With the NBA Draft rapidly approaching, it’s time to unveil the first version of the Red Rock Basketball 2014 NBA Mock Draft. This mock draft is based squarely in reality – no fantasy slant here. I’ll address the fantasy impact of the draft after it takes place. For now, it’s purely basketball.
Without further ado, let’s get to it.
- Cleveland Cavaliers – Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF, Kansas
Wiggins has been the presumptive number one pick since before the season started and the Cavs should go with the athletic wing from Kansas. With Luol Deng unlikely to resign and the odds of LeBron James walking back into the Q astronomical, Wiggins will be the perfect complement to Kyrie Irving at the two or three. Cleveland’s lottery luck can’t possibly keep going (can it?), so they’ll need to make the right pick here and they’ll double up with their second consecutive Canadian number one and Cavs fans will be thrilled when they do.
- Milwaukee Bucks – Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
Parker, like Wiggins, has been highly touted as a top NBA draft pick since before his senior season at high school. Although he may not have the athletic ability of Wiggins, his scoring and ball handling exceed the young Canadian and he is probably the most ready to make an impact in the pros. The Bucks were a mess and probably will consider Joel Embiid, but with Larry Sanders signed to a big money extension prior to his disastrous 2013-14 campaign, they’ll want him and John Henson to anchor the frontcourt for the next few seasons. Parker could easily average close to 20 points a game next season on this Bucks’ squad.
- Philadelphia 76ers – Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
On the surface, the Sixers selecting Embiid seems a bit superfluous. With Nerlens Noel, acquired in a draft day trade last season, set to debut in 2014-15, the Sixers seem to have mirror images. Both Noel and Embiid are defensive seven-footers, with raw offensive games, but game-changing defensive skills. Could Noel play at the four? It’s a possibility, but general manager Sam Hinkie won’t pass on the best player available, just because he has an unproven prospect already on the roster. While Embiid and Noel acclimatize to the NBA game, coach Brett Brown will have the luxury of limiting their minutes, when the inevitable rush of fouls come from both young guys. And it both players develop into franchise changing big men? Well, that’s a problem any Sixers’ fan would love to have.
- Orlando Magic – Dante Exum, PG, Australian Institute of Sport
There seems to be a consensus around the league that the young Australian goes to Orlando. While considered an unknown to most of the NBA media, rest assured that the teams have seen plenty of Exum and know what he is about. As a 6’6” point guard, he has the length to get to the hoop and be more than just a pest defensively. Questions abound about his shooting, but his athleticism, length and nous should mask that deficiency until it develops. A backcourt pairing of Victor Oladipo and Exum could be genuinely terrifying for opposition teams in years to come.
- Utah Jazz – Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
Kentucky’s run to the NCAA Championship definitely helped boost Randle’s stock, but that’s not to say he didn’t have a great season. He was a walking double-double for the Wildcats and playing alongside either Derrick Favors or Enes Kanter should give the Jazz a potentially dominant frontcourt. However, like the Sixers pick of Embiid, it could leave the Jazz with a backlog of talent at the four and five. But, there’s never a shortage of suitors for great big men in the NBA and if all three develop into that, the Jazz fans will be rubbing their hands with glee.
- Boston Celtics – Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
Like the rest of the teams in the lottery, the Celtics were dying for one of the top three picks. Alas, the balls didn’t drop that way for Boston so they will have to make do with a great pick like Vonleh. Long and athletic, Vonleh blocks shot and also shows glimpses of offensive talent. As a freshman for the Hoosiers, he averaged nine boards a game and pairing him with Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk could help the Celtics get their franchise back to respectability.
- Los Angeles Lakers – Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
What couldn’t the Lakers use at this point? With barely a player, Kobe excluded, signed for 2014-15 there are holes all over the roster. This allows general manager Mitch Kupchak to truly go for the best player available at the seven slot. At that is former Oklahoma State Cowboy, Smart. When Smart surprisingly decided to go back to school in 2013-14, he was considered a possible top three selection in last year’s draft. Having endured a less than ideal sophomore season, Smart’s talents haven’t diminished, just people’s perceptions of them. He’ll be the ideal player to lead the Lakers into the post-Kobe era – until Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Kevin Love all join in free agency! (Dream on, Lakers’ fans)
- Sacramento Kings – Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
For a team that seems bereft of talent, it’s surprising that the Kings are so far down the draft order. With DeMarcus Cousins blossoming into a genuine star, the Kings would love a frontcourt partner for him after struggling through Jason Thompson, Reggie Evans and Derrick Williams at the power forward position last season. Gordon is super-athletic and will bring some much needed hype and pizzazz to the moribund Kings’ franchise.
- Charlotte Hornets – Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
The first senior off the board, McDermott is a lights out shooter who will be a perfect complement to Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has struggled in his first two seasons and McDermott is the antithesis of MKG.
- Philadelphia 76ers – Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Harris will be the fourth lottery pick in Philadelphia in the last two seasons, joining Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid. That’s a decent core for the future. Harris had a strong end to the season, and is a strong perimeter scorer, which will help to space out the offense with the Noel/Embiid pairing in the middle.
- Denver Nuggets – Dario Saric, PF, Cibona Zagreb, Croatia
Saric has long been hyped a lottery pick and will see that potential realized with the Nuggets first lottery selection since picking Carmelo Anthony all the way back in 2003. Saric lead the Adriatic League in points and rebounding on the way to being named league MVP. He also added 3.2 assists per game and has the game of a true point forward. Playing with jitterbug Ty Lawson, should open the floor up for Saric to facilitate and score.
- Orlando Magic – Rodney Hood, SF, Duke
With every rumour appearing to send Arron Afflalo out of the Magic Kingdom, the likelihood of the Magic grabbing a wing player in the draft increases. Hood’s dismal tournament will sour some teams on him, but his ability to score will be needed with both Oladipo and Exum not expected to be dominant scorers early on in their career. The Magic are truly building an impressive core of young pieces.
- Minnesota Timberwolves – Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
An elite shooter, Stauskas will be the best option for the reeling Timberwolves at the 13th pick. After their overtures for Memphis coach Dave Joerger were rejected, they need to make this pick work, as well as sort out the Kevin Love mess. Obviously, Kevin Martin is not the future at the two and Stauskas provides the kind of offensive ability to mask Ricky Rubio’s struggles in that area somewhat.
- Phoenix Suns – James Young, SF, Kentucky
- Atlanta Hawks – Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA
All the Hawks will be hoping for is a healthy Al Horford. With Horford returning next season, a massive boost is already in place for this team. Anderson handled the ball a lot at UCLA, but it’s doubtful he is a point guard in the NBA at 6’9”. With the Hawks having a pretty steady starting five, Anderson will get the time to develop in Atlanta and could be a handful off the bench toward the end of his rookie campaign.
- Chicago Bulls – Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
With the much-talked about amnestying of Carlos Boozer almost a foregone conclusion, the Bulls will need some help on the front line. With the arrival of Nikola Mirotic still not a done deal, Payne adds much needed shooting and floor spacing to Bulls’ team that struggled to score all season. Having a three-point threat at the four will really give the Bulls an additional weapon.
- Boston Celtics – Zach LaVine, SG, UCLA
Huge upside on the freshman from UCLA who also has the ability to play some point guard. He has crazy athleticism and could be an important scorer for the rebuilding Celtics.
- Phoenix Suns – Clint Capela, PF, Chalon
A freak athlete, Capela struggled at the Portland Hoops Summit, but his ability and potential will be a perfect match for the Suns. Capela could easily stay in Europe for a couple more seasons and with the Suns having a plethora of first-round picks, they can afford to take a risk on an upside player here.
- Chicago Bulls – Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
Many Bulls fans will be hoping for a backup point guard, meaning that relying on Kirk Hinrich and D.J. Augustin becomes a thing of the past. A very intelligent player for his age, Ennis makes up for his slightly below average athleticism, with a great understanding of his position.
- Toronto Raptors – Cleanthony Early, PF, Wichita State
Apart from having the best name in the draft, Early can actually hoop. Although he doesn’t possess great size, his shooting touch means he can play on the perimeter some as well. Early could contribute, shall we say early, for the surprising Raptors and will carve himself a decent, if unspectacular, NBA career.
- Oklahoma City Thunder – C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington
If there’s one thing these playoffs have taught us about the Thunder, is that they need scoring help. Coach Scott Brooks obviously hasn’t felt comfortable with Jeremy Lamb as his two guard and with Thabo Sefolosha really struggling, there is a void to be filled. A great shooter, Wilcox played all four years with the Huskies and could make a big splash immediately with the Thunder.
- Memphis Grizzlies – Jerami Grant, PF, Syracuse
What the Grizzlies really need is some front office stability. Owner Robert Pera cleaned out the front office and almost lost coach Dave Joerger to the Timberwolves and who’s to say whether the blood-letting is over. Zach Randolph’s career as a member of the Grizzlies could be at the crossroads and Grant could help fill the void if he leaves this offseason. He is a bit undersized and not yet fully NBA ready, but is a super athlete and could completely change the way the Grizzlies play the front court.
- Utah Jazz – T.J. Warren, SF, North Carolina State
Warren averaged almost 25 points a game for the Wolfpack this past season and would be an upgrade over the corpse of Richard Jefferson. He needs to improve his long-range shooting, but finds a way to fill up the box score regardless and could be an elite level defender.
- Charlotte Hornets – P.J. Hairston, SG, North Carolina
Can the home town boy come good? Hairston is another great outside shooter in this draft and is exactly what the Hornets need. Gerald Henderson is far from a long-range threat, so Hairston has the chance to unseat him for playing time and pairing him with Doug McDermott could really open up the Hornets’ offense.
- Houston Rockets – Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette
The Rockets already have Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley at point so why would they want another? Well, Lin has one year left on his deal and it’s doubtful he remains in Houston for much longer and Payton could learn a lot from Beverley’s hustle. Already a top notch defender, Payton would allow the Rockets to not lose much when Beverley leaves the court.
- Miami Heat – Shabazz Napier, PG, Connecticut
Napier willed his Connecticut team to the NCAA Tournament Final and his leadership skills will be highly valued in the NBA. The Heat have never been settled at point and Napier could very easily make a contribution on this team.
- Phoenix Suns – Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG, Serbia
Another player that the Suns may stash, Bogdanovic burst out in the Euroleague this season, averaging almost 15 points while shooting 37 percent from downtown. He’s also a decent rebounder, facilitator and defender, Bogdanovic could be a contributor in the NBA in the next few years.
- Los Angeles Clippers – Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan
Robinson’s sophomore campaign didn’t go according to plan, failing to live up to his preseason All-American status. For the Clippers, they’ll be hoping that was an aberration and they have a decent contributor in their biggest area of need.
- Oklahoma City Thunder – Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA
Like their earlier pick, the Thunder will want a guard who can score. His athleticism was poor at the combine, but he showed in Westwood that he could fill it up and that will help take some pressure of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
- San Antonio Spurs – Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
Nurkic looks like a slightly smaller version of Timberwolves’ centre Nikola Pekovic and averaged 12 points and six rebounds in just 17 minutes a game in the Adriatic League. The Spurs have a knack of finding foreign players and Nurkic could be the next in that great lineage.
Leave me any thought below in the comments.