We're just days away from the 2014 NBA draft, and each team's intentions during the selection process are finally starting to become clearer. After months of guesswork, putting together a mock draft for Round 1 is now much less of a challenge.
That is, of course, until one team makes an astronomical reach and ruins the beauty that is the ensuing mock draft.
Reaches are hard to predict, as each team sees something different from each prospect. A guy who one team pegs as a mid-second-rounder might go in the middle of the first round to somebody else. It all depends on interviews, private workouts and team needs.
Assuming that each general manager makes the right decision with his pick(s), this is how Round 1 of the draft will shape up.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
We've gotten conflicting reports regarding the Cleveland Cavaliers and center Joel Embiid. For one, the Cavs were reportedly "blown away" by his workout with the team:
Then again, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports tweeted that the big man is having some major issues with his foot:
This shouldn't prevent the Cavs from getting Embiid, as he's good enough to stash for a year—similar to how the Philadelphia 76ers handled Nerlens Noel.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
Alex Boeder of Bucks.com thinks that Andrew Wiggins is the best pick at No. 2 for the Bucks:
One way or another, Wiggins always seems to end up as the top-rated basketball prospect in the world. This has been going on for a while now, and that is a good sign. He would also be the splashiest draft pick, sell a lot of jerseys, bring some national exposure to the city, and perhaps reignite the local fan base at just the right time, coinciding with the ownership refresh.
Indeed, Wiggins is the most talented prospect in the draft. His ceiling is the highest, and the Bucks will reap the benefits of his development in a few years.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
Jabari Parker is the most NBA-ready scorer in this class. Pairing him with Michael Carter-Williams will give the 76ers a young, dynamic one-two punch. Parker's offensive versatility also makes this a wise pick, as he can play both power forward and a little bit of shooting guard given his flexibility on the court.
4. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, PG, Australia
Dante Exum fits too well with the Magic. Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher thinks so as well:
Exum and Victor Oladipo will form a strong tandem in the backcourt. Arron Afflalo, a player probably best suited to come off the bench, will now be able to do so.
5. Utah Jazz: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
The Jazz are in a strange position at No. 5. There is plenty of talent available, but most of it is in the form of frontcourt players. Utah already has a young frontcourt in Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors.
They can add to that wealth of big men with Noah Vonleh, who apparently knows a whole lot about the franchise:
Vonleh is a great athlete who can also hit shots from deep. He'll add a different dimension to the frontcourt.
6. Boston Celtics: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
The Celtics and Aaron Gordon have mutual interest in a union on draft night, so don't be surprised if Gordon is the next high-flyer to play in Boston.
Gordon reminds me a lot of Blake Griffin early in his career. He doesn't have a refined offensive game, but he's incredibly athletic and can make every single play above the rim.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
Marcus Smart is the right pick for the Lakers. They'll need a point guard when Steve Nash calls it quits, and Smart can learn from one of the best ever before he hangs them up.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles tweeted that that Lakers were impressed with Smart's workout:
This is another one of those picks that just makes sense.
8. Sacramento Kings: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
Julius Randle is one of the most NBA-ready talents in this class. He is a physical beast who doesn't mind bumping bodies in the paint. He scores well with his back to the basket because of his physicality, and he also uses it for help on the defensive end. Randle is a strong rebounder and capable shot-blocker.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Doug McDermott, PF, Creighton
Doug McDermott was a power forward in college, but he'll need to make the transition to small forward at the next level. He isn't physical enough to bump down low with NBA power forwards. That said, he might not be quick enough to keep up with small forwards, either.
Regardless, the Hornets will draft McDermott for his offensive upside. The guy can drain it from anywhere.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Gary Harris, PG/SG, Michigan State
Gary Harris is a smart pick for the Sixers at No. 10. He plays very good defense on the perimeter, and his scoring ability is very good as well. With MCW and Parker running the show, Harris can fly a bit under the radar and continue his development. Unlike Parker, Harris will need time to acclimate.
11. Denver Nuggets: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
I like to think of Dario Saric as a poor man's Parker. He can score, distribute the ball and run the floor pretty well, but he needs some seasoning in the United States before the Nuggets can really rely on him.
12. Orlando Magic: James Young, SG, Kentucky
A strong shooter capable of shouldering the load on offense, James Young will give the Magic even more depth in the backcourt. Perhaps this makes Afflalo expendable, or perhaps it gives the Magic two solid rotational players to provide fresh legs in late minutes.
Regardless, the Magic wouldn't be wrong to take another guard at No. 12.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
Adreian Payne is the smartest choice for the Timberwolves. The power forward can step back and shoot the three, but he can also play under the basket and grab rebounds. Payne was a leader at Michigan State, and he can provide that same leadership in Minnesota—even during his rookie campaign.
14. Phoenix Suns: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
Could there be a draft promise that we've yet to hear about?
Nik Stauskas is the best pure shooter in this class. The Michigan product isn't just a spot-up guy, however, as he has shown the ability to create off the dribble as well. Every great team needs a shooter.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Jordan Clarkson, PG/SG, Missouri
Jordan Clarkson was one of the most productive guards in the SEC last season at Missouri after sitting out the year before as a transfer. While it may be surprising to see him go so high, the Hawks won't be making a poor decision if they follow through with this projection. Clarkson can score and distribute, making him a good fit.
16. Chicago Bulls: Zach LaVine, PG/SG, UCLA
Zach LaVine has too high of a ceiling to pass up at No. 16. Arguably one of the top athletes this year, LaVine can jump out of the gym and provide the Bulls with some excitement next season.
He projects as a future starter at either guard position, but it might take some time for his game to fully develop in the NBA. A deep team like Chicago can offer him the time necessary to adjust.
17. Boston Celtics: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
Tyler Ennis is most famous for the above shot against Pittsburgh, but the point guard is a very good floor general and team leader.
Nobody in the world—not even general manager Danny Ainge—knows what's going to happen with Rajon Rondo in the future. Will he be a Celtic? If he stays, then Ennis gives the Celtics a one-two punch. If he goes, then Ennis can take over.
18. Phoenix Suns: T.J. Warren, SF, N.C. State
The Suns are still technically rebuilding even if they were ahead of schedule last season. They need players who don't need time to develop, and one such player is T.J. Warren. The N.C. State product knows how to put the ball in the basket from anywhere on the court.
He can shoot from deep, play in the paint and even blow passed defenders.
19. Chicago Bulls: Rodney Hood, SF, Duke
The Bulls need a wing player who can defend and also shoot. Rodney Hood is that guy—if he's still available at No. 19.
Hood fits the team mentality given to the Bulls by head coach Tom Thibodeau. By playing good defense and capitalizing on open looks, this team can contend in 2014-15.
20. Toronto Raptors: Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse
Jerami Grant is an intriguing prospect in that he has the athleticism to succeed but hasn't shown the consistency necessary to convince NBA GMs that he's ready for the next step.
An up-and-coming team like the Raptors might be willing to take a chance on his athleticism, especially given the fact that DeMar DeRozan was in a similar situation during his rookie year.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA
The Thunder have the luxury of using their two picks in Round 1 to strengthen their depth, and the first move they'll make is to select UCLA small forward Kyle Anderson.
A tall, lanky player, Anderson can learn how to succeed in the NBA with that frame from the best lanky player in the world, Kevin Durant.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn
It's hard to project where Shabazz Napier will end up, but I keep coming to the Grizzlies as the most logical fit. Napier is ready for the NBA, but the Grizzlies won't thrust him into action right away. With Mike Conley entrenched at point guard, Napier will adjust to the pros as a rotational player.
This will make him ready to answer the call as a starter when he gets it.
23. Utah Jazz: C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington
C.J. Wilcox has climbed up draft boards since earlier in the offseason. His best fit is likely in Utah, and Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune tweeted about his strong workout with the Jazz:
That type of shooter can help any team in the NBA.
24. Charlotte Hornets: P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends
Jonathan Jones of The Charlotte Observer tweets that P.J. Hairston has now worked out twice for the Hornets:
This could mean one of two things. For one, it could simply mean that the Hornets loved him so much that they wanted to see him again. Or it could mean that they weren't sure of his talent and simply wanted to reevaluate him.
Either way, Hairston is clearly on Charlotte's radar.
25. Houston Rockets: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
The Rockets are still a so-so defensive team. They can upgrade defensively with K.J. McDaniels.
McDaniels also fits their offensive scheme, though, as he's a wing player who loves to run the floor and make plays in transition. A decent shooter, McDaniels makes most of his best plays near the basket.
26. Miami Heat: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
Mid-major star Elfrid Payton is well-known among teams but poorly known among fans. That'll change after he's drafted, as I fully believe that Payton will put the NBA on notice. This kid is a very good facilitator and will give the Heat their replacement to Mario Chalmers.
27. Phoenix Suns: Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
Clint Capela's ability to run the floor as a big man makes him an attractive option for teams in the back-half of Round 1. The Suns, having already drafted a shooting guard and small forward in the first round, will look to this power forward at No. 27.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Cleanthony Early, SF/PF, Wichita State
The Clippers have arguably the best depth in the NBA (outside of San Antonio). They'll look for a player capable of playing multiple positions who can stretch the floor. Cleanthony Early fits that description.
While too small (6'7") to be a full-time power forward, Early's frame is suited well for small forward.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Mitch McGary, C, Michigan
Mitch McGary didn't play all that much last season for Michigan, but his showing during March Madness two seasons ago is enough to convince me that he's worth a first-round pick. While he probably won't dominate right away, the Thunder don't necessarily need him to. They just need him to grab rebounds and defend.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
At 6'11", 280 pounds, Jusuf Nurkic is a monster of a human. It's hard to project the Bosnian product given his lack of footwork, but Nurkic can really go anywhere in this draft. It all depends on which teams value him highly.
I like his fit with the Spurs. He can learn from Tim Duncan before the Big Fundamental calls it quits.