After months of anticipation, less than a week remains before the 2014 NBA draft officially begins.
Despite the short amount of time, several shakeups are expected to happen. One that happened on Thursday afternoon was of course the announcement that Joel Embiid had to undergo foot surgery on Friday.
Though the big man likely won't see his stock dip too drastically, going from No. 1 overall to outside of the top five is still a big fall. For several other prospects, it means new possibilities as some jump into the top five for the first time during the process.
With the draft finally starting on Thursday night, here's the latest mock look at the entire first round.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF, Kansas
Is he or isn't he? After going into the 2013-14 college season with Kansas, it appeared Andrew Wiggins was the clear cut No. 1 pick until teammate Joel Embiid emerged as the top contender to his throne.
Now, Wiggins should yet again be the clear-cut favorite to go to the Cleveland Cavaliers with the first selection in the draft. Not only is he the most talented player, but he also fits the Cavs, as Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer notes:
Wiggins is a better fit for the Cavs in terms of position, because he can play small forward or shooting guard. The Cavs need help at both spots.
Now, the Cavs should concentrate on the Parker/Wiggins debate, letting the other teams ponder Embiid's medical reports.
Given the current scenario with the Cavaliers, Wiggins looks like the best option. While he's not as polished as Jabari Parker, he presents much more upside and is clearly the better prospect on the defensive end.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker, SF/PF, Duke
After slightly beating down Parker, let's build him back up just a bit. Though he doesn't quite have the defensive abilities of either Wiggins or Embiid, the young man looks the part of a top NBA prospect.
While some facets of his game need work, he'll fit right in alongside a player like Giannis Antetokounmpo. Mixing athleticism with offensive skill, both 19-year-old players will shine for a Bucks team that needs a glimmer of hope for the future.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia
One man's loss is another's gain.
The news of Embiid's injury clearly hurts the Cameroon center, but it helps an international player who never started a game for a college program. Dante Exum is still somewhat of an unknown commodity, but Nate Duncan of Basketball Insiders still believes he is deserving of a high draft selection:
It is hard to imagine that he won’t at least be excellent at getting to the basket, although whoever drafts him must be patient. With the sad news of Joel Embiid’s navicular stress fracture, Exum deserves a hard look at high as number two in the draft. The question is whether any decision-makers would be willing to pull the trigger on the unknown international prospect over the better-known names in this draft. He could be Darko Milicic, or he could be worth it. I lean toward the latter evaluation.
Thanks to having an already established young player in Michael Carter-Williams at the point, the Philadelphia 76ers look like the perfect franchise for Exum. Given time and patience, the Australian prospect has a chance to shine alongside MCW before potentially overtaking him in the future.
4. Orlando Magic: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
With Embiid's injury, other big men now get a chance to rise, and Noah Vonleh now finds himself inside the top four. While the Orlando Magic would have loved to get their hands on Exum, Vonleh is a physical freak who has a chance to break out with a healthy Nikola Vucevic and Victor Oladipo.
5. Utah Jazz: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
Utah could take a chance on Embiid, but given his supreme athleticism, Aaron Gordon is the safe pick for the Jazz at No. 5 overall. Pairing Gordon with Derrick Favors and having Trey Burke running the point, the Jazz might finally be putting together a team that could contend in the Western Conference in the not-too-distant future.
6. Boston Celtics: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
While they made a deal to acquire Kelly Olynyk last season, the Boston Celtics won't pass up the chance to add depth at the center position.
Following his foot surgery, Embiid's chances at going in the top five took a dramatic hit, as Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv notes:
The 7'0" Cameroon center saw his draft stock fall after the foot injury, but he still might end up in a good situation in Boston. With a chance to wait in the wings, Embiid might be a future All-Star for the Celtics if he can remain healthy.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
Despite all of the shake up in the top 10 so far, one selection remains the same. Marcus Smart and the Los Angeles Lakers are simply a match made in Heaven, and one that will no doubt happen if the point guard is still on the board.
8. Sacramento Kings: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
After a series of workouts with a number of teams, Elfrid Payton has seen his draft stock rise drastically. With a mix of athleticism and great vision on the court, Payton has the look of another outstanding mid-major prospect ready to shine at the NBA level.
Adam Kennedy of Basketball Insiders points out where Payton currently stands ahead of Thursday night:
Though he still has work to do on his jump shot, Payton will be given a chance to learn behind the Kings' Isaiah Thomas or take over the role if Thomas is traded. Either way, Payton will be a star at the next level and the Kings won't pass up on taking the prospect.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Doug McDermott, SF/PF Creighton
The new-look Charlotte Hornets need instant offense to compete in the Eastern Conference. By adding Doug McDermott, all Kemba Walker has to do is find him on the court to put points on the board.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
The 2014 NBA draft just became a dream for Sixers fan.
If Exum can materialize alongside MCW and Julius Randle can create offense down low, this might just be a Eastern Conference team to watch in the next few years. Unlike Embiid, Randle said there's nothing wrong with his foot heading into the draft, per Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune:
"I did my homework and spoke to the best foot doctor we have in the country," Randle said. "There’s no issue with my foot. I got through five workouts. I’m good, ready to go through summer league wherever I am. That’s all I know. I don’t know anything about a surgery."
That won't stop some teams from taking the safer bet with players like Vonleh or Gordon higher in the first round. But with Randle still on the board, the 76ers will snatch up the top prospect and prove why he was once considered a top-five lock.
11. Denver Nuggets: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
Word is that the Denver Nuggets are looking to trade this pick, but Nik Stauskas will be the pick if they keep it. An elite shooter throughout his tenure at Michigan, the non-Belieber might either be a star with the Nuggets or a great trading chip.
12. Orlando Magic: Rodney Hood, SG/SF, Duke
Starring alongside Jabari Parker during his lone season on the court with Duke, Rodney Hood is a promising offensive weapon. With slightly better defensive skills than Parker, Hood could emerge as an excellent complement to Oladipo and possibly Vonleh.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Dario Saric, SF/PF, Croatia
Yet another unknown prospect, Dario Saric thrived against grown men in Croatia. The big man has the potential to play either forward position, but might be asked to step up in the paint if the Minnesota Timberwolves ultimately lose Kevin Love.
14. Phoenix Suns: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
Following a season in which he emerged as a freshman in a tough ACC to prominence, Tyler Ennis will find himself just inside the lottery.
Draft Express provides a scouting report for the young point guard:
Ennis' playmaking ability is what separates him from other players in this draft class. He is one of the few “pure point guards” you can point to, as he led the NCAA in PPR as a freshman, posting a rate 50% higher than the next best PG. Ennis plays with a maturity beyond his years, as he operates at his own pace, is incredibly unselfish, and is always under control. He whips the ball all over the floor with great timing, moving the ball ahead for easy transition baskets, making pinpoint post-entry passes, and doing a tremendous job executing the pick and roll thanks to his superb ball-handling skills and court vision.
The Phoenix Suns have a plethora of draft picks, giving them a chance to, well, take a chance on a player. If Ennis materializes, learning behind a player like Eric Bledsoe gives him time to prepare to take over in the future.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
An outstanding shooter and defender, Gary Harris will fall to a team with hopes of returning to the playoffs. After falling to the Indiana Pacers in first round of playoffs, the Atlanta Hawks will add yet another player who can help them return to the postseason.
16. Chicago Bulls: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
A big man who can shoot from anywhere on the floor and create scoring opportunities in the paint—that pretty much defines Adreian Payne. Oh, and he can defend. Thanks to an already great team that simply needs all of its players healthy at the same time, the Chicago Bulls will take a chance on the versatile forward.
17. Boston Celtics: Zach LaVine, PG/SG, UCLA
One of the fastest risers in the 2014 class, Zach LaVine will find a home with the Boston Celtics. After taking a chance on Embiid, adding the dynamic LaVine would give the Celtics two great building blocks for the future of the franchise.
18. Phoenix Suns: T.J. Warren, SF, North Carolina State
During his two years at N.C. State, T.J. Warren found myriad ways to score. After a freshman season where he had to create his own opportunities, Warren was the lead man and ACC Player of the Year as a sophomore.
Warren is clearly a prospect on the rise, as Kennedy explains:
Initially, he was being projected as a late-first round pick – an attractive prospect for a win-now team like the Houston Rockets, Miami HEAT or Oklahoma City Thunder. Now, you’re starting to see Warren projected to go just outside of the lottery, with teams like the Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns being mentioned as possible landing spots for Warren.
One executive whose team is picking in the late-20s recently told me that they would select Warren in a heartbeat if he fell to them, but that there’s “no way” he’ll be available when they’re on the clock.
Though he will still need to develop as a small forward after playing a more hybrid position with the Wolfpack, Warren will shine in Phoenix. With a knack for scoring, the N.C. State product will make an immediate impact with the Suns.
19. Chicago Bulls: James Young, SG/SF, Kentucky
James Young has plenty of time to grow in the NBA, and the Bulls will give him that time after selecting an more seasoned rookie in Payne earlier in the draft. While Chicago might deal this pick along with the 16th for a veteran scorer, Young would be a great option for the Bulls if they keep it.
20. Toronto Raptors: Jerami Grant, SF/PF, Syracuse
Following a successful season for the Toronto Raptors, the team is still in need of another big man alongside Jonas Valanciunas.
DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry have shown glimpses of being future stars in the league, and adding Jerami Grant would give the team another talented prospect. The 20-year-old still needs work on his jump shot, but will find open opportunities alongside DeRozan and Lowry.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: P.J. Hairston, SG, UNC/Texas Legends
Given his history, taking a gamble on P.J. Hairston might scare away several franchises. But with plenty of superstars already on the roster, the Oklahoma City Thunder can afford to bring the great shooter with the No. 21 selection.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia and Herzegovina
As usual, foreign players are risky at best. But with the size that Jusuf Nurkic provides and the skill he's shown on tape against the best international teams, the huge Bosnian should one day make an impact for the Memphis Grizzlies.
23. Utah Jazz: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
Taking a big man earlier in the draft allows the Jazz to think outside of the box with the No. 23 pick. K.J. McDaniels offers much more than just a great offensive player. He's one of the best all-around prospects in the class.
He's emerged as one of the best players in the ACC. ... If you just look at his size (6-foot-6, 200-pounds), his frame, his athleticism and how much he's improved as a perimeter shooter and a ball-handler, he's got a lot of things going for him as an NBA prospect. We may be ahead of the curve here, but I think people will catch up eventually to the kind of prospect he is.
One of the most talented players in the ACC last season, McDaniels will make an immediate impact at the NBA level. Thanks to his great play on both ends of the floor, Utah might just might take one of the most underrated players in the class with the No. 23 selection.
24. Charlotte Hornets: Kyle Anderson, PG/SF, UCLA
The Hornets already have a point guard of the future in Walker, but taking a player who can handle the ball and play off the dribble would be perfect. Kyle Anderson is a perfect blend of both at 6'8" with point guard potential—players like that don't come around often.
25. Houston Rockets: Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA
James Harden already has the shooting guard position locked down, but the Houston Rockets will look to add depth with Jordan Adams. The 19-year-old will be given a chance to learn under Harden and quickly produce behind the All-Star.
26. Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
Doubts about the point guard position for the Miami Heat were apparent during the NBA Finals, so they will likely be looking to add depth or an upgrade over Mario Chalmers. A player like Shabazz Napier not only bolsters the lineup, but he also brings flash that a player like Chalmers hasn't shown on a consistent basis.
Chalmers is a free agent this summer and could be picked up by another franchise. If Napier is still available, the Heat would add a player who can not only run the point but also create his own shot on an already elite team.
27. Phoenix Suns: Clint Capela, PF/C, Switzerland
Clint Capela is a phenomenal defender, a guy who effectively clogs the paint, and would fit perfectly with Mason Plumlee in the frontcourt. After adding a player like Warren to create instant offense, Capela makes a lot of sense.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
After starting for Wichita State and shining on the big stage in the NCAA tournament, Cleanthony Early will bring an underdog style to the NBA. While he played power forward at Wichita State, the 6'8", 216-pound Early projects better at the 3 in the NBA.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Mitch McGary, C, Michigan
The departure of one foreign center has given Mitch McGary the chance to sneak into the first round. When Kristaps Porzingis withdrew from the draft, McGary saw the biggest jump due to his position.
The Thunder can once again afford to take a chance on a big man whose a fringe first-rounder. While McGary will certainly need more polish to produce a nightly basis at the next level, the former Michigan standout certainly has the talent.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Jordan Clarkson, PG/SG, Missouri
It's just so unfortunate that the San Antonio Spurs have to pick at the very end of the first round. But with so much talent already on the roster, is it really a necessity for the now five-time champions to worry about the draft?
Yes, because this is exactly where Gregg Popovich separates his team from every other franchise. Acquiring a player like Jordan Clarkson gives the Spurs a dynamic prospect who can develop at either guard position.
While both Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are prominent backcourt players, Clarkson can take over for either in the future.
All height/weight information courtesy of NBADraft.net.
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