2014 NBA Mock Draft: Top 10 Picks
This years’ NBA draft is the most hyped since 2003, which was when King James was selected No. 1 overall and his reign on the league began. Is there another LeBron in this draft? I don’t see it, but there are plenty of very talented players that have the potential to be building blocks for franchises. But, with LeBron now opting out of his contract it will be interesting to see what teams do on draft night to try to position themselves to acquire the King’s services.
1. Cleveland Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
The momentum behind the Cavaliers taking Parker appears to be building, as multiple reports indicate the Duke forward is the most likely player to go No. 1 overall. The pick is a safe one for the Cavaliers, who can count on Parker to come in and help point guard Kyrie Irving carry the offense. The Cavaliers don’t have time to wait for Andrew Wiggins of Kansas to develop. Parker helps them right now, making him the pick.
2. Milwaukee Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
With the player they reportedly wanted all along gone in Parker on his way to Cleveland, the Bucks have to go with the second best player left in Wiggins. Adding Wiggins to a lineup with Giannis Antetokounmpo gives the Bucks one of the most athletic teams in the league. The Bucks will think long and hard about Dante Exum from Australia, but passing up on the player that any draft experts have had pegged as perhaps the best player in this draft is too risky — especially for an unknown like Exum.
3. Philadelphia Dante Exum, PG, Australia
Dante Exum isn’t exactly the highest-profile prospect in the class, but he could be when we look back a few years from now. At No. 3, the Philadelphia 76ers will likely have to move up to get their man Andrew Wiggins, leaving Exum and Joel Embiid as likely targets. But it’s just hard to imagine the Sixers taking Embiid after they drafted an injured Nerlens Noel last year—another center who plays strictly inside the paint. Exum is a wild card, having not played Division I college hoops, but between his back-to-back runs at the FIBA World Championships and his 16-point game at the 2013 Nike Hoop Summit against guys like Jabari Parker, Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon, Exum has flashed the type of promise and potential worth gambling on. At 6’6″, he’s got the versatility to play on or off the ball as a point guard or scoring guard. The Sixers could line him up alongside Michael Carter-Williams to form one big, athletic backcourt. Or they could deal Carter-Williams and build around Exum at the point.
4. Orlando Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
The fall ends earlier for Embiid than expected, as the Magic jump on the injured big man. Now that the initial shock of the injury to Kansas center Joel Embiid is subsiding, it looks like the big man’s fall from grace may have been overstated. Either Embiid’s agent is doing a great job changing the public perception of how far his client will fall, or the teams that draft experts felt would pass on the big man are having a change of heart. The Magic, like the Sixers and Bucks, are building for the future, and can wait for Embiid to heal. There is a risk that he isn’t the same player after he returns, and the injury plagues him. But if the Magic get the pick right, they have a dominate center on their hands.
5. Utah Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
The Jazz already have their point guard in Trey Burke, and although a guard is tempting, they go with the best low post player in the draft in Vonleh. Vonleh is an underrated athlete, as he doesn’t jump out of the gym like Aaron Gordon of Arizona, but he does have a long, strong body that is ready for the NBA.
6. Boston Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
The Celtics appear to be closer to trying to win right now than they are to blowing it up, and that means they will likely be keeping Rajon Rondo. With Rondo manning the point guard position, they pass on Exum as well, and take Gordon. Gordon gives Rondo a freakish athlete to run the floor with.
7. L.A. Lakers Marcus Smart, PG/SG, Oklahoma State
This pick will either be Smart or Julius Randle of Kentucky. It all depends which position LA values more, but the Lakers need playmakers and Smart is one with great potential. Steve Nash isn’t going to get the job done anymore and who better to learn from for Smart? Smart has been one of, if not the most, impressive players during draft workouts. The argument can be made that Exum is a better choice, but since the draft process started, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who says Smart hasn’t proven to be better than Exum in workouts. Kobe will love his intense attitude and his drive to win and he could a piece they build around once the mamba decides to call it quits.
8. Sacramento Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
The Kings wanted to take a point guard here, and very well could if they decide Elfrid Payton of Louisiana Lafayette is worth a pick this high. A look at the Kings starting five, however, shows their biggest need is at power forward, and Randle would address that need in a big way. Despite concerns about his foot, Randle is one of the best scoring big men in the draft, and would be a nice fit next to DeMarcus Cousins. Look for the Sixers and Kings to talk about a deal involving Carter-Williams and Thaddeus Young for their pick.
9. Charlotte Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
The Charlotte Hornets have solid building blocks at the point and post positions, but they’re missing a scorer or shot-maker in between. Cue Doug McDermott, arguably the most skilled and polished offensive prospect in the field, having averaged at least 22 points per game in three consecutive seasons. And with a wing consisting of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who’s hit three three-pointers in two seasons, and Gerald Henderson, who is shooting 30 percent from deep during his career, the Hornets could really use a shooter in the lineup. McDermott just might be the best one available after shooting at least 40 percent from downtown in all four seasons at Creighton.
10. Philadelphia Zach LaVine, SG/SF, UCLA
The Sixers got their new point guard at No. 3, but the sting of losing out on a potentially elite wingman in both Parker and Wiggins could lead them to LaVine. The Sixers need help in a bad, bad way on the wing, and LaVine is the best option still on the board. It is possible they go with Nik Stauskas of Michigan, but LaVine is a better athlete, and was nearly as good of a shooter from beyond arch, shooting a respectable 37% from three-point land — not far behind the 44% that Stauskas shot.
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