The 2013-14 NBA season has been full of excitement. The trade period was dull, but otherwise this year has been one of the more entertaining years in recent memory. With a slew of Western Conference teams looking at least borderline elite and the Pacers and Heat seemingly locking down the East, the road to this year’s NBA Finals could be one of the best we’ve seen in some time.
However, not everyone is in the mix, so to the 2014 NBA Draft we shall look. For every rock solid winner, there are a handful of depressing losers in the NBA, as teams like the Bucks, Magic and 76ers try to right the ship with fresh talent. The best way to do that is to get a high lottery pick and land a superstar – yet even a high pick doesn’t guarantee a thing.
Still, teams have to take a shot, and the process of deciding what college players are worth that shot has already begun. With the NBA regular season starting to wind down, now is as good a time as any to unleash our first mock draft of the season. It’s also a good time to throw down some bets and win some cash while you still can. Click here to do so if you think you can make the right calls.
Here’s a look at the entire first round:
Note: keep in mind that the actual order is not set in stone and changes on a daily basis up until the actual draft lottery.
1. Milwaukee Bucks – Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Embiid is raw and sometimes a little calculated in his movement, but nothing really beats his combination of size, strength and potential. Milwaukee does have Larry Sanders in place at center already, but he’s had some run-ins with the team and doesn’t have the upside Embiid does. The Bucks could go for one of the more hyped wings at the top spot, but no one has the sheer upside that Embiid does.
2. Philadelphia 76ers – Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
The Sixers just traded Evan Turner away and right now don’t really have an answer at the three spot. Parker isn’t an insane athlete for the next level, but he’s more than adequate in that department. Parker is a hard worker with excellent natural talent. Unlike Turner, he knows his role and he’s not going to try to be something he’s not. From a pure scoring standpoint, few prospects have his upside or versatility.
3. Orlando Magic - Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
Wiggins’ stock has fluctuated due to an up and down year, but he’s easily one of the most athletic and more talented players in this draft. Just because of pure upside he won’t slide out of the top-five. Orlando doesn’t have a set small forward just yet, while Wiggins can probably even play the two. He’d supplant anyone at either spot.
4. Boston Celtics - Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
Rajon Rondo might be on his way out. If he is, Smart can replace him at the point, and even if he’s not, Smart’s size and scoring ability can be used at the two spot. He has excellent versatility and good overall athleticism, allowing him to be used in a number of ways. One thing is for sure, he’s a star at the next level, regardless of what position he’s playing.
5. Los Angeles Lakers – Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
Randle is a rebounding dynamo who could slide in and play with the Lakers’ fast style. He isn’t an ideal center fit, so this could be a good pick to pair with Pau Gasol.
6. Sacramento Kings – Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
Vonleh is still developing, but he rebounds extremely well and is always aggressive. Michael Malone wants that out of his bigs and neither Jason Thompson or Derrick Williams are truly the answer at the four spot.
7. Utah Jazz – Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Harris is a pure scorer, something the Jazz sorely lack. His outside shooting needs work, but he’s vastly underrated. Utah got their point guard in Trey Burke last year and now it’s time to get a guy who can take over if/when Gordon Hayward leaves.
8. Denver Nuggets (from New York) – Dante Exum, SG, Australia
Exum is a fine athlete who can run the floor exceptionally well. If he brings his stroke along with him, he’ll fit in perfectly with the fast-gunning Nuggets.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers – Zach LaVine, G, UCLA
LaVine is an expectional athlete who can play either guard spot. His ceiling is extremely high and he can slide in and make Dion Waiters expendable.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (from New Orleans) – Tyler Ennis, G, Syracuse
Philly pairs Ennis with MCW to give them a very athletic and potential-ridden backcourt. Tony Wroten is awfully inconsistent and they don’t have much else to get excited about at guard, so this is a pick that could work.
11. Charlotte Bobcats (from Detroit) – Rodney Hood, SF, Duke
Hood is an interesting wing with an excellent shot and terrific size. However, he’s a little one-dimensional at the moment due to lackluster rebounding ability and his unwillingness to attack with the ball in his hands. The Bobcats can use perimeter offense, though, so he gives them that and some potential to work with, as well.
12. Orlando Magic (from Denver) – Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse
Grant brings incredible size and length to the small forward position, and could potentially be a defensive stopper at the next level. He lacks polish and still has a ways to go on the offensive end, but could easily evolve into a complete player in a few years. Orlando simply needs more talent that can do different things, although it’s worth wondering if they’d want another big wing guy considering they have a few and just selected Andrew Wiggins in this mock.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves – Doug McDermott, F, Creighton
With Kevin Love on the way out, the T’Wolves need to make sure they don’t lose much offense. McDermott can learn from one of the best in the game until he takes on a bigger role once Love jets. McDermott doesn’t have the size Love does, but he rebounds well and is a fantastic shooter and scorer.
14. Memphis Grizzlies – Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA
Anderson is a point guard in a big man’s body, possessing excellent vision and passing ability. He does lack bulk and a consistent jumper, but the overall versatility and upside of Anderson will be tough to pass on.
15. Atlanta Hawks – T.J. Warren, SF, N.C. State
A pure scorer, Warren’s main weakness is he doesn’t have an exact position due to size and athleticism restraints. Still, he can fill it up and will give a full effort on the defensive end, as well. Atlanta needs more help on offense and he could be their answer.
16. Chicago Bulls (from Charlotte) – Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona
Gordon is too talented to slip much further. He’s a high-flying dunker who rebounds well and fights on every play. He’s exactly the type of player the Bulls love. They’ll hope they can land an elite shooter with their second first rounder.
17. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn) – Dario Saric, F, Croatia
If Saric’s outside shot was more consistent, he’d probably go much higher. He’s a potential stretch four with nice upside. Boston could use more offense and flexibility, so they get that if Saric drops here.
18. Phoenix Suns (from Washington) - Terran Petteway, G/F, Nebraska
Petteway is a fearless scorer with terrific size and versatility. He’ll need to work on focus and staying in the moment more, but overall should offer up a scoring punch off the bench as a rookie and could develop into something special.
19. Chicago Bulls - Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
Chicago needs outside shooting and offense in general. Unless Jimmer Fredette ends up being that guy for them, they’ll need to chase down shooting talent elsewhere. Stauskas isn’t an elite athlete but he’s a decent one that can handle the ball and shoot the lights out.
20. T0ronto Raptors – Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
Payne has decent size and good strength down low, but his potential is based largely on his elite athleticism. He needs a ton of work as a shooter and ball handler, but he can bang down low right away, which will help make the Raptors tougher inside.
21. Phoenix Suns - Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville
Harrell is an elite athlete and a potential defensive stopper at the moment, and not much else. He absolutely has the size and athleticism to turn into a special player, but at the moment is otherwise very raw. Phoenix has a bunch of offensive pieces in place already, though, so they can afford to take a shot on a defensive prospect.
22. Dallas Mavericks – Nick Johnson, G, Arizona
A clutch performer, Johnson has shown the ability to hit jumpers when they’re needed most, while also being able to penetrate and draw contact near the rim. An elite free throw shooter, Johnson is a nightmare late in games thanks to his ability to carve up defenses and make them pay if they foul him. Charlotte could use the extra offense, while he has enough size and versatility to help at the point or man the two spot.
23. Utah Jazz (from Golden State) - Andrew Harrison, SG, Kentucky
A slew of Kentucky players could be drafted, as always, but Harrison is definitely one that should find his way in the first round. A great shooter with the athleticism and willingness to penetrate and get to the line, Harrison is a versatile scorer who can be used as a legit weapon at the next level.
24. Los Angeles Clippers – Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
All the Clippers have behind DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin is Ryan Hollins and Glen Davis. It’s time to get a little bigger down low.
25. Houston Rockets – James McAdoo, PF, North Carolina
Great athlete with nice fluidity and a big frame, but might not have the ideal size to bang at the next level. His athleticism helps make up for it, however, although he lacks polish and needs to develop more moves down low. He’s a bit of a project, but he has a very high ceiling.
26. Charlotte Bobcats (from Portland) – Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn
A tad streaky and possibly a little under-sized, Napier is at the very worst a true gamer who knows how to and wants to win. He needs to bulk up and get a little more consistent, but appears to have the tools to man the point at the next level. Charlotte won’t need him to be a star, but rather just come off the bench and provide a spark.
27. San Antonio Spurs – Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
San Antonio loves taking foreign players they can either stash or mold from their bench. Already blessed with excellent size and footwork, Nurkic could be groomed to be Tiago Splitter’s replacement or running mate.
28. Miami Heat – Aaron Harrison, G, Kentucky
The other Harrison brother is almost just as talented and also brings good size and athleticism to the table. He’s not quite the clutcher performer or go-to scorer, but he’s flashed the ability to take on both personas. Miami could use more offense off the bench and he’s a high upside prospect worth grabbing.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder – Markel Brown, G, Oklahoma State
Somewhat overshadowed by teammate Marcus Smart, Brown is actually an elite, fluid athlete who has evolved into a fairly complete basketball player. His main strength is his elite athleticism, but he could turn into a very special player if he works on his handle and picking his spots better.
30. Phoenix Suns (from Indiana) – Cleanthony Early, F, Wichita State
An excellent scorer for a forward, Early’s potential all rides on his ability to turn into a true small forward, as he’s not big enough to play the four consistently at the next level. He could be a true combo forward if he can put it all together.