Updated 2014 NBA Mock Draft in Wake of Joel Embiid Injury News
A foot injury to Joel Embiid is bound to shake up the 2014 NBA draft board, with teams now learning he'll require surgery.
There was already previous concerns regarding Embiid's durability, after he missed the entire postseason with a stress fracture in his back. A follow-up foot injury should ultimately be just enough to push the Cleveland Cavaliers' attention elsewhere—probably to a safer option on the board.
Now that Embiid is back on the shelf, we have a new No. 1 at the top.
The other prospects are still in hardcore workout mode, flying city to city to audition for as many teams that will have them.
Team needs, along with each prospect's NBA potential, were taken into account when deciding how we project the draft to play out.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jabari Parker, Duke, 6'8", SF/PF, Freshman
With Joel Embiid out with another injury, this time a fractured foot that will require surgery, per Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Cleveland Cavaliers just can't take the risk.
Jabari Parker offers that No. 1 upside, yet he's still arguably the safest pick on the board. He also fits nicely into the lineup at the 3 or 4 position, where the Cavaliers get little offense.
With Cleveland looking to win now, Parker makes sense at No. 1 with Embiid's durability too risky to gamble on.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Dante Exum, Australia, 6'6", PG/SG, 1995
The Milwaukee Bucks have been high on Dante Exum all year long, and with Jabari Parker off the board and Joel Embiid's durability in question, the match makes sense at No. 2.
With Exum, the Bucks can slide Brandon Knight off the ball to what might be his more natural position.
At 6'6", Exum gives Milwaukee its first real mismatch at the point, given his size, explosiveness, handle and scoring ability.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, 6'8", SF, Freshman
No need for the Philadelphia 76ers to trade up here—they should be able to get their man, with the Cleveland Cavaliers thinking safe and the Milwaukee Bucks thinking backcourt mismatch.
In Philadelphia, Andrew Wiggins will get valuable early reps as a go-to option without the pressure of having to produce right away. The Sixers also finished No. 1 in the NBA in pace last season, a stat that plays directly to Wiggins' strengths as a dynamic open-floor athlete.
Wiggins fits perfectly into the Sixers' plans as a high-upside wing with all-star potential. To get him at No. 3 would be ideal.
4. Orlando Magic: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, 6'4", PG/SG, Sophomore
With Dante Exum off the board, the Orlando Magic should be turning their attention to Marcus Smart, a guy they might had picked last year had he declared for the draft.
Nikola Vucevic appears to be coming into his own, so there's no real need to take a risk on the injured Joel Embiid.
Smart and Victor Oladipo should ultimately make for a nightmare tandem at the defensive end in Orlando.
5. Utah Jazz: Noah Vonleh, Indiana, 6'9", PF, Freshman
There's just nothing to question with Noah Vonleh other than the length of his developmental timetable. Measuring in a half-inch below 6'10" with a monster 7'4" wingspan and 247-pound frame, Vonleh has a polished post game with his back to the rim and a promising outside stroke.
He also led the Big Ten in rebounding, playing less than 27 minutes a game, and at 18 years old, he's one of the youngest prospects in the draft.
The Jazz shouldn't be looking to fill a specific position here.
Marcus Smart would give Utah one of the smallest backcourts in the league, and Aaron Gordon doesn't offer much offense, something the Jazz could use.
Vonleh is the top option on the board and a better prospect than both Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors.
6. Boston Celtics: Joel Embiid, Kansas, 7'0", C, Freshman
Joel Embiid will need surgery to repair a fracture in his foot, per Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, and it's going to cost him some major draft-day dollars.
There's no question about his talent; rather, it's whether or not he's physically built for the 82-plus-game grind year after year.
But at some point, Embiid does become a value pick to a team like the Boston Celtics, who probably weren't getting a game-changer at No. 6 anyway. This late, they can afford to take on the injury risk attached to Embiid, given the huge potential reward he offers if these injuries are in fact isolated incidents.
The Celtics just don't have anyone on the roster with this type of upside, and there's no other obvious answers on the board with Marcus Smart and Noah Vonleh gone.
Embiid is a gamble, but at No. 6, that potential reward should be worth the risk.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle, Kentucky, 6'9", PF,
Julius Randle worked out for the Los Angeles Lakers this week without raising any red flags or concerns.
There had been some concern that Randle might need surgery to prevent future issues with his foot, which he broke as a senior in high school.
"I met with the best foot doctor in the country, and he said he wouldn't do anything with my foot," Randle said via Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding.
At No. 7, Randle gives the Lakers an NBA-ready body up front, where they currently have nothing to offer. As long as his foot isn't a problem, the Lakers shouldn't let him get passed them at this point in the draft.
8. Sacramento Kings: Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette, 6'4", PG, Junior
The last time the Sacramento Kings passed on a mid-major point guard for a high-profile power forward, they drafted Thomas Robinson and watched Damian Lillard emerge into a star for someone else.
This year, the hot point guard prospect is Elfrid Payton, who's generating all sorts of buzz during his workouts, including the one he had in Sacramento, per ESPN's Jeff Goodman.
Payton, at 6'4" with dangerous athleticism for a ball-handler, has eye-opening two-way upside—more than 5'9", 25-year-old Isaiah Thomas, whom the Kings will likely have to overpay in restricted free agency.
Having recently turned 20 years old, Payton is almost a year younger than most juniors. And he had a breakout season, averaging 19.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game. Payton is also a terrific defender—he was honored as the Lefty Driesell Defensive Player of the Year in 2014.
The Kings could go with Julius Randle here, but between the foot concerns and the fact that Carl Landry and Jason Thompson are both under contract for at least two more seasons—not to mention they just acquired Derrick Williams—there's risk and overcrowding at the 4.
Payton is a bit of a reach at No. 8, but if this is the guy they like, and they have plenty of reason to, he could certainly be the pick.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Doug McDermott, Creighton, 6'7", SF, Senior
With a wing consisting of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who's hit three three-pointers in two seasons, and Gerald Henderson, who is shooting 30 percent from deep during his career, the Charlotte Hornets could use a shooter.
Doug McDermott just might be the best, after shooting at least 40 percent from downtown in all four seasons.
Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer tweeted he believed the team was high on McDermott at No. 9. And it makes sense, assuming the Hornets are looking for an NBA-ready contributor at a position of need.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Aaron Gordon, Arizona, 6'9", SF/PF, Freshman
At No. 10, the Philadelphia 76ers should be thrilled to add Aaron Gordon, who gives them just another athletic specimen at a position in need.
He's got a lot to work on offensively, but the Sixers have time to develop him. In the meantime, they'll take the easy buckets he gets above the rim on the break, off lobs, slashes and offensive rebounds.
Defensively, he gives them another dangerous weapon to pair alongside rim protector Nerlens Noel.
Between Andrew Wiggins, Gordon, Michael Carter-Williams and Noel, we could be looking at one of the most athletic lineups in the league one day.
11. Denver Nuggets: Dario Saric, Croatia, 6'10", SF/PF, 1994
We could be looking at a drop-off in talent after Dario Saric, who's biggest question mark centers around his NBA arrival schedule.
Saric just finished up the playoffs in the Croatian League, but he probably won't decide whether or not to stay overseas or come right over until he finds out who drafts him.
He'd fit in nicely with Denver, a team that could use another passer and facilitator somewhere in the lineup. Saric gives you a completely different skill set than Kenneth Faried up front, though he's also an excellent rebounder.
With the ball in his hands, Saric can operate from just about every spot on the floor, with the ability to handle the ball and create as a scorer or passer. Off the ball, he's got a threatening jumper, though he needs to improve his consistency.
12. Orlando Magic: Nik Stauskas, Michigan, 6'6", SG, Sophomore
With Marcus Smart, Victor Oladipo, Arron Afflalo, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic, the Orlando Magic aren't going to find an immediate upgrade at any position with the No. 12 pick.
But they could use a shooter in the lineup to make up for Smart, Oladipo, Harris and Vucevic. Nik Stauskas would immediately step in as the sharpest shooter in the lineup, and with 6'6" size, a tight handle, good vision and high IQ, he's offering a little bit more than just a jumper.
At the end of the day, Stauskas just might be the top prospect on the board and one of the surest bets in this year's field.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Adreian Payne, Michigan State, 6'10", PF
Whether the Minnesota Timberwolves lose Kevin Love or not, they still could use depth at the power forward position. But let's be real here—the Wolves are probably going to deal Love, and Adreian Payne is a guy built to play now, yet he still offers upside as a big-time athlete with a developing offensive game.
He's a polished shooter who can stretch the floor from downtown or step inside the arc for a pull-up jumper.
Inside, Payne plays above the rim, where he uses his 7'4" wingspan to finish and contest shots.
He's not the flashiest prospect, but Payne should bring something to the table in the short and long term.
14. Phoenix Suns: Zach LaVine, UCLA, 6'6", SG, Freshman
With Eric Bledsoe looking for a monster contract, the Phoenix Suns might want to take a look at Zach LaVine, who offers big-time upside as a playmaker and scorer.
He's also 6'6", which gives Phoenix a nice size upgrade from Bledsoe, 6'1", and Goran Dragic, 6'3".
LaVine definitely fits the team's identity—the Suns like to run, and LaVine is dynamic in the open floor, thanks to some explosive jets and showtime hops.
He's got a lot to work on, and I'm sure he'll make his fair share of rookie mistakes. But long term, his talent is top-10 worthy.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Rodney Hood, Duke, 6'8", SF, Sophomore
The Atlanta Hawks don't get much offense from the wing, a spot where Rodney Hood can help out right away.
At 6'8", he's got terrific size to match a lights-out shooting stroke from downtown. He's polished in between the arc and rim, where he can stop and pop off two feet or score on the move with the runner and floater.
Hood isn't the quickest, but his ability to consistently stretch the floor and finish plays will provide value in the pros in a complementary role.
16. Chicago Bulls: Gary Harris, Michigan State, 6'4", SG, Sophomore
Gary Harris might have the opportunity to compete for a starting gig in Chicago, where the Bulls are really missing a natural 2-guard.
He's one of the more seasoned prospects in this draft, with the ability to generate offense in the mid-range, stretch the floor as a shooter, finish off the ball and defend the perimeter.
Harris is a bit undersized, but his high skill level and two years at Michigan State should make him one of the better-prepared prospects in the draft.
17. Boston Celtics: James Young, Kentucky, 6'7", SF, Freshman
One of the youngest prospects in the draft, James Young offers loads of offensive firepower as a 6'7" left-handed wing who can shoot, slash and score.
He has that ability to catch fire and put up points in bunches. Young is a lethal spot-up weapon and a threat in the drive-and-slash game.
He needs to improve defensively, while his off-the-dribble game is limited. But Young has some exciting NBA tools and offensive upside as a complementary shot-maker and finisher.
If the Celtics defense goes with Aaron Gordon at No. 6, Young makes sense as an offensive specialist at No. 17.
18. Phoenix Suns: Jusuf Nurkic, Bosnia, 6'11", C, 1994
With three first-round picks, don't be surprised if the Phoenix Suns move this one. Either way, without any obvious answers on the board, this is a spot to draft-and-stash or take on a long-term project, regardless of who's picking.
Jusuf Nurkic's natural talent is undeniable—at 6'11" with a massive 280-pound frame, he has standout offensive instincts, with the ability to flip shots in over his shoulder from various angles.
For a guy his size, Nurkic moves well and uses his body to his advantage.
He's young and raw, but between his heavy per-minute production abroad and the upside tied to his blend of physical tools and skills, Nurkic just might be the top prospect on the board at No. 18.
19. Chicago Bulls: Tyler Ennis, Syracuse, 6'2", PG, Freshman
With their second first-round pick, not only do the Chicago Bulls get terrific value in Tyler Ennis at No. 19, but he fills a need as an extra ball-handler in the backcourt. Ennis has that natural ability to command an offense with his poise and maturity, while his passing instincts and feel for the game are both top shelf.
Derrick Rose is coming off back-to-back season-ending knee injuries. The Bulls might want to limit his minutes in 2014-15. Ennis gives them relief and insurance at the point, as well as some lineup flexibility—with Ennis, the Bulls could slide Rose off the ball from time to time to form a balanced backcourt blend of facilitating and explosive scoring.
20. Toronto Raptors: Kyle Anderson, UCLA, 6'9", PG/SF, Junior
There are questions regarding his position and upside but not his core strengths, which should translate seamlessly.
Kyle Anderson is a sensational passer with unteachable vision and feel for the game. The Toronto Raptors should be able to use Anderson in a variety of a different ways, whether he's facilitating from the point, wing or post. He's also a capable shooter and solid rebounder.
Anderson's lack of foot speed and athleticism limit his defensive potential, but at the very least, the Raptors get a Boris Diaw-like glue guy who can make plays from every spot on the floor.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Clint Capela, Switzerland, 6'11", PF/C, 1994
General manager Sam Presti always seems to be thinking towards the future on draft day, and at No. 21, Clint Capela is a guy who can fill a need in a year or two down the road.
Capela brings A-plus physical tools to the table with size (6'11"), length (7'4"), end-to-end mobility and above-the-rim athleticism. He needs to polish up his offensive game in order to increase his purpose on the floor, but as an interior specialist who finishes, rebounds and blocks shots, Capela's core strengths hold significant NBA value.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: T.J. Warren, North Carolina State, 6'8", SF, Sophomore
Only three teams in the NBA scored fewer points per game than the Memphis Grizzlies. And only two players in the country averaged more than the 24.9 points per game T.J. Warren put up as a sophomore at N.C. State.
He has unteachable scoring instincts on the break and in the half court, where he can rise and fire from any spot or angle on the floor. And at 6'8", Warren has a strong, mobile frame for a small forward, a position that the Grizzlies get very little offense from.
With Courtney Lee and Tony Allen locked up for two more seasons, the Grizzlies should be thrilled to land Warren, who'd likely compete for a starting job as a rookie.
23. Utah Jazz: P.J. Hairston, Texas Legends, 6'5", SG
With the possibility of Gordon Hayward leaving in restricted free agency, and Alec Burks the only other wing under contact, the Utah Jazz should be thinking offense at the 2 or 3 position.
P.J. Hairston should be an attractive option with the team's second first-round pick, given his production at multiple levels (North Carolina, D-League) and the need his skill set fills.
He's a perimeter scorer who can light it up around or behind the arc, and with a diesel 229-pound frame, he has the size, athleticism and strength to plow or weave through traffic as an attacker.
24. Charlotte Hornets: Jordan Clarkson, Missouri, 6'5", PG/SG, Junior
The Charlotte Hornets could use some extra firepower off the bench, and Jordan Clarkson can give it to them at the point or off-guard position.
At 6'5", he's a scoring point guard with smooth athleticism. Clarkson is at his best attacking the rim, where he's constantly making plays in the lane as a scorer and passer.
His shooting percentages suffered a bit this season, but there's no doubt he's capable on the perimeter. Clarkson just has to improve his consistency.
25. Houston Rockets: Jordan Adams, UCLA, 6'5", SG, Sophomore
The Houston Rockets have no depth behind James Harden at the 2. Jordan Adams is coming off his second consecutive standout season at UCLA, where he improved in just about every facet of the game.
A physical guard with long arms and terrific offensive instincts, Adams is an active off-the-ball scorer and pesky defender.
Don't expect many highlight dunks from Adams, given his 29.5" max vertical. But count on him to find other ways to convert easy buckets, whether he's slashing in the lane, curling into a jumper, stretching the floor as a shooter or getting out on the break.
26. Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier, Connecticut, 6'1", PG, Senior
The Miami Heat could use some point guard depth—or just a new one in general.
Having won a title as a role player and one as a star, Shabazz Napier has a unique track record with valuable experience for an incoming rookie.
Napier certainly has the confidence and handle to run an NBA offense. And with a deadly jumper, he can put pressure on the defense on the perimeter, whether he's shooting off a pick-and-roll or spotting up from behind the arc.
27. Phoenix Suns: Cleanthony Early, Wichita State, 6'7", SF
The Phoenix Suns could use some offense and athleticism on the wing, something 23-year-old Cleanthony Early might be able to contribute right away.
Early is a threatening shooter and driver in the half court, and he's a big-time target on the break. He needs to develop his in-between game, but in a lineup where he's surrounded by playmakers, Early has real promising role-player potential.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Mitch McGary, Michigan, 6'10", PF/C, Sophomore
There isn't much depth behind Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Mitch McGary gives the Los Angeles Clippers a big, mobile body that can play either the 4 or the 5. And as long as his back holds up, he offers excellent value this late, given the likelihood of his strengths translating.
At 6'10", McGary has an exceptional nose for the ball on the glass, along with a live motor, soft hands and the ability to play through contact.
His ceiling is debatable, but McGary projects as an interior specialist who scores inside, rebounds and passes.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: K.J. McDaniels, Clemson, 6'6", SF, Junior
Dangerous in transition or attacking the half-court rim from the wing, K.J. McDaniels is an explosive small forward with two-way talent.
He's an excellent defender, who, at just 6'6", led the ACC in shot-blocking.
It's possible the Thunder deal this pick, given they have an earlier selection at No. 21. Either way, McDaniels could be a nice late-round value for a playoff team looking for athleticism on the wing.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Glenn Robinson III, Michigan, 6'7", SF, Sophomore
The San Antonio Spurs will either be looking to draft-and-stash or select the best player available. I'm not sure there are any international prospects worth reaching on at this point—Glenn Robinson III makes sense based on his upside and San Antonio's lack of depth on the wing.
About 10 months ago, we were talking about Robinson as a potential lottery pick, but he struggled at times without Trey Burke setting him up in the offense.
He's an explosive athlete who can shoot, slash and finish high above the rim. Robinson just has to put it all together.