2014 NBA Mock Draft - Kevin Hanson
Updated: Wednesday, February 26th
     
Last year's NBA draft class was one of the most lackluster classes in recent memory. Based on the group of draft-eligible prospects this year, however, the 2014 draft class has the potential to be one of the greatest ever.

While some in the group may never live up to their potential at the next level, this year's class certainly does not lack hype.

Although this is my first mock draft of the year, it will be updated often and all the way until the 2014 NBA Draft on Thursday, June 26th.

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Until the actual draft order is known, I will use the inverse order of our consensus NBA power rankings for the draft order.

In addition, more of our contributors will provide their take on how the first round will shake out as we get closer to the draft. For now, if you would like to view other opinions, check out our mock draft database for other 2014 NBA mock drafts.

Otherwise, here is my early 2014 NBA Mock Draft:

1. Milwaukee Bucks - Joel Embiid, C, Kansas

With roughly two months left in the regular season, the Bucks are guaranteed to have a losing record as they have already lost 45 games this season. As bad as the Bucks have been, they can use help across the board.

Part of a talented freshmen class for the Jayhawks, it's Embiid not Andrew Wiggins that ends up going first overall. There have been reports that Embiid may return to Lawrence for another season, but the big man from Cameroon has as much of a chance to go first overall as any other prospect in the country.

If Embiid stays in school, the good news for the Bucks is the talent at the top of this draft class is so strong that they would get another franchise-changing player in his place.

2. Philadelphia 76ers - Andrew Wiggins, SG, Kansas

Long rumored to be dealt and otherwise scheduled become a free agent after the season, Evan Turner (along with Lavoy Allen) was dealt to the Pacers for Danny Granger and a second-round pick. As you can imagine, Granger wasn't thrilled with going from a top contender to a franchise that has the second worst record in the league and has lost 11 games in a row.

To fill the void at shooting guard, the Sixers have the opportunity to add one of the most highly-touted prospects in years. With elite athleticism and an ability to score from anywhere on the court, Wiggins, whose father played for the Sixers in the early 90's, is the type of player that can lift the Sixers out of mediocrity (or worse).

3. Orlando Magic - Jabari Parker, SF, Duke

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While he may not have as much upside as the Kansas tandem at the top of this mock, Parker has an excellent all-around (especially offensive) game. In addition, no prospect is as ready to make an immediate impact in his rookie season than Parker at this point.

4. Boston Celtics - Dante Exum, PG, Australia

Regardless of how Rajon Rondo fits into the long-term plans of the Celtics, Exum can play alongside Rondo, who will be in a walk year next season, or eventually replace him. The Australian point guard has outstanding size and length for a point guard with excellent quickness and the ability to get to the rim.

5. Los Angeles Lakers - Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky

The Lakers could go in a number of different directions with this pick. After all, only five of the team's current players have contracts for the 2014-15 seasons. In fact, it's just Kobe Bryant and Robert Sacre that are under contract by the Lakers to start the 2015 season.

Averaging a double-double (15.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game), Randle is the best player available and can fill the void of free agent-to-be Pau Gasol. This coast-to-coast dunk for the 6-foot-9 250-pounder shows his unique skill set for his size:



6. Sacramento Kings - Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana

With a backcourt of Isaiah Thomas and Ben McLemore, the No. 3 overall pick last year, I think the Kings would pass on Marcus Smart and go with Vonleh here. Since Jan. 18th, Vonleh has averaged a double-double (10.78 points and 10.22 rebounds) in addition to 1.33 blocked shots per game.

7. Denver Nuggets (via Knicks) - Aaron Gordon, SF/PF, Arizona

While his offensive game, specifically his jumpshot, leaves a lot to be desired, Gordon has elite athleticism, is an excellent defender and has a high motor.

8. Utah Jazz - Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State

Since returning from his three-game suspension, Smart has averaged 16.5 points, 8.5 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 steals in his two games played. (Next up is a huge matchup against Kansas on March 1st.)

Obviously, Smart received a ton of negative attention from his incident involving a Texas Tech fan. By all accounts, however, that was an out-of-character reaction from Smart, who is otherwise viewed as a high-character guy.

9. Charlotte Bobcats (via Pistons) - Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse

Granted, Kemba Walker has point guard size and he starts at the point, but he is much more of a scorer than a pass-first type in the traditional mold of a point guard. Poised beyond his years, Ennis has a stellar 3.39-to-1 ratio of assists to turnovers and actually has more steals (59) than turnovers (46) this season.

10. Cleveland Cavaliers - Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State

While the NBA trade deadline has come and gone, shooting guard Dion Waiters is still on the roster but there have been plenty of rumors about the team wanting to move him partly due to his relationship with Kyrie Irving. Drafting a two guard like Harris will only intensify those rumors from draft day through the trade deadline next season.

11. Philadelphia 76ers (via Pelicans) - Dario Saric, F, Croatia

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Saric surprised many when he decided not to declare for a much weaker draft last year, but there's an excellent chance he will still be a lottery pick this year.

As a point forward type, Saric is extremely skilled and handles the ball extremely well for a 6'10" prospect.

12. Atlanta Hawks - Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse

Grant may not be a great shooter, but he's an explosive athlete that excels in the open court. His back limited him to just 13 minutes on Monday, but Grant averaged 13.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in his previous three games.

13. Chicago Bulls (via Bobcats) - Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton

The son of his coach and former high school teammate of Harrison Barnes, McDermott is one of the greatest college basketball players ever. While he won't be nearly as dominant at the next level, Dougie McBuckets has the ability to score and shoot the basketball and possesses a high basketball IQ and motor.

14. Boston Celtics (via Nets) - Rodney Hood, SG/SF, Duke

So far this season, Hood is averaging 16.1 points per game and is shooting 43.6 percent from behind the arc. Aside from the Sixers and Pistons, no other NBA team shoots it worse from three-point range than the Celtics.

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Non-lottery picks:

Based on previous trades in addition to owning their own pick for this year, the Phoenix Suns could end up with four first-round non-lottery picks.

Two of those acquired first-round picks are protected and will therefore depend on the actual pick: T'Wolves (top-13 protected) and Wizards (top-12 protected).

If the Suns indeed have the rights to all four first-round picks, there is as much of a chance that the Suns keep all four of 'em as there is that Mila Kunis falls madly in love with me.

(So, you're saying there is a chance? ...)

For now, I will slot four different players to the Suns instead of projecting trades and here are the non-lottery picks in my mock draft:

15. Orlando Magic (via Nuggets) - Zach LeVine, PG, UCLA
16. Phoenix Suns (via Wizards) - James Young, SG/SF, Kentucky
17. Phoenix Suns (via T'Wolves) - Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville
18. Toronto Raptors - Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
19. Memphis Grizzlies - Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
20. Chicago Bulls - Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
21. Phoenix Suns - Mario Hezonja, SG, Croatia
22. Dallas Mavericks - Nik Stauskas, G, Michigan
23. Utah Jazz (via Warriors) - Kyle Anderson, PF, UCLA
24. Charlotte Bobcats (via Blazers) - P.J. Hairston, SG, D-League
25. Los Angeles Clippers - Chris Walker, SF, Florida
26. Houston Rockets - Semaj Christon, PG, Xavier
27. San Antonio Spurs - Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin
28. Miami Heat - Wayne Selden, SG, Kansas
29. Phoenix Suns (via Pacers) - Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG, Serbia
30. Oklahoma City Thunder - C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington

For more mock drafts, view our NBA Mock Draft Database here.

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