It’s 2014 NBA Mock draft time! One of the best drafts in years! As many teams traded to get into this first round, there are a lot of moves that still are to be determined. This site is a good resource recapping a lot of the trades. My guess at the order below isn’t based on where things are now – but rather how I think it will end up. Things taken into account: Salaries, potential free agents, needs, and analysis from several NBA scouts. This is not a ranking of best players in the draft.
1. Utah Jazz - Andrew Wiggins, F, Kansas. You might hear some Jabari Parker chatter (he’s Mormon!) but right now, it’s Wiggins. Upside, upside, upside. Where does he fit if you keep Hayward? You can play both.
2. Milwaukee Bucks – Julius Randle, F, Kentucky. Will instantly be their best player. Randle and Sanders will be a nice tandem inside. They can re-shape the backcourt in the 2015 lottery – Antetokounmpo is still a few years away from being a factor.
3. Boston Celtics – Jabari Parker, F, Duke. Rumors Parker may stay. Fun storyline, I’m not buying it. If you’re one of those conspiracy types, how about the Celtics winning the lottery? Brad Stevens, Lakers and Celtics both down … yeah, yeah, I know, it’s not rigged.
4. Philadelphia 76ers – Joel Embiid, C, Kansas. Raw 7-footer who picked up a basketball for the first time three years ago. An Embiid/Noel frontline blocks a lot of shots, offers little offense. They’d have to let Spencer Hawes walk in free agency. Why not Marcus Smart? Because MCW looks like a keeper. Smart’s an improved shooter, but a better fit at PG.
5. Sacramento Kings - Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State. Smart’s a scorer and distributor in the mold of Russell Westbrook, with nearly as good athleticism. Smart, Cousins and McLemore? You’ve got something nice. I’m sure the Isaiah Thomas groupies won’t like this move.
6. Charlotte Bobcats – Dante Exum, PG, Australia – A lithe 6-foot-6 and only 18. Shouldn’t take long to become an impact player. I like Kemba Walker (16.5 ppg but only 38% FGs), and he can be a valuable reserve on this team. The Bobcats, again, are one of the worst scoring teams in the league, and dead last in FG shooting (41.1%).
7. LA Lakers – Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona. Often compared to a young Blake Griffin. Insane athlete. Kobe will whip him into shape quickly.
8. Phoenix Suns – Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State. Prolific scorer, above-average defender. Sixth man for a year, then takes over after they unload Dragic’s expiring? Or is it worth stashing Croatian Dario Saric here, and getting role players later? Primary needs now appear to be SF/SG, assuming Bledsoe is their future at PG.
9. Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans) – Rodney Hood, SF, Duke. What becomes of Evan Turner? There are trade rumors (Cleveland?) which would leave Philly with a scoring void at SF. While Duke’s Parker has the hype, Hood is quietly averaging 21 ppg, 66 FG% and 68% 3FG, though it’s obviously early.
10. Orlando Magic – Noah Vonleh, F, Indiana – Magic have been better than expected. Rank in the middle of the pack in many NBA categories after being the worst team in the league last year. Needs: Future PG, inside scorer, SF. Vonleh’s off to a nice start (12 ppg, 10 ppg) and would fit nicely next to Vucevic.
11. Dallas Mavericks – Mitch McGary, PF, Michigan. Terrific all-around skills. Will be 22 in June. Learns how to be a pro from Dirk, possibly becomes a 18-10 guy for maybe a decade? A less athletic Chris Webber?
12. Denver Nuggets - James Young, SG, Kentucky. Brian Shaw is still tinkering, so it’s difficult to tell what they need. Will they unload JaVale McGee? What happens when Danilo Gallinari returns? Don’t love Young yet, and the suddenly-defensive Nuggets won’t touch him unless the defense improves. But he can score.
13. Toronto Raptors – Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville. Only guy they’ve gone long on so far is DeMar DeRozan. The bad news: DeRozan and Rudy Gay hog all the shots, yet shoot 41% and 38% respectively. I think they’ll groom Harrell next year, then let Amir Johnson walk.
14. Phoenix Suns (via Washington) Dario Saric, F, Croatia – Yup, I’ve got the Wizards missing the playoffs. With three first round picks, sure, the Suns can afford to stash someone for a couple years. They aren’t a playoff team in the loaded West next year, anyway.
15. Cleveland Cavaliers – Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky. Varejao has another year left, then the Cavs may or may not pick up his option (plus, he’s 32 in September and can’t stay healthy); Bynum shows up briefly once a week. WCS will provide a good last line of defense.
16. Atlanta Hawks – Glenn Robinson III, F, Michigan. Rebounding has been their early weakness, but their bench lacks pop, at least with Lou Williams not fully healthy. Robinson has struggled this year at Michigan, but only because the Wolverines don’t have a PG. Could start as a rookie.
17. Orlando Magic (via NY via Denver) – Jahii Carson, PG, Arizona State. I’m an enormous fan, and think he’s got Nate Robinson’s athletic ability with Brandon Jennings skills. Heir apparent to Jameer Nelson?
18. Charlotte Bobcats (via Detroit) – Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan. Too high, right? As noted earlier, the Bobcats can’t shoot, and Stauskas is one of the best shooters in the draft. Last year he looked like a Kyle Korver; this year, he feels closer to a more explosive JJ Redick. Apologies for the white-guy comparisons.
19. Memphis Grizzlies – Doug McDermott, F, Creighton. Probably targeting a SG, or a backup at SF. How about a shooter for the postseason when teams double Gasol or Randolph? McDermott doesn’t have the size (6-foot-8) to play the stretch four, but man is he a lethal shooter beyond the arc.
20. Charlotte Bobcats (via Portland) - Adreian Payne, F, Michigan State. A third pick in the Top 20 could mean a Euro, or perhaps frontcourt help. Their 2013 pick, Cody Zeller, is shooting a woeful 34% so far. Payne, an elite athlete for 6-foot-10, 250, would be going much higher if he weren’t 23 at the time of the draft.
21. Phoenix Suns (via Minnesota) - Sam Dekker, F, Wisconsin. Such a good all-around player. I’m looking forward to when he’s free from the Bo Ryan system. Will we see Gordon Hayward-type growth?
22. Houston Rockets – Andrew Harrison, PG, Kentucky. Hasn’t looked great early – fouls have been a problem, so has running the offense - but it’s a long season, and he could easily leap into the lottery. Shooting 47% on FGs and 46% on 3FG. Jeremy Lin has improved his shot, but he won’t come cheap, which is why I think he moves on.
23. LA Clippers – Wayne Selden, G, Kansas. Very slow start for the Jayhawks, but a highly-touted shooter coming out of high school. At this rate, he probably stays in Lawrence for a year, becomes the man if Wiggins, Embiid, Ellis move on.
24. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn) – Spencer Dinwiddie, G, Colorado. Yeah, this is bullish on the Nets, but they can’t remain this bad in the lowly East. Dinwiddie was a late-bloomer who is shooting 44% on 3FGs this season. The bigger focus than this pick will be the Celtics at the trading deadline.
25. Oklahoma City – Corey Jefferson, F, Baylor. Tough player. Offensively limited, but a terrific athlete. Perkins is nearly done, Collison may be out of their price range, and Jefferson could be a solid role player in two seasons.
26. Chicago Bulls – Aaron Craft, PG, Ohio State. Toughest team to peg. Still have them making a run at least through one round of the playoffs (barring further injuries). The East is that bad. But the draft? Heck, this team could be blown up by the draft. Craft is a 1st round pick, that’s for sure.
27. San Antonio Spurs – Jordan Bachynski, C, Arizona State. Very agile, underrated 7-foot-2 senior who has made massive strides in four seasons. His 14-11-7 blocks against Marquette this week might have been the best game of his career.
28. Phoenix Suns (via Indiana) - Dakari Johnson, C, Kentucky. Four picks? Yup. Johnson is a project with upside, probably along the lines of Daniel Orton, who came out too early, was drafted, and is now on his third team in three years.
29. Utah Jazz (via Golden State) – Chris Walker, F, Florida. He’s ineligible until next month, but by all accounts, the 6-foot-11 McDonald’s All-American is very talented.
30. Miami Heat – Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut. Chalmers is a free agent, and if they’re thinking of sliding Cole into a starting role, Napier would be a superb backup.