The future talents of the Association will find out their respective fates on June 26, as the 2014 NBA draft will join the next wave of NBA stars with their first pro teams.
The draft process can be a lot to digest. Countless names are floated about for the No. 1 overall selection. Analyzing fringe prospects and determining which guys should be left until Round 2 is also a hassle. That's why I'm here.
Below you'll find a cheat sheet for the entire first round of the draft. This mock is a mix of picks based on team needs and pure talent.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
While not the top overall prospect in the draft, Joel Embiid is perhaps the most complete package. He is skilled offensively with his back to the basket but isn't one-dimensional. He is a strong defender and rebounder, using his frame to play physically and block shots.
If the Cavaliers are serious about rebuilding, they'll go for Embiid at No. 1.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
This is the best-case scenario for the Bucks: Andrew Wiggins will fall to No. 2 after being snubbed by Cleveland.
He has the highest ceiling of any prospect available. He's a pure scorer with great athletic ability who also projects as a viable defender at the next level. The Bucks desperately need a new face for their franchise. In a few years, Wiggins can develop into that player.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
While the No. 3 pick won't yield Wiggins, it's hard to be upset with grabbing Jabari Parker. He is the draft's most NBA-ready scorer, after showing off his entire arsenal at Duke. Of course, inconsistencies mired his freshman season, and he was basically invisible during the NCAA tournament. That said, he's ready for the next level.
4. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, PG, Australia
Dante Exum is a great athlete with playmaking ability. Victor Oladipo and Arron Afflalo man the backcourt for the Magic right now, but Exum can supplant Afflalo in the lineup. With Oladipo and Exum on the court at the same time, the Magic will basically run a two-point guard set.
Both Oladipo and Exum are also proven scorers, so this duo will succeed. Afflalo will become a valuable bench piece.
5. Utah Jazz: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
A foot injury that will require surgery might scare some teams away if Julius Randle begins to slip in the draft, but the Jazz won't allow a talent of his caliber to fall past No. 5. When healthy, he is a dominant big man who can take over games. Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors will make room in the rotation for him.
6. Boston Celtics: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
It's hard to pinpoint exactly where Noah Vonleh will land. In this mock, he goes No. 6 overall to the Celtics.
The Indiana product is a very good athlete who plays mostly above the rim. He can also step back and shoot from time to time, so defenses need to be aware of his range. A young trio of Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and Vonleh gives Boston a strong core to build around.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
Despite all the changes that mocks go through over the course of an offseason, I've always stuck with Marcus Smart going No. 7 to the Lakers. The fit is just too good.
With Steve Nash likely set to hang 'em up after the year, Smart can be mentored by one of the all-time greats next season. He can also learn how to shoulder the load of an offense from Kobe Bryant. The fit is perfect for a player like Smart.
8. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
Aaron Gordon is an otherworldly athlete. The power forward can jump through the gym, allowing him to play almost exclusively above the rim. He's not a good field-goal or free-throw shooter, but he's a high flier who also plays excellent defense.
Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe compares him to Blake Griffin athletically:
Griffin developed an offensive game over time. Maybe Gordon will too.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Doug McDermott, PF, Creighton
Doug McDermott is another guy who is difficult to project. At Creighton, nearly all of his highlights were from spot-up jumpers. Is that a guy that teams want to invest a lottery pick in?
There's more to McDermott than just his shooting ability. He's sneaky athletic, plays viable defense and has the demeanor and leadership skills to take the Hornets to the next level. Charlotte is already a good team. McDermott just makes the Hornets better.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (from New Orleans): Gary Harris, PG/SG, Michigan State
Gary Harris could go anywhere from No. 10 to No. 18. The middle portion of the draft is full of talented prospects, but no definitive homes for any of them are particularly glaring.
Harris fits well in Philly because of his ability to provide both above-average offense and defense. This made him a leader at Michigan State. It can also make him a leader in Philly.
11. Denver Nuggets: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
This is the highest Denver has picked in the draft since the Nuggets took Carmelo Anthony No. 3 overall in 2003. They had a down year in 2013-14, however, so it's time to retool. Dario Saric is a quality small forward who can fill the stat sheet, so he's a safe pick here.
12. Orlando Magic (from New York): James Young, SF, Kentucky
The Magic will add to their now-dynamic young core with James Young. A wing player who can shoot lights out from the perimeter, he will add yet another layer to an already-strong outside game. A young team will make a ton of mistakes, but the Magic will be exciting to watch next season.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
If Kevin Love finds himself a new home by the draft, then the Timberwolves will need to bring in a power forward to replace him. Adreian Payne has a similar set of skills, although he isn't as dynamic.
He is primarily an inside presence (both offensively and defensively), though he can step outside and hit a three. He's very mature, so you won't see many bad plays or decisions from the Michigan State product.
14. Phoenix Suns: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
This pick will hinge on whether or not the Suns pursue Love. If they do, then point guard Eric Bledsoe might have to be part of the deal. In that case, the Suns will have an opening in their backcourt.
Tyler Ennis was a leader at Syracuse and knows how to run an offense. Goran Dragic will help in his development.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
One of the largest players in the draft, Jusuf Nurkic is an intriguing prospect. The Bosnian stands 6'11" and weighs 280 pounds, so there won't be many players (even in the NBA) who can push him around down low. That said, he's a little slow and will need time to adjust to the physicality of the NBA.
16. Chicago Bulls (from Charlotte): Rodney Hood, SF, Duke
The Bulls are a defense-first team. They'll stick with that mentality with their first pick of Round 1, selecting Rodney Hood at No. 16. He's a strong defender on the wing who is also capable of getting hot from the perimeter and igniting the offense. Head coach Tom Thibodeau will likely work him in as a rotational player first before giving him more minutes.
17. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn): Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
Scoring consistently was an issue at times last season for the Celtics. Nik Stauskas can help.
The Michigan product is probably the best outside shooter in the draft. He has ridiculous range and a great stroke, making him almost automatic if left open. Even when the defense puts multiple hands in his face, he can knock 'em down.
18. Phoenix Suns (from Washington): T.J. Warren, SF, N.C. State
T.J. Warren is a perfect fit for the Suns at No. 18. He'll become one of the top bench players in the NBA next season because of his nose for the basket. He knows how to get to the tin and finish, but he can also stop on a dime and pop a jumper in the face of a defender. Not afraid to shoulder the load offensively, he has the go-getter mentality that Phoenix needs.
19. Chicago Bulls: Zach LaVine, SG, UCLA
Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com wrote about the unbelievable vertical of Zach LaVine after an eye-opening workout: "During a workout with the Los Angeles Lakers, UCLA shooting guard Zach LaVine turned in a 46-inch vertical leap -- two inches higher than Wiggins' vertical. The 46-inch vertical leap is the highest known measurement of any NBA Draft prospect."
LaVine is a freak of an athlete, but he needs some time to develop as a complete player. Given the Bulls' depth, this is a great place for him to learn the game.
20. Toronto Raptors: Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse
According to the official media relations account of the Raptors, the team will hold a workout with Jerami Grant, among others:
First session players - Will Sheehey, Cleanthony Early, Jerami Grant, Josh Huestis, Glenn Robinson III and De'Mon Brooks. @Raptors— RaptorsMR (@RaptorsMR) June 11, 2014
He is a good fit in Toronto. He's a big-time athlete with high-flying potential. DeMar DeRozan is a similar athlete, so he'll prove to be a good mentor in helping Grant reach his potential.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Dallas): Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA
NBA.com's Adam Zagoria tweeted that the Thunder are interested enough in Kyle Anderson to bring him in for a workout:
Former UCLA PG @KyleAnderson5 works out for OKC tomorrow and Philly on Monday.— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) June 6, 2014
Anderson has a 7'3" wingspan that makes him an interesting point guard prospect. While that's the position he played at UCLA, he projects as more of a small forward. That said, he can be an interesting matchup for smaller point guards.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn
Without a dynamic showing in the NCAA tournament, Shabazz Napier would have been a fringe first-rounder. Now he's a surefire name to watch in Round 1, but it's hard to pinpoint where he'll land.
The Grizzlies give him an interesting opportunity to learn from a quality point guard in Mike Conley, but they can also give him playing time in three-guard sets and off the bench.
23. Utah Jazz (from Golden State): C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington
C.J. Wilcox won't take many minutes away from fan favorite Gordon Hayward, but Wilcox's smarts will get him some playing time. He won't make a ton of mistakes and doesn't turn the ball over all that much. For a younger team like the Jazz, having a player like that is crucial. Plus, he's an above-average shooter.
24. Charlotte Hornets (via Portland): P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends
P.J. Hairston lit it up for the Texas Legends, but a troubling past at North Carolina will prevent him from cracking the lottery. In all likelihood, he'll fall into the 20s, where the Hornets will snatch him up. He's an interesting sleeper prospect to watch.
25. Houston Rockets: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
K.J. McDaniels is one of the more intriguing defenders in this draft. Even as a small forward, he was one of the best shot-blockers in the nation. He uses his athleticism to leap high at the rim and disrupt post players.
That's not all McDaniels offers. He uses his athleticism to run the floor with regularity, and we all know that's something the Rockets love to do.
26. Miami Heat: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
Elfrid Payton is very underrated, and Miami is a perfect place for him to keep up that identity. The spotlight will be on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh (if the Big Three stay together), so Payton can go about his business and focus on his development.
27. Phoenix Suns (from Indiana): Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
I've seen Clint Capela mocked everywhere, but I think he'll fall on draft day. Questions exist about his 6'11", 222-pound frame. He's far too thin to succeed in the paint. While there's time for him to fill out, teams might not be patient enough to wait.
He's a good athlete who can run the floor and play good defense, but teams likely won't use a lottery pick on a big man who can't bump bodies down low.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee
The Clippers are the home of efficiency when it comes to big men. Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are two of the most efficient scorers in basketball. Jarnell Stokes could use some fine-tuning on the offensive end, and that's where Griffin and Jordan will come in.
Stokes to the Clippers is a must for both parties.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia
In the draft's first potential guarantee, ESPN's Chad Ford tweeted that the Thunder promised Kristaps Porzingis that they would take him in Round 1:
Did the Thunder give Latvia’s Kristaps Porzingis the 1st “promise” of the 2014 Draft? http://t.co/dhfV6cxfHj (insider)— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) June 4, 2014
Now, that could mean No. 21 as well. I think that's quite a stretch, so No. 29 it is for Porzingis.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Cleanthony Early, PF, Wichita State
I wouldn't be surprised if Cleanthony Early went at the end of the lottery. That's how all over the place he has been this offseason.
He is a fringe power forward. He's only 6'7", so a transition to small forward would make a ton of sense in the future. He is a good shooter and quality athlete, so he'll find success somewhere. What better place to start than San Antonio?