The 2014 NBA draft is approaching fast—it’s scheduled for Thursday, June 26, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York—and the excitement for the first round is growing with the release of each updated mock draft.
With the foot injury to Joel Embiid (Dan Feldman of ProBasketballTalk.com interviewed a doctor to explain exactly what the surgery and recovery process mean for his long-term ability), the top half of the first round has been altered greatly.
Here is the updated look at the first 30 picks in the NBA draft.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
While it was clear that the Cleveland Cavaliers were seriously interested in Embiid before his foot surgery, the franchise must go in another direction now. The player with the most upside in this draft now is Kansas small forward Andrew Wiggins, and if the team doesn’t get a healthy trade offer, this will be a wise move for the future.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
The most NBA-ready player in the 2014 draft class is Duke small forward Jabari Parker. Not only is he one of the most physically gifted prospects coming out this year, but he is also one of the smartest players available on and off the court.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia
Australian guard Dante Exum is one of the smartest players in the draft as well, but he is rougher around the edges than Parker. On the plus side, Parker has reached his ceiling physically, but Exum has plenty of room for growth on a young team like the Philadelphia 76ers.
4. Orlando Magic: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
Since the departure of Dwight Howard, the Orlando Magic have lacked an inside presence who can defend and dominate around the rim. Kentucky power forward Julius Randle will need a chance to acclimate to the league, but he has the raw talent to be an impact player.
5. Utah Jazz: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
The Utah Jazz had one of the greatest point guards in history with John Stockton, but the franchise needs a dynamic player like that again. The best pure point guard in the 2014 class is Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart.
6. Boston Celtics: Aaron Gordon, SF/PF, Arizona
There are several franchises that will be looking to draft the best player available in order to begin the rebuilding process, and the Boston Celtics are one of those teams. The best player on the board at No. 6 overall would be Arizona forward Aaron Gordon.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
Veteran shooting guard Kobe Bryant isn’t getting any younger. The Los Angeles Lakers need a player who can be a consistent shooter off the bench to alleviate some of the pressure on Bryant, and Creighton small forward Doug McDermott would fill the need to perfection.
8. Sacramento Kings: Noah Vonleh, PF/C, Indiana
Adding more size in the low post should be a major priority for the Sacramento Kings during the draft, and there is no better option on the board at No. 9 overall than Indiana big man Noah Vonleh.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Adding the best player available will be the correct plan of attack for the Charlotte Hornets on draft day, and the franchise should be thinking about taking gifted Michigan State shooting guard Gary Harris.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
The Philadelphia 76ers are in the long-term rebuilding process, and the team has the chance to add another piece to that puzzle if Embiid slips this far. Back and foot injuries will have many teams scared about his bust potential, but Philadelphia is in the position to make the educated risk.
11. Denver Nuggets: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
One of the biggest struggles for the Denver Nuggets was the inability to score consistently last season. While it could take some time before Michigan shooting guard Nik Stauskas plays major minutes, he has the stroke to become a major asset.
12. Orlando Magic: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
After selecting power forward Julius Randle at No. 4 overall, the Orlando Magic need to find a player who can pair up with Victor Oladipo. While Exum is the better option, settling for Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis is a great consolation prize.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Rodney Hood, SF, Duke
The Minnesota Timberwolves must get better at both ends of the floor. The best two-way player left on the board is Duke small forward Rodney Hood, and this would be a smart selection for the struggling franchise.
14. Phoenix Suns: James Young, SF, Kentucky
There is plenty of future potential for the Phoenix Suns, and handling the draft correctly could make them viable challengers in the Western Conference in a few years. The rebuilding process continues with young Kentucky small forward James Young.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Dario Saric, SF/PF, Croatia
As one of the grittier teams in the NBA, the Atlanta Hawks want to add even more of that via the draft. The best option at No. 15 overall is Croatian forward Dario Saric. The versatile prospect can add in both the offensive and defensive zones as well.
16. Chicago Bulls: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
There is a chance that Carlos Boozer will be gone this offseason, and the Chicago Bulls must start looking for the depth to replace his production. Not only would Michigan State’s Adreian Payne make up for the loss in the offensive zone, but he would also be a drastic improvement over Boozer in the defensive zone.
17. Boston Celtics: Zach LaVine, PG, UCLA
Depending on how the Boston Celtics handle Rajon Rondo’s contract this offseason, selecting UCLA point guard Zach LaVine could either be a depth move or the possible addition of a starter if the team decides to move the veteran.
18. Phoenix Suns: P.J. Hairston, SG, UNC/Texas Legends (NBA D-League)
Another piece to the Phoenix Suns puzzle should be a shooting guard. The best one available at No. 18 overall is former UNC star and D-League standout P.J. Hairston. He is still rough around the edges but a smart long-term investment.
19. Chicago Bulls: T.J. Warren, SF, North Carolina State
Regardless of whether the Chicago Bulls can land Carmelo Anthony via free agency or not, the team needs depth at the small forward position. North Carolina State standout T.J. Warren would be an ideal fit with the team.
20. Toronto Raptors: Kyle Anderson, SF/PG, UCLA
As one of the best ball-moving teams in the league, the Toronto Raptors will go with a player who fits their system. With the ability to play point forward, UCLA’s Kyle Anderson is a schematic fit.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA
After losing in the Western Conference Finals, it is clear that the lack of depth at shooting guard since James Harden was traded has hurt the Oklahoma City Thunder. Adding a player like UCLA’s Jordan Adams would help fill the void.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Despite being one of the best teams in the low post already, the Memphis Grizzlies need more depth behind Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. While this is a long-term pick, Jusuf Nurkic of Bosnia and Herzegovina would be the right fit for the franchise.
23. Utah Jazz: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
After adding a talented point guard earlier in the draft with Marcus Smart, the Utah Jazz must find a player who can turn the open shots into baskets. Clemson small forward K.J. McDaniels fills a roster need and could be the shooter the team needs as well.
24. Charlotte Hornets: Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
Best player available. The Charlotte Hornets are looking to get better fundamentally, and there are few players in the 2014 class with the right mixture of maturity, experience and skill that Wichita State small forward Cleanthony Early possesses.
25. Houston Rockets: Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse
The Houston Rockets will likely be making a run at signing a big-name free agent like Carmelo Anthony, so the franchise must take the best player available as possible trade bait. The flashiest name on the board at No. 25 is Syracuse small forward Jerami Grant.
26. Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
The Miami Heat may have lost in the 2014 NBA Finals, but there is still plenty of talent if LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh re-sign. Adding Connecticut point guard Shabazz Napier would help fill the obvious void at the point guard position.
27. Phoenix Suns: Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
The rebuilding process in Phoenix will continue when the team takes Switzerland power forward Clint Capela. With the ability to rebound with the best in this class and ample room to grow mentally and physically, this is a wise long-term investment.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
Chris Paul is one of the best point guards in the NBA, but he needs a chance to sit down and relax before the important final minutes of a game. A prospect who could step right in and afford Paul that luxury is Louisiana-Lafayette guard Elfrid Payton.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Mitch McGary, PF, Michigan
The Oklahoma City Thunder are already one of the best teams in the league, but the franchise must find a more consistent scoring threat from the low post. Not only will Michigan’s Mitch McGary add an offensive touch, but he’ll also rebound and defend.
30. San Antonio Spurs: C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington
After winning the NBA Finals, the San Antonio Spurs will go right back to work by adding a versatile guard who can eat minutes alongside Manu Ginobili like Washington’s C.J. Wilcox.
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