four picks apiece. This quartet of teams alone owns 31.7 percent of the draft.
For those franchises, the best class of prospects since 2003 couldn't have entered the draft at a better time. But then there are teams like the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers, who are absent from the draft order below.
|NBA Draft Order|
|7||Los Angeles Lakers|
|21||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|28||Los Angeles Clippers|
|29||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|30||San Antonio Spurs|
|58||San Antonio Spurs|
|60||San Antonio Spurs|
For New York, Golden State and Portland, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid couldn't have entered the draft at a worse time.
Last year, there wasn't a consensus first overall pick because no one was worthy of it. This year, there's no consensus because three if not four players are worthy (the fourth being Dante Exum).
Embiid was the front-runner for the first overall pick. An NBA general manager told Forbes' Mark Heisler that “[Embiid's] ceiling is Hakeem Olajuwon. His basement is Serge Ibaka.” But then Embiid suffered a stress fracture to his foot that required surgery and needs four-to-six months to recover, according to ESPN.
Landing either the next Olajuwon or Ibaka would've taken the Cleveland Cavaliers to the next level. But due to Embiid's injury, Cleveland would need patience. Apparently it doesn't have enough, because ESPN's Chad Ford (subscription required) reported that the Cavaliers now prefer Parker or Wiggins.
If the Cavaliers must win now, they'll pick Parker. They would pass on Wiggins for the same reason they would pass on Embiid: Both would need time to make an impact.
As a scout put it to Grantland's Ryen Russillo, "There is no “f--k you” to [Wiggins]." He's passive, unlike Parker who's never afraid to shoot and the most pro-ready prospect in the draft. He may be a defensive liability, but if he lives up to his Carmelo Anthony comparison, his team (likely) won't complain.
Whoever the Cavaliers don't pick should become one of the greatest consolation prizes in draft history for the Bucks. They failed to reach the 20-win mark this year, but with so many selections, they—like the 76ers—could reduce their rebuilding time to a year or two if they nail their picks.
Philadelphia in particular is in a situation similar to that of the Washington Wizards three years ago. Washington boasted a promising young prospect named John Wall and the Nos. 6, 18 and 34 picks in the 2011 draft. It could've established one of the brightest young cores in the league but left with Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton and Shelvin Mack—none of them ever earned meaningful minutes.
With Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel, two lottery picks and five in Round 2, the 76ers have a head start to walk away with the best class in the draft. If they pull a Wizard, though, and draft Vesely and Singleton over Kawhi Leonard and Kenneth Faried, they could set the franchise back years.
And that's what's so thrilling (and freaking important) about the draft.
David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report. He tweets, too.
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