It’s officially Christmas for Cleveland Cavaliers fans.
In what has seemingly become an annual tradition (you have to love that draft-lottery system, Cleveland), the Cavaliers will kick off the 2014 NBA draft with the first pick and the dominoes will fall from there.
Will Joel Embiid’s injury impact his draft status? Will anyone slide down the draft board further than expected? Who goes first between Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins?
Read on to find out those answers and more in an updated mock draft for the entire first round.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Yes, Embiid may miss the entire season with foot problems. Yes, he missed important games at Kansas with back concerns, which is a major red flag for a seven-foot prospect. Yes, many think he will fall on Thursday.
The thought here is that Embiid will still be the top pick.
Not only does Cleveland have a long-term need at the center position, but Embiid could be a once-in-a-generation talent that is simply too hard to pass on. He is an athletic specimen who controls the game on both ends of the floor with his shot-blocking ability, rebounding prowess and low-post moves.
SportsCenter notes that there are plenty of basketball fans that feel the same way:
RESULTS ARE IN! 52% of SC fans think Joel Embiid IS worth the risk to be a top-5 pick in the NBA draft. pic.twitter.com/gE9Ddzf7VB— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 20, 2014
Even if Cleveland has to stash him for a year, Embiid is worth it.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
The Milwaukee Bucks will be intrigued by Parker at No. 2, but Wiggins simply provides more upside on both ends of the floor.
Wiggins is a better defender than Parker, which is critical at the small forward position in today’s NBA. With stars like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony taking the floor every night, valuable defenders at the 3 are almost necessary to contend for a title.
Just ask the San Antonio Spurs and Kawhi Leonard.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
Who would you rather have?
The Philadelphia 76ers, who already have Michael Carter-Williams at point and Nerlens Noel at center, will gladly gobble up Parker as the team's small forward of the future.
That trio could do some special things over the next few years.
Parker is an offensive genius who can score from all over the floor. He developed a post-up game as his year at Duke progressed, can hit from deep and is a solid rebounder. There is plenty of room for a player like that at the next level.
4. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia
Good luck to opposing ball-handlers against a backcourt of Dante Exum and Victor Oladipo.
That duo will wreak absolute defensive havoc throughout the course of a season, which will lead to plenty of easy opportunities for the Orlando Magic on the other end. The Magic are a few pieces away from truly contending in a watered-down Eastern Conference, but landing an elite point guard on both ends who can get out in transition and provide lockdown defense is a good place to start.
5. Utah Jazz: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
The Utah Jazz have some solid pieces, but only Trey Burke is a potential star of the future. Landing a big man like Noah Vonleh could give the point guard a partner in crime for years to come.
Vonlehis arguably the best rebounder in the NBA draft and is still developing on the offensive side. When he figures it out, he will be a dangerous two-way player.
However, an Eastern Conference executive said to use some caution when assuming Vonleh will be a star at the next level right away, via Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe:
The thing that brings me pause a little bit is just his lack of experience. He’s young. And a lot of people love that. I love that. But if you’re going to draft him top-10 and you want him to help you today, he’s going to take his lumps.
6. Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart, PG/SG, Oklahoma State
Rajon Rondo’s long-term future is still a question mark in Boston, so landing someone who can both play next to him as a shooting guard or take over point guard duties would be a natural selection with the No. 6 pick.
Smart has the potential to be an elite defender, and his ball-handling skills and penetration ability makes him a handful on the offensive end.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Aaron Gordon, PF/SF, Arizona
Pau Gasol is set to hit the open market, so the Los Angeles Lakers could use another power forward.
There are plenty of options, but Aaron Gordon is the most athletic one who can get out in transition with Kobe Bryant, control the boards and finish at the rim on pick-and-rolls and alley-oops.
He is still somewhat raw skill-wise, but his overall athleticism will help him make an impact right away.
8. Sacramento Kings: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Isaiah Thomas is scheduled to become a restricted free agent this summer, so the Sacramento Kings could use some more depth in the backcourt.
Gary Harris isn’t a point guard, but he will at least give Sacramento a dangerous perimeter shooter who can handle the ball and lockdown opposing guards. He is a physical defender (who isn’t from Michigan State, though?) and isn’t afraid to mix it up on the glass, but his true value comes from his shooting.
Playing next to DeMarcus Cousins will give him plenty of open looks.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
Surrounding Al Jefferson with long-range shooters isn’t a bad formula for extended success in Charlotte, and the Hornets will take arguably the best shooter in the draft in Doug McDermott.
McDermott proved he can light it up from downtown throughout his college career (which seemed to last about 200 years), but he is a solid rebounder who is also more than capable of scoring from the block against smaller defenders.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
The 76ers have their point guard, small forward and center of the future in this hypothetical mock draft, so they will scoop up a shooting guard with the No. 10 pick.
With Harris off the board, Nik Stauskas is the next logical pick. The Michigan product can absolutely light it up from downtown, but simply labeling him as a shooter is unfair. He proved this season that he can carry an offense and create shots for teammates and for himself at the rim, which will certainly help in Philadelphia.
11. Denver Nuggets: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Adi Joseph of USA Today thinks the Denver Nuggets will take Jusuf Nurkic with the No. 11 pick:
The Nuggets very well could trade this pick. And if they keep it, they probably will opt for a more NBA-ready prospect than Nurkic, a 19-year-old giant who didn't start gaining hype until a few months ago. But Nurkic's surprisingly quick feet and natural feel for the post give him great upside, which the Nuggets need for the future.
Nurkic certainly has impressive upside, but it may take a year or two for him to develop into an impact player. Denver will have the necessary patience, though.
12. Orlando Magic: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
Step right up, Julius Randle; you are this year’s candidate for the top prospect who slides a bit in the draft.
The Magic will take him as the best player available situation at No. 12. There are some concerns with Randle, which is why he will fall (he can only go left, simply bullying opponents won’t work in the NBA, etc.), but he is still a top-notch player.
This is a great value pick at No. 12.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Rodney Hood, SF, Duke
Kevin Love drama aside, the Minnesota Timberwolves need a small forward of the future, and Rodney Hood is a potential answer.
He was overshadowed a bit by Parker at Duke, but he can score from anywhere, contribute on the boards and is a solid defender when engaged. You can bet that he will be more engaged against NBA superstars next year than he was against Clemson and Wake Forest.
14. Phoenix Suns: Kyle Anderson, SF/PG, UCLA
Kyle Anderson is one of the most versatile players in the entire draft, which works perfectly for the Phoenix Suns. He can play anywhere from the point guard spot to small forward, and the Suns really need a small forward and some depth in the backcourt.
Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
Anderson is a triple-double threat every time he steps on the floor because of his length, passing ability and knack for hitting shots from both the outside and at the rim.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
As Eye on Basketball of CBS Sports notes, Adreian Payne from Michigan State is a polarizing prospect:
If Payne was 19, he would arguably be a surefire top-10 pick, but he checks in at 23 years old. In fact, he is older than NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, so whichever team that drafts him won’t get as many years of Payne’s prime as desired.
Still, he is a versatile forward who can bang around down low (something the Atlanta Hawks need next to Al Horford) or shoot the three. He will thrive in Atlanta’s system, which loves big men who can shoot from distance.
16. Chicago Bulls: Zach LaVine, SG/PG, UCLA
Zach LaVine addresses a number of issues for the Chicago Bulls.
For one, he is versatile enough to play point guard if there are more health concerns with Derrick Rose. Even if Rose does stay healthy, Chicago will need more depth at the position so that he can rest his knees.
Hey, Jimmy Butler may even get an occasional breather with LaVine on the roster.
What’s more, LaVine is an explosive driver of the basketball, which will give Chicago’s stagnant offense a dimension it was missing last year.
17. Boston Celtics: T.J. Warren, SF, North Carolina State
The Boston Celtics grabbed a guard earlier in the draft, so they will look for a versatile forward who can attack the rim from the wing or grab some boards on the blocks at No 17.
T.J. Warren will give Boston that type of player. He proved that he is capable of playing against the nation’s best competition in college when he won ACC Player of the Year in a conference that included Parker and Hood, among others, and he will give Boston’s offense more scoring punch.
18. Phoenix Suns: James Young, SG/SF, Kentucky
The Phoenix Suns will take James Young at No. 18 in something of a best-player-available situation even though they took Anderson earlier.
Anderson can play point guard, while Young can fill in at small forward or shooting guard off the bench. With three picks, Phoenix can afford to make moves like that.
Young is one of the best finishers in the draft in terms of wing players, but he does more than just attack the rim. He is a legitimate three-point shooter as well.
19. Chicago Bulls: Dario Saric, SF/PF, Croatia
Dario Saric obviously hurt his draft stock when he elected to stay in Europe, but he will still hear his name called in the first round.
Hoops Rumors believes the Chicago Bulls are one of the teams that would be willing to stash Saric for a couple of seasons:
The Bulls have experience doing just that from the past couple of years with Nikola Mirotic, and they will be more than willing to wait out Saric. Ultimately, they would be landing someone with top-10 talent in the latter half of the first round, so this pick is worth it.
20. Toronto Raptors: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana Lafayette
Kyle Lowry is a free agent, so the Toronto Raptors could use a point guard.
Which point guard would you rather have?
Elfrid Payton is the best option after Exum and Smart because of his ability to get out in transition and stuff the stat sheet. He also brings elite athleticism to the table, which helps him get to the rim and either score himself or find open teammates.
He is also a solid rebounder and incredible defender who will harass opposing ball-handlers with his quick feet and length.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
The Oklahoma City Thunder need more depth down low, and Clint Capela provides just that.
Capela is athletic enough to stretch the floor on the offensive end, but don’t overlook his ability to score on the low block. He is strong enough to hold his own against most NBA power forwards and will help Oklahoma City on the boards, especially when Kendrick Perkins struggles.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends (NBDL)
The Memphis Grizzlies need scoring and shooting. P.J. Hairston has made a living doing both.
The former North Carolina Tar Heel picked up some professional experience in the NBDL, which will help him going forward in the NBA. He will also drill his open looks from downtown when defenders collapse on Mike Conley and the big men down low, which will make this defensive-oriented squad much more dynamic.
23. Utah Jazz: Jerami Grant, SF/PF, Syracuse
Brent Axe of Syracuse.com didn’t paint a pretty picture for Jerami Grant:
Not a big surprise to hear, but Jerami Grant's not shooting well in workouts. Even worse than expected. Certainly not helping his cause— Brent Axe (@BrentAxeMedia) June 24, 2014
As Axe says though, this isn’t a complete surprise. Grant won’t hear his name in the first round because of his ability to shoot the three. Instead, it is his athleticism that will carry the day.
Grant has the potential to be a matchup nightmare, which will fit perfectly alongside Vonleh and Burke in Utah. Slower power forwards won’t be able to handle Grant’s penetration from the wing, while shorter small forwards will have difficulty preventing him from posting up.
24. Charlotte Hornets: Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
Adding a dynamic athlete next to Jefferson and the sharp-shooting McDermott will give Charlotte’s offense another dimension.
Cleanthony Early is one of the better athletes in this draft, and he presents some of those same matchup issues that Grant does. The only difference is that Early can shoot the three as well.
A threesome of Jefferson, McDermott and Early would be incredibly difficult to deal with over the course of the next couple of seasons.
25. Houston Rockets: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
The Houston Rockets would probably like to shed Jeremy Lin’s contract, which would leave an opening in terms of backcourt depth.
Tyler Ennis is a pace-controlling point guard who will be more than willing to set up James Harden and Dwight Howard over finding his own looks. Ennis also won't commit as many of the same turnovers that Lin does, and he could be a defensive upgrade in year one.
There is very little downside with this pick.
26. Miami Heat: C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington
If we are to operate under the assumption that James will eventually stay in Miami, the Heat could use another long-range shooter on the outside.
Nobody in the league is better at creating open looks for teammates than James, and C.J. Wilcox is the perfect candidate to knock them down from deep. To Wilcox’s credit, he is more than a three-point specialist (he averaged nearly 20 points per game last year at Washington), but he will thrive in that role in Miami.
27. Phoenix Suns: Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee
Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated notes that Jarnell Stokes is among some elite company when looking at offensive rebounding percentage:
My draft study on projectability of Jarnell Stokes, who had better OR% at 19 than Faried, Love, Millsap, more … http://t.co/jtCH1xK2zb— Luke Winn (@lukewinn) June 24, 2014
Since the Suns were more perimeter-focused with their first two picks, they will go down low at No. 27. Stokes gives them an elite rebounder who can score on the low block and swat shots on the defensive end. His upside is intriguing, and this is a great value pick at No. 27.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
The Los Angeles Clippers need a backup point guard behind Chris Paul, and landing the best player of the national champion Connecticut Huskies isn’t bad at No. 28.
Shabazz Napier is an elite defender who has a high-enough basketball IQ to make the right pass and avoid turnovers on the offensive end. He is also capable of scoring on his own and proved how clutch he can be on the big stage in the NCAA tournament.
Not a bad option for a backup.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan
The Thunder addressed their need for more depth down low earlier in the round, so they will grab another wing scorer here in Glenn Robinson III.
He can shoot the three, contribute on the offensive glass and attack the rim off the dribble. He will thrive with the open space that playing next to Westbrook and Durant creates.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Mitch McGary, PF/C, Michigan
Anytime the San Antonio Spurs take a high-risk/high-reward player, they seemingly get the most out of him.
The same will happen with Mitch McGary, who was once seen as a potential top-10 pick before he missed the majority of his final season at Michigan with injury. He proved his worth, though, as a double-double threat alongside Burke in the Wolverines’ run to the national title game in 2013, and the Spurs will remember that potential.
McGary will give them another option down low for the day the all-time great Tim Duncan finally hangs up the sneakers.
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