Our Previous Mocks:
3/28/2014 - 2014 NBA Mock Draft: March Madness
1/21/2014 - 2014 NBA Mock Draft #2
12/23/2013 - 2014 NBA Mock Draft #1
With the 2014 NBA Draft coming up on Thursday June 26th, here is a mock draft one week in advance:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Questions remain about his health, but there is simply no denying that Embiid has out-of-this-world potential. Embiid is one of the most athletic seven-footers that we have yet to see at the college level and if he can stay away from injuries he has the skill to be a franchise-changing big man. With reports that he is scheduled to have surgery on his foot, he may have to sit out a large portion of his rookie season, but the Cavs are probably willing to take a risk considering they were outrageously lucky in winning this pick in the first place.
2. Milwaukee Bucks - Andrew Wiggins, G/F, Kansas
Wiggins is the most athletic prospect in this draft and also has the highest ceiling. The Bucks need talent, period, so they would be ecstatic to draft a player like Wiggins who was dubbed the next LeBron coming out of high school. While he never lived up to those expectations in college, he showed enough promise that the Bucks will go with him over Parker and try to run with a young core of Wiggins, Giannis Antetokounmpo, John Henson, and Larry Sanders. A group like that would have potential to grow and eventually become the headliners of a playoff-caliber roster.
3. Philadelphia 76ers - Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
The Sixers will be dismayed to have missed out on their prize pick, Andrew Wiggins, but Parker is an incredibly talented player too. Though he doesn’t quite have the physical skills that Wiggins possesses, Parker is probably a more refined scorer, especially in a set offense. The Sixers would certainly like a guy who can play a fast paced transition game, but a set-offense scorer is certainly a need too. Parker also makes sense from a positional standpoint, as Philadelphia is in dire need of some talent on the wings. With Parker, Thaddeus Young, Nerlens Noel, MCW, and still the number 10 pick, the Sixers have a fantastic group of young players to build around.
4. Orlando Magic - Dante Exum, G, Australia
The Magic need a point guard. Exum is a tall, athletic point guard with scoring ability, plus a bit of added mystery and intrigue since he played in Australia. Its perfect for both sides, as Exum will be thrust into a very young and talented lineup that includes Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris, and Mo Harkless which is still very raw but full of potential. A backcourt of Oladipo and Exum will cause problems for every defense they play against and should carry the Magic to a much better season next year, and potentially the playoffs in a few if their players progress as planned.
5. Utah Jazz - Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
The Jazz have no true positional needs so they have the luxury of taking the best player on the board. Vonleh has great physical attributes for a power forward and is pretty good technically too. If he works on his shot he could be a truly dominant force, but right away he would provide as an efficient rebounder and a good low-post scorer. Eventually, the Jazz could have a fairly formidable front court unit of Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Vonleh.
6. Boston Celtics - Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
In a best-case scenario, the Celtics will trade this pick among others for Kevin Love. However, if they keep it, Danny Ainge seems to be quite impressed with Aaron Gordon. He is a Blake Griffin-type athletic forward who can defend and run the floor, and pretty much everything asked of him except for shooting. While that is obviously a huge part of the game, a better shot comes with time and practice, all which should be much more available to Gordon with a professional schedule focused solely on basketball. He is only 18 years old and would be a piece t
hat the Celtics could build around or down the road flip him with other pieces for a star.
7. Los Angeles Lakers - Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
The Lakers and their fanbase will certainly be enticed by the “big-name” commodity that Julius Randle is, regardless of his injury status and pro potential. If the Lakers want a quick, one year rebuild, Randle might be the man, because he has the technical ability to contribute right away unlike some other players in this draft. However, his potential is also much lower than many players in this draft, as his physical skills and build are not quite as impressive as others. The Lakers are certainly pretty high on Randle, but if he slips past them it could be a fairly long fall for him.
8. Sacramento Kings - Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
While the Kings probably do not need another player with off-court issues, there is a clear drop off in talent from Smart to the next best player in McDermott. Smart potentially could have gone as high as pick #4, but slides here due to the baggage that comes with him. However, Smart is incredibly athletic, tall for a point guard, and makes the players around him better. With Isiah Thomas’s future in question, the Kings would be glad to have a young and talented point guard who can get the ball to Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins while still score on his own.
9. Charlotte Hornets (from Pistons) - Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
The Hornets are slowly beginning to build a pretty solid team, with Kemba Walker at the point and Al Jefferson down low. However, they desperately need scoring help on the wings, especially if Michael Kidd-Gilchrist continues to be raw on the offensive end. McDermott can certainly fill up the bucket but there are serious questions about his potential. At best he seems to have the ability to be a solid role player, which is slightly underwhelming for a lottery pick. The thing about McDermott, though, is that he does have the maturity to provide right away, which might make him appealing to the Hornets front office.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (from Pelicans) - Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
The Sixers already grabbed Parker with their first pick and now add a two-guard to complement Michael Carter-Williams. Harris can shoot and is tall, giving him a matchup advantage against many shooting guards throughout the league. He consistently made big plays for Michigan State and would add a lot to a young and talented lineup that could seriously make a run at a playoff berth next season. That trade with the Pelicans that set away Jrue Holliday is looking incredible now as the Sixers have effectively created a whole new talented (and young!) starting five in only two years.
11. Denver Nuggets - Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
Stauskas shot up the draft board as a result of his heroic performances in the NCAA tournament. He is a knock down shooter on the perimeter and his knack for producing in big moments will help his draft stock but there are questions about other parts of his game. His defensive ability is suspect and it is unclear whether he will be able to run a pro offense.
12. Orlando Magic (from Knicks via Nuggets) - Dario Saric, PF, Croatia
Saric is as intriguing as international prospects are, and would add a great scoring dynamic to a team that already has a young and talented lineup and has added a scorer in Exum earlier in the draft. Saric might have even gone higher if it was definite that he would be coming over to the NBA from Croatia, but he has previously said that he would only play for the Lakers or Celtics. However, with their second pick in the round, the Magic might be willing to take a risk on Saric and if he come over, might finally make them forget about Dwight Howard.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves - James Young, SF, Kentucky
Young was an extremely inconsistant player throughout his college career, but at times we got to see what a special player he can be. When at his best, he is a dynamic three-point shooter with slashing ability and more than enough athleticism. Unfortunately, he is not always at his best, although teams will likely let him off the hook a bit because he is also the youngest player in the entire class. The Timberwolves could really use an explosive scorer for Ricky Rubio to feed, and, even if they shouldn’t expect Young to be that guy right away, he could eventually be that guy.
14. Phoenix Suns - T.J. Warren, SF, NC State
The Suns seem determined to build their team around athleticism, and what a better way to so than by drafting a guy in T.J. Warren who can defend well, score, and is never shy to run the floor. If they can re-sign Eric Bledsoe, he and Warren will have a field day together against opposing teams’ retreating defenses. As both Bledsoe and Goran Dragic can hit the three, there is no real need for Warren to do so, which will allow him to focus on other portions of his game that he could really excel at. If the Suns draft Warren, they will have no shortage of highlight-reel ally-oops from Bledsoe or Dragic as well as a guy who will never quit, and therefore will love to have him for hopefully a long time.
15. Atlanta Hawks - Zach LaVine, PG, UCLA
Of all the players in the draft, Zach LaVine may just be the most athletic, and that’s saying something in a draft class that includes players like Andrew Wiggins and Dante Exum. His technical skills aren’t bad either, as he is a better-than-average three point shooter, a great dribbler, and an impressive passer. All of the questions about LaVine will be about his brain. However, the reality is, you can teach a player some things but many of LaVine’s qualities are unteachable, which is why he is so valuable. For the Hawks, LaVine has added value in that he can play both at point guard and shooting guard, both positions where the Hawks could use some help.
16. Chicago Bulls (from Hornets) - Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana Lafayette
Payton has shot up draft boards from nowhere to become the 4th point guard taken, a position which has been an enigma for the Bulls of late. For the past two years they have been expecting Rose to come back from a serious injury and have a big year, but so many failed attempts have to make Chicago worried about their future at the position. Payton is an incredibly fast, penetrating point guard who could very well hold down Rose’s role until he returns. If everything works out as planned, then the Bulls will end up with a very effective bench scorer in Payton, but if Rose faces more setbacks, then they could have a potential replacement. Either way they get much needed scorer in Payton.
17. Boston Celtics (from Nets) - Rodney Hood, SG/SF, Duke
Hood is an extremely unique player, but he won’t necessarily benefit from this uniqueness in the NBA. He has the height of a small forward but the shooting ability and body build of a shooting guard. On offense, this creates a nice matchup situation, but on defense, he will likely struggle to guard either position at the NBA level. The Celtics are already a very strong defensive team, so they can probably afford to take on Hood as an offensive specialist and a dynamic role player, but the probability of him becoming a regular starting is low.
18. Phoenix Suns (from Wizards) - Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
Nurkic finds himself as the second ranked center in the draft behind the best prospect in the draft, so there is no one else to really compare him to this year. However, he has the height and size (6’11”, 280 lbs) to be considered by any team high in the draft who needs a center. His stock does take a hit though, as he plays in Bosnia and it is unclear how his game will relate to the NBA. But the potential benefits will outweigh the potential risks in this case because, even though Phoenix loves athleticism and Nurkic is not the most athletic, they could surely benefit from a huge force in the middle of the paint whom Bledsoe and Dragic could throw the ball inside to or who could hold down the fort defensively.
19. Chicago Bulls - Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
The Bulls are looking for players that are NBA-ready so that they can retool for a playoff run as quickly as possible. Payne is about as NBA-ready as they come, having dominated as a veteran player for Michigan State this past season. He would provide them with some immediate front court depth behind Noah, Boozer, and Gibson. Payne doesn’t have huge amounts of potential but he could come in right away and help both on the boards and on offense.
20. Toronto Raptors - Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
Ennis is probably the most NBA-ready point guard in the draft, as he is a smart player who can distribute the ball while shoot when necessary, and doesn’t make too many mistakes. That is exactly what the Raptors are looking for with Kyle Lowry most likely gone in free agency after finishing 3rd in the Eastern Conference last year. If Toronto is looking to stay near the top of the standings this year, they will need to replace Lowry with a younger version who will hopefully mesh well with their core of DeMar Derozan, Greivis Vasquez, Jonas Valanciunas, and Terrence Ross. Hopefully Ennis can pull it off and if he does, the Raptors will have quite a steal at #20 in the first round.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Mavericks via Rockets & Lakers) - P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends (D League)
Before leaving North Carolina, Hairston was on course to being a definite lottery pick. A year later, now in the NBA D League, Hairston’s stock has dropped a bit. However, his stock has not dropped because he has played poorly, in fact, he has absolutely dominated the D League. The reason his stock has dropped is because he is because he is playing in the D League itself. There is no denying Hairston’s talent, though, and he might be able to bring to the Thunder what Jeremy Lamb has never truly been able to provide - an offense sixth man who can knock down outside shots.
22. Memphis Grizzlies - Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
Capela has seen his stock fall recently as he has shown in workouts to be a little raw. He is tall and lanky for his position (6’11”, 222 lbs) and a supreme rim-protector and overall defender as well as a rebounder. His size and athleticism are intriguing to many teams, and he is in a similar situation to Giannis Antetokounmpo last year: an overseas prospect who is athletic but hard to project. As the Bucks took a chance last year, the Grizzlies will this year and hope to land a long-term replacement for the most-likely-departed Zach Randolph quite late in the first round.
23. Utah Jazz (from Warriors) - Kyle Anderson, SF/PF, UCLA
Anderson was one of the players that I was most impressed with during March Madness this past year. Despite not leading UCLA too deep into the tournament, Anderson’s incredible skills were on display for every single minute. He played every position except for center for UCLA and honestly has the physical and technical tools to play the same amount of positions in the NBA. At 6’9” he certainly is sizable enough to play at SF and PF but he proved all season that he also has immaculate dribbling and passing skills that allow him to play PG or SG too. The Jazz don’t have any dire needs so taking a chance on a unique talent like Anderson makes a lot of sense here.
24. Charlotte Hornets (from Trail Blazers) - K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
After already taking a SF in Doug McDermott at #9 in this draft, some might wonder why the Hornets would go after another in McDaniels. With questions surrounding McDermott’s potential, taking a chance on a an athletic scorer who can also rebound could alleviate some of the risk that comes with McDermott. Charlotte will most likely thrust McDermott into the fire right away while McDaniels could take some time to develop his overall game and shooting ability. He has a lot of potential, and if he refines his skills he could become something close to the player Michael Kidd-Gilchrist never could.
25. Houston Rockets - Jordan Clarkson, PG, Missouri
The Rockets already have Jeremy Lin and James Harden in the backcourt so there is no desperate need for upgrade at the starting spot, but they could use some quality backups behind those two. Clarkson could use a little work on his shooting, but he is a great passer, leader, and ball handler, who could step in right away and give the Rockets quality minutes. This pick certainly isn’t an attempt to hit a home run but there’s no doubting that Clarkson would make an immediate impact on the Rockets backcourt depth.
26. Miami Heat - Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
27. Phoenix Suns (from Pacers) - Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse
Grant has all the athleticism and physical attributes that you want to see in a small forward, but because his technical ability is lacking a bit, he may project as more of a long-term selection. Early in the draft we have the Suns taking T.J. Warren, who could step in and play right away at the small forward position, so Grant would have time to develop his skills. Additionally, Grant can play at both the small forward and power forward positions, and the Suns are in dire need of some depth at those two positions.
28. Los Angeles Clippers - Jarnell Stokes, PF, Tennessee
Stokes is a very capable defender and rebounder, which is pretty much what team’s are going to get this late in the draft. He can play in the low post and if the Clippers are looking to shed guys like DeAndre Jordan in order to attain more cap space, Stokes could potentially play side by side with Blake Griffin and focus on defense while allowing Blake to focus more on the offensive side, where he has greatly improved in recent seasons. Although Stokes is a little small for a power forward (6’9”), he has extremely long arms (7’1”) and those could well make up for it. For a team like the Clippers who are looking to be contenders for a long time, adding a guy like Stokes to fill in the holes and help out in the non-flashy aspects of the game will really benefit their team.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder - Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
Cleanthony Early has the talent alone to be a lottery pick in this draft, however, at the age of 23, the general consensus is that he may not have as much potential as other players in the class. The good news for Early is that the Thunder are in win-now mode, and a rookie that can come in and immediately add something to the team is extremely valuable. The Thunder are packed at the small forward position, but that shouldn’t be a problem for Early either, as he has the ability to play power forward too, and would be a nice offensive big-man to contrast Serge Ibaka’s defensive tendencies.
30. San Antonio Spurs - Artem Klimenko, C, Russia
As previously noted, this year’s center crop is extremely weak as only three are projected to be taken in the first round, but they are all full of potential. The second of two international center prospects is Klimenko, who is a HUGE (pun intended) unknown because of the league in which he played in Russia. However, at 7’1” he is the tallest player in the draft and is a very good defender, two qualities which are very important in centers. He is small for his size (228 lbs) and therefore may not be strong enough to guard some of the bigger centers in the league, but all of his upside is exactly the reason why the Spurs would take a chance on him. Gregg Popovich has made a name for more international players than one can count, and this could be his next great accomplishment. The defending champions have such a deep roster that they can afford to take a developmental player with the last pick in the first round, and perhaps he will learn from Duncan and Popovich and realize his insane potential.