The Biggest Winners & Losers of the 2014 NBA Draft
After much anticipation, the 2014 NBA Draft has now come and gone, and teams are gearing their efforts towards the official beginning of free agency next week.
There was and still is plenty of talk about this draft shaping the future of many franchise, but before we get too far ahead, let’s take a look at who the real winners and losers were in Thursday’s Draft.
Winner – Cleveland Cavaliers
The first winner in 2014 NBA Draft was the team picking first overall for the third time in four years, the Cleveland Cavaliers. And by drafting Andrew Wiggins out of Kansas, the Cavs automatically made themselves winners on draft night.
Wiggins is a potential superstar with world-class athleticism, and if he develops correctly, will help carry the franchise moving forward for the next 10-15 years. But none of that is why the Cavs came out of draft night winners. The Cavs can think back on the 2014 NBA Draft with happiness because they didn’t overthink the pick, they took the obvious choice and made the right decision.
Maybe these aren’t the same old Cavs anymore. Or maybe they are if their intro of Wiggins is any hint of things to come.
Loser – Toronto Raptors
Heading into the draft, it was no secret that the Raptors had their eyes on Canada’s own Tyler Ennis at the 20th pick. Unfortunately for Toronto, Ennis was selected by the Suns a few picks earlier, leaving the Raps to go with one of their back-up plans at 20.
And who did they pick you ask? Why Brazilian Bruno Caboclo of course! We won’t hold it against you if you haven’t hear of Caboclo, since seemingly 99% of the basketball world hadn’t before Toronto selected him. Caboclo is considered by some to be the “Brazilian Kevin Durant,” but for a team looking to compete now, spending a first-round pick in a loaded draft on a guy at least four years away seems like one heck of a head-scratcher.
Winner – Orlando Magic
With the Magic penciled in at four once the draft lottery settle, many people had written in Dante Exum’s name in ink to go to Orlando. Then the draft started and the Magic shocked everyone (including the Australian) by taking Aaron Gordon out of Arizona. The high-flyer is a bit raw but will provide excellent athleticism immediately in Orlando.
After passing on Exum, the Magic got their point guard of the future when they acquired the rights to Elfrid Payton for the rights to Croatian Dario Saric. Like Exum, Payton is a player who shot up draft boards in recent weeks and at 6-4 with good length, who could potentially be a star at the one.
Loser – Oklahoma City Thunder
Armed with two first-round picks in the 20’s and plenty of holes to fill on the bench, the Thunder took a gamble and drafted forward Mitch McGary of Michigan, a move that could pay off tremendously down the road. This was actually something I predicted in my mock draft earlier this week. The issue? They drafted McGary with their 21st overall pick, not the 29th, a big reach with so much hole-filling talent on the board.
With the 29th pick in the draft, OKC took Josh Huestis, a forward from Stanford. While this is also a pick that could pan out well for OKC, the feeling is they could have traded down and grabbed Huestis later as he wasn’t projected by many to be a first-round pick. Huestis was a two-time Pac-12 all-defensive team selection, so he should be able to help immediately on that end of the court, but once again, the Thunder failed to pick anyone that could help pick up the scoring load for their two superstars.
Winner – Los Angeles Lakers
There aren’t many teams that pick 7th and 46th who could say they walked out with possibly the best draft of anyone, but the Lakers may have just pulled that off.
Picking 7th in what was pretty much an 8-man draft, the Lakers were able to sit back and see who would fall to them when it was their turn to pick. Luckily for the team, Randle was available and could very well have been the steal of the draft at 7.
Lost in the hype surrounding other talents with more potential, Randle is a player who will be able to contribute to the Lakers immediately. Often compared to Zach Randolph of Memphis, don’t be surprised to see the big man be a 15-10 guy from day one. You also know Kobe Bryant loved to hear Randle proclaim that all the teams who passed on him would regret their decisions.
In the second round, the Lakers were able to purchase the Washington Wizards pick at 46 and selected Jordan Clarkson, a point guard from Missouri who averaged over 17 points per game at Mizzou. Clarkson was considered by many a potential first-round pick, so this is a great value for the team in the second round.
Loser – Miami Heat
Generally speaking, current players are not the best decision makers when it comes to filling out a roster. And even though LeBron James is the best basketball player on the planet, trading three picks for Shabazz Napier may turn out to be a mistake for a team with so many holes.
With athletes galore available at the time Miami was picking, a small point guard to go with your other small point guards just for the sake of pleasing your star may not have been the best decision in the world. It will be very interesting to see if the Heat regret not drafting more athleticism to their squad.
Winner – Miami Heat
Wait, what? The Heat are both losers and winners in this draft. They are losers for the above mentioned reasons, but they are winners for the following:
If LeBron is happy, you have a significantly better chance of bringing him back to Miami this summer. So while the pick may have been the wrong one, the Heat have accomplished step one in their quest to please James.
Loser – Minnesota Timberwolves
With the 13th pick in the draft, the Wolves selected Zach LaVine of UCLA, a guard with insane athleticism and loads of potential to develop into an absolute star. The problem? LaVine didn’t seem the least bit excited about heading to Minny.
Unfortunately for the Minnesota, they have become the city where lottery picks go to die. Shabazz Muhammad, Wesley Johnson, Johnny Flynn, and so on and so forth. Aside from a draft-night trade for the rights to Kevin Love, the Wolves have whiffed, repeatedly. Here’s hoping LaVine gets every opportunity to develop into the player he can be in the Twin Cities.
Winner – Milwaukee Bucks
Really, the Bucks and Jabari Parker were both winners with this pick. In Parker, the Bucks are getting an NBA-ready scorer who could average 20 per from day one. Parker can score inside and out, and with plenty of length behind him on defense, won’t have to worry much about his defensive limitations.
For Parker, the situation could not be more perfect. He will be given the green light immediately to do what he does best, and is the early front-runner for rookie of the year.
Winner – New York Knicks
No seriously, the Knicks had a great night at the 2014 NBA Draft. After starting the week with no pick, Phil Jackson was able to acquire Shane Larkin and a couple of 2nd rounders to help fill in the Knick roster, and boy did he take advantage of the situation.
With their first second round pick, the Knicks got Cleanthony Early from Wichita State. Early may have suffered from the “Wichita is overrated” theory, but this was a guy projected by many to go in the top 20. He will be able to contribute to the Knicks line-up immediately and offer plenty of scoring off the bench.
In a surprise move, the Knicks also were able to draft the younger Greek Freak, Thanasis Antetokounmpo (one day I won’t have to look up that spelling), younger brother of the Bucks own Giannis. While he may not have the upside of his brother, Thanasis will be able to help tremendously on defense for the Knicks. Overall, a great start for the franchise.
Winner – San Antonio Spurs
Stop me if you’ve heard this before; the Spurs had a late first-round pick and absolutely nailed it.
With the last pick of the first round, the champs drafted Kyle Anderson from UCLA. Anderson was one of the best all-around talents available in the draft, and if he were a little more athletic likely would have been a high lottery pick.
As it is, the forward is a bit slow, but can handle the ball, shoot and play defense. Sound familiar? The Spurs have the king of slow-mo in Boris Diaw on their roster already, and he should be a great mentor to Anderson. Once again, great pick by the Spurs.
Incomplete – Philadelphia 76ers
What an… interesting night for the Sixers at the draft. After tanking all season for a shot at Andrew Wiggins, Philly saw their dreams dashed when they were unable to trade up and acquire the swingman. At three, they drafted Joel Embiid, and for the second straight year have a lottery pick coming off an injury who may not play all season.
Embiid is the enigma of the draft. If he is able to overcome injury concerns, the Sixers could win this draft by a landslide when it’s all said and done. However if he continues to be hurt, this could be a colossal disappointment for the team.
And with their second lottery pick, the Sixers netted the draft rights to Dario Saric and a 2017 1st-rounder for the rights to Elfrid Payton. Saric is another player who will not be able to play right away, as he will be waiting at least two years to come over to the NBA. Again, a guy we can’t judge correctly for a while who has some superstar potential.
And that 2017 first-rounder means nothing until 2017 or until the Sixers trade it. We’ll just have to wait and see how this all develops in Philly. Ask me again in three years and I’ll let you know.