(Photo: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
The 2014 NBA Draft is finally just 18 hours away. We’ll soon learn the destination of 60 college and international prospects.This year’s draft has long been touted as one of the deepest drafts in NBA history, even drawing comparisons to the 2003 draft that produced players like Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh. The talent at the top doesn’t seem to have the same sure fire future stars as in the 2003 draft, but many draft analysts are predicting that as many as 9 to 13 future All Stars could come out of this year’s class.
We have put together our final mock draft of the first 14 picks and based the predictions on not just our personal assessment of the talent, but paid careful attention to the reputable reports that could provide clues as to which way a team might be leaning.
We reviewed reports of teams’ interest in certain players, reports of players that were brought in for additional workouts and what certain players were posting on their personal social media account as it relates to their draft status. In addition, we try to use some common sense, understanding that many times teams will try to release false information about who they might select to the media in order to increase their chances that the player they desire is available when it is their turn to make their selection.
Raining3s.Com 2014 Final NBA Mock Draft (picks 1-14)
*movement from the previous mockk draft listed in parenthesis
1. Cleveland Cavaliers ( 33-49 )
Andrew Wiggins – Kansas – Guard /Forward ( Status Quo)
- It has been reported that the Cleveland Cavs brass is split on either taking Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker. Parker did work out for the Cavs but is said to have had a disappointing showing, causing many to speculate that Parker tanked his workout in order to have the Cavs pass on selecting him with the first pick. Having a player not thrilled to play for a particular team would not necessarily dissuade that team to draft him, but in this case with it being close between Wiggins and Parker in terms of talent and potential, it should be enough to tip the scales in favor of Wiggins.
2. Milwaukee Bucks ( 15-67 )
Jabari Parker – Duke – Guard/Forward – (Status Quo)
- The Bucks did well in last year’s draft picking up Giannis Antetokounmpo and we see them pairing Jabari Parker with him in the front court. Parker’s scoring prowess would complement the versatility of Giannis who is already freakishly long and apparently continues to grow taller. Also, Yahoo reported that Parker has received assurance from Milwaukee will select him if available with their 2nd pick.
Jabari Parker says he's not opposed to going to Cavs, but said no commitment was made.Said Bucks told him they'd take him if he's there at 2
— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) June 25, 2014
3. Philadelphia 76ers ( 19-63 )
Noah Vonleh – Indiana – Forward/Center – ( Up 2 spots)
- It would be difficult to see the 76ers take a gamble on Joel Embiid who has had a myriad of health issues in the last year, the most recent one with this foot that will keep him out a reported 4 to 6 months.
- Vonleh stock has risen considerably since he measured the biggest hands and the 2nd biggest wingspan at 7 feet, 4.25 inches, at the NBA Combine. Vonleh’s freakish measurables, along with this shooting touch and stout frame, you have the potential for a star big man that would complement the athletic and defensive force of Nerlens Noel in the front court.
- There is a lot of talk of the 76ers taking Dante Exum with this pick due to the rave reviews he received from his recent workout with the team, but I’m not biting. The issue is that the 76ers still have reigning rookie of the year, Michael Carter-Williams who has an eerily similar body type as Exum. A plan to play both players alongside each other in the back court would be difficult considering that neither player has an outside shot to speak of at the moment.
- Vonleh is the best combination of safety and potential with this pick for the 76ers. Exum is unproven and too much of a risk to take him this high, especially when a player that plays the same position is still on their roster.
4. Orlando Magic ( 23-59 )
Marcus Smart– Oklahoma State – Guard (Up 3 spots)
- It is possible that Magic take a chance with Embiid still available but they’ll take the safe pick of Marcus Smart who they coveted a year ago. Smart is built like a tank, aggressive and able to contribute immediately. At worst, Smart is able to defend both guard positions well and score at a decent clip by his ability to get to the line and score on the break. At best, if he develops just a decent outside shot, he’ll become a perennial All-Star.
- Exum can also be in play here but there is vastly more information available with Smart and the safer pick.
5. Utah Jazz ( 25-57 )
Joel Embiid – Kansas – Center (Down 1 spot)
- Embiid falls to the Jazz at 5 and his immense talents and potential is just too great to pass up. While the Jazz have a pair of solid, young big men in Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors that are slowly coming along, both players do not project anywhere near as high of a ceiling of Embiid who could potentially develop into the top center in the game. The Jazz frontcourt being in good hands, they could wait on Embiid’s arrival and development. Reports are that his recovery time will be from 4 to 6 months which will means he should get some playing time this season.
6. Boston Celtics ( 25-57 )
Julius Randle – Kentucky – Forward (Status Quo)
- The Celtics are just in the beginning of their rebuilding phase so they can go in pretty much any direction. While they have more need at the guard position at the moment with veteran forwards Jeff Green and Brandon Bass, along with young big guys Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk still on the roster, Randle is simply too good to pass up for any of the other guards that are still available. Randle is a little undersized for the power forward position in the NBA, but is incredibly strong and skilled. Randle is a player that can immediately contribute at the NBA level, but doesn’t possess the ceiling of either Vonleh or Embiid.
- Many early reports were that the Celtics were high on Aaron Gordon but it could be a calculated. Not many reports of the Celtics taking Randle which makes more sense.
- The Celtics can change direction depending on their plans with Rajon Rondo. If they still are not including Rondo as part of their future the Celts can opt for Dante Exum instead.
- Celtics were interested enough to request a 2nd workout with Randle but he declined. Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe provided insight as to Randle’s reasoning:
Julius Randle said he did pass on the second opportunity to work out with #celtics but NOT for GQ shoot. Said he felt he had shown enough
— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) June 25, 2014
7. Los Angeles Lakers ( 27-55 )
Dante Exum – Australian Institute of Sports – Guard (Down 4 spots)
- While I personally would prefer UCLA’s Zach LaVine with this pick, I feel that the Lakers will take Exum if he drops to them at 7. Despite Exum having very little experience playing against competition comparable to that in the NCAA, most mock drafts have him going anywhere from 3rd to 6th which seems odd. Most team scouts and executives have not seen Exum play in person and are relegated to evaluating him on video and 3rd hand accounts of those few that have actually seen him play. The limited amount of information will scare off teams at the top with so many talented players who are safer picks still available. This will cause Exum to drop to the Lakers at 7th where his long term potential is not as much of a gamble.
- Exum is an attractive athlete with his combination of size, length and quickness, but he has quite a few flaws in his game which makes him a long term project who wont be able to contribute immediately and has the potential to become a bust. Exum’s outside shot is poor, is turnover prone and lacks vertical explosiveness which will make it difficult for him to finish at the rim or shoot over defenders. Weighing both the positives and negatives, Exum is still the right pick with the 7th pick, even if it’s one that I wouldn’t make.
8. Sacramento Kings ( 28-54 )
Aaron Gordon – Arizona – Forward (Status Quo)
- The Kings have a nice collection of young talent with DeMarcus Cousins as the headliner, but for whatever reason, they haven’t been able to put together a winning season. Kings will look to place a nice complement to Cousins in the front court and go with the high flying, high energy forward Aaron Gordon who will be the best player available. While Gordon is not the ideal fit next to Cousin due to his lack of an outside shot, he is an explosive athlete that would be fun to watch in the Kings’ potent, up and down offense.
9. Charlotte Hornets ( 43-39 )
Zach LaVine – UCLA – Guard (Status Quo)
- Charlotte is finally on the upswing, having just completed a season where they qualified for the playoffs and having player that actually received MVP consideration (Al Jefferson). Michael Jordan is at the helm and he rarely opts for foreign players. While Kemba Walker has been solid, they wont be able to pass up on LaVine’s crazy athleticism and size for the point guard position. Because LaVine does posses good size for a point guard (6-4) he can play off the ball alongside Kemba as well.
- The Hornets have a talented young PG in Kemba Walker but are reportedly looking for a player to back him up and play along side him as well; with LaVine’s versatility and size, he’ll be able to do both.
10. Philadelphia ( 19-63 )
Nik Stauskas – Michigan – Guard (up 3 spots)
- After the 76ers played it safe with their 1st pick they could look to gamble with their 2nd lottery pick, but opt to play it safe again, taking Nik Stauskas. Stauskas is guard with nice size (6 feet, 5.5 inches) , enthusiasm (some say crazy), athleticism and a great shooting touch which will be sorely needed with a projected starting line-up that includes Carter-Williams, Noel and Thaddeus Young.
11. Denver Nuggets ( 36-46)
Gary Harris – Michigan St. – Guard (Up 4 spots)
- The Nuggets have a talented roster but lack a star to take them to the next level. Unfortunately there won’t be any players with star potential at the 11th pick and opt for the Harris who one of the best all around talents at the guard position. Harris is a solid athlete, good defender and shooter; he also has the ability to beat his man off the dribble and get to the rim or pull up for a jumper off the dribble. Harris can develop into a formidable back court for the Nuggets with Ty Lawson.
- Despite all of his offensive and defensive tools, what drops Harris to the teens in the draft is his size for his position. Harris measured 6 feet and 2.5 inches at the NBA Combine which is undersized for an NBA 2 guard.
12. Orlando Magic ( 23-59)
Doug McDermott– Creighton – Forward (Status Quo)
- Same as with the 76ers, the Magic will have the chance to be bold with their 2nd lottery pick and opt for college scoring machine, Doug McDermott. There are a lot of questions if McDermott has the size and athleticism to be successful at the NBA level, but there is no question the guy can shoot and from any spot on the court. If McDermott is able to develop some moves to free himself from defenders and have time to get up his prized outside shot, he can become a very capable scorer. If not, he will relegated to a career as a specialty player that is brought in to space the floor and camp out at the 3 point line for spot up jumpers, which is still a valuable asset.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves ( 40-42)
Rodney Hood – Duke – Guard/Forward (down 2 spots)
- The Wolves who will soon be looking at life without their star, Kevin Love which will surely trigger an immediate full blown rebuilding phase; therefore, the Wolves just need to acquire young talent and take the best available which will be Rodney Hood at this spot. Hood has the perfect NBA swing-man body with his 6 foot 8.5 height (measurements at the combine). Hood is also one of the best shooters coming out of the draft.
14. Phoenix Suns (48-34)
Adreian Payne – Michigan St. – Forward (not ranked)
- The Suns are a winningest team in the lottery by far and would have qualified for the playoffs if not for playing in the highly competitive Western Conference. This will be 1 of 3 first round picks for the Suns and will go for the best available player. Payne is not only the best available but he would be a perfect fit in the Suns offensive system and an ideal replacement for Channing Frye who they will likely lose in free agency. Like Frye, Payne is a big who is adept at shooting from long range; shooting 42.3 percent from behind the 3 during his senior season. Unlike Frye, Payne is also tough and athletic which will add another dimension to the front court for the Suns.