With so many top-flight prospects available in the 2014 NBA draft, this stands to be one of the most exciting and unpredictable drafts in recent memory.
Teams have done their best to throw up smokescreens and refrain from revealing their true intentions, so there is a lot of mystery in the air as the draft approaches. One thing that is for sure, though, is that every team in the league will have a chance to get better Thursday night.
Along with a full rundown of the draft order and viewing information, here are the latest predictions for what will happen with some of the top players in this class.
Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York
When: Thursday, June 26 at 7 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
First-Round Draft Order
|7||Los Angeles Lakers|
|9||Charlotte Hornets (from Detroit Pistons)|
|10||Philadelphia 76ers (from New Orleans Pelicans)|
|12||Orlando Magic (from New York Knicks via Denver Nuggets)|
|16||Chicago Bulls (from Charlotte Hornets)|
|17||Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn Nets)|
|18||Phoenix Suns (from Washington Wizards)|
|21||Oklahoma City Thunder (from Dallas Mavericks via Houston Rockets and L.A. Lakers)|
|23||Utah Jazz (from Golden State Warriors)|
|24||Charlotte Hornets (from Portland Trail Blazers)|
|27||Phoenix Suns (from Indiana Pacers)|
|28||Los Angeles Clippers|
|29||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|30||San Antonio Spurs|
Second-Round Draft Order
|33||Cleveland Cavaliers (from Orlando Magic)|
|34||New York Knicks (from Dallas Mavericks via Boston Celtics)|
|36||Milwaukee Bucks (from L.A. Lakers via Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns|
|37||Toronto Raptors (from Sacramento Kings)|
|39||Philadelphia 76ers (from Cleveland Cavaliers)|
|40||Minnesota Timberwolves (from New Orleans Pelicans)|
|42||Houston Rockets (from New York Knicks)|
|47||Philadelphia 76ers (from Brooklyn Nets via Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics)|
|48||Milwaukee Bucks (from Toronto Raptors via Phoenix Suns)|
|51||New York Knicks (from Dallas Mavericks)|
|52||Philadelphia 76ers (from Memphis Grizzlies via Cleveland Cavaliers)|
|53||Minnesota Timberwolves (from Golden State Warriors)|
|54||Philadelphia 76ers (from Houston Rockets via Milwaukee Bucks)|
|56||Denver Nuggets (from Portland Trail Blazers)|
|58||San Antonio Spurs (from L.A. Clippers via New Orleans Pelicans)|
|59||Toronto Raptors (from Oklahoma City Thunder via New York Knicks)|
|60||San Antonio Spurs|
NBA Draft Predictions
Cavaliers Will Select Andrew Wiggins No. 1 Overall
A great deal of mystery continues to surround what the Cleveland Cavaliers will do with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. The Cavs were mum last year and ultimately shocked the basketball world when they took Anthony Bennett. It is tough to imagine another similar surprise occurring this year, but Cleveland's potential plan has definitely been impacted in recent weeks.
One can only assume that Kansas center Joel Embiid was at or near the top of their draft board, but that may no longer be the case. After suffering a foot injury that required surgery, Embiid could be out of action well into the 2014-15 season, according to SportsCenter:
Joel Embiid had two screws inserted into his foot during surgery Friday morning. Recovery timeline is 4-6 months. (via ESPN & media reports)— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 21, 2014
That doesn't totally disqualify Embiid from being taken first, but the Cavs can't afford to take such a massive risk. Many are already calling Bennett a bust, and while that may be somewhat premature, Cleveland most definitely has to hit on this pick.
With that in mind, Embiid's Kansas teammate, Andrew Wiggins, has to be considered a definite possibility at No. 1. Wiggins is probably the best pure scorer in this draft and is capable of playing either shooting guard or small forward. That offensive ability and versatility should make him quite attractive to the Cavaliers.
There are many who believe that Wiggins has ascended to the No. 1 spot in this draft in the wake of Embiid's injury, and Evan Daniels of Scout.com is among them:
At this point it's clear, Andrew Wiggins should be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) June 19, 2014
Getting a dominant big man to form an inside-outside combo with point guard Kyrie Irving might be ideal for the Cavs, but putting Wiggins alongside him could be special as well. Wiggins may very well be the best player in this draft regardless, so it can be argued that Embiid's injury is a blessing in disguise for the Cavs.
With Embiid's status so uncertain moving forward, Wiggins definitely makes the most sense for Cleveland at No. 1.
Julius Randle's Stock Won't Fall
It was assumed by many at the beginning of the draft process that Kentucky forward Julius Randle was the next man in line behind Embiid, Wiggins and Parker. The impressive power forward averaged a double-double with over 15 points and 10 rebounds per game for the Wildcats and was a key figure in their surprising run to the national championship game.
Despite that, there has been some talk regarding Indiana forward Noah Vonleh and Australian guard Dante Exum both potentially surpassing Randle. Even Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart and Arizona forward Aaron Gordon have entered the conversation as well. Some of that may have to do with potential foot issues that Randle has been dealing with.
According to Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com, though, Randle insists that he is perfectly healthy:
My foot is fine. Everybody has their opinion on what they should do. But I'm pain-free. No pain before, during or after. I'm fine. (Surgery has) never been considered. I've met with my own doctor and talked to specialists, some of the best doctors in the world, and they said they wouldn't do anything with it.
It obviously isn't surprising that Randle is declaring himself healthy publicly in order to help his draft stock, but he has walked the walk in addition to talking the talk. Per ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin, Randle outperformed Vonleh in their workout for the Los Angeles Lakers despite Vonleh being viewed as the more athletic prospect:
As @LakersReporter pointed out, Julius Randle's vertical was 38 inches. Noah Vonleh jumped 37.5" in his Lakers workout— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) June 17, 2014
The fact that Randle was able to do that should alleviate many of the concerns regarding his foot. The Orlando Magic present an intriguing fit at No. 4 and there is no reason for them to pass up a talented player like Randle.
Kyle Anderson Will Be Draft's Biggest Riser
There always seems to be at least one player who rises in the ranks leading up to the NBA draft and gets selected higher than expected. In a class that is stocked with top-shelf talent, that distinction could very well belong to UCLA point forward Kyle Anderson this year.
Which is most likely to happen in the 2014 NBA draft?
Few prospects are more intriguing than Anderson, as he possesses a rare skill set. His 6'9" frame suggests that he should be a small forward at the next level, but he has point guard skills and was the floor general during his two seasons with the Bruins.
Anderson's numbers were particularly impressive in 2013-14 as he averaged nearly 15 points, nine rebounds, 6.5 assists and two steals per contest. He did a little bit of everything at UCLA, and that type of versatility should be quite valuable in the NBA.
Among the teams that have complimented Anderson publicly are the Phoenix Suns, who will select at No. 14 overall, according to the team's official Twitter account:
"He's extremely skilled at that size. He's long." - GM Ryan McDonough on UCLA's Kyle Anderson #SunsDraft Workout— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) June 9, 2014
That doesn't necessarily mean that the Suns will take him, but he is on their radar and could fit in nicely since guards Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic are scorers more than pure distributors. Having multiple ball-handlers on the floor at once creates mismatches, and Anderson is a walking mismatch to say the least.
Anderson should most definitely come off the board at some point in the lottery, but don't be surprised if he even manages to slip into the top 10.
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