2014 NBA Mock Draft: First Round
The NBA regular season came to a close yesterday, and for many teams, the NBA Draft is the next big event on the calendar. While we don’t know the draft order yet—the draft lottery takes place on May 20—it’s not too early to take a look at what might transpire, based on the final standings. We have also provided the percentage chance that each team in the lottery has at the top pick.
The NBA Draft takes place on June 26 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
1. Milwaukee Bucks (25% for first pick) – Andrew Wiggins, SG, Kansas
The 2014 NBA Draft is loaded with talent, but few if any players have the upside of Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins. The Toronto product was a great scorer all season at Kansas, but really proved he could carry the team after Joel Embiid went out with a back injury. Wiggins scored 41 points in the regular season finale against West Virginia, and put up 30 and 22 in Big 12 Tournament games against Oklahoma State and Iowa State. His season ended in disappointment with a poor outing in an upset loss to Stanford in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, but one bad game won’t undo the overall excellence he displayed in the second half of Kansas’ season.
2. Philadelphia 76ers (19.9%) – Jabari Parker, F, Duke
The 76ers were not quite able to secure the most ping-pong balls in this year’s lottery; no one really anticipated the Bucks being this horrendous. No matter what happens, they should end up with a nice parting gift. Here in the second slot, we have them taking Duke’s Jabari Parker, who declared for the draft earlier today. Parker may be the most safe pick projected to go in the lottery. Combining Parker’s ability to score from all spots on the floor with an exciting young point guard like Michael Carter-Williams and a high-upside center in Nerlens Noel should make Philly an exciting team to watch sooner than later.
3. Orlando Magic (15.6%) – Dante Exum, PG, Australia
Australian point guard Dante Exum has excellent NBA size at 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan. He will be a very valuable commodity early in the draft—for as deep as the 2014 class looks, it’s a bit light on talent at point guard. While Embiid and Randle are certainly possibilities here, we see Orlando pairing Exum with Victor Oladipo and building one of the sport’s most exciting young backcourts.
4. Utah Jazz (11.9%) – Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
The Jazz have two talented young frontcourt players in Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, and add Julius Randle here with the fourth pick. Randle is a prototypical low post threat, but he’s surprisingly athletic and has solid ball skills for a guy his size. He’s also a tenacious rebounder, which is something the Jazz definitely need.
5. Boston Celtics (8.8%) – Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
If not for the back injury, there would be a serious argument for Embiid as the top overall pick. That could still happen, but nagging injuries to centers are sure to scare away some teams, especially after the Greg Oden saga in Portland. Embiid has rare talent on both ends for a seven-footer, and seems more polished than he probably should be at this point in his development, giving him scary potential. Even if he slips a bit due to injury, there’s no way he falls past the five spot. Boston would likely be thrilled if Embiid fell here.
6. Los Angeles Lakers (6.3%) – Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
It’s really weird to see the Lakers in the lottery discussion, isn’t it? There aren’t a ton of guards who project to go high in the draft, but Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart is definitely an attractive choice. L.A. needs to get younger and more athletic, which Smart brings, and they have veteran guards like Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash who could be real assets in a young guard’s development. The Lakers might be less likely to shy away from Smart due to any perceived character issues than other franchises because of their veteran presence.
7. Sacramento Kings (4.3%) – Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
Sacramento has two young stars in DeMarcus Cousins and underrated point guard Isaiah Thomas, and Aaron Gordon would give them another significant piece to build around. His half-court offensive game is definitely a work in progress, but he is a good defender, rebounder, and one of the best athletes in the class. Gordon doesn’t make Sacramento a playoff team by himself, but he does make the Kings more fun to watch, especially when he gets out in transition.
8. Detroit Pistons (2.8%) – Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
The Pistons have an abundance of talented forwards, but no pure point guard to deliver them the ball. Ennis is as pure as they come at the one spot. As a freshman, the native Canadian led Syracuse to 25 straight wins to start the year, and while the Orange tailed off to end the year, it wasn’t due to a lack of effort on Ennis’ part. He’s a more natural point guard than Brandon Jennings, and would help give the Pistons a steady presence at the head of the offense.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers (1.7%) – Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
Cleveland’s first overall selection of Anthony Bennett hasn’t gone too well after one season, but they can make Cavs fans forget about it quickly if Indiana freshman Noah Vonleh falls to Cleveland here. Vonleh is 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, and averaged an impressive 11.3 points and nine rebounds for a struggling Hoosiers squad that relied on the freshman more than they probably hoped. He hasn’t gotten the attention that Wiggins, Parker, and Randle have, but his ceiling isn’t too far behind those three.
10. Philadelphia 76ers – Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State (from New Orleans, Top 5 protected, 1.1% chance for No. 1 pick)
Philly has its point guard in Michael Carter-Williams, its future center in Nerlens Noel, and based on this mock, an excellent young forward in Jabari Parker. With this 10th pick, which they should receive unless New Orleans gets very lucky with the lottery, Michigan State shooting guard Gary Harris looks like a great option here. Harris is a good shooter, which the Sixers will need in the backcourt as Carter-Williams struggles in that department. The Spartan would be a very nice addition to this rebuilding job.
11. Denver Nuggets (0.8%) – Rodney Hood, SF, Duke
Hood was an incredibly effective scorer for Coach K and Duke this year, and should mesh well with Denver’s existing talent. Hood can score from all points on the floor, and has good size for an NBA small forward, but may need to get stronger to become an effective defender and rebounder. At worst, he should be a solid rotation player for a number of years.
12. Orlando Magic – Doug McDermott, F, Creighton (will receive later of two picks between Denver and New York from Dwight Howard trade. NYK have 0.7% chance for No. 1 pick)
After adding Exum with the third pick in this mock, the Magic come back for the most prolific scorer in recent college basketball memory. McDermott’s athleticism and ability to defend at the NBA level are question marks, but his shooting stroke is not, and players who can hit threes can make it in the NBA. Expect Magic jersey sales to skyrocket in Omaha, Nebraska.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves (0.6%) – T.J. Warren, SF, N.C. State
Minnesota likely has one more year to convince Kevin Love that it is moving in the right direction. Warren was among the nation’s best scorers this season, and if anything, should be able to bring that to the NBA. Warren is also a better rebounder than many give him credit for, averaging over seven per game. Warren should add to Minnesota’s already potent offense as the T’Wolves finally look to get over the playoff hump.
14. Phoenix Suns (0.5%) - Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
Many expected Phoenix to be among the NBA’s tanking teams. Instead, they made a real run for the playoffs, falling just one game short of eighth seed Dallas. Stauskas is among the best shooters in the draft, he’s long enough to get his shot off against NBA guards and has unlimited range and an underrated athlete. His ability to shoot in transition is deadly, and fits into Phoenix’s system.
15. Atlanta Hawks – James Young, SG, Kentucky
James Young had an up-and-down first half, as most of Kentucky’s young players did, but really came on down the stretch, and made some electrifying plays in the NCAA Tournament, so its not a huge surprise that he’s been moving up draft boards. Young shot just under 42% from three-point range in post-season play, and 35% for the season. He’s also a very good athlete, as evidenced by his monster dunk against UConn in the National Championship. Young needs serious work on the defensive end, but his offensive potential is exciting.
16. Chicago Bulls – Kyle Anderson, G/F, UCLA (From Charlotte)
Anderson may be the most unique player in the entire draft. He played almost every position on the floor for UCLA, and has the size and skill set to do similar things in the NBA. Anderson was 12th in the Pac-12 in scoring, third in rebounds, and first in assists. Watching Tom Thibodeau utilize his wide-ranging talents is a fun thought.
17. Phoenix Suns – Dario Saric, F, Croatia (From Washington)
6-foot-10 point forward Saric is a very intriguing prospect. He grew up playing point guard before growing into a frontcourt player, but did not lose many of his guard skills, similar to Pelicans All-Star Anthony Davis. He’s not a great shooter, but he’s excellent in transition and is an effective scorer from the post. Some mock drafts have him going top 10 this year, making him a good value pick for Phoenix here.
18. Boston Celtics – Zach LaVine, G, UCLA (From Brooklyn)
LaVine was a bit of a surprise entrant into the draft. He played under 25 minutes per night for UCLA, and was a bit inconsistent, especially in conference play. LaVine is a great athlete and can play either guard spot, and could pair well with Rajon Rondo, if Boston keeps him in the fold this year. He can also function as an explosive player off the bench.
19. Chicago Bulls – Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn
While the Bulls would like to see Derrick Rose play sometime this decade, Tom Thibodeau’s coaxed strong play from his replacement point guards like Nate Robinson and D.J. Augustin in recent seasons, and Napier could fit a similar mold. He’s a proven winner and strong shotmaker, but he’s flashed very good point guard skills as well. We know that LeBron James is a fan, but it doesn’t seem like he’ll fall to Miami.
20. Toronto Raptors – Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
Payne may be the best available player here, and gives Toronto a super-athletic big who can also stretch the defense. Payne can play with most bigs at 6-foot-10, and shot better than 42% from three-point range this year. Masai Ujiri is building a very intriguing club in Canada, and adding a guy like Payne can really bolster what they can do at the forward spot.
21. Memphis Grizzlies – K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
Few picks in this mock feature as strong of a player-team identity fit as McDaniels to Memphis. The forward was the undisputed leader of this season’s stingy Tigers defense, and averaged 17.1 points per game for a team that really struggled to score otherwise. He’s not a great shooter and doesn’t have an elite skill, but he’s proven to be a very strong overall player.
22. Oklahoma City Thunder – P.J. Hairston, SG, UNC (From Dallas)
P.J. Hairston is the forgotten man of this draft after being suspended from UNC for the 2013-2014 season and spending the year in the D-League. Hairston gives Oklahoma City an offensive option off the bench who can hit open jumpers, and there will be plenty of those with defenses keying in on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
23. Utah Jazz – Jerami Grant, F, Syracuse (From Warriors)
Jerami Grant is one of the best pure athletes in this draft, but he has plenty to work on in terms of basketball skills. He’s a very streaky jump shooter and has yet to show three-point range, but he’s a strong finisher around the rim, a good rebounder, and a ferocious dunker. He also excels at drawing contact and getting to the free throw line. Grant had some back issues that may scare some teams, but he shouldn’t fall much further than this spot, and may wind up in the back of the lottery if he impresses in workouts.
24. Charlotte Hornets – Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland (From Portland)
NBADraft.net calls Capela “as good as any athlete ever coming from Europe.” That’s high praise, given some of the players on current NBA rosters that came from across the Atlantic. Capela is a 6-foot-11 forward with excellent potential who is excellent in transition and shows good defensive skills. He’s definitely a project, but if there’s anyone who can help a post player learn to finish around the rim, its Al Jefferson.
25. Houston Rockets – Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
If nothing else, Cleanthony Early knows how to win, which franchises value. Luckily, there is plenty else that comes along with this Wichita State product. Early is a 6-foot-8 wing player who rebounds well, stretches the defense from the outside, and makes huge shots. Early played four years in college which hurts him in terms of “upside”, but he’s an established player, and can help teams right away.
26. Miami Heat – Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
Damian Lillard came out of Weber State to become one of the best young point guards in the NBA, and Elfrid Payton is hoping to become the next small school product to make that leap. Payton is a rangy point guard at 6-foot-3 with a 6-foot-7 wingspan, averaged just under six assists and exactly six rebounds per game, and led his Ragin’ Cajuns in scoring with 19.1 points per game. He doesn’t have a great outside shot, but as a bench guard in Miami, he wouldn’t need to shoot the lights out right away. Running that prolific offense efficiently is enough, and Payton should fit that role.
27. Phoenix Suns – Mitch McGary, PF, Michigan (From Indiana)
Had McGary left after last season, his excellent 2013 NCAA Tournament would have propelled him into the lottery, even after a mediocre freshman season. McGary had huge expectations laid on his shoulders this year, and wound up missing almost the entire season due to injury. If he enters the draft this season, he is a risk, but the Suns have three first round picks, and at 27, McGary is worth taking a look at.
28. Los Angeles Clippers – Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan
GR3 has an NBA pedigree and two solid college season under his belt. He’s a fluid athlete that plays above the rim and is an efficient scorer from the field. His jumper can use some work, but he can knock down shots from deep. Robinson would give Chris Paul another top level athlete for his arsenal. Who doesn’t want to watch more highlights from Lob City?
29. Oklahoma City Thunder – Aaron Harrison, G, Kentucky
Harrison hit big shot after big shot in this year’s NCAA Tournament, and his draft stock is skyrocketing as a result. It is unclear whether or not he will enter the draft yet, but if he does, expect him to find his way into the first round. He has excellent size for an NBA point guard, but can also play off the ball. He has a clear penchant for big moments, and Oklahoma City has plenty of those on the horizon.
30. San Antonio Spurs - Vasiljie Micic, PG, Serbia
The Spurs love their European players, and Micic is a very good fit here at the end of the first round. The 6-foot-5 guard has good NBA size, and is already seasoned professional player—he’s been playing in the Serbian League since he was 16 years old. He was named to the All-Tournament team after winning a silver medal in the 2013 FIBA Under-19 World Championship.