The 2014 NBA draft is just a few days away, and it's becoming clear which prospects are most likely to land with certain teams in the first round.
The likeliest picks for each team are based off the players likely to be available with each selection, and how they fit the team's scheme and needs. The player that makes the most sense and is the best fit is the one that the teams will most likely bring in.
The big news that shook up the draft recently was Joel Embiid's foot injury. According to Adrian Wojnarowski from Yahoo Sports, Embiid had to have two screws inserted into his right foot, and it'll take him four to six months to recover, likely hurting his draft stock.
With the recent injury to Embiid, below is a look at a first-round mock draft based off what teams are most likely to do.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
With the recent news surrounding Embiid, the choice for No. 1 overall is a little easier for the Cleveland Cavaliers, as they should go with Andrew Wiggins. He's been the most talked about prospect in this draft since he was in high school, and his athleticism was on display constantly while at Kansas. He has to work on his jumper a bit, but his superstar-caliber potential makes him an easy choice here.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia
The backcourt for the Milwaukee Bucks could use some more talent, and while they may want Jabari Parker here, it would make more sense to leave the small forward position open for Giannis Antetokounmpo to eventually grow into. By taking Dante Exum here, they could get another versatile guard to pair with Brandon Knight and help open up the offense.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
After Evan Turner was traded to the Indiana Pacers, the Philadelphia 76ers couldn't get anything to go offensively. By taking Jabari Parker, the Sixers would have a pro-ready scorer who can score in a variety of ways. The pressure would be taken off Michael Carter-Williams, who could focus more on running the offense and finding open teammates than trying to force things.
4. Orlando Magic: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Others have Embiid falling further than this, but considering his talent level, the Orlando Magic are going to have a very hard time passing on the talented center. Nikola Vucevic may be gone after this season, and if he can stay healthy, Embiid's athleticism and length could make him a future All-Star at the position.
5. Utah Jazz: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
The Utah Jazz will have their choice of a few power forwards, but they should take Noah Vonleh here. He's got plenty of length and a frame in which he could add more muscle, but he's already proven he's a versatile threat on offense as well as an underrated prospect on defense.
6. Boston Celtics: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
After averaging just 92.6 points per game last season, it's clear that the Boston Celtics need to add more offensive help to take the pressure off Rajon Rondo. Julius Randle may be a bit undersized as a power forward, but he was a double-double machine at Kentucky with an impressive offensive game.
The fact Randle depends so much on going to his left is a concern, as one scout pointed out, according to Grantland's Ryen Russillo, saying:
He goes one way, tries to knock everyone over. He’s so left-hand dominant it was comical. If you put him in a gym by himself, could he make a right-handed layup? He’s a good athlete but didn’t always use it. A lot of his stuff, offensively, won’t work in the NBA. It’s going to be a huge adjustment for him.
Still, he looks like a potential threat down low, and the Celtics need all of the help that they can get in their frontcourt.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
Kobe Bryant is coming back and the Los Angeles Lakers will have a lot of cap room with the potential to bring in another star, but they still need to add a new floor general. Marcus Smart isn't going to be the best distributor as a point guard, but he's a strong scorer and a vocal leader that would mesh well with Kobe in the backcourt.
8. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
There have been a ton of comparisons to Blake Griffin when talking about Aaron Gordon because they're both athletic and throw down big dunks, but the former Arizona Wildcat isn't the same player. He has some great court vision to help find open teammates, knowing when to pass and when to shoot.
The Sacramento Kings need someone to pair with DeMarcus Cousins down low, and Gordon would be a good fit.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Doug McDermott, SF/PF, Creighton
Even though he probably won't be able to play power forward in the NBA, Doug McDermott's game translates well to the NBA as a small forward. Before you claim that he's not athletic enough to contain other small forwards, Adam Levitan from Rotoworld pointed out that McDermott's vertical was actually higher than Exum's:
McDermott led the NCAA in scoring last season, and he was extremely efficient in doing so. He has a beautiful jump shot while also being able to score down low, giving the Charlotte Hornets a key piece on the wing to help them go back to the playoffs next season.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Thanks to a second pick in the top 10, the Sixers can add more help for their weak offense. Gary Harris was a proven perimeter shooter as a freshman, but Tom Izzo helped him develop a more solid game heading to the basket, making him a more versatile scorer. With Carter-Williams, Harris, Parker and Nerlens Noel, the Sixers could start making some noise in the next couple of years.
11. Denver Nuggets: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
Few prospects have a more clean-looking shot than Nik Stauskas. He's an excellent perimeter shooter with a deadly quick release. The Denver Nuggets could use another shooting guard, and with Ty Lawson running the offense, he could find an open Stauskas for more than a few three-pointers next season.
12. Orlando Magic: Rodney Hood, SF, Duke
The Magic can use their second pick to add some more help on offense. Rodney Hood is the next best scorer in this draft, proving that he's a great perimeter scorer this past season at Duke. If he could become a better ball-handler, Hood could be a force to be reckoned with, but his ability to score from anywhere will make him an instant asset for Orlando.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
It's only a matter of time before Kevin Love is gone, and the Minnesota Timberwolves need to prepare to find his replacement. Adreian Payne isn't going to be on the same level as Love, but his skill set is similar. He's a solid shooter who can explode at the rim and has enough length to give opposing big men trouble down low. If he hits the weight room, he'll be a tough offensive threat to deal with.
14. Phoenix Suns: James Young, SF, Kentucky
The Phoenix Suns are going to have a lot of fun in this year's draft, as they'll get to work with three first-round picks. After winning 48 games last season and narrowly missing the postseason, they should have a chance to make it into the playoffs next year if these picks pan out.
James Young is an appealing target for the Suns. He has a pro-ready jump shot with a smooth stroke, making him an interesting spot-up shooter for the Suns to work with, especially with Goran Dragic running the offense.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Dario Saric, SF, Croatia
With some aging veterans, the Atlanta Hawks should consider trying to rebuild for the future, and that might mean taking a player that will wait some time before coming to the NBA. Coming out of Croatia, Dario Saric could have been a potential top-10 pick, but according to ESPN's Chad Ford, he's signed a three-year deal overseas with the Anadolu Efes, and he won't come to the NBA for at least two years:
Still, Saric is a versatile small forward who has excellent ball-handling skills and the ability to create his own shot. He's quickly working on his perimeter game as well, and with a couple of years overseas he could become an impressive player once he comes to the Association.
16. Chicago Bulls: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
This pick is almost a no-brainer. With Kirk Hinrich and D.J. Augustin hitting free agency, the Chicago Bulls need a backup point guard behind Derrick Rose. Tyler Ennis is an all-around pro-ready point guard who was extremely mature for a freshman at Syracuse. At only 19 years old, he's going to keep getting better—and that's a scary thought.
17. Boston Celtics: T.J. Warren, SF, N.C. State
After taking Randle with their first pick, the Celtics could add T.J. Warren and get another pro-ready scorer. Warren averaged 24.9 points per game with the Wolfpack last season as a sophomore, shooting 52.5 percent from the field. He isn't the best jump shooter, but he knows how to get inside and score consistently, which is exactly what the Celtics need.
18. Phoenix Suns: Zach LaVine, SG, UCLA
The Suns can afford to take a chance here. Zach LaVine declared earlier than he probably should have out of UCLA, as he's still developing. However, his athleticism makes it hard to argue with his decision, as he posted a 46-inch vertical at a recent Lakers workout.
LaVine has a nice-looking jumper that he needs to work on, but the upside is there for him to become a force and potentially replace Eric Bledsoe if the veteran doesn't return.
19. Chicago Bulls: Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
Defensively, the Bulls are in good shape, but they had a league-low 93.7 points per game this past season, which means that they need some scorers. Cleanthony Early will have to move from power to small forward in the NBA, but his athleticism makes him a threat in transition and a solid mid-range jumper will help him make an impact early in Chicago.
20. Toronto Raptors: Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA
A promising season ended earlier than they hoped in Toronto, but the Raptors have potential, especially if Kyle Lowry comes back. They could use some more versatility, which is where Kyle Anderson comes in. He's a 6'9'' small forward with ridiculous ball-handling skills along with court vision and the ability to find open teammates, giving him the option to play point forward.
Anderson isn't going to wow anyone with athleticism or the ability to light up the scoreboard, but his versatility is hard to ignore.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: P.J. Hairston, SG, NBA D-League
As Thabo Sefolosha and Caron Butler get ready to become free agents, the Oklahoma City Thunder need to look at their options at shooting guard. After a year in the NBA D-League, P.J. Hairston proved to be a pro-ready scorer, especially on the perimeter, and with the limited scoring options the Thunder have, he'd be a welcome addition.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana Lafayette
Potentially one of the most underrated prospects in this draft, Elfrid Payton flew under the radar at Louisiana Lafayette. Still, what he did this past season was pretty impressive, averaging 19.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game while shooting 50.9 percent. According to ESPN's Jeff Goodman, Payton proved himself in a Sacramento workout by holding his own against Smart:
The Memphis Grizzlies need a backup behind Mike Conley, and Payton could be that backup to provide a spark when needed.
23. Utah Jazz: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
According to NBA Stats, the Jazz had the worst defensive rating in the league this past year. To fix that, they could bring in K.J. McDaniels, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He's got great length and is an excellent shot-blocker, averaging 2.8 swats per game last year. Richard Jefferson is on the final year of his deal, so McDaniels could replace him and quickly become the team's best defender.
24. Charlotte Hornets: Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
Steve Clifford loves to focus on defense, which is why he'll be tempted to bring in Clint Capela. At 6'11'', Capela is a lengthy defender down low who can crash the boards and defend the rim. He'll be a project that might spend another year or two overseas, but the move could pay huge dividends down the road.
25. Houston Rockets: C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington
Considering the Houston Rockets have one of the best offenses in the NBA, it's a bit of a surprise that they're bench isn't that productive. The Rockets need someone to back up James Harden and provide a spark off the bench. The right move would be taking C.J. Wilcox to fill that role, as he's an excellent shooter, especially behind the arc, who could put up points in bunches coming off of the bench.
26. Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
Mario Chalmers is likely gone after his terrible performance in the NBA Finals, and considering Norris Cole has the only guaranteed contract for the Miami Heat next season, they could use another point guard. Shabazz Napier isn't the tallest prospect, but he's a competent floor general and a electrifying scorer that can create his own shot.
27. Phoenix Suns: Jerami Grant, SF/PF, Syracuse
Offensively, Jerami Grant is still a work in progress, but he's an athletic and explosive player near the rim who uses his length to crash the boards and play stifling defense. He'll need to work on his ball-handling and jumper, but Grant could come in to Phoenix and work on his offense while not having to worry about being a go-to guy.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Patric Young, PF/C, Florida
The Los Angeles Clippers have two of the most intimidating players in the league down low, but they lack frontcourt depth. While not the offensive threat Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are, Patric Young is an incredibly strong prospect who is a shutdown defender with the potential to develop his offense game. At the very least, he'll be able to score points off alley-oop passes that the Clippers use so often.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan
Kevin Durant is the reigning MVP, but the Thunder still need a reliable backup behind him that can get things going offensively. Glenn Robinson III is a great athlete who's still blossoming, and he's already a legitimate threat in transition or near the rim. Once he becomes more comfortable creating his own shot, Robinson could become a valuable backup behind Durant.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA
The shooting guard position isn't a huge need for the San Antonio Spurs, but they could still use another scorer in the backcourt once Manu Ginobili calls it quits. Jordan Adams is a polished perimeter scorer who also does a nice job driving to the lane. With Gregg Popovich as his coach, he'll be able to reach his full potential.
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