From Jabari Parker and Julius Randle to Marcus Smart and Andrew Wiggins, the 2014 NBA Draft promises to be one of the most dynamic drafts in league history. There have even been comparisons to the famous 2003 Draft where Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Carmelo Anthony were drafted and would soon become household names. Ever since the Class of 2013 high school player rankings was made available to me I have been keeping my eye on them, being the same age of course. Now the NBA Draft is right around the corner and our wait will soon be over. Without further adieu, here is my prediction on how the 2014 NBA Lottery Picks will shape out:
Note: Team Draft Order is subject to change throughout the season until the NBA Draft Lottery in April.
1. Milwaukee Bucks- Fr. Andrew Wiggins (Guard), Kansas
The Bucks have struggled to find a face of their franchise ever since Michael Redd got hit with injuries. With the development of big man John Henson coming to fruition I see them going after the best guard available to accent Henson. Wiggins gives them an elite scorer with heart and a potential with no boundaries. Wiggins also gives the Bucks a personality, something this franchise has never had.
2.Orlando Magic- Fr. Joel Embiid(Center), Kansas
With Aaron Afflalo and Victor Oladipo getting comfortable at the guard spots a defensive minded big man is what this team needs. Joel Embiid fits the bill. Embiid is a defensive minded big man whose offensive skills are getting better by the day. He is also great in transition and has lightning speed for a seven-footer.He fits perfectly in Orlando with a team that already can score with the best of them but struggles on defense. In time the Cameroonian center can become an even better version of Serge Ibaka.
3.Philadelphia 76ers- Fr. Jabari Parker(Forward), Duke
With Philadelphia forward Evan Turner likely to be traded at the deadline or sign elsewhere, Jabari Parker gives the Sixers an all around basketball player who leads by example. Jabari is an elite scorer and defender and has that all around game NBA coaches drool over. Parker also gives Michael Carter-Williams another young player to work with and polish his skills. Jabari was the number one prospect in his class heading into senior year of high school until he gained weight and Wiggins took over. Whatever team Jabari and Wiggins end up on, expect a Magic-Bird type rivalry in the making.
4.Boston Celtics- Fr. Julius Randle(Forward), Kentucky
This pick is entirely contingent on Boston’s star Rajon Rondo’s health and if the team decides not to deal him at the deadline. Rondo looked confident and healthy in his 2014 debut last night so I don’t he will be dealt at the deadline, but who knows. Julius Randle gives Rondo an elite big man to pass too in the paint and someone who can be a rebound gobbler. Randle is still raw on the defensive side of the ball which is a downside but his offensive game cannot be overlooked. Julius Randle is looking like a young Zach Randolph.
5.Utah Jazz- So. Marcus Smart(Guard), Oklahoma State
Utah point guard Trey Burke almost won a national championship last year with the two point guard system alongside Tim Hardaway Jr. Adding Marcus Smart gives Utah another guard who can create his own shots as well as create shots for others. Both Trey and Smart are used to playing alongside effective guards, Burke with Tim Hardaway Jr and Smart with Markel Brown. This is a system both guards are familiar with and could really elevate the play of the Jazz. That is if Smart is available when Utah makes their selection.
6.Sacramento Kings- Intl. Dante Exum(Guard), Australia
Exum is a 6’6 point guard who has been rising up draft boards all year. He is a pass first but is a very capable scorer as well. Because of his size at point he is bound to cause matchup problems for opposing defenses. Sacramento has the talent in Demarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay but lacks a pass first point guard which can increase the versatility of the offense. With Dante Exum, the Kings search is over.
7.Cleveland Cavaliers- So. Willy Cauley-Stein(Center), Kentucky
The heir to the throne of Anderson Varejao’s center position, Cauley-Stein is just as good as Embiid defensively if not better, his problem lies on the offensive side of the ball. Drafting the seven-footer is the 2nd step to transforming an offensive minded team into a defensive one. The first step in this direction was acquiring Luol Deng from the Chicago Bulls. Cauley Stein has the ability to become a player similar to Tyson Chandler or DeAndre Jordan.
8.Denver Nuggets- So. Gary Harris(Guard), Michigan State
Denver’s shooting guard situation has been in limbo for years; Gary Harris gives them stability at the position with his elite scoring ability. He is a three-point threat but needs to better his shot selection from beyond the arc to fully reach his potential which could be a 20-5-5 type player. Harris can be compared to Bradley Beal. If this draft wasn’t as deep as it is, Harris would be a top 4 pick.
9.Los Angeles Lakers- Fr. Aaron Gordon(Forward), Arizona
With this likely being Pau Gasol’s last season with the Lakers and the teams extra cash going to either Lebron James or Carmelo Anthony, the Lakers will look for the best available big man in this year’s draft. Right now they are number 9 in the draft order and that big man is Freshman Aaron Gordon. Gordon is a very team oriented player who is a great finisher at the rim and can also get back on transition. Gordon also doesn’t demand the ball and on a team with Kobe Bryant and potentially Carmelo or Lebron joining LA, he will fit perfectly.
10.New Orleans Pelicans- Fr. Zach LaVine(Guard), UCLA
The Pelicans have the pieces they have top of the line players starting for them, now they look to deepen their bench. With Tyreke Evans already coming off as a SG/SF they will look for a point guard to back off Jrue Holliday who is coming off an injury. That player is Zach LaVine. LaVine is of a similar build to Stephen Curry and has also begun to play like him. A 3pt scorer who at 19 is averaging over 12 points at UCLA. An upgrade from backup point guard Brian Roberts is a priority and LaVine can fit that hole.
11.Charlotte Bobcats- Fr. James Young(Forward), Kentucky
With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist having health issues and not being able to consistently perform, drafting James Young will bring competition to the small forward position and bring the best out of both players.Young is a raw scorer who has shown to not have the greatest shot selection but the potential is there. If James Young isn’t going to replace MKG, the worst thing that happens is that Charlotte gets a capable scorer off the bench.
12.Minnesota Timberwolves- Fr. Tyler Ennis(Guard), Syracuse
Minnesota’s Coach Rick Adelman has learned he cannot trust Ricky Rubio as his starting point guard with his inability to score. The T-Wolves will look for a point guard in this draft and if Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis is available they will surely pick him. He is an unbelievably confident freshman that has a pass first mentality but can also score with regularity, all while being a master pickpocketeer. Not to mention the 19 year old is leading an undefeated Syracuse team which is currently number 2 in the country in the AP Top 25. This is a name that may rise in the draft boards with continued Syracuse success.
13. Memphis Grizzlies- Fr. Jerami Grant (Forward), Syracuse
The Grizzlies have a wing player who can consistently score ever since trading Rudy Gay almost 2 years ago. Jerami Grant is one of the most versatile players in the draft and if he is still available in the draft he should be high on Memphis’ board. He is a similar player to Luol Deng in that he can score 20 points, go for 10 boards, be a willing passer, and play elite defense. Grant’s draft stock rises with the success of the Orange and so far that success hasn’t halted.
14.Denver Nuggets- So. Rodney Hood(Forward), Duke
Rodney Hood fits perfectly for the Nuggets, he is an elite scorer who isn’t afraid to bumped in the paint for a rebound. With Hood the Nuggets won’t need to play musical chairs anymore at the shooting guard position. Hood has the ability to score in the paint and shoot outside the arc with a lack of defense being an issue, but hey, the Nuggets are the definition of a the classic offensive minded Western Conference team who shoot first and worry about defense later. Why change now?
That's my 2014 NBA Mock Draft 1.0. My updated Mock Draft will be up in time for the Final Four of the NCAA Championship.