For a handful of NBA general managers, Thursday, June 26th, 2014 may well go down as the day that reversed the fortunes of their respective organization.
That's what generally happens when there's a pool of prospects as loaded with top-flight, superstar-caliber talent as this 2014 NBA draft class, as it represents a critically valuable opportunity to either expedite a rebuilding process, or simply re-tool by adding a potential franchise cornerstone.
And when these chances to grab a blue-chipper come around, you don't want to be the team that takes the wrong guy. We saw it in 2003, as Cleveland, Miami, Denver, and Toronto each picked up a future All-Star at the Draft with top-five selections, but the Pistons swung and missed on Darko Milicic at No. 2, famously passing up Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the process.
With a crop of hyped youngsters headlined by Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Dante Exum and Julius Randle all having found new homes, here's a look back at the best picks and biggest reaches from the 2014 NBA draft.
Julius Randle- Los Angeles Lakers
By the time the Lakers were slated to pick at No. 7, there can't have been many scouts that truly believed that Randle would be around.
That's because after a stellar freshman season with Kentucky, which saw Randle post 15 points and 10.4 boards a game en route to a NCAA title game appearance, there's simply no questioning his upside or ability to impact a game.
For the Lakers, who were in desperate need of a game-breaking talent heading into Thursday night, Randle both represented the perfect fit, and offered the best value at this spot.
Doug McDermott- Chicago Bulls
One of Chicago's most pressing needs was adding a quality outside shooter, and in dealing the 16th and 19th overall selections for former Creighton gunner Doug McDermott, it looks like the Bulls have done just that.
In addition, as Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Eisenberg pointed out, McDermott's ability to contribute without being the focal point of his team's offense suggests he'll be more than capable of coexisting with Derrick Rose in Chicago.
The most remarkable aspect of McDermott's record-setting scoring output at Creighton was his ability to dominate games without dominating the ball. College basketball's national player of the year tallied more than 3,000 points in his career via numerous catch-and-shoot 3s or high- and low-post baskets set up by his ability to use screens to free himself without the ball.
While it remains to be seen whether McDermott will be the high-octane scorer he was in college, there's little doubt that he'll make an impact, even if it's as a pure shooter in the mold of a Kyle Korver.
Joel Embiid- Philadelphia 76ers
Heading into Thursday night, one of the most intriguing questions was how much Joel Embiid's stock would drop due to his recent foot surgery.
In the end, as USA Today's Paul Myerberg discussed, the upside that Embiid brings was simply too great for Philadelphia to look past at No. 3, even if this is a selection that brings more than its fair share of risk.
The 76ers are banking on Embiid's potential, willingly rolling the dice on his projected growth even as he spends the next four to six months recovering from his recent procedure. When he does see the court, Embiid will join another player coming off an injury, Nerlens Noel, along the 76ers' frontline.
Yes, the fact that the 76ers are already counting on Noel to blossom into the defensive force he projected to be during his lone season at Kentucky, but if these two picks pan out, Philadelphia will be a nightmare to play against down the road.
Until it was announced he required surgery, Embiid was in the mix to go to Cleveland at No. 1 for a reason, and the 76ers simply could not afford to let a big man this special slip past them.
Shabazz Napier- Miami Heat
Let's get this out of the way now: Shabazz Napier is a good addition to the Heat, and not just because the pick could hypothetically play a role in whether Miami's able to retain LeBron James.
But as Bleacher Report's Adam Fromal noted, James' lobbying for Miami to take Napier late in the season certainly didn't hurt his stock in the eyes of Pat Riley.
Aside from the LeBron factor, there's a lot to like about this pick for the Heat, especially given that Napier will have more than ample time to develop and transition to the NBA on a roster stocked with veteran leadership.
Napier can create space and open looks for his teammates effectively, and as we saw in March, he's as clutch as anyone in this class.
Jordan Adams- Memphis Grizzlies
Like the Bulls, Memphis aimed to address the issue of outside shooting in Round 1, and at least on paper, they may have done that by grabbing former UCLA standout Jordan Adams.
However, as CBS Sports' Matt Moore stated, taking Adams at No. 22 was too high for a player with his level of athleticism, especially with better alternatives still on the board.
There's a good chance that Adams will develop into the serviceable long-range threat that Memphis has been in search of, but they could have gotten better value out of this pick.
Nik Stauskas- Sacramento Kings
There's no reason to believe that Nik Stauskas won't become the lights-out shooter he was during his time at Michigan at the next level, but Sacramento could have done more with the No. 8 selection.
Heading into the draft, many, such as Yahoo! Sports, had the Canadian guard going outside the top-10, especially given the Kings' pressing need for a point guard.
This isn't a bad pick, there were simply other options on the board, such as Elfrid Payton, that would have filled the team's most immediate void better than Stauskas.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!