Monday, December 23, 2013

2014 NBA Mock Draft #1

This first Mock Draft of the season is obviously premature, but no matter was fun to put together and speculate on where the nation's top college talent will end up. The order is based solely on the standings from right now and does not take into account the unpredictability of the lottery, so it is clearly not the same as it will be at year's end. Here it goes:

1.  Milwaukee Bucks - Jabari Parker, SF, Duke

The Bucks desperately need scoring, so they go ahead and take the most athletically-gifted scoring machine in the draft. Combine with their other freaks-of-nature in Larry Sanders and John Henson, the Bucks will have a great core for the future.

2.  Utah Jazz - Andrew Wiggins, SG, Kansas

Wiggins has had an up-and-down season, but there is no way the Jazz pass up who some had called the best prospect since LeBron. He will greatly improve their team overall, and get them off to a great start toward becoming relevant again.

3.  Philadelphia 76ers - Joel Embiid, C, Kansas

The Sixers are smart enough to know that the only way to compete with the Heat and Pacers in the East is to have a good center to hold down the paint. Embiid is by far the best in the draft and he will be everything and much more than the Sixers were hoping to get when they traded for Andrew Bynum last year.

4.  Orlando Magic - Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky

The Magic know how to tank. They have a great young core, and adding Randle to the mix might even propel them to a high playoff seed next year. He is that good, a much better version of Josh Smith, for he can shoot from anywhere on the floor and rebound extremely well.

5.  Sacramento Kings - Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State

Smart could pair with Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt and become a dynamic duo for the Kings. Smart can score prolifically and with his size could create many mismatches for opposing teams to defend.

6.  Denver Nuggets (from Knicks - C. Anthony trade) - Aaron Gordon, SF/PF Arizona

The Nuggets were successful last year with a good SF in Andre Iguodala, so the versatile Gordon would be a much needed improvement to their defensive and ability to run the floor. He has the potential to finally reward the Nuggets for trading Carmelo Anthony back in 2011.

7.  Atlanta Hawks (from Nets - J. Johnson trade) - Dante Exum, PG, Australia

While it is hard to project foreign prospects, Exum has the size and scoring ability that could translate directly to the NBA. A huge upgrade from Jeff Teague, Exum will propel the Hawks into the upper ranks of the Eastern Conference.

8.  Cleveland Cavaliers - Dario Saric, SF, Croatia

The Cavaliers need a SF, and could be getting a steal in the little-known Saric. He has the all-around ability that would complement Kyrie Irving well, and if the Cavs are able to haul in a major free agent they could contend in the East next year.

9.  Chicago Bulls - Zach LaVine, PG, UCLA

The Bulls have shown of late they cannot survive without Derrick Rose, so they have to do everything they can to find a replacement for the often-injured point guard. LaVine fits the bill, as he has hight and scoring ability like Rose, and with the talent on the Bulls, would rack up a lot of assists as well.

10.  Memphis Grizzlies - James Young, SF, Kentucky

Young is a shooter, and a good one at that, especially from 3-point range. Drafting him would give the Grizzlies the ability to swap him in for Tony Allen when in need of more scoring, but use Allen when a defensive upgrade is needed, giving them the flexibility that they are lacking because they are a too defensive-minded team.

11.  Philadelphia 76ers (from Pelicans - J. Holiday trade) - Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana

Vonleh has the scoring and rebounding ability as Julius Randle, although Vonleh's shot is not nearly as good. However, he could be the steal of the draft for the Sixers and pairing him with Embiid and Nerlens Noel to go along with Michael Carter-Williams, the Sixers will be we'll on their way to contending in the East.

12.  Minnesota Timberwolves - Rodney Hood, SG, Duke

The Timberwolves need a SG, and already with a pass-first point guard in Ricky Rubio and a rebounding machine in Kevin Love, a 3-point specialist in Hood would really round out their team and give them a greater chance against the very strong Western Conference.

13.  Los Angeles Lakers - Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville

The Lakers probably never thought they would be in the lottery with the core they have, but they have to face the fact that their older players are not who they once were. Harrell would be a great replacement for Pao Gasol, for he takes high-percentage shots and is a very effective rebounder.

14.  Utah Jazz (from Warriors - A. Iguodala trade) - Chris Walker, SF, Florida

The Jazz are sitting pretty with two lottery picks, and although this one is at the end of the lottery it could end up being a steal. Walker has been injured for the whole season up to this point, so he is hard to project, but his athleticism is exactly what the Jazz need and could be an incredibly dynamic pairing with Wiggins for a long time.

15.  Boston Celtics - Andrew Harrison, PG, Kentucky

16.  Charlotte Bobcats (from Pistons - B. Gordon trade) - Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse

17.  Chicago Bulls (from Bobcats - T. Thomas trade) - Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State

18.  Phoenix Suns (from Wizards - M. Gortat trade) - Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky

19.  Orlando Magic (from Nuggets - D. Howard trade) - Wayne Selden Jr, SG, Kansas

20.  Dallas Mavericks - Mario Hezonja, SF, Croatia

21.  Phoenix Suns - Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin

22.  Houston Rockets - Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton

23.  Toronto Raptors - Adreian Payne, PF/C, Michigan State

24.  Boston Celtics - (from Nets through Hawks - P. Pierce trade) - Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan

25.  Los Angeles Clippers - Mitch McGary, PF, Michigan

26.  San Antonio Spurs - Spencer Dinwiddie, SG, Colorado

27.  Miami Heat - Jahii Carson, PG, Arizona State

28.  Oklahoma City Thunder - Jabari Bird, SG, Cal

29.  Phoenix Suns (from Pacers - L. Scola trade) - Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA

30.  Charlotte Bobcats (from Trail Blazers - G. Wallace trade) - Brandon Ashley, SF, Arizona

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