If what we saw during the NBA Finals was any indication, the rest of the league has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to the San Antonio Spurs. One way to do that is by reloading in a deep draft.
There is plenty of talent available in this class, including a few potential franchise changers, so the landscape of the league should transform to some degree. All that remains to be seen is where the dominoes all fall.
With that in mind, here is a look at some of the NBA draft essentials.
NBA Draft Basics
Date: June 26
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Full Order of Picks:
|2014 NBA Draft Order|
|7||Los Angeles Lakers|
|21||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|28||Los Angeles Clippers|
|29||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|30||San Antonio Spurs|
Top 20 Prospects Available:
|Top Prospects for 2014 NBA Draft|
|Marcus Smart||20||6'3"/227||PG||Oklahoma State|
|Adreian Payne||23||6'10"/239||PF||Michigan State|
|Gary Harris||19||6'4"/205||SG||Michigan State|
|T.J. Warren||20||6'8"/220||SF/PF||North Carolina State|
|Cleanthony Early||23||6'7"/209||SF/PF||Wichita State|
|P.J. Hairston||21||6'5"/229||SG||North Carolina/NBDL|
|Elfrid Payton||20||6'4"/185||PG||Louisiana Lafayette|
|measurables from Draft Express, top 20 opinion|
Dante Exum Goes Before At Least One Of Big Three
For the majority of the 2013-14 college basketball season, fans heard the names Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker over and over again.
These were the three transcendent talents who were inspiring NBA teams to tank in hopes of landing more ping pong balls for the draft lottery. However, Australian sensation Dante Exum will hear his name called before at least one of those college players, and it's not just because Embiid has injury concerns or Parker isn't the strongest defender.
Exum has smooth handles, a high basketball IQ that helps him make the right passes as a floor general and an explosive first step that allows him to get to the rim. He is also strong enough to finish through contact when he gets there and has a solid three-point shot to keep defenders honest.
Yet it is his measurables that will entice NBA teams the most, and Chad Ford of ESPN passed them along:
That’s just unfair for a point guard.
Exum will overpower opposing guards with height like that, and he is too quick for the majority of forwards in the league to keep up with over the course of an entire game. If whichever team drafts Exum has another versatile and athletic defensive presence in the backcourt, it will absolutely give opponents fits.
The thought here is that the Orlando Magic think along those same lines and pair Exum with Victor Oladipo.
Joel Embiid Is Top Pick
One player who Exum won’t go before is Embiid.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have a need at center, and it’s not exactly every day that a 7’0" athletic specimen who can control the paint on both ends of the floor falls into your lap. He will swat shots with ease even in the NBA, control the glass and score from the low block.
Unfortunately, the first thing that comes to mind now when Embiid's name is brought up is his injury history. He dealt with back issues in college and a foot issue now, but elite centers are so rare in today’s NBA that Cleveland won’t be able to resist grabbing him. He averaged nearly a double-double a game at Kansas with 2.6 blocks a night thrown in, and he did so in only 23 minutes a contest. Imagine if he sees the floor for 35-40 minutes at some point in the NBA.
Cleveland could pair Kyrie Irving with Embiid and have a potent inside-outside combination for years to come. That is simply too much to pass up, even if Wiggins, Parker and Exum are special prospects.
Even if Embiid cannot play a single minute this season, having control of his future will pay dividends in the long run for the Cavaliers.
Julius Randle Will Fall Below Other Power Forwards
There is a lot of time between the end of the college basketball season and the draft, which gives commentators and front offices alike an opportunity to nitpick at the various prospects.
During that time, reports came out indicating that Julius Randle had a right foot injury, but Randle downplayed any concerns, via Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com:
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’s not just this potential injury that will impact Randle’s stock in a negative way. He has the tendency to force the ball to his left, which won’t work as well at the NBA level as it did against the watered-down SEC.
What’s more, he checks in at 6’9” and is a bit undersized given his lack of explosive athleticism for a low-post role in the NBA. He relies on his superior strength, but there are plenty of strong guys in the NBA.
Prospects like Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, Doug McDermott and even Adreian Payne could hear their names called before Randle, which could put the Kentucky prospect outside of the top 10.
Despite these concerns though, we are still talking about an excellent player who can score and rebound. He would be an absolute steal for someone outside of the top 10.
Follow me on Twitter: