The 2014 NBA draft is one of the deepest we've had in years, and as such, it's pretty difficult to pinpoint where the top players will land.
There are more than a few guys who could go No. 1, multiple who are qualified for the top three and a handful of guys who you could make a case for in the lottery. This makes it difficult for teams to decide.
Unfortunately, NBA franchises are running out of time to analyze. Workouts, interviews and scouting reports are now being compiled in an effort to find the best fit for each individual franchise.
What will happen on draft day? We obviously won't know until it happens, but here are the latest rumors that might give us an idea of where some of the top prospects might land.
Jabari Parker is a near lock for the top three on draft day. Chad Ford of ESPN (insider required) reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers were interested in him at No. 1 before it appeared as if he tanked his workout with the team:
Sources close to the Cavs told ESPN.com this weekend that the team is now leaning toward taking Parker with the No. 1 pick. However, it's far from a lock. Parker came in to work out on Friday in front of the Cavs' front office and ownership. Parker wasn't great. He was a bit heavy (he weighed in at 255 pounds), didn't shoot the ball well and got winded at times. Furthermore, two different sources told ESPN.com that Parker seemed a bit indifferent. One source said he thought Parker "tanked" the workout.
Why? A source says he strongly prefers to play in Milwaukee. The Cavs appear to be aware of this. "Jabari wasn't himself," one source said. "It was clear we weren't his first option."
Before we go any further, let's just assume that Parker didn't tank. He had a bad day. That workout certainly won't be good enough for the Cavs to take him No. 1. Andrew Wiggins, on the other hand, would probably go with that pick.
Now, let's say he did tank the workout. Such a strategy is definitely the way to not get picked by a team, as it's pretty insulting to a franchise that is taking the time to look at a player for the top overall selection.
Other franchises should take note. I'm not suggesting that Parker has character issues or even that he has a lack of commitment. All I'm saying is that he's already trying to control where he goes. In today's NBA, top players try to dictate where they play all too frequently.
Regardless, Parker is actually a good fit for the Milwaukee Bucks. The team needs some instant offense, and Parker is really the only prospect that can provide that.
The Boston Celtics can really do no wrong with the No. 6 pick. All of the prospects projected to go in that range are impact guys, and that's what this storied franchise really needs. Aaron Gordon and Marcus Smart are in the mix, but Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe tweeted another name to throw into the hat:
NBA source said #celtics are very high on Indiana's Noah Vonleh and he's moved into preferred group with Aaron Gordon and Marcus Smart— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) June 21, 2014
Vonleh has great length and athleticism. While a power forward, Vonleh can stretch the floor with his perimeter shooting and decent handle. He's not someone you want to facilitate your offense, but he won't kill you with a ton of turnovers when the ball is in his hands.
While you can't fault the Celtics for keeping their eyes on Smart and Vonleh, I think this pick is a no-brainer. If Gordon is available, the Celtics have to take him.
As Washburn puts it, he might just be the next Blake Griffin:
Gordon is very raw offensively. So was Griffin when he came out of Oklahoma. The two are freak athletes who play high above the rim and defend more than adequately.
Passing up on a talent like Gordon would be foolish. The relationship that Griffin and Chris Paul have in Los Angeles could easily be duplicated by Gordon and Rajon Rondo in a few years.
Coming from a mid-major in Louisiana-Lafayette, analysts first had a hard time projecting interest in point guard Elfrid Payton. Many mocks have teams taking him late in Round 1, but Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports tweeted that Payton might go much, much higher than anyone anticipated:
Keep eye on Louisiana Lafayette point guard Elfrid Payton, who is working out for Lakers for 2nd time Friday, a source told a Yahoo Sports.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) June 17, 2014
I, for one, would be shocked to see Payton go No. 7 overall to the Los Angeles Lakers. It's not that Payton is a bad player, but there are so many other impact players who will inevitably be available at that point in the draft.
The only logical way this happens is if both Smart and Dante Exum are off the board by No. 7 and the Lakers really aren't satisfied with the bevy of power forwards that are available.
Payton is the consensus No. 3 point guard in this class, but he's a tier below Smart and Exum. That's why it's so interesting to hear that the Lakers might be willing to invest an early pick on him.
Of course, the potential is there. It just might not be realized for a few seasons. Payton has the advantage of learning from Steve Nash next season, so that will certainly help in his development as well.
This is something to monitor in the coming days.
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