This 2014 NBA mock draft will get picks wrong when franchises are irrational.
For instance, in a three-year span, the Cleveland Cavaliers used two top-four picks on undersized power forwards. (They drafted 6'9" Tristan Thompson in 2011 and 6'8" Anthony Bennett in 2013). This mock will not account for comparable foolishness.
The following first-round mock matches teams with the perfect option available. Keyword: perfect. If Cleveland picks Kyle Anderson at No. 1, you won't hear it here first.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: C Joel Embiid, Kansas
20 years old, 7’0”, 250 pounds
Freshman stats: 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game
They blocked a measly 3.7 shots per game. Only the Minnesota Timberwolves blocked fewer this season. With two undersized power forwards, it's imperative to have a rim-protector like Embiid.
And rim-protectors are far rarer than wings.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: SG Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
19 years old, 6’8”, 200 pounds
Freshman stats: 17.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game
When the Bucks selected Giannis Antetokounmpo, they decided to win in two or three years. He is raw but could end up being the best player in the 2013 draft class because he's a freak athlete.
The same goes for Wiggins. With him and Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee would easily have the most physically gifted pair of wings in the league. And they'd both likely progress at the same rate.
If developed properly, when Wiggins and Antetokounmpo reach their primes, they'd dominate the Eastern Conference.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: SF Jabari Parker, Duke
19 years old, 6’8”, 241 pounds
Freshman stats: 19.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game
Philadelphia would rather have Wiggins, but Parker is an amazing consolation prize. He'd still give the 76ers the wing scorer that they're desperate for. And he's more likely to develop into a go-to scorer than Wiggins anyway.
Parker's greatest weakness is his defense. But there's a high probability Nerlens Noel will be one of the best rim-protectors in the league within a couple of years. His defense will help hide Parker's lack of it.
4. Orlando Magic: PG Dante Exum, Australia
18 years old, 6’6”, 196 pounds
U-19 World Championships Stats: 18.2 points, 3.8 assists and 1.7 steals per game
Jameer Nelson shot 39.4 percent from the field this season. He only has a team option left on his contract, and even if Orlando brings him back, he needs to be replaced in the starting lineup.
Exum is raw, but he should be able to start from Day 1 alongside Victor Oladipo.
5. Utah Jazz: PF Noah Vonleh, Indiana
18 years old, 6’10”, 247 pounds
Freshman stats: 11.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game
Utah is a mess at the power forward position. Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors are both better at center. And Marvin Williams is better on the bench.
Vonleh is a better fit next to the 6'10", 268-pound Favors because he's longer and can spread the floor better than Aaron Gordon or Julius Randle.
6. Boston Celtics: PG Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
20 years old, 6’3”, 227 pounds
Sophomore stats: 18.0 points, 4.8 assists and 2.9 steals per game
Boston has nothing behind Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley at guard. It also may not have one or both of them soon enough. Bradley will be a free agent this summer, and Rondo the next.
Smart would instantly solve the Celtics' depth issues and, as a combo guard, should be able to start alongside Rondo or Bradley, should one of them leave.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: PF Aaron Gordon, Arizona
18 years old, 6’9”, 220 pounds
Freshman stats: 12.4 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game
The Los Angeles Lakers have been one of the least athletic teams in basketball for years. They also ranked second to last in points allowed per game this season.
Gordon, as one of the best athletes and defenders in the draft, would change both of those.
8. Sacramento Kings: PF Julius Randle, Kentucky
19 years old, 6’9”, 234 pounds
Freshman stats: 15.0 points, 10.4 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game
No Kings power forward averaged more than 8.5 points per game this season.
Randle would instantly become the best 4 in Sacramento in years.
9. Charlotte Hornets: SG Nik Stauskas, Michigan
20 years old, 6’7”, 207 pounds
Sophomore stats: 17.5 points, 3.3 assists and 0.6 steals per game
Charlotte can't start Gerald Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist together. They're phenomenal defenders but horrendous shooters. Neither made a three-pointer this postseason.
Stauskas, who shot 44.2 percent from downtown this year, would help spread the floor for Kemba Walker.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: PF Dario Saric, Croatia
20 years old, 6’10”, 223 pounds
Croatian A-1 Liga 2013-14 stats: 16.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game
Dario Saric may not be ready to come to the NBA right away, but Philadelphia isn't ready to win right away either.
It showed willingness to wait for Noel and will likely be rewarded for it this season. The 76ers should show the same patience with Saric, who's arguably just as promising as Vonleh, Gordon and Randle.
11. Denver Nuggets: SG Gary Harris, Michigan State
19 years old, 6’5”, 205 pounds
Sophomore stats: 16.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game
Denver averaged an impressive 104.4 points per game this season, but it allowed 106.5.
Harris would be a great first step to fixing the third-worst defense in the league.
12. Orlando Magic: SF Doug McDermott, Creighton
22 years old, 6’8”, 218 pounds
Senior stats: 26.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 0.2 steals per game
Maurice Harkless started 41 games at small forward this season, but he only scored 7.4 points per game.
Even if the Magic want to continue to start him for defensive purposes, they need an electric scorer like McDermott to counter his lack of impact on offense.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: SF James Young, Kentucky
18 years old, 6’8”, 213 pounds
Freshman stats: 14.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 0.8 steals per game
Young isn't an outstanding outside shooter yet, but it can't get much worse than Corey Brewer shooting 28.0 percent from beyond the arc.
Young would be at least an instant upgrade over Chase Budinger off the bench.
14. Phoenix Suns: PG Zach LaVine, UCLA
19 years old, 6’6”, 181 pounds
Freshman stats: 9.4 points, 1.8 assists and 0.9 steals per game
Phoenix won 48 games this season by outrunning and outshooting opponents. LaVine is arguably the best athlete in the draft and shot 37.5 percent from downtown this year.
The combo guard would be a perfect backup for Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe.
15. Atlanta Hawks: PF Kristaps Porzingis, Latvia
18 years old, 6’11”, 220 pounds
Spanish ACB 2013-14 stats: 6.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game
Atlanta needs to swing for the fences here. No prospect who fills a need is going to take the team to the next level.
Porzingis, however, has the potential to develop into one of the draft's best players. It just may take him three years.
16. Chicago Bulls: PG Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette
20 years old, 6’4”, 185 pounds
Junior stats: 19.2 points, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game
D.J. Augustin shot 29.2 percent from the field in the playoffs. His contract is up, and the Bulls should use it as motivation to upgrade.
Payton is a better fit here than Tyler Ennis because Payton is a superior scorer. Chicago ranked dead last this season in scoring.
17. Boston Celtics: SG Rodney Hood, Duke
21 years old, 6’9”, 208 pounds
Sophomore stats: 16.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 0.7 steals per game
Danny Ainge must hold a high standard for shooting guards because he used to be one. He traded almost all of the Celtics' 2s this season—Jordan Crawford, Courtney Lee and MarShon Brooks.
Now 34.1 percent-shooting Jeff Green is their best outside shooter on the perimeter not named Avery Bradley, if he re-signs. Hood shot 42.0 percent from downtown this year.
18. Phoenix Suns: SF T.J. Warren, N.C. State
20 years old, 6’8”, 220 pounds
Sophomore stats: 24.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game
P.J. Tucker, the only true small forward on the Suns roster, will be a free agent this summer. He only shot 43.1 percent from the field anyway.
Warren, who shot 52.5 percent despite scoring in volume, would be an instant upgrade offensively.
19. Chicago Bulls: SF Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
23 years old, 6’7”, 210 pounds
Sophomore stats: 16.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 0.8 steals per game
Only three teams made fewer threes this season than the Bulls. They must surround Derrick Rose with better shooters.
Early is the best 3 left in the draft who can shoot.
20. Toronto Raptors: PG Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
19 years old, 6’3”, 182 pounds
Freshman stats: 12.9 points, 5.5 assists and 2.1 steals per game
Kyle Lowry and Greivis Vasquez were two out of Toronto's only three competent perimeter scorers this postseason. They're both free agents.
The Raptors must select a point guard here, because re-signing them both is improbable.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: PF Adreian Payne, Michigan State
23 years old, 6’10”, 239 pounds
Senior stats: 16.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game
If the Thunder started a stretch 4 instead of Kendrick Perkins, their offense may just be unstoppable.
Payne, who shot 42.3 percent from downtown this year, fills a need because Perkins' and Nick Collison's contracts expire next summer, and he makes Oklahoma City's offense somehow, someway even more dynamic.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: SF K.J. McDaniels, Clemson
21 years old, 6’6”, 195 pounds
Junior stats: 17.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game
Memphis scored the fourth fewest points in the league during the regular season.
McDaniels is a near-perfect fit here. First, he can score, and second he can defend—which is what will earn him time on the Grizzlies. He's only a near-perfect fit, and not a perfect one, because he can't shoot threes.
23. Utah Jazz: SF Jerami Grant, Syracuse
20 years old, 6’8”, 214 pounds
Sophomore stats: 12.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 0.8 steals per game
Grant may be able to start in Utah next season by default.
Nearly all of the Jazz's wings are flying to free agency this summer: Gordon Hayward, Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush and Mike Harris.
24. Charlotte Hornets: PG Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
22 years old, 6’1”, 175 pounds
Senior stats: 18.0 points, 4.9 assists and 1.8 steals per game
Charlotte is two scorers away from becoming a legitimate threat to win a playoff series.
It drafted one in Stauskas. Napier would be No. 2 and an instant upgrade to Luke Ridnour as Walker's backup.
25. Houston Rockets: C Jusuf Nurkic, Bosnia
19 years old, 6’11”, 280 pounds
Croatian A-1 Liga 2013-14 stats: 10.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game
Houston finished second in the NBA in scoring this season but 23rd in points allowed. And if it trades Omer Asik this offseason, that won't improve.
Nurkic would prevent a defensive drop-off, should Asik be dealt. By the way, the Bosnian is averaging the above stat line in 16.3 minutes of action per game.
26. Miami Heat: SG P.J. Hairston, North Carolina
21 years old, 6’5”, 229 pounds
Sophomore stats: 14.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game
Miami needs a point guard more than a wing (see: Mario Chalmers' Finals performance), but Hairston is too talented to pass up to reach for Missouri's Jordan Clarkson.
And the Heat still need a wing. Ray Allen and Shane Battier are old (38 and 35 years old, respectively), and their contracts are up.
27. Phoenix Suns: PF Clint Capela, Switzerland
20 years old, 6’11”, 222 pounds
French LNB Pro A 2013-14 Stats: 9.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game
No player Phoenix drafts here is making the rotation. The tam doesn't have three spots for rookies to take.
The Suns should shoot for the stars (get it?!) and pick the prospect with the highest ceiling. That would be Capela, who could be the next Ibaka.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: PF Mitch McGary, Michigan
21 years old, 6’10”, 250 pounds
Sophomore stats: 9.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game
Glen Davis' and Ryan Hollins' contracts expire this offseason. They make up all of the Clippers' length off the bench.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: SG C.J. Wilcox, Washington
23 years old, 6'5", 201 pounds
Senior stats: 18.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.0 steals per game
For having one of the most explosive offenses in basketball, Oklahoma City shot horribly in the postseason. The team converted only 32.3 percent of its three-point attempts. Only one perimeter player in Reggie Jackson finished with a three-point percentage higher than 35.6.
Derek Fisher is the New York Knicks' head coach now, while Caron Butler and Thabo Sefolosha are bound for free agency. There will be room for Wilcox, who shot 39.1 percent from downtown this year, in the rotation.
30. San Antonio Spurs: PF Kyle Anderson, UCLA
20 years old, 6’9”, 230 pounds
Sophomore stats: 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game
If you've watched the NBA Finals, you know Boris Diaw's 6.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game against Miami have been vital to San Antonio's success. Well, he'll be a 32-year-old free agent this summer.
The Spurs will need a new point forward soon. Anderson, who averaged 6.5 assists per game this year, would be a perfect immediate or eventual replacement for Diaw.
David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report. He tweets, too.
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