Now that the draft order for the 2014 NBA Draft is all set, let's take a first crack at projecting the first round.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
It's kind of ridiculous that the Cavaliers have won the lottery again but alas, what are we going to do. I have seen a lot of mocks project Andrew Wiggins first overall but I think at this point, they would go with Embiid. In a league where there is a dearth of size, teams are always going to be tempted by a potential franchise center, even one with some back concerns. Embiid is a defensive game-changer as he is an exceptional athlete and utilizes his height and length to be a fiend in the paint. He only has a few years of basketball experience and his offensive game is a little raw but he has the skills to be a force down low.
2. Milwaukee Bucks - Andrew Wiggins, G/F, Kansas
For a Milwaukee team that won a hearty 15 games, they could with just about any of the elite talents in this draft but should they be forced to choose between Wiggins and Jabari Parker, I think they would go with the former. It was comical when people were calling Wiggins overrated early in his freshman year in Lawrence but by the end of the year, he looked like the kind of player people thought he would be. He has insane athleticism and can really explode at the rim. He also is a great defender but there are times on the court when he is not as assertive as he should be.
3. Philadelphia 76ers - Jabari Parker, F, Duke
There was a reason why some fans referred to this club as "Tankadelphia" as they were blatantly tearing the team down in hopes for a high pick. Fortunately, they got just that and can take one of the three stars in this draft, and it is Parker that is available. Of the top picks, I think Parker may be the best suited to star right away and Philadelphia, who was last in the second in points per possession, could certainly use his prodigious offensive gifts. He may not have a defensive position just yet but he is extremely versatile and polished for an incoming rookie.
4. Orlando Magic - Dante Exum, G, Australia
Victor Oladipo is not a natural point guard but he can play the position and played a solid amount of minutes there for the Magic. Exum may not be a natural point guard either but he has the ability to play the position a la Oladipo. And the ability to pair him and Oladipo in the backcourt has to be a tantalizing thought for the Orlando brass. Exum's shot is a little inconsistent but he is a long and athletic guard that can create off the bounce for himself or for teammates, is tremendous in transition, should be able to defend multiple positions and has nice court vision.
5. Utah Jazz - Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona
Gordon is a little bit of a project thanks to an offensive game that needs a lot of work, but for a Utah club with little chance to compete next year, they can afford to wait. Especially for somebody that has a number of comparisons to former Jazz Andrei Kirilenko. Gordon is extremely athletic and already is a tremendous defensive player that also excels on the glass. He also is a quality passer for a forward, is unselfish and is of high character.
6. Boston Celtics - Julius Randle, F, Kentucky
Could Boston deal this pick? Why not, maybe they will try to dangle it in a package for Kevin Love. Boston simply needs more players so they could go the best player available route and therefore have some options. Every team could seemingly use a Zach Randolph type in the post and Zeebo's name is one you hear a lot when you break down Randle's game. Randle is a strong and physical player that loves to overpower opponents down low, although he won't be able to do that as much in the NBA. He also is a little undersized for a four.
7. Los Angeles Lakers - Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State
The Lakers are entering a rebuilding year so they could go in many different directions with this selection. Smart would give Los Angeles a point guard of the future and I think his competitiveness would jive well with Kobe Bryant's thirst for wins. Smart needs to work on his shot on the perimeter but he has the strength, size, length and instincts that you want out of a guard. He is not afraid to play physical and he excels at getting to the rim.
8. Sacramento Kings - Dario Saric, F, Croatia
Saric is a unique prospect and he projects to be a point forward type due to his passing and playmaking skills, the kind of which the Kings would love to have to ignite their offense. He is not extremely athletic and he may struggle defensively, plus his shot is a little inconsistent. But teams love players that bring the versaility that Saric brings to the table and he also is a strong rebounder as well.
9. Charlotte Hornets (from Detroit) - Noah Vonleh, F, Indiana
The Hornets could use a stretch four kind of player to clear out the paint for Al Jefferson, and Vonleh has that kind of skill set. Vonleh is young a little raw, but Charlotte coach Steve Clifford is known for being an excellent tutor for big men, as is assistant coach Patrick Ewing. Vonleh can shoot it well from three point land and he has the ability to develop an inside game as well. He is a tremendous rebounder and his length helps him on the defensive end.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (from New Orleans) - James Young, G, Kentucky
Considering Michael Carter-Williams has no jump shot whatsoever, the Sixers need to add more scoring pop to the wing to take advantage of Carter-Williams's playmaking skills. Young should be able to contribute and make a difference for the worst shooting team from three right away. He can fill it up offensively and his jump shot is nice to watch. He has plus size and length for a shooting guard and is a good rebounder for his position.
11. Denver Nuggets - Gary Harris, G, Michigan State
The Nuggets took a noticeable step back this past season but can rebound with better luck with health and improved play from the two guard position. Harris is a little small for the position and his shot declined last year from the year prior, although he was playing hurt, but he has is a very good slasher that can attack the basket, or utilize a floater. He also is a tremendous defender and Denver could certainly use more of those.
12. Orlando Magic (from New York) - Doug McDermott, F, Creighton
McDermott is going to be one of the more intriguing prospects in the draft due to his tremendous scoring talents and also his lack of a position. Whichever team that drafts him will be pleased if he is an average defender, but that could even be a stretch. But Orlando, a team that struggled offensively and shooting the threeball in particular, could really use McDermott and his tremendous shot. The kid knows how to score the ball and his presence on the perimeter should help open more room for Nikola Vucevic in the paint.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves - Adreian Payne, F, Michigan State
Minnesota is going to be a fun team to watch in the pre-draft process as it appears that trade rumors featuring Kevin Love are going to flare up as it looks like Love is not interested in re-signing next summer. Therefore, this pick could be very fluid if a deal goes down. I think they will want to add another four regardless of whether Love remains on the team and I think Payne will be the guy. Yes, he is 23 and may not have the ceiling of other prospects but he is a versatile big that can shoot the three very well and do some damage on the glass.
14. Phoenix Suns - Nik Stauskas, G, Michigan
Phoenix surprised many an NBA observer in coming close to getting into the Western Conference playoffs, and a big part of their success was the play of their undersized backcourt in Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. Adding a guy like Stauskas gives them more flexibility in their lineups as he gives them a bigger two to work with. He is a great fit in Jeff Hornacek's uptempo scheme thanks to his tremendous shooting ability.
15. Atlanta Hawks - Zach LaVine, G, UCLA
The Hawks came surprisingly close to knocking out the East's top seed in the opening round of the playoffs, but they could use an upgrade at shooting guard to pair with Jeff Teague. LaVine is a risk as he is very raw and not a finished prospect at all, but he has a high ceiling thanks to excellent athleticism, speed, quickness and length. LaVine looks like a two guard at the next level but he has a streaky jumper. Whoever takes him will have to be patient.
16. Chicago Bulls (from Charlotte) - Tyler Ennis, G, Syracuse
Derrick Rose now has a legitimate injury history and considering how important he is to the Bulls, they are going to have to have strong backup options. Kirk Hinrich played really well for Chicago this year but he is a free agent, as well as pleasant surprise D.J. Augustin. Ennis showed at the Cuse that he is an excellent floor leader and he is not afraid to take tough shots. He makes good decisions, takes care of the basketball and is a team-first player.
17. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn) - T.J. Warren, F, NC State
As mentioned earlier, the Celtics could utilize this selection in a potential deal for Kevin Love but in the scenario that hold on to this pick, they could use the replacement for Paul Pierce at small forward that they struggled to find last year, and more so if they deal Jeff Green. Warren is not much of a shooter from the perimeter but he has a great scoring touch around the basket and inside the free throw line. He has great instincts and works had on both sides of the court.
18. Phoenix Suns (from Washington) - Kyle Anderson, G, UCLA
Phoenix has a trio of first round selections and thus can afford to take some risks, including on a guy like Anderson. Anderson has the size of a small forward but the game of a point guard. He is a tremendous passer, has great court vision and is comfortable setting up an offense. However, he does not have a great jump shot, is not extraordinarily athletic and he may not have a defensive position but his playmking skills are very intriguing.
19. Chicago Bulls - P.J. Hairston, G, Texas Legends
Hairston left UNC in December and played for the Legends in the NBDL due to concerns about him receiving impermissible benefits, particularly his usage of rental cars. Therefore, he has some character concerns that can cause his draft stock to drop, but his offensive skills and his prototypical size for a shooting guard make him a logical choice for a Chicago club that sorely needs more scoring pop.
20. Toronto Raptors - Shabazz Napier, G, UConn
Kyle Lowry was sensational for the Raptors this year and was a catalyst in the team getting back to the postseason, but with him being an unrestricted free agent, and his capable reserve Greivis Vasquez being a restricted free agent, there could be a big hole at the point. First and foremost, Napier is a winner as he showed in leading the Huskies to the national championship. He has a really nice offensive game and can shoot but he is not particularly big or athletic.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Dallas via Lakers & Houston) - K.J. McDaniels, F, Clemson
The Thunder could use more depth along the wing as Thabo Sefolosha is a free agent this offseason, Caron Butler is no youngster and the team is still waiting for Jeremy Lamb to turn into, well, something. Not to mention that they could use another defender on the wing and therefore, the tremendously athletic McDaniels makes sense. He is very long and utilizes it to be an effective shot blocker for a player of his size. He does not have a great shot but he excels at getting to the rim and to the foul line.
22. Memphis Grizzlies - Rodney Hood, G/F, Duke
The Grizzlies could use some more depth on the wing as Mike Miller is a free agent and Tayshaun Prince is a shell of what he once was. Also, they still struggle to score from outside and could use a shooter to help space out the offense. Fortunately, Hood fills both. Hood is a pure scorer with an excellent stroke from the perimeter. And a strong defensive club like the Grizzlies can mask his defensive shortcomings.
23. Utah Jazz (from Golden State) - Clint Capela, F, Switzerland
With their second first round selection, I think the Jazz, who really are building for something beyond next year, takes a flier on this Swiss project. Capela is extremely athletic and looks like he can develop into an excellent defender and rebounder. He also has shown some nice skills at playing above the rim and finishing, but he is still very raw and needs seasoning. But Utah will be willing to wait.
24. Charlotte Hornets (from Portland) - Elfrid Payton, G, Louisiana-Lafayette
Charlotte could use another point guard to work with Kemba Walker, and especially so with Luke Ridnour being a free agent. Therefore, the big point guard from the Bayou makes sense. While Payton's jump shot is inconsistent and he struggles from the free throw line, Payton is a very good defender thanks to his length and his lateral speed, plus his instincts allow him to nab some steals. He excels in transition and can finish at the tin as well.
25. Houston Rockets - Jerami Grant, F, Syracuse
Grant is not the power forward the Rockets need but he can be a key contributor off the bench that they could, one of which they also need. Grant is a bit of a tweener but in all likelihood, he is a three at the next level, even with his inconsistent perimeter game. He is a very good defender thanks to his length and he also is strong on the glass at both ends. He is aggressive on the drive and can be explosive when he is attacking the rim.
26. Miami Heat - Jordan Clarkson, G, Missouri
The Heat really could use more depth everywhere but as Mario Chalmers will be a free agent this summer, some insurance at the point guard position will really be needed. Clarkson is a bit of a combo guard but he should be able to play the point. He has nice size for a guard and plus length, and his natural scoring abilities will make him a valuable piece of the Miami puzzle. Clarkson can shoot the three but he has to be more consistent from distance.
27. Phoenix Suns (from Indiana) - Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
As I said earlier, the Suns can afford to take some chances with the trio of first round selections that they have and therefore, one can easily see them taking a foreign prospect to stash overseas. I have seen Nurkic mocked as high as the tenth selection and as low as the beginning of the second round. Nurkic has only played basketball since 2009 and is only 19 but he has shown the abilities to take advantage of his size to be a real force in the paint, the likes of which Phoenix would greatly appreciate.
28. Los Angeles Clippers - Mitch McGary, F/C, Michigan
McGary is a bit of a wild card coming into the draft as his back injury that prematurely ended his sophomore campaign in Ann Arbor held him out of the draft combine. At the very least, McGary is a very active and hard working big man that has an NBA ready body even as his overall game could use some work. He is athletic, runs the floor well, rebounds well and is a fantastic passer for a big man. For a Clippers team that has no depth down low, they need all the contributors they can get.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder - Jarnell Stokes, F, Tennessee
The Thunder could use more depth in the paint and it has shown in the wake of Serge Ibaka being lost for the rest of the postseason. Stokes should be able to contribute right away even as he is young. He is a force down low despite being relatively undersized. He is not afraid to be physical and bang down low and he excels at rebounding as a result. Stokes also works hard and gives it his all out there on the hardwood.
30. San Antonio Spurs - Kristaps Porzingis, F/C, Latvia
We all know that San Antonio loves to stash guys overseas and I think they are primed to do so at the end of the first round and I think the big Latvian could be a logical selection. For a guy that is around seven feet tall, Porzingis has a lot of work to do to develop his body and thus is a couple of years away from being ready. He is extremely athletic and can shoot it very well from the perimeter as well as being a shot-blocking threat down low.
Check out more mocks at the WalterFootball database.