The NBA Draft is nearly upon us. A chance for teams to build towards their futures and GM’s to gamble on prospects that will either get them long-term extensions or pink slips.
There is plenty of intrigue in this year’s draft. With some of the biggest franchises in the league (the Lakers, Celtics, Kni.. err nevermind) in the lottery, along with one of the most hyped draft classes in recent memory, fans everywhere are interested in how the Draft will play out.
Here’s a pick-by-pick Mock Draft of what you can expect this Thursday.
With the 1st Pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select:
1. Andrew Wiggins, Forward (Kansas)
As little as a week ago, Joel Embiid was penciled in to be the top selection by the Cavs. But the Cavs medical staff discovered a stress fracture in the big man’s foot, and the top pick is yet again up for grabs. The pick will likely come down to Wiggins or Duke forward Jabari Parker, but don’t be surprised to see Australian Dante Exum leap into the top slot. With the Cavs fielding all types of offers for the pick, there are plenty of things that could change who goes number one. But if Cleveland keeps the pick, expect them to take Wiggins.
With the 2nd Pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Milwaukee Bucks select:
2. Jabari Parker, Forward (Duke)
This has always seemed like the right pick for the Bucks. While they would be more than happy to take Wiggins if Parker is off the board, the Duke forward is a better immediate fit for a team lacking any type of reliable scoring. Parker would be slotted into the small forward position from day one in Milwaukee and be asked to light up the scoreboard. With plenty of length behind him (Larry Sander, Jon Henson and Giannis Antetokuonmpo anyone?), the Bucks will be able to handle Parker’s lack of defense.
With the 3rd Pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select:
3. Dante Exum, Guard (Australia)
There has been plenty of talk in recent weeks that Wiggins-Parker-Embiid were all a lock to fill in the top 3 of the Draft in some order, even after Embiid’s injury. Word has been that Philly is more than happy to scoop up the big man if their dream target Andrew Wiggins is no longer available, but to have a big man lottery pick head into the season injured for a second straight year is not ideal for anyone in Philly. Enter Exum. The Australian has impressed greatly in workouts (even drawing comparisons to a young Kobe), and when you have an opportunity to grab such a unique and talented point guard, you do so and figure out how he’ll work with your reigning Rookie of the Year point guard later.
With the 4th Pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic select:
4. Julius Randle, Forward (Kentucky)
And the Embiid tumble continues. The Magic will likely take a look at the big man, but a team looking to build on safe bets rather than risks will likely pass on the injury-riddled big man. While they would likely consider Noah Vonleh here, Orlando again seems to be more interested in taking a safe pick, and Randle may be the safest of any big man in the draft. The Kentucky forward may never be an All-Star, but you can expect him to be a 15-10 guy from day one.
With the 5th Pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Utah Jazz select:
5. Noah Vonleh, Forward (Indiana)
This is the first pick that actually stayed in the same spot since the last Mock Draft. Vonleh is a unique talent who has plenty of potential, and with a plethora of young front court players, the Jazz can wait for the Hoosier big man to develop. While there is still work to be done, Vonleh already can play with his back to the basket or facing up, and the All-Star potential will is too much for Utah to pass up on.
With the 6th Pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics select:
6. Aaron Gordon, Forward (Arizona)
With Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk already in their front-court rotation, the Celtics are desperately in need of some athleticism up front. Who better than the uber-athletic former Wildcat Gordon? The high-flyer is a SportsCenter Top 10 moment waiting to happen on a nightly basis, and will bring some energy to a limited Celtic front-court.
With the 7th Pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers select:
7. Joel Embiid, Center (Kansas)
And suddenly, the season from hell pays off for the Lakers front office. Embiid has been atop the team’s draft board for over a month, and his unfortunate foot injury causes him to slide down to Los Angeles. For the Lakers, this is the best-case scenario in the lottery. While Laker fans may be hoping to bring in a high-impact rookie such as Marcus Smart, the opportunity to take a big man with the upside that Embiid has is too much for a franchise known for taking home-run swings to pass up on.
Something tells me Embiid won’t be too distraught about slipping in the draft if the Lakers take him.
With the 8th Pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings select:
8. Marcus Smart, Guard (Oklahoma State)
Another steal of a pick in the draft, this time for the Kings. Smart was projected as a top-two pick just a season ago, and brings immediately value to the Sacramento roster. The sophomore is an uber-competitive who wants to win and should push the Kings veterans right away. With point guard Isaiah Thomas hitting free agency, the Kings now have the opportunity to take their point man of the future. Smart’s talent outweighs the risk of his attitude clashing with DeMarcus Cousins.
With the 9th Pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Hornets select:
9. Doug McDermott, Forward (Creighton)
Now before you start throwing out the Adam Morrison comparisons, let’s be clear that McBuckets is a much better scorer and prospect. When you have a team that can be as offensively challenged as the Bobcats, you need to bring in all the scoring you can get. McDermott’s ability to shoot from the outside will force defenses to stay close to home and let big man Al Jefferson flourish in the paint.
With the 10th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select:
10. Zach LaVine, Guard (UCLA)
Talk about upping your draft stock. LaVine has taken full advantage of his individual workouts and gone from mid-first rounder to likely lottery pick. The freshman has all kinds of potential (there’s that word again), and his freakish athleticism has some folks (mainly your truly) comparing him to another high-flying UCLA guard taken a few years ago by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
FLIP THE PAGES TO SEE WHICH PLAYERS CLOSE OUT THE MOCK DRAFT LOTTERY PICKS…..