The 2014 NBA draft is loaded with talent – arguably the most talented since the 2003 NBA Draft which we all remember very well. Because it is so talented and with NBA free agency and potential trades on the horizon, this draft was exceedingly difficult to predict. Teams at the top do not have to necessarily grab the best player, they can look at how they fit within the system because after the top two spots, it becomes a lot more wide-open. With the addition of LeBron James to the free agent market that already sports the likes of Carmelo Anthony (along with the Kevin Love trade rumors), there are a lot of possibilities. Many teams may attempt to trade back in the draft to save cap space, while others may try to trade up to grab a top-tier talent. Some teams will look to unload heavy contracts to free up cap space, while others might look to International talent to avoid up-front salary costs. In the top 10 alone, we should see 18-year olds as well as upperclassmen come off the board. It should be a wild ride as the draft approaches and through the rest of the off-season.
|NO.||TEAM||PLAYER||POS||SCHOOL||YEAR||HT / WT|
|1.||Cleveland||Andrew Wiggins||SF||Kansas||Fr.||6-8 / 225|
Analysis: Cleveland wanted Embiid despite being in more of a “win-now” mode than arguably all of the teams in the top 5 and that was a stretch with his given amount of necessary development. Now, he’s out of this spot, and they will turn Embiid’s teammate Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins has long been heralded as the prospect with the most potential and while there are critics worried he will not live up to that potential, he will be an athletic freak that a the very minimum can stretch offenses and play exceptional defense. This is enough of a sure-thing that the Cavaliers can take him as a much lower risk than Anthony Bennet was last year. He also looks to be a better fit alongside Irving & Waiters. If this goes well for the Cavaliers, it will do a considerable amount to keep Kyrie in a Cavs uniform and maybe bring in another star (insert Lebron James comment here).
|2.||Milwaukee||Jabari Parker||SF/PF||Duke||Fr.||6-9 / 195|
Analysis: This leaves the Milwaukee Bucks with no choice but to take Jabari Parker, and they are absolutely fine with that. Though Parker is not as gifted athletically as Wiggins or some of the other top players, he makes up for it with his competitiveness and basketball IQ. Parker will be an immediate go-to scoring option that can be paired with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brandon Knight. He can score within an offense as well as in isolation sets, which will make him very dangerous and hopefully make his teammates better as well. The concerns on defense are understanding, but with the length and size Milwaukee brings, there will be time for that to develop.
|3.||Philadelphia||Joel Embiid||C||Kansas||Fr.||7-0 / 205|
Analysis: Philadelphia was hoping for a Wiggins/Parker type when they came into the lottery with the 2nd best chances at the top spot. They still thought they would get one of them when Embiid owned the top spot from a player standpoint. Now that Embiid is hurt, it looks like they will have their chance to take the guy they did not necessarily want originally, but could end up really needing. The 76ers have little to no post presence other than Nerlens Noel who has yet to play a game. The 76ers are still a few years from making any noise in the league, so that fact Embiid will most likely be out for the 2014-2015 season is not going to affect them much.
|4.||Orlando||Dante Exum||PG/SG||Australia||Intl.||6-6 / 240|
Analysis: The Magic use their first pick in the draft to pick easily the most talented guard, Dante Exum. Though he has not had the toughest competition in his career thus far, the Magic have two first round picks so we can swing for the fences on this one. The Magic’s current roster has a good number of young guards on the team, but none have the tools or can distribute like Exum can. His size will help make up for their last draft pick, Oladipo, whose size has been questioned as a shooting guard but can still bring a lot to the table.
|5.||Utah||Aaron Gordon||PF||Arizona||Fr.||6-9 / 215|
Analysis: Aaron Gordon is on the top of the Jazz’s big board assuming the first four are all gone. The Jazz were the worst team defensively last year and a lot of that has to do with the offensive-mindedness of the players they have previously drafted. Aaron Gordon is an athletic freak who plays terrific defense and will learn to bring a lot to the table offensively. He has a great workout ethic and competitive drive that help him have a nose for the ball. He does not shy away from contact with his physical play – all of this leads to him sneaking into the top 5.
|6.||Boston||Marcus Smart||PG||Oklahoma State||So.||6-4 / 190|
Analysis: The Celtics are one of the teams trying to make moves for Kevin Love or put themselves in better position to get another heralded free-agent, but if they hold onto this pick, drafting Marcus Smart could greatly improve their team. Imagine a back-court comprised of Rondo & Smart, each player playing ferocious perimeter defense and slashing through the opposing defenses. Smart’s athleticism and poise make him a top prospect and months ago he was seen as a sure-thing top 5 pick. But with Exum’s rise and Smart’s trouble in his last year as a Cowboy, he fell out of that group. Still, his potential is not something the Celtics will pass-up if they are still in this spot on draft night.
|7.||LA Lakers||Julius Randle||PF||Kentucky||Fr.||6-9 / 190|
Analysis: Randle is another very NBA-ready prospect who proved himself as the go-to player in big-time situations for Kentucky last year. When the Wildcats needed a bucket, he would post-up and call for the ball, then finish strong in the paint with a basket, foul drawn, or three-point play the old-fashioned way. He has great intangibles and is consistently fighting for second and third chances under the basket. The Lakers are also in the hunt for some big free agent names and having a guy ready to help right now like Randle will only increase their chances at landing someone.
|8.||Sacramento||Elfrid Payton||PG||Louisiana-Lafayette||Jr.||6-3 / 240|
Analysis: Not a lot of stories or rumors have made their way out of the Kings front office, but one thing we do know is that they are very interested in the Ragin’ Cajun Elfrid Payton. Payton put up fantastic numbers in mid-major ball and has all of the physical tools to be a success in the NBA. Though this pick is a reach, Payton has shown that he is the next top PG prospect available in the draft. The Kings have a number of scorers on their team, but Payton is a guy who can slash through a defense and distribute, as well as hold his own at the other end of the court. This is definitely the type of player they should be targeting, it is just not known whether the 8th pick in the draft is worth it.
|9.||Charlotte||Doug McDermott||SF||Creighton||Sr.||6-8 / 205|
Analysis: Charlotte is very hot on Doug McDermott. They have players like Zeller and Kidd-Gilchrist who are still growing and finding their game. McDermott is a guy who can come in and help stretch defenses to free up some space for others to work. He can play multiple positions on the floor and score from almost anywhere. They need an NBA contributor now who can put up better scoring chances than the Hornet’s swingmen are doing now.
|10.||Philadelphia||Nik Stauskas||SG||Michigan||So.||6-6 / 230|
Analysis: The 76ers will see Stauskas as a guy that can play alongside of Michael Carter Williams right away. Together they can be a very solid, well-sized backcourt whose offensive styles complement one-another. Stauskas is one of the deadliest three point shooters in this draft and showed that at Michigan over the last two years. This year, however, Stauskas showed he was an even more complete player who can create his own shot as well as use that attention to create shots for others. He will be a great pick for the 76ers here.
|11.||Denver||Dario Saric||SF/PF||Croatia||Intl.||6-10 / 255|
Analysis: Dario Saric just re-signed with his international team, but I still do not think that will keep him from sliding too much. He knows that he can make it in the NBA, and there are plenty of teams still interested. He has all of the skills to be a great stretch-4. The Nuggets need better shooters, and with McDermott and Stauskas getting taken just ahead of them, they will wait a year or two for Saric. The Nuggets have a solid young core of players that they can keep around while they find more prospects to bring in.
|12.||Orlando||Noah Vonleh||PF||Indiana||Fr.||6-9 / 235|
Analysis: The Magic can make a huge splash here with Vonleh falling all the way to 12 – a guy some teams might have taken at 4. Vonleh has all the tools to be a great player, but through his year at Indiana, most spectators saw him not be assertive enough. Especially alongside Yogi Ferrell, one would thing that Vonleh would have thrived more. When he did step up and show his skills, the results were almost always positive. His size, range, and mobility are all great attributes for this power forward.
|13.||Minnesota||Gary Harris||SG||Michigan State||So.||6-4 / 185|
Analysis: Minnesota grabs the other polished guard from the Big Ten in Gary Harris. Harris has an incredible knowledge of the game and can do it all on the court. He had to step up and play multiple positions and roles as a Spartan when teammates Appling and Dawson missed time. He can knock down threes or take the ball to the basket. He can distribute and play defense. There is nothing jaw-dropping about Harris, except that he brings some of everything to the game. The only knock that warrants any discussion is that he is not as tall as most scouts would like for a 2-guard, but hopefully the dynamic of his skill set makes up for this.
|14.||Phoenix||Rodney Hood||SF||Duke||So.||6-7 / 170|
Analysis: The Suns barely have a small forward on their roster, so with multiple first round picks, there’s no reason not to take the talented Rodney Hood. Hood played on two major teams in college basketball and did great at both of them. He shows great range on the offensive end of the floor and can score inside as well. He has a knack for getting the ball in the hoop. The Suns need another scorer, especially one that can shoot the ball well.
|15.||Atlanta||Kyle Anderson||SF||UCLA||So.||6-9 / 225|
Analysis: The Atlanta Hawks came on strong in the playoffs and were so close to defeating the no. 1 seed and Eastern conference runner-up Indiana Pacers. The Hawks are showing how talented of players their team has especially when they play together. This team has undergone a lot of changes in the past few years, so it was exciting to watch them mold. Adding a guy with the versatility of Kyle Anderson should help this process even more. Anderson is a point guard trapped in a forward’s body. He does a lot with his size and even more with the ball in his hands. He was often UCLA’s primary ball-handler which was a matchup nightmare. He can help shoulder the ball-handling load with Jeff Teague and distribute the ball to the talented scorers on the Hawks.
|16.||Chicago||Clint Capela||PF/C||Switzerland||Intl.||6-9 / 170|
Analysis: There are a lot of questions swirling around the Bulls future right now. When Rose comes back next year, who will the Bulls bring in to play beside him and help alleviate the scoring load? They already have a lot of solid pieces in place, but lack another star. By drafting Clint Capela, a talented big-man out of Switzerland, they keep plenty under the salary cap to make a splash in free agency while stashing a very solid international player for a few years. They also have a lot interest in moving up in the draft to get a bigger name that can help right away. This is evident in the players that they have worked out having a higher pick grade than 17. A lot could change for them between now and their pick on Thursday night.
|17.||Boston||James Young||SG||Kentucky||Fr.||6-7 / 205|
Analysis: Like Chicago, Boston is a team that is looking to make some moves to re-vamp their franchise back to what it was a few years back (as mentioned in pick 6). If they stay here at 18, James Young would be a great value pick for them. He has very good size for a 2/3 and would complement the Celtics back-court as well as their current swing man Jeff Green who has been forced into both a scoring and facilitating role with the Celtics’ injuries. Young was another huge part of Kentucky’s scoring as he was often the perimeter player that had to create when no one else was. Coupled with his measurables, this is would be a great pick for Boston.
|18.||Phoenix||Jusuf Nurkic||C||Bosnia & Herzegovina||Intl.||6-11 / 190|
Analysis: Despite all of their roster turnover in the last few years, the Suns were able to put together a very successful 2013-2014 campaign in most people’s eyes. That’s why after taking a small forward, NBA ready player with their first pick, they can draft a project like Nurkic who can stay out in Europe for a few years. The Suns could use one more big man presence inside, so when Nurkic is ready he will be welcomed in Phoenix.
|19.||Chicago||Adreian Payne||PF||Michigan State||Sr.||6-10 / 200|
Analysis: The Bulls situation was already discussed in their pick above, so now many think that they might go for a backup point guard as an insurance for Rose, but for this pick, the guy that they are most hot on is Adrien Payne. He would give the Bulls another inside-out option and bring great intensity (like most of their players already do). He will fit in nicely to their system and play within their offense.
|20.||Toronto||Tyler Ennis||PG||Syracuse||Fr.||6-2 / 220|
Analysis: Toronto has some scorers and finally solid big men inside, but they still lack a true point guard. Lowry may not stick around and even if he does, he is not the best distributor. Ennis benefitted from playing in a high intensity program like Syracuse where there have been several PG studs that have preceded him. He showed tremendous poise in lots of big matchups, hitting big shots and protecting the ball. Ennis will help them stay relevant in the Eastern conference even if they lose a guy like Lowry.
|21.||Oklahoma City||Zach LaVine||PG/SG||UCLA||Fr.||6-5 / 240|
Analysis: For third consecutive year, OKC can sit back and watch players come off the board ahead of them and find the best player available. Many would like to see OKC find another big man presence inside, but with Reggie Jackson most likely commanding a heavy contract, another combo guard could be the answer. Zach LaVine has tremendous tools and size. His shooting and ball skills are among the top in the draft, but he is still not ready to contribute immediately. That is the reason he slips outside of the top 20. He is a great value pick for OKC who still have more time to put together a championship run.
|22.||Memphis||PJ Hairston||SG||USA||Jr.||6-5 / 200|
Analysis: Memphis was near the bottom of the league in nearly every shooting category, injecting the team with a solid-sized SG will help greatly. They have a point guard, multiple solid big men, defensive specialists, but since losing Gay and Mayo, they have needed an additional scoring presence. Hairston has taken a tumultuous journey to get to the draft, but after dominating at UNC and a year of putting up good numbers in the NBADL, he’s ready to take on the NBA too.
|23.||Utah||KJ McDaniels||SF||Clemson||Jr.||6-6 / 200|
Analysis: Utah can add another great defensive piece with the addition of KJ McDaniels. Given his position and size, it is amazing he can defend players bigger than him and rebound as well as he does. Utah needs more defensive role players like him and with Gordon having such a high ceiling as their top pick, they can afford to take a safe role player pick like KJ McDaniels to help lock down the solid wing players of the West.
|24.||Charlotte||Jordan Clarkson||PG/SG||Missouri||Jr.||6-5 / 235|
Analysis: How great a story it would be for the Hornets to grab Shabazz Napier with this pick after he did the same thing Kemba Walker did 3 years before? But that’s not going to happen. Instead, the Hornets need to target another ball handler, except one with better size, who they can flex as a 1 and 2. Clarkson played in two college basketball systems and really started to excel at Missouri when he was given primary ball-handling responsibilities. He can slash through defenses and distribute, as well as shoot when he needs to. He will do nothing but improve Charlotte and can do so fairly quickly.
|25.||Houston||Jordan Adams||SG||UCLA||So.||6-5 / 190|
Analysis: Adams is a really intriguing prospect, because nothing about his athleticism jumps off the charts, yet he always finds ways to score and make defensive plays. His competitiveness and size are also great attributes. He improved greatly his sophomore year and with experience at Oak Hill Academy for high school, he has played against some of the best competition for years. As James Harden’s understudy, he will continue to progress his game in the NBA, adding another option to the Rockets offense and making pesky plays on defense.
|26.||Miami||Shabazz Napier||PG||Connecticut||Sr.||6-0 / 230|
Analysis: Shabazz does not have quite the same luxury as Kemba did when he carried his team to the national championship. This draft class is far more talented, but that might help Shabazz out in the long run. In this scenario, he falls to the Miami Heat who are in need of more consistent PG play to help shore up holes in their offense. Whether the Heat break up this year or next or never, with his talent, he can be someone who makes a difference.
|27.||Phoenix||TJ Warren||SF||NC State||So.||6-8 / 197|
Analysis: TJ Warren’s college career ended on a low-note with the loss to Saint Louis University in the first round after carrying his team into the NCAA tournament. But the reigning ACC player of the year will take the next step in the NBA and be able to help right away. With Phoenix’s third pick in the first round, they lock another consistent offensive threat with great scoring abilities. The obvious knock on Warren is his lack of athleticism and measurables, but that hasn’t stopped him especially after playing in a conference like the ACC. He can give the Suns an instant injection of talent and conceivably play multiple positions.
|28.||LA Clippers||Jarnell Stokes||PF||Tennessee||Jr.||6-6 / 240|
Analysis: The Clippers are lacking front court depth, but they can add to it and put themselves in position to make another postseason run by drafting a blue collar big man. Stokes banged with plenty of big guys in the SEC on his way to averaging a double-double. He plays unselfish basketball by taking good shots and doing a lot of things that do not show up on the stat sheet. He is one of the more NBA ready forwards and can help fill in for Griffin and Jordan in LA.
|29.||Oklahoma City||Mitch McGary||C||Michigan||So.||6-10 / 180|
Analysis: With Oklahoma City’s second pick of the draft, they can take Mitch McGary out of Michigan. McGary had off-court issues that sent him to the league earlier than he may have intended, but he has been destined for the first round of the NBA draft since he was a freshmen and had he not struggled through injury and off-court issues, he could have easily been a higher first round pick. He is another big man presence, one that OKC really needs when Perkins leaves and if Adams does not improve. He has an NBA ready body, he’ll just need to work on his offensive game to become a bigger asset to the team that drafts him.
|30.||San Antonio||Spencer Dinwiddie||PG/SG||Colorado||Jr.||6-6 / 220|
Analysis: San Antonio always seems to find talent and hit home runs with players in question. Dinwiddie could have well been a mid-first round to lottery pick had he not torn his ACL, instead because of his injury he almost fell out of the first round. He has great basketball skill and can rack numbers in all statistical categories. He is versatile with the positions he can play that make him a valuable tool. The Spurs are still winning but are another year older without replacements for Parker and Duncan. Dinwiddie can help them right now with the possible departure of Patty Mills and also in the future as he still has room to develop his game.