Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Final 2014 Mock Draft: Round 1

*Order is up to date as of the Knicks-Mavs trade that sent picks 34 and 51 to New York.
**No trades are projected, analysis assumes the player will stay with the team that picks him

#1 - Cleveland Cavaliers - Andrew Wiggins - SF - Kansas, Fr. - 6'8, 200

It's hard to argue against picking Wiggins with all of the injury questions surrounding Joel Embiid.  Cleveland has a major need on the wing if and when Luol Deng finds a new home.  Wiggins will likely start from day one, and Cleveland's playoff hopes could hinge on his success as a rookie.  While I'm not going to be projecting trades, there's been plenty of interest in trading for this pick.  There's an okay chance that the Cavs won't be making this pick come Thursday night.

#2 - Milwaukee Bucks - Jabari Parker - SF - Duke, Fr. - 6'8, 240

Milwaukee will gladly go with whomever the Cavs don't take between Wiggins and Parker.  While there's some chatter that the Cavs might go with Parker, I'm guessing he'll be there for Milwaukee.  Much like Wiggins, he should start from day one, as his only roadblock at SF in Milwaukee is Khris Middleton, who can play elsewhere on the floor.  Milwaukee's further away from competing than Cleveland if they can't salvage Sanders and Ilyasova; but Parker should be a good building block and may be able to make more of an instant impact than Wiggins.

#3 - Philadelphia 76ers - Joel Embiid - C - Kansas, Fr. - 7'0, 250

This is where things will get interesting, assuming Cleveland doesn't do something (relatively) stupid and take Embiid first overall.  The 76ers aren't in any hurry to win, as the roster is too barren to make any kind of playoff run this season regardless of the moves they make.  Their decision will come down to whether or not Embiid's talent level is just too good to pass up because of the injuries.  Is Embiid the next Olajuwon or the next Oden?  I think Embiid is so good that the 76ers can't afford not to find out. They could shelve him similar to what they did with Nerlens Noel and be here next year to possibly take Emmanuel Mudiay or one of next year's top three players, in order to form a core with two young stars.  This is another pick with a lot of trade speculation.

Click "Read More" for the rest of the 1st round...

#4 - Orlando Magic - Dante Exum - PG - Australia, 1995 - 6'6, 196

Exum could be off the board by the time Orlando picks if the 76ers decide that Embiid isn't worth the risk.  Exum would make for a long, athletic pairing with Victor Oladipo, and provide the Magic with their foundation for the next decade.  There's a lot of mystery with Exum, compared to the other top prospects in this draft, but if he turns out as planned, he has superstar potential.  Orlando will likely stay put, unless they can convince Cleveland to take their offer of this pick, Arron Afflalo and the 12th pick for #1.

#5 - Utah Jazz - Noah Vonleh - PF - Indiana, Fr. - 6'10, 240

There have been some reports that the Jazz also like Aaron Gordon, but I think they ultimately go with Vonleh.  Out of the top three PF prospects (Vonleh, Gordon, Randle) in the draft, he's both the best shooter and the best shot blocker.  He has range out to 20+ feet and has the potential to be an impact defender with his excellent athleticism, huge hands and 7'4 wingspan.  You can't throw him the ball on the block like you can with Randle, but Vonleh still has plenty to offer.  The Jazz have also reportedly offered their pick to Cleveland for #1, offering #5, Derrick Favors and Alec Burks.

#6 - Boston Celtics - Marcus Smart - PG - Oklahoma State, So. - 6'4, 225

If the Celtics are still picking here, it means they don't have Kevin Love and the possibility of Rondo leaving town still exists.  While Smart is adequately equipped to play PG, he could also play some next to Rondo if they're both on the roster come opening night.  The other options here are Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon.  While Randle is arguably the superior talent, there's too much overlap between his game and Jared Sullinger's.  If Embiid falls this far, don't surprised to see his slide end here.

#7 - Los Angeles Lakers - Julius Randle - PF - Kentucky, Fr. - 6'9, 250

The Lakers roster is basically empty outside of Kobe Bryant, so they can go with the top talent available.  With only two or three years left to win with Kobe, the Lakers might feel some pressure to make the safer pick in Randle over Gordon.  Randle has the offensive ability to score 20 PPG in his prime if he can stay healthy and manage his weight.

#8 - Sacramento Kings - Elfrid Payton - G - UL-Lafayette, Jr. - 6'4, 185

The consensus among most prognosticators is that the Kings won't be making this pick, as they're rumored to have as many as three different trade scenarios lined up for this pick.  If for some reason they do make this pick, they could look to grab a PG or a PF.  They have something similar to Aaron Gordon in Derrick Williams, and it seems like the Kings want to win now.  Payton would significantly improve the defensive capabilities of their backcourt, and is an elite athlete.

#9 - Charlotte Hornets - Nik Stauskas - SG - Michigan, So. - 6'6, 207

The Hornets lack shooting on the perimeter, as their two starting wings (Henderson and MKG) are career 30% and 17% three-point shooters respectively.  Stauskas is either the best or second best shooter in the draft depending on your opinion on McDermott, but has a more versatile game.  Will struggle defensively, but if he's the pick, he could be starting next to Kemba Walker by the time 2015 rolls around.

#10 - Philadelphia 76ers - James Young - SG - Kentucky, Fr. - 6'7, 213

Young isn't quite the offensive talent that Stauskas is, but he's longer and thought to have a higher upside.  The Sixers have a massive hole at SG after spending large amounts of last season running out James Anderson and Tony Wroten there after the Evan Turner trade.  Young has limitations on how much of an instant impact he can make, but again, the 76ers don't appear to be in a hurry to compete.  This pick has been rumored to possibly be on the move as well.

#11 - Denver Nuggets - Zach LaVine - G - UCLA, Fr. - 6'6, 181

This pick has been discussed with the Bulls, as they're seeking to add more shooting (Stauskas, McDermott).  If the Nuggets do make this pick, expect them to add some talent on the wings.  LaVine certainly has the athleticism of an impact player, but he needs to round out his game.  If he can add some strength and fine-tune his game, he has the natural ability to be an All-Star.  That's a fairly large "if, but could be worth it for the Nuggets.

#12 - Orlando Magic - Aaron Gordon - PF - Arizona, Fr. - 6'9, 220

Gordon is an interesting prospect, with elite athleticism and a good knowledge of the game.  However, there are serious questions about what position he'll play, as he's still a bit thin to play PF and lacks the ball-handling and perimeter game to play SF.  He's got good upside and the Magic can groom him to play whatever position they choose, similar to what they did with Oladipo in his rookie year.  This is about the range where Bosnian C Jusuf Nurkic comes into play too, a player the Magic are said to have interest in.

#13 - Minnesota Timberwolves - Doug McDermott - SF - Creighton, Sr. - 6'8, 218

McDermott tested better athletically than most expected at the Combine, and that might mean he's not here when the Wolves pick.  If he is, the Wolves add some much needed shooting at a position where they're lacking in talent.  Look for the Wolves to also consider whichever of the top SGs are left on the board among Stauskas, Young, LaVine and Harris.

#14 - Phoenix Suns - Gary Harris - SG - Michigan St., So. - 6'4, 205

Harris suffered a bit of an efficiency dip in his sophomore season when he had to shoulder the load for the Spartans.  That may have caused his shooting to go awry from a very solid freshman year.  If he's hitting jump shots, he'll be a valuable offensive piece, who also contributes on the defensive end.  Harris is right there with the SGs already off the board, and could very easily go as early as #10 or #11.

#15 - Atlanta Hawks - Jusuf Nurkic - C - Bosnia, 1994 - 6'11, 280 

The Hawks have the luxury of going in a few different directions with this pick, as they have no major holes on the roster.  They could use that luxury to justify picking the player on the board with the highest upside, which in this case is Nurkic.  At 6'11, 280 with a well-rounded offensive game and the ability to run the floor well for his size, Nurkic could be a steal.  He's not a great vertical athlete, so don't look for him to defend the rim.

#16 - Chicago Bulls - P.J. Hairston - SG - D-League/UNC, 1992 - 6'5, 229

Hairston's off-court troubles have been well-documented, but his on-court potential is enticing once the lottery picks end.  Combines a 37" vertical leap with a strong frame and reliable outside shooting.  Athletic exploits make him a potential lockdown defender, and those odds likely increase if he goes to Chicago.

#17 - Boston Celtics - Rodney Hood - SF - Duke, So. - 6'8, 208

Hood played an excellent second fiddle to Jabari Parker at Duke last year, scoring efficiently inside and out.  His game is a bit limited, as he'll likely be nothing more than a scorer at the next level.  Hood shot 42% from three in his one year at Duke, on nearly five attempts per game.

#18 - Phoenix Suns - Adreian Payne - F/C - Michigan St., Sr. - 6'10, 239

Payne developed a three-point shot over the course of his career at Michigan State, and it probably is what keeps him in the first round.  A 42% three-point shooter as a senior, Payne will fit well as a stretch four or even a stretch five on a team like Phoenix who plays small from time to time.  Not an elite rebounder, but his length and athleticism are good assets.  Had a few injuries this past season that could be a cause for concern.

#19 - Chicago Bulls - Clint Capela - PF - Switzerland, 1994 - 6'11, 222

Thin, floor-running, shot-blocking forward with high-level defensive potential due to his 7'5 wingspan.  Really needs to bulk up and may be better off spending another year or two in Europe.  Offensive game is mostly dunks and put-backs.

#20 - Toronto Raptors - Tyler Ennis - PG - Syracuse, Fr. - 6'2, 182

This pick is about more than Toronto going with an Ontario native, as the threat of Kyle Lowry leaving in free agency looms large this offseason.  Ennis might not be able to step in and start right away, but his well-rounded game could provide a steady option off the bench.  In the long run, if his body continues to fill out, he has good potential due to his length, athleticism and smart play.

#21 - Oklahoma City Thunder - Shabazz Napier - PG - UConn, Sr. - 6'1, 185

The Thunder could possibly use some frontcourt depth with Kendrick Perkins decline in the past years and the vulnerability shown with Ibaka's injury.  However, they also need someone who can give them more minutes in the backcourt.  Napier is a solid shooter and can get his own offense, and could share the floor with either Westbrook or Jackson.  Rumors on the day before the draft have suggested that the Heat have heavy interest in him.

#22 - Memphis Grizzlies - T.J. Warren - SF - N.C. State, So. - 6'8, 220

The Grizzlies tried starting Tayshaun Prince at SF this season, which hasn't been a good idea for some time now.  Warren would provide the Grizzlies with a little more scoring punch, although his outside shooting leaves a bit to be desired.

#23 - Utah Jazz - Dario Saric - F - Croatia, 1994 - 6'10, 225

Saric is a lottery talent, but his insistence on playing two more years in Europe before coming to the NBA will likely cause a significant slide.  My guess is that he doesn't go any time before the Suns at 18.  A team that's willing to wait two years for him could be getting a point forward with the ability to be a key cog in the offense.

#24 - Charlotte Hornets - Mitch McGary - F/C - Michigan, So. - 6'10, 255

Chad Ford reported on Tuesday that McGary has a draft promise from the Hornets at 24.  While that report hasn't really been confirmed or denied, this might be a safe projection.  If he doesn't go here, don't expect him to last past the first few picks of the second round.

#25 - Houston Rockets - Kyle Anderson - SF - UCLA, So. - 6'8, 230

A true point-forward, Anderson was a triple-double threat in his sophomore year at UCLA, averaging 14.6 PPG, 8.8 RPG and 6.5 APG.  Anderson shot well from beyond the arc on a limited number of attempts after an ugly shooting year as a freshman.  His jump shot is still a concern.

#26 - Miami Heat - Spencer Dinwiddie - G - Colorado, Jr. - 6'6, 205

If the Heat don't try and trade up for Napier, as mentioned above, they'll likely look for a big man.  At this point, there isn't one worth taking, aside from the undersized Jarnell Stokes.  Dinwiddie would provide the Heat with added defense on the wing, and solid outside shooting and playmaking.

#27 - Phoenix Suns - Cleanthony Early - SF - Wichita St., Sr. - 6'7, 209

Early's well-rounded game could make him one of the steals of the draft if he goes late in the first or early in the second round.  He's a strong finisher (58% on 2PA), reliable three-point shooter (38%) and has the prototypical build of an NBA SF if he can add a little weight.  Measuring with a 6'11 wingspan and a 40" vertical at the Combine won't hurt his case to stay in the first round, even if he is already 23 years old.

#28 - Los Angeles Clippers - K.J. McDaniels - SF - Clemson, Jr. - 6'6, 196

McDaniels is a freak athlete, with long arms and unlimited defensive potential thanks to his physical tools.  Blocked close to three shots per game as a junior.  Not a great shooter or scorer, but could be a reliable 4th or 5th option with time to learn.

#29 - Oklahoma City Thunder - Jarnell Stokes - PF - Tennessee, Jr. - 6'8, 263

Contrary to the belief of any Thunder/Sonics fan who has only been watching for the last decade, Nick Collison isn't going to be around and effective forever.  Collison is 33 and entering the last year of his contract.  Stokes has a well-rounded game as a scorer and a rebounder, and is more athletic than he looks, with a 36" vertical.

#30 - San Antonio Spurs - Jordan Adams - SG - UCLA, So. - 6'5, 209

Adams is a big, strong guard who doesn't quite have the athleticism you'd like to see from a wing.  Only an average outside shooter (35%), but is a high-level finisher thanks to his strength (55 2P%).  Could be off the board as early as 23 to Utah.

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