2014 NBA Mock Draft - Kevin HansonUpdated: June 25, 2014
The 2013 NBA Draft class was one of the weaker draft classes in recent memory. After all, the No. 1 overall pick was none other than UNLV's Anthony Bennett.
What a difference a year makes as this year's draft class has the potential to be one of the best ever.
In addition, there is plenty of intrigue. Not only is there uncertainty related to which prospect will be drafted first overall and how far Joel Embiid will fall due to his injury concerns, but LeBron James has changed the dynamics as well.
Earlier Tuesday, James exercised the early-termination option on his contract and he will become a free agent on July 1st. While the most-likely scenario is that he returns to the Heat, it will be interesting to see what type of trades occur on draft night as teams try to position themselves to make a run at the game's best player.
As of today, only 13 of 30 NBA franchises have exactly one draft pick in the first round. Of the other 17 teams, eight have multiple first-rounders including the Suns, who have three of them, and nine have no first-round picks.
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Here is the latest version of my 2014 NBA Mock Draft:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Wiggins, SG, Kansas
What a coincidence! For the second consecutive season (and third time in the past four years), the Cavs have won the lottery and hold the No. 1 overall pick. As noted earlier, it's much more beneficial to hold this pick this year than it was last year.
It remains to be seen whether the Cavs will hold this pick or move it as reports indicate that several teams are trying to package a high-lottery pick and veteran to move up to No. 1. If they keep the pick, it should be a close call between Wiggins and Duke's Jabari Parker. Parker is the most NBA-ready now, but Wiggins has a higher ceiling.
The son of ex-NBA player Mitchell Wiggins, Andrew has freakish athleticism and great length for a shooting guard. While he can be too passive at times, Wiggins has the ability to score from anywhere on the court and is a great defender.
Based on odds from Sportsbook.ag, Wiggins (10/13) over Parker (5/6) would be the slightest of upsets. Even though I'm not projecting a trade here, I think it's as likely that the Cavs move this pick as it is that they keep it. If they trade down, I would expect the team that moves up to use the pick on Wiggins.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
Ultimately, the Bucks are in an excellent position here as they will get either Wiggins or Parker. While Parker lacks the elite athleticism that Wiggins possesses and his defense is a weakness, Parker can take over a game offensively and score in a variety of ways. In fact, Parker would be the odds-on favorite to lead all rookies in scoring next season.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Dante Exum, PG, Australia
As a Sixers fan, I was initially disappointed that the Cavs won the lottery despite not being as adept at tanking as my beloved Sixers were this past season. After all, they earned a top-two pick. Shortly thereafter, however, I was comforted by the fact that the team would get one of three potential franchise-changing prospects: Wiggins, Parker or Joel Embiid.
Of course, that is unlikely to happen due to Embiid's health issues unless the Sixers make a draft-day trade with the Cavs to move up for Wiggins, which appears to be at least a possibility. After getting a combined zero games from Andrew Bynum two years ago and Nerlens Noel last year, I can't imagine the Sixers using the third overall pick on a medical wild card like Embiid. At No. 10? Perhaps. In fact, I would hope so. But not at No. 3.
Many teams know so little about Exum, but Brett Brown has had more exposure to Exum than most in the NBA. Brown coached Exum's father at one point and when he coached the Australian National Team, Brown invited Exum to train with the team. Exum was 15 at the time.
With outstanding size and length for a point guard, Exum has excellent quickness and the ability to get to the rim. While he needs to improve his outside shot, Exum should be the first point guard prospect off the board.
4. Orlando Magic: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
If Exum is still available here, the Magic would consider getting a point guard to pair with Victor Oladipo, who is better suited to play off guard. Either way, the Magic will have an opportunity to get a point guard at No. 12.
Although he doesn't turn 19 until August, Vonleh averaged 11.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 0.9 steals per game for the Hoosiers as a freshman. Vonleh has excellent size, athleticism and can shoot the ball well.
5. Utah Jazz: Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona
What Gordon lacks in his offensive game, especially his outside shot, he more than makes up for that deficiency with his athleticism, elite defensive play and outstanding motor.
6. Boston Celtics: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Will the Celtics be the team that stops Embiid's fall on draft night? With each passing pick, it makes more and more sense for a team to take the gamble on Embiid's upside.
The 7-foot-1 athletic center averaged 11.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game in 23 minutes last season and was just scratching the surface of what he can become.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
Based on their current contract situation, only Kobe Bryant and Robert Sacre are scheduled to be Lakers beyond the 2014-15 season. In other words, they essentially have a blank canvas. Always in a win-now mode, however, they could look to deal this pick. Averaging a double-double (15.0 points and 10.4 rebounds per game) this season, Randle is the best player available here.
8. Sacramento Kings: Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State
Smart had a not-so-smart moment against Texas Tech this season when he lost his cool and shoved an inappropriate fan. Other than that unfortunate incident, though, Smart has generally been viewed as a high-character guy.
His biggest on-court flaw is his inconsistent outside shooting, but Smart is a strong guard that can get to the basket and finish. Extremely competitive with a non-stop motor, Smart is an excellent defender and rebounder for a guard as well.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
Charlotte ranked 23rd in the league in scoring offense (96.9 points per game) and in three-point shooting percentage (.351).
Playing four years for his father at Creighton, McBuckets is one of college basketball's most prolific scorers with 3,150 career points (fifth all-time). While he's far from an elite athlete, McDermott is an elite shooter and a fierce competitor with a high basketball IQ.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Nik Stauskas, G, Michigan
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11. Denver Nuggets: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
While Harris is undersized for a two guard, he is both an excellent defender and good shooter even if his three-point shooting percentage declined to 35.2 percent in 2013-14.
12. Orlando Magic: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
With a pair of lottery picks, the Magic will likely add a point guard with one of those two picks to pair with Victor Oladipo. While he played some point guard, Oladipo is better suited to play off guard.
For the Ragin' Cajuns, Payton averaged 19.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals last season. While he needs to improve his outside shot (25.9 percent from behind the arc last year), Payton and Oladipo would form one of the league's best defensive backcourts.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: James Young, SG/SF, Kentucky
Inconsistent from three-point range in his only college season, Young has the potential to develop into one of the league's better shooters and he possesses good size and athleticism as well. Young is still, um, young as he won't turn 19 until August.
14. Phoenix Suns: Dario Saric, F, Croatia
After withdrawing his name from the 2013 NBA Draft, Saric has left his name in there this year although he just signed a three-year contract to play in Turkey. Saric will have the opportunity to opt out after two seasons and it was previously believed that he would have stayed in Europe for at least one more season anyways. Considering the Suns have three first-round picks, they are likely to use at least one of them on an international player to stash overseas.
A highly skilled point forward type, Saric led his league in both scoring and rebounding and was named MVP of the league last season.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
Nurkic would make sense for the Hawks as he would allow them to move Al Horford from center to power forward. With great size (7-0, 280), Nurkic naturally has great strength and uses his physicality to his benefit, but he has good footwork and soft hands as well.
-> Continue to picks 16-30
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