The much-anticipated 2014 NBA Draft is only a day away, and we'll finally know the destinations of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, & Company. We've seen a ton of trade rumors and injury news leading up to the draft, but we finally had our first trade Wednesday night with the New York Knicks acquiring both of the Dallas Mavericks' second round picks and a handful of players for Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton. The teams that remain in the draft have indicated their preferences on who they want to take Thursday night, who will go where?
*Want more Draft info? Click on team names for team-specific draft previews!*
It's a toss-up between Wiggins and Parker for the top spot, but Wiggins has the highest ceiling of the two and would be a great fit next to point guard Kyrie Irving, considering Wiggins' athleticism and badly-needed defense. The questions about his assertiveness would also become less prominent while playing aside an All-Star. With Parker supposedly tanking his workout and Wiggins wanting to go to Cleveland, the Cavs can't pass on a potential superstar who wants to be there.
Parker is the most pro-ready player in the draft and should average around 20 points a game right away. He’ll add some much-needed scoring punch to a Milwaukee attack that needs more weapons, and Parker can score both inside and out. He’s a high-character, hard-working guy who will bring a much-needed winning mentality to the squad that had the worst record in the league last year.
The Sixers are HUGE Exum fans, but would’ve preferred if Wiggins was still on the board (as most teams would). Exum is very similar to reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams, except he’s better and more efficient. Now suddenly dealing with a tough decision, I expect them to take Exum and try to deal MCW to a team with a big point guard need, like the Lakers.
Orlando has been looking for their point guard of the future for the past few years, and Marcus Smart is the most talented one left in the draft. Sure, Orlando would love Exum, but they were going to draft Smart last year before he decided to go back to school.
Smart is hyper-competitive and fills the stat sheet, but some of his antics from the past year may have hurt his draft stock. Still, he’s too talented to pass up here as an all-around player that will serve as a nice complement to the more defensive-minded Victor Oladipo.
Utah is already has viable options in the post with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, but neither of them are as good as Embiid. Many GM’s are scared off by his recent injury, but I’m not. The recovery time is supposed to be 4-6 months, meaning he’ll probably miss most of the year, but unless something totally insane happens, statistics say he’s going to fully recover and it won’t be a problem for him again.
What better place for a guy like that than the Jazz, who already have placeholders? Besides, Favors and Kanter could use another season of evaluation from Utah, and the team won't be making the playoffs in the West anyway.
However, the Jazz are desperately trying to trade into that top spot to grab Jabari Parker, the guy they’re in love with and had been tanking for. They’ve offered up this pick and Derrick Favors to the Cavaliers, but may have to sweeten the pot a little bit. If this scenario plays out, Cleveland will go after Julius Randle or Noah Vonleh with the fifth pick.
Boston needs help everywhere and will likely pick the best player available as they can go more for need later in the first round with the 17th pick.
Randle led the nation in double-doubles in his lone college season...and ended up with more than any Kentucky Wildcat ever, including Anthony Davis. He's a force on the low post, and while he’ll need to work on his mid-range game, he has the potential to be the Celtics' next superstar.
The Lakers can go in several directions with this pick, but they can’t pass on Vonleh here. He has drawn comparisons to Chris Bosh for his ability to hit outside shots while still being effective inside and on the glass. Think of him as a much more athletic Pau Gasol – someone who helped bring two titles to Los Angeles. He might not be the future face of the Lakers, but he’s a vital piece to a creating a championship team.
Sacramento is another team that could use a little bit of everything, and Gordon can fill a big hole in the Kings’ roster. Gordon has as much talent and athleticism as anyone in the draft, and can play either forward position. He, Cousins, and last year’s first-round pick Ben McLemore could develop into a very dangerous trio.
9) Charlotte Hornets – Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
Charlotte saw improvement this past season for the first time in forever, but still have a big need for perimeter scoring. Stauskas and Gary Harris are pretty even on most teams’ draft boards as the top two shooting guards, but Stauskas is the better offensive player. The Hornets desperately need someone who can knock down shots from distance, and no one in this class does that better than the Big Ten Player of the Year.
10) Philadelphia 76ers – Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Philly is looking to fill needs, and after selecting Exum third, shooting guard becomes their biggest hole. Harris is a solid consolation prize from Stauskas, and he's is the better two-way player. He can provide some good long range shooting along with being this team’s lockdown defender.
11) Denver Nuggets – Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
Denver's in a bad position after Dario Saric decided to stay in Europe at least two more years, and with both shooting guards off the board they'll take a risk on a player who can develop into something special. Nurkic is a big, big man and a true center, and could be the Nuggets' long term answer in the post.
Don't know a lot about him? Don't worry! That's why YouTube was invented!
Orlando desperately needs more scoring on the wing, and are in position to look for that after drafting their point guard fourth. Enter McDermott, who was one of the best scorers in college basketball history and showed at the NBA Draft Combine that he’s athletic enough to play on the perimeter. His ability to play the small-ball four is also a major asset.
13) Minnesota Timberwolves – Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
Minnesota has finally come to the realization that they're going to lose Kevin Love, so why not draft someone similar? Though he's obviously not as good, Payne is a team-first guy, a hard worker who plays physical in the post and has range all the way out to the three-point line. He's a safe pick here for the T-Wolves.
14) Phoenix Suns – Rodney Hood, SG/SF, Duke
Phoenix was arguably the league’s most heartwarming story last season, and their improvement was largely due to their team chemistry. Their point guard position is set with Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, but more talent would be welcome everywhere else.
Hood gives them some skill on the wing they didn't have last year. He's a great shooter and underrated slasher, but his defense needs some work. Still, his offensive game is so polished that he'll make an immediate impact in Phoenix.
15) Atlanta Hawks – Zach LaVine, PG/SG, UCLA
Atlanta was almost the story of these playoffs with the way they handled – and really should've beat – Indiana, but they still have to add pieces to maintain any sort of long-term success. The quickest way to address that is to pick LaVine, who has the potential to be one of the best players in this draft.
He can play right away behind Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver, and has the potential to replace either a few years down the road. LaVine still needs a few years to fully develop, but his crazy athleticism and 46-inch vertical can help Atlanta right now.
16) Chicago Bulls – Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
Without Derrick Rose, the Bulls are one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA, which they’ll need to address in the draft. And with Rose’s health becoming more and more of a question, a quality insurance option would be nice. Insurance options don’t get much better than Payton, who is the kind of defensive stopper head coach Tom Thibodeau loves.
17) Boston Celtics – T.J. Warren, SF, NC State
Warren might just be the second-best scorer in the draft behind Dougie McBuckets. He’s isn't great at anything, but he's really good at everything, which actually makes him harder to guard. Warren needs to improve defensively and isn’t very athletic, but he’ll give the Celtics a great scorer that will give maximum effort all the time.
18) Phoenix Suns – Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
After taking a wing player and having another first-round pick later in the draft, the Suns can take a bit of a gamble here on Capela. He has lottery talent, but still needs some time to develop. Capela can contribute his size and rebounding right away, and he has the potential to be a long-term starter.
19) Chicago Bulls – James Young, SG/SF, Kentucky
Plain and simple, the Bulls need more scoring, and James Young is the best answer at this point in the draft. He's great at attacking the basket and has a smooth jumper, but he does need to get a little better on defense - especially to play with Chicago. No one else on the roster has his offensive skills on the wing, so he should still see immediate playing time.
20) Toronto Raptors – Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
This is the best-case scenario for the Raptors. They don't necessarily need a point guard, but Ennis is a Toronto native that would be an immediate fan favorite. The Raptors are hoping to re-sign point guard Kyle Lowry, but there are plenty of other teams interested, and backup Greivis Vasquez is also a free agent. Ennis would be a good backup option who could turn into a starter down the road.
21) Oklahoma City Thunder – Cleanthony Early, SF/PF, Wichita State
It’s become painfully obvious that the Thunder need some SERIOUS scoring help to back up Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant off the bench. Enter Cleanthony Early, who has the size and athleticism to play both down low and on the perimeter. He showed at Wichita that he can score in a plethora of ways against the best competition in the NCAA Tournament, and there’s no reason to think he won’t be successful in the NBA.
22) Memphis Grizzlies – P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends/UNC
Memphis is another team, like Chicago, that is offensively challenged. We know Hairston can light it up, especially from deep, but his character issues came to light after he wasn't reinstated by the NCAA, sending him to the D-League. However, the Grizzlies have a strong locker room that should get the most out of Hairston.
23) Utah Jazz – K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
Utah needs help on the wing, and K.J. McDaniels is the best one on the board. He's an incredible defensive player and a jack of all trades. He’ll do all the little things to help make a team successful, and he can be a viable secondary option on offense who you don’t have to call plays for. McDaniels’ athleticism and defensive prowess is a perfect complement to Gordon Hayward on the wing.
24) Charlotte Hornets – Mitch McGary, C, Michigan
McGary would’ve been a lottery pick in last year’s draft, but injury problems and a stronger draft class dropped him to the end of the first round. He’s not a great scorer, but he’s a solid rebounder and good passer.
Reports say McGary stopped working out because he had been guaranteed a spot, and Charlotte is the culprit. He'll form a nice big-man rotation with Al Jefferson, Cody Zeller, and Bismack Biyombo.
25) Houston Rockets – Kyle Anderson, PG/SF, UCLA
Houston needs to start looking for insurance players with several of their inexpensive contracts about to end, and Anderson is one of the most versatile players in the draft. He can play every position other than center, and his playmaking skills are perfect for the Rockets’ drive-and-kick system.
26) Miami Heat – Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
The holes in Miami’s supporting cast became painstakingly obvious in the Finals, and Napier can help right away. He single-handedly led UConn to its second championship in four years, and proved he’s an extremely well-rounded player in the process, leading the Huskies in points, rebounds, and assists. Mario Chalmers is a free agent, and Napier could step in and fill his role effectively.
27) Phoenix Suns – Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse
Grant’s still a work in progress, but he has prototypical NBA size and the ability to play a small-ball four, which is crucial in Phoenix. He has the skills to contribute off the bench right now while he reaches his potential and can ease into a starting role.
28) Los Angeles Clippers – Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee
The Clippers need to improve their rebounding and find a third big man to add to their rotation, and Stokes is just the man for the job. He’s a little short at 6’8″, but he’s one of the best rebounders in the class and has an NBA-ready body. Stokes would also add the toughness L.A. has been lacking.
29) Oklahoma City Thunder - Jordan Clarkson, PG/SG, Missouri
With Reggie Jackson moving into the starting lineup alongside Russell Westbrook, OKC’s bench needs help. Clarkson is a good scorer who can play point or off the ball alongside Westbrook or Jackson, and would provide the Thunder will another viable offensive option
30) San Antonio Spurs – Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA
The Spurs need to get more athletic players to surround their aging core, and Adams provides a great value. He’s an above-average shooter with deceptive quickness and a knack for getting to the foul line. Adams should be able to immediately bolster San Antonio’s bench and could turn into a starter.
What do you think will happen draft night? Who do you want your team to take? Tweet your thoughts and responses to @brauf33.
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