The 2014 NBA draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 26, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and the excitement from around the league is growing as more and more experts release their final mock drafts.
After the injury and subsequent surgery to Kansas center and former consensus No. 1 overall pick Joel Embiid—he will miss four-to-six months, according to ESPN—the top-10 selections have been shuffled greatly.
As the draft approaches, there are many different predictions on where the top names will land on draft day, but here is what the experts are saying about the situation.
Cleveland Cavaliers Grad Jabari Parker No. 1 Overall (Chad Ford of ESPN)
According to ESPN’s Chad Ford (subscription required), the Cleveland Cavaliers are now leaning towards selecting Duke small forward Jabari Parker as a prospect who can step right in and make an immediate impact.
In a recent workout Parker had for Cleveland, though, Ford is reporting that the player may not have performed at the highest level on purpose:
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.
While Wiggins reportedly came into his workout with the Cavaliers and crushed it, the franchise could still be leaning toward Parker because of the addition he makes right away to the winning cause.
CBS Sports’ Ken Berger is hearing the same reports about Parker over Wiggins and confirms that Cleveland will likely not trade away the top pick:
With Joel Embiid's foot surgery, and the reported 4-6 month recovery that comes with it, the Cavs are said to be leaning toward Duke's Jabari Parker with the No. 1 pick. Parker is more NBA-ready than Andrew Wiggins, who would go to the Bucks at No. 2. Rival executives believe it would be out of character for Cleveland GM David Griffin to trade the top pick, and believe Bucks GM John Hammond would be hard-pressed to deviate from the other consensus top player in the draft after Embiid's injury shook up the top of the lottery.
The Cavaliers desperately need a small forward to help alleviate the pressure off point guard Kyrie Irving and Parker is a perfect fit. While many fans will hope LeBron James comes back to Cleveland, the Duke star is the more realistic option.
With the right staff around him and a great support system, Parker will get in the best shape of his life and be a game changer for the Cavaliers. Playing with an exciting guard like Irving will have the prospect ecstatic about his chance to play in Cleveland.
Andrew Wiggins Falls to Milwaukee Bucks (Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report)
As Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman said in his latest draft, the Milwaukee Bucks are in a win-win situation at No. 2 overall. With the franchise guaranteed to get one of the top prospects unless it makes a trade, this will be a big score for the team.
All signs currently point to Parker going No. 1 overall, and that means the brighter prospect in Kansas small forward Andrew Wiggins will fall into the lap of a Milwaukee team desperate for a bona fide star.
Sam Amick of USA Today reports that the meeting between Wiggins and Milwaukee couldn’t have been timed any better for all parties involved:
With Joel Embiid sliding down draft boards, Andrew Wiggins just so happens to be arriving in Milwaukee (No. 2) tonight for Friday visit.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 19, 2014
During his one season as a member of the Jayhawks, Wiggins racked up an impressive 17.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game and proved to have the most upside of any player in the 2014 class.
Wiggins still needs time to grow physically and mentally, but with the Bucks in no rush to get back into postseason contention, the college standout will have ample time to acclimate to the league.
Philadelphia 76ers Take Risk With Joel Embiid (Adi Joseph of USA Today)
Before the injury to his back and his foot, Kansas center Joel Embiid was as close to a consensus No. 1 overall pick possible in this deep draft. Now that the health concerns have raised a major red flag, his stock is dropping rapidly.
As a team in the process of a long-term rebuild, Adi Joseph of USA Today predicts it will be the Philadelphia 76ers at No. 3 overall who take the educated risk on Embiid and stash him away until he is 100 percent healthy.
In a great note on Twitter from Steve Kyler of BasketballInsiders.com, the past history with the 76ers general manager and injured big men could be the ultimate deciding factor in this possible selection:
Here is the wrinkle with Embiid - 76ers GM Sam Hinkie was in Houston with Yao and knows a few things about this injury - positive & negative— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) June 19, 2014
There is still so much room for Embiid to grow on the court. The injury concerns are legitimate, but if team doctors feel this will not be a huge issue in the future, the player who averaged 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game would be a smart long-term addition.
Philadelphia already has an injured big man in Nerlens Noel, but whether the team trades one of the two men away or just possesses a dominant low-post tandem, this is the kind of move that could help the 76ers return to their winning ways.