Joel Embiid just couldn't let us have some clarity to commence the 2014 NBA draft.
The 19-year-old center had gained considerable steam as the Cleveland Cavaliers' top target with the No. 1 pick. A foot fracture, however, rammed those plans into haywire, as the big man is expected to miss four-to-six months, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
That now creates uncertainty with Cleveland's top selection. Although the options have dwindled down to two, it appears not even the team itself knows what to do now that Plan A is out the window.
With the opening selection tossed into chaos, the rest of the draft should easily follow suit. Few, if any no-doubt matches exist in this year's draft, which is sure to out-shine last year's class by miles.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
According to ESPN's Jeff Goodman and Chad Ford, a schism is brewing inside Cleveland's front office leading up to the night of reckoning:
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert favors drafting Wiggins with the No. 1 pick after the former Kansas star's terrific workout last Wednesday, according to multiple sources. However, the majority of the Cavs' front office—including new general manager David Griffin—is leaning toward selecting Parker, sources said.
They also noted that Gilbert stepped aside last year to let his executives strike out big time with Anthony Bennett. One source told Goodman and Ford that Parker "was huffing and puffing early in the workout" while another even suggested he was "tanking" the process to maneuver his way to Milwaukee.
Gilbert wins out this time, and he's not crazy to desire an immensely talented athlete who will lock down opponents on defense while developing into a premium all-around player. Wiggins won't be the next LeBron James, but he'll be pretty darn good.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker, SF Duke
With Embiid no longer gunning for the top spot, Milwaukee has a fairly easy decision here. If Cleveland takes Wiggins, go with Parker. If the Cavs prefer Parker, grab Wiggins.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Embiid's injury hurts the 76ers most. Previously holding the easiest choice of the night, they are now faced with the evening's toughest decision. Rolling the dice on Embiid is an odd, dangerous call a year after stashing center Nerlens Noel, but his potential is so far above the field that they'll take the plunge anyway.
4. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, G, Australia
Luckily for Orlando, Dante Exum does not fit well in Philadelphia with Michael Carter-Williams already running the show. The Magic continue their youth movement with an electric guard capable of wreaking havoc at the basket.
5. Utah Jazz: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
Just looking at Noah Vonleh's 11-point and 9-rebound averages at Indiana hardly do his incredible freshman campaign justice. He shot 52.3 percent while playing just 26.5 minutes a night. He averaged 13.6 boards and 2.1 blocks per 40 minutes, per Sports-Reference—who also shows that the Hoosiers tallied 21.3 more points scored than allowed per 100 possessions with him on the court.
6. Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
If the Celtics can't successfully package this pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love, don't be surprised to see them go the opposite way and deal Rajon Rondo before he hits free agency next year. They can put that plan in place by taking Marcus Smart.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
The most polished big-man scorer available, Julius Randle operates fluently on the post—a skill the Lakers will need, assuming Pau Gasol skips town. Unless they can barter the pick for an established contributor, Randle offers the best mix of short-term and long-term value.
8. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
One of the league's worst defensive squads secures one of college basketball's premier defensive players. While he's more Shawn Marion than Blake Griffin, Aaron Gordon offers immense value as a defender who can shut down small forwards and stretch power forwards. His leaping ability will also create some memorable finishes down in the paint.
9. Charlotte Hornets (from Detroit): Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
The Hornets need a shooter in the worst way, so it's only natural for top scorer Doug McDermott to be attached so heavily to them. Even the 2014 Naismith Trophy winner told ESPN Andy Katz that he believes he's Charlotte bound:
Despite the defensive worries, McDermott scored 26.7 points per game last season with a remarkable .644 true shooting percentage. He gives the Hornets the offensive weapon they need to remain in the playoff hunt.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (from New Orleans): Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
After ranking last in three-point shooting last season, the 76ers will turn their sights to sharp-shooter Nik Stauskas, who drained 172 shots from behind the arc during two seasons with the Wolverines. They'll especially want an immediate contributor if they gamble on Embiid earlier in the night.
11. Denver Nuggets: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Lacking anything close to a true shooting guard, Denver takes Michigan State's Gary Harris, who is seasoned enough under Tom Izzo's tutelage to immediately log meaningful minutes for Brian Shaw. While his offensive efficiency waned during his sophomore year, Harris is a rare two-way player at the 2 spot.
12. Orlando Magic (from New York): Dario Saric, F, Croatia
For a team so low on the totem pole, the Magic have a fair deal of young talent on their roster. They're also not expected to make a title push in the next year or two, which makes them the perfect squad to stash Dario Saric.
Although the Croatian forward will not join the NBA for at least another two years after signing an extension with his Turkish club, his promise is worth storing away with Orlando's second lottery choice.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Rodney Hood, SF, Duke
No pick here is going to entice Love to stay put, so the Timberwolves might as well tackle a need and procure a perimeter scorer. Duke's Rodney Hood presents an inside and outside scorer to complement whoever is roaming the court for Minnesota next season.
14. Phoenix Suns: James Young, SF, Kentucky
With their first of three first-round picks, the Suns look to the wing and add 18-year-old James Young. The young forward may have benefited from another year or two in school, but he can provide some sporadic jolts of excitements driving to the rim while he grows his overall game.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Zach LaVine, G, UCLA
Although the Suns are frequently attached to Zach LaVine, they waited in this scenario with two other point guards available and another pick coming at No. 18. That opens the door for Atlanta to scoop in and grab the point guard whose athleticism has spawned considerable pre-draft buzz despite his lacking collegiate output.
16. Chicago Bulls (from Charlotte): Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
For Chicago, this is a mixture of locating value and solidifying its bench all the while realizing that it can't count on Derrick Rose staying on the court. Tyler Ennis, who touted a flare for the dramatic in late-game situations at Syracuse, could provide the Bulls an extra spark from the reserve unit.
17. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn): Kyle Anderson, PG/SF, UCLA
Nobody knows what to make of Kyle Anderson—a small forward who excelled at point guard for UCLA last season. He's not expected to serve as a floor general on the pro level, but Anderson provides flexibility to Boston as an unselfish distributor with a great feel for the game.
18. Phoenix Suns (from Washington): Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
Elfrid Payton has transitioned from potential first-round pick to possible top-10 pick, with Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman and Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears each slotting him to the Kings at No. 8. What once would have been considered bold, tabbing him at No. 18 is apparently very tame in comparison to other prognosticators.
His collegiate production speaks highly for Payton, who can score, pass, rebound and play tenacious on-ball defense. He'd make a great replacement for Eric Bledsoe if the soon-to-be restricted free agent lands a lucrative deal elsewhere next year.
19. Chicago Bulls: T.J. Warren, SF, North Carolina State
The Bulls are tough. The Bulls are feisty, and the Bulls can pester weaker opponents into submission. They also can't score very well. T.J. Warren, who ranked third in the NCAA with 24.9 points per game last season, gives them a potent threat with the basketball.
20. Toronto Raptors: Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
A masterful NCAA tournament has vaulted Shabazz Napier's draft stock. He might not slip past the Suns and Bulls, but he almost certainly won't fall past Toronto, who must prepare ahead with Kyle Lowry's looming free agency.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Dallas): Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
The Thunder are typically content with drafting high-upside projects, so they won't hesitate to claim Jusuf Nurkic if he's still around at pick No. 21. ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla offered up his assessment of Nurkic, who he believes will be the third international prospect off the board in Round 1:
22. Memphis Grizzlies: P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends (NBA D-League)
The Grizzlies ranked 28th in scoring last season, and while part of that results from their slow pace, they also possess a lack of scorers that can create their own looks. P.J. Hairston scorched the D-League and can provide instant offense off the bench.
23. Utah Jazz (from Golden State): K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
The ACC leader in win shares in a conference that included Parker, K.J. McDaniels is a defensive menace that can immediately make a dent on that side of the ball for Utah. How his shooting progresses in the pros will dictate his NBA impact.
24. Charlotte Hornets (from Portland): Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
If he was 19 or 20 years old, Adreian Payne would earn some lottery consideration. But an old geezer at a brittle 23, Payne drops to No. 24, where Charlotte continues its pursuits of offense by snagging a 6'10" power forward who crafted an outside shot during his senior season.
25. Houston Rockets: Cleanthony Early, F, Wichita State
The Rockets have surrounded Dwight Howard and James Harden with shooters—a trend they'll look to continue with Cleanthony Early. The forward improved his range last year and will play at the 3 or 4 off the bench in Houston.
26. Miami Heat: Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee
This is not Miami's top choice. ESPN's Ford reported that the organization is looking to select Napier to satisfy James, who praised the point guard on Twitter after UConn's NCAA championship win. But unless they successfully move up, they'll have to dedicate their energy elsewhere.
Without a point guard worth the selection, the Heat instead go down low with Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes, who will vacuum up boards for a squad that ranked 29th in rebounds last season.
27. Phoenix Suns (from Indiana): Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
The Suns may trade their third pick of the round, but a long-term gambit is the way to go should they hold on. Clint Capela won't make much of a mark this season, but he could be considered the steal of the draft five years from now.
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Mitch McGary, C Michigan
The Clippers add a big man for the bench in Mitch McGary, whose stock dropped during the past year. McGary can rebound and provide some offense down low for Los Angeles' second unit.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA
How many playoff games boiled down to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook trading possessions among themselves with the other three guys floating around aimlessly? Jordan Adams provides more offensive upside off the bench at a position where Oklahoma City needs more talent.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Thanasis Antetokounmpo, SF, Delaware 87ers (NBA D-League)
Last year, Giannis Antetokounmpo became the best buy in the draft for the Bucks at pick No. 15. The Spurs, always prone to roll the dice on some unpolished, high-upside talent, close out the first round by drafting the "Greek Freak's" brother.
Note: All advanced stats courtesy of Sports-Reference unless otherwise noted.
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