Joel Embiid’s back is okay, so expect him to go No. 1 overall. (Basketball.fanpiece.com)
With the San Antonio Spurs being crowned champions of the 2013-14 NBA season, it’s now time to look forward to the upcoming NBA draft (Thursday, June 26). Today, we project the first round of the draft after researching the field of draftees and looking at individual team needs. So, with the first pick of the 2014 NBA draft…
1. Cleveland Cavaliers — Joel Embiid, C, Kansas Jayhawks: Now that Embiid has received clearance from the Cavs doctors following a late season back injury, he should be the number one pick (especially since he showed he was healthy at a recent draft workout — see video below). The seven-foot centre will fit nicely with Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson as the Cavs continue to rebuild. With incumbent centre Spencer Hawes eligible for free agency and Tyler Zeller more suited to a backup role, this pick makes plenty of sense.
2. Milwaukee Bucks — Anthony Wiggins, SF, Kansas Jayhawks: The Bucks are in need of overall talent, regardless of position, and Wiggins has the highest upside of the field. While some experts were somewhat underwhelmed by his play at Kansas — the hype was a bit overblown coming into his freshman year — Wiggins still had a very solid season for the Jayhawks and will only improve in the years to come.
3. Philadelphia 76ers — Jabari Parker, SF/PF, Duke Blue Devils: Parker is likely the draft’s most NBA-ready player after a superb first season at Duke. The Sixers will add Parker to their young nucleus of Michael Carter Williams, Nerlens Noel and Thaddeus Young as they build for the future.
4. Orlando Magic — Noah Vonieh, PF, Indiana Hoosiers: The Magic is in need of frontcourt help to complement promising centre Nikola Vucevic. Vonieh is a physical player who can go inside or make shots from the perimeter. Orlando did very well by selecting Victor Oladipo from the Hoosiers last year and may now draft another talented player from the powerful Big Ten school.
5. Utah Jazz — Dante Exum, G, Australia: With the Jazz facing the potential loss of top scorer Gordon Hayward to free agency, it’s in need of a talented scorer in the backcourt. Exum is seen as a combo guard with some experts suggesting he will be more suited to the shooting guard position. Pairing Exum with Trey Burke will give the Jazz an exciting backcourt for years to come. Now if Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter can continue to improve, Jazz fans will have something to smile about.
6. Boston Celtics — Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona Wildcats: Gordon showed tremendous ability and a strong work ethic during his initial season at Arizona. Considering he hasn’t turned 19 yet, his upside and his ability to defend and play multiple positions make him a perfect fit for the rebuilding Celtics.
7. Los Angeles Lakers — Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky Wildcats: Randle is likely to drop a few spots because he may need foot surgery which would cause him to miss Summer League. The Lakers will see him as a valuable selection at the seven slot with Pau Gasol potentially departing and the team in full rebuild mode. Randle demonstrated great promise at Kentucky and his talents are sorely needed in the depleted Laker frontcourt.
8. Sacramento Kings — Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State Cowboys: Smart will likely have to play the point guard position and force incumbent Isiah Thomas to be a sparkplug scorer off the Kings bench. Unlike Thomas, Smart has the potential to be a physical offensive and defensive force and team nicely with DeMarcus Cousins.
9. Charlotte Hornets — Nik Stauskas, G, Michigan Wolverines: Stauskus is a perfect fit for the Hornets as he can back up SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and SG Gerald Henderson while providing much needed scoring off the bench. Ultimately Stauskas will likely surpass Henderson as the starting two after shooting 47 per cent overall and 44 per cent on three point attempts at Michigan last season.
10. Philadelphia 76ers — Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State Spartans: The Sixers can truly fortify their frontcourt by adding the aforementioned Parker and Payne to the mix. Payne displayed an expanded offensive game last season at Michigan State to complement his rebounding and defensive capabilities. A future frontcourt of Noel, Parker and Payne would be exciting and formidable.
11. Denver Nuggets — Rodney Hood, SF, Duke Blue Devils: Hood is an athletic player who can play the shooting guard and small forward positions. His catch and shoot ability will be a good fit for the Nuggets with Danilo Gallinari returning from ACL surgery and Randy Foye more suited for a prominent bench role.
12. Orlando Magic — Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State Spartans: Harris slumped a bit last season for the Spartans, but is a prolific scorer with tremendous potential. The Magic can use his talents to fortify its backcourt combination of Oladipo and Arron Afflalo.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves — Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton Bluejays: McDermott’s draft stock has slipped a bit because of his questionable defensive ability, but there is no doubting his pure scoring prowess. He’d be a strong fit as the Timberwolves starting small forward with Corey Brewer better suited for a bench role.
14. Phoenix Suns — Dario Saric, SF, Croatia: Saric withdrew from the 2013 draft late in the game, but is ready to go this time around. This offensively talented Croatian would be a worthy addition for the rising Suns.
15. Atlanta Hawks — Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia: Nurkic will be a perfect complement to Al Horford in the Hawks frontcourt. Considered the second best centre in the draft, Nurkic is still improving and possesses impressive physical presence and hustle.
16. Chicago Bulls — Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse Orange: The Bulls are in need of a strong backup at the point guard position because of Derrick Rose’s troublesome knees. Ennis fits nicely after a terrific freshman season at Syracuse. He does need work on his perimeter shooting but is certainly a pure point guard.
17. Boston Celtics — K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson Tigers: If Larry Brown loves this guy as much as he says, that’s good enough for us. McDaniels scores, rebounds and blocks shots despite a bit of a size disadvantage. The Celtics, still trying to replace Paul Pierce at small forward, can only hope that McDaniels fits the bill.
18. Phoenix Suns — Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia: The Suns have multiple first round picks and are in position to draft a player for the future. Porzingis is just 18, but is already a productive player in Spain. He moves very well for a big man and certainly has the size (7’0″, 215) that NBA scouts drool over.
19. Chicago Bulls — James Young, SF, Kentucky Wildcats: This is just a hunch here because Young would be the best player remaining on the board at this point. He provides scoring depth as a swingman which the Bulls sorely need. Young had an outstanding NCAA tournament which opened a lot of eyes.
20. Toronto Raptors — Zach LaVine, PG/SG, UCLA Bruins: LaVine is a combo guard in the mold of Raptors incumbent point guard Kyle Lowry. Toronto hopes to re-sign free agent Lowry so LaVine could serve as a potential replacement or develop as Lowry’s backup.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder — T.J. Warren, SF, North Carolina State Wolfpack: The Thunder is in need of scoring off the bench and that suits Warren just fine. He really improved at NC State this season and is a talented rebounder to boot.
22. Memphis Grizzlies — Kyle Anderson, SF/PF, UCLA Bruins: The Grizzlies are also in need of additional scoring punch to support their talented starting five. Anderson can play both forward spots and excels at shooting and passing the ball.
23. Utah Jazz — Jerami Grant, F, Syracuse Orange: Grant is one of our favourite sleepers of the 2014 draft. He was a very valuable player for the Orangemen last season and will only improve with experience. The Jazz will benefit greatly by adding him to its young frontcourt.
24. Charlotte Hornets — Mitch McGary, PF/C, Michigan Wolverines: McGary is coming off a serious back injury that cost him last season for the Wolverines. Should his workouts and medical reports be positive, he’s a talented big man with the potential to contribute immediately.
25. Houston Rockets — Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut Huskies: Napier was the star of the 2014 NCAA tournament, leading the Huskies to the championship. He represents a terrific late first round value for the Rockets, who plan to move Jeremy Lin, rumours suggest.
26. Miami Heat — Elfrid Payton, PG, University of Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns: With Mario Chalmers being exposed in the NBA Finals, the Heat is in need of a future point guard. Payton has all the skills necessary to be successful, although his outside shooting needs improvement.
27. Phoenix Suns — P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends (NBADL): After being suspended by the NCAA, Hairston played in the D-League last season and averaged 21.8 points over his final 26 games. Despite a questionable background, he is a talented offensive player and there’s no doubt that the Tar Heels desperately missed him in the tourney as they lacked a true go-to scorer.
28. Los Angeles Clippers — Clint Capola, PF/C, Switzerland: Capola may play another season overseas but he flashed nice potential playing in France. With the Clippers not needing him immediately, he’s a nice “stash for the future” pick.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder — Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA Bruins: The Thunder could certainly use additional help at shooting guard which Adams will provide. He’s a hard working player with a strong desire to succeed and could represent tremendous value at this spot in the draft.
30. San Antonio Spurs — Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee Volunteers: Quite simply, Stokes is a Spurs type of player. He score insides, rebounds and plays the game with intensity. Stokes played the lead role in guiding Tennessee to the Sweet Sixteen this season.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below how you see the 2014 NBA Draft playing out.