Several future NBA stars will soon find out where they will spend the beginning of their basketball careers as the 2014 draft gets set for takeoff.
On Thursday, June 26, 60 of the world's brightest basketball talents will realize a life-long dream when their names are called. In a deep class, there's plenty of appealing prospects for every team, given its owner doesn't pressure it to trade picks like a kid who finds carrots in his or her lunchbox. (Cough James Dolan cough).
Sorry to get so dramatic, but cue the generic action-thriller trailer music, because things may never be the same again after this year's draft. Last year's No. 1 pick, Anthony Bennett, would doubtfully draw top-five—perhaps not even top-10—consideration if he stood among this year's batch of eligible draftees.
Below is the complete draft order for both rounds. The draft will take place in the Barclays Center for the first time, even though the Brooklyn Nets don't own a single pick. At least they didn't mortgage their future just to lose in the second round. Wait...
|7||Los Angeles Lakers|
|9||Charlotte Hornets (from Detroit)|
|10||Philadelphia 76ers (from New Orleans)|
|12||Orlando Magic (from New York via Denver)|
|16||Chicago Bulls (from Charlotte)|
|17||Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn)|
|18||Phoenix Suns (from Washington)|
|21||Oklahoma City Thunder (from Dallas via Houston and L.A. Lakers)|
|23||Utah Jazz (from Golden State)|
|24||Charlotte Hornets (from Portland)|
|27||Phoenix Suns (from Indiana)|
|28||Los Angeles Clippers|
|29||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|30||San Antonio Spurs|
|33||Cleveland Cavaliers (from Orlando)|
|34||New York Knicks (from Dallas Mavericks via Boston)|
|36||Milwaukee Bucks (from L.A. Lakers via Minnesota and Phoenix)|
|37||Toronto Raptors (from Sacramento)|
|39||Philadelphia 76ers (from Cleveland)|
|40||Minnesota Timberwolves (from New Orleans)|
|42||Houston Rockets (from New York)|
|47||Philadelphia 76ers (from Brooklyn via Dallas and Boston)|
|48||Milwaukee Bucks (from Toronto via Phoenix)|
|51||New York Knicks (from Dallas Mavericks)|
|52||Philadelphia 76ers (from Memphis via Cleveland)|
|53||Minnesota Timberwolves (from Golden State)|
|54||Philadelphia 76ers (from Houston via Milwaukee)|
|56||Denver Nuggets (from Portland)|
|58||San Antonio Spurs (from L.A. Clippers via New Orleans)|
|59||Toronto Raptors (from Oklahoma City via New York)|
|60||San Antonio Spurs|
The three men perched atop most draft boards will absorb most of the attention on draft night. Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker both have the potential to spark a franchise for years to come, while Joel Embiid's status as a top choice rests in limbo.
So which freshman prospect will the Cleveland Cavaliers, who stumbled upon their third No. 1 pick in four years, take to begin the draft?
Parker is the safest one with the highest floor but lowest ceiling. Embiid flaunts game-changing shot-blocking and rim-protection with sprinkles of a superb post-up game in the making. Unfortunately for the big man, he's projected to miss four to six months after undergoing surgery on his fractured foot.
Wiggins' lengthy 7'0" wingspan will wreak havoc on the defensive side, and his speed and athleticism make him a dangerous scorer in transition and when attacking the basket. The 19-year-old from Kansas is in high demand but not from everyone in Cleveland.
ESPN's Chad Ford and Jeff Goodman reported that the Cavaliers are divided between Wiggins and Parker. A poor workout from the Duke star has owner Dan Gilbert leaning toward Wiggins, but new general manager David Griffin prefers Parker.
Gilbert has given a mandate to ownership to turn this roster into a playoff squad this season. Parker is, by virtually all accounts, the most NBA-ready prospect in the draft.
However, Parker's workout Friday in Cleveland was a disappointment, according to multiple sources. Parker weighed in at 254 pounds with 11 percent body fat, more than 10 pounds above his playing weight at Duke. One source even went as far as to say that Parker appeared to be "tanking" the workout.
"He was bad," one source told ESPN.com. "He was huffing and puffing early in the workout."
The Philadelphia 76ers hold the No. 10 pick in addition to their No. 3 selection, which becomes much trickier now. The team will now either have to gamble on the injured center, which is unlikely after doing that exact thing last year with Nerlens Noel, or find the best of the otherwise deep rest. That is, unless Philadelphia can make a move up the board to grab Wiggins.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompey, "The Sixers are trying to do whatever they can to draft him." He said the feeling may also be mutual, adding, "And there's a sense that he wants to become a Sixer. His father, Mitchell Wiggins, played for the Sixers during the 1991-92 season, averaging 4.3 points in the final season of his six-year career."
If they can't move up for Wiggins, expect them to grab Australian guard Dante Exum first and later land a shooting guard in Gary Harris or Nik Stauskas, addressing their perimeter shooting woes.
A couple of prospects outside the marquee names have won scouts' infatuation leading up to the draft. UCLA's Zach LaVine only averaged 9.4 points and 1.8 assists per game during his freshman season, yet the 19-year-old is drawing considerable buzz as a first-round option who could sneak his way into the lottery.
Why is he so adored despite a lack of production? It's impossible to not talk about LaVine without tossing out all the draft cliches. Sky-high potential. Unlimited upside. Tremendous athleticism. All that jazz makes him a popular man, albeit not popular enough for the Utah Jazz to take him at No. 5.
LaVine's hype machine kicked into full drive when the Los Angeles Lakers' official Twitter page posted a video showcasing his crazy leaping ability.
Another guard climbing up draft boards is Elfrid Payton, but the two don't have much else in common. While LaVine toiled away on the bench of a prestigious UCLA program, Payton stuffed the stats sheet for mid-major Louisiana-Lafayette.
Which guard would you rather see your favorite team draft?
During his junior season, Payton registered averages of 19.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals per contest for the Ragin' Cajuns. He earned a 50.9 field-goal percentage despite struggling from behind the arc, where he shot just 25.9 percent.
Although his popularity is quickly rising, Payton is still embracing the underdog role of being an unheralded prospect from a largely unknown basketball program. At least he told the Phoenix Suns as much during a predraft workout.
"I always play with a chip on my shoulder." - Louisiana Lafayette's Elfrid Payton #SunsDraft Workout— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) June 5, 2014
The Suns lead the NBA with three first-round selections they've stockpiled through a rebuilding process that did not last as long as originally anticipated. They should look to surround point guard Goran Dragic with some wing scorers, and a big man who spaces the floor—Michigan State's Adreian Payne comes to mind—would fit their scheme well.
Mystery surrounds this draft from the first to last pick. No pick is locked in stone heading into Thursday, which could lead to some unexpected results in Brooklyn.