The time is upon us once again MAMBINites: the NBA Draft, a haven for hoophead nerds everywhere, is finally here.
This particular year’s edition has been through all sorts of permutations–once called the greatest draft since 2003, expectations have since been tapered. Bloggers and writers projected no less than five franchise-caliber superstars coming into the NBA this June, but as the NCAA season wore on, it was apparent that this wasn’t going to be the epic class we thought.
Nevertheless, the MAMBINO crew is just as jakked up for this year’s annual rite of passage as we ever are. This draft may not have a James-Wade-Anthony-Bosh-type cache, but it is certainly filled with difference makers and All-Stars. We’ve racked up our selections for lottery picks 1-14, giving you a solid profile of what WE think Thursday’s event at Barclays Center in Brooklyn will look like.
Full disclosure: we wrote this one up a week ago, but Joel Embiid’s foot injury threw our entire post into disarray. In many ways, this is the MAMBINO 2014 NBA Mock Draft 2.0, but we’re proceeding in this new and daring world where a 7-footer has foot and back problems. New AND daring!
With the 1st pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select Jabari Parker from Duke University
El Miz: The Joel Embiid njury should change nothing. If I was the GM of the Cavs and my boss was not Dan G, then Embiid would be the pick. I’ll roll the dice on the injury Wheel of Fortune for the player with the most upside by far in the draft. But Dan G does not want an injured center who may not play until the calendar turns to 2015. Dan G wants to win and win soon, and “he is sick of winning the lottery”! He makes this clear, banging out late night e-mails in Sans Serif asking “who will win rookie of the year, please advise” and “do any of these guys have asthma, please advise.”
Parker fits the needs – the Cavs had horrific production from the 3 last year until they traded for Luol Deng, a broke down wing spat out of the Thibodeau system, at the trade deadline. With Deng a free agent and on the wrong side of 30, the Cavs again have to address the weakness on the perimeter. Parker addresses it head on, bringing basketball smarts which will fit in well in new coach David Blatt’s offense, and bringing a scoring savvy that will ease the burden on Uncle Drew’s old legs. Parker, most pro-ready prospect, goes to the lottery team most eager for a pro-ready prospect.
With the 2nd pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Milwaukee Bucks select Andrew Wiggins, from the University of Kansas
KOBEshigawa: Truthfully, the Bucks need help at almost every position. The only two players that may have any staying power of any kind with the team are Giannis Antetokounmpo and Larry Sanders, who has yet to even start his four year, $44 million dollar extension.
That being said, Milwaukee needs the player with the most tangible upside, and at this spot that’s Wiggins. The KU swingman may be the best athlete in this draft (though UCLA guard Zach LaVine might give him a good run) and might step into the NBA as one it’s best defenders. However, it’s his uptapped potential as a game changing perimeter player that may make him a star.
Wiggins simply has too much upside on both ends of the floor for the Bucks–starved for offense and badly needing any type of wing defense they can find–to pass up. It was actually a tough call for me between Wiggins and Dante Exum, but I have a feeling that Milwaukee won’t be able to pass up on the sexy name to take an anonymous Australian point guard. The Bucks could very well take Embiid here as well, but with the money owed to Larry Sanders and their previous history with the injury-riddled Andrew Bogut, I can’t see them going anywhere near him.
With the 3rd pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select Noah Vonleh, from Indiana University
6 on Hibbert: Vonleh just looks a lot like Bosh to me. He’s 6’9′, 245 lbs., he’s cut and he’s only 18. Bosh was taller but lighter coming out of college. Both didn’t light the world on fire in college partly because of questions about his supporting cast and their ability to get him the ball in spots where he could be effective. Both are underrated as defenders and rim protectors. Both have a nice looking jump shot that can stretch the defense. Both have weird faces and dinosaur-esque features.
Vonleh and Noel could form a very athletic and effective frontcourt which can protect the rim and put points on the board. Add them to MCW who I don’t love but who is also incredibly long for his position, and whoever they draft at #10 and they could have a bright future.
With the 4th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic select Joel Embiid, from the University of Kansas
El Mariachi: Even through Embiid’s injury woes, the Magic know that he will be back in action in no time. Embiid’s raw physical ability and athleticism would pair perfectly with Vucevic’s technical and fundamental prowess. Together, they would be a devastating defensive and rebounding machine which would open up the outside shooting of Oladipo and Afflalo (if they hang on to him this offseason). Orlando is happy to pick any of the top three (Wiggins, Parker, Embiid) at the 4th spot even with the uncertainty of this injury. They are not winning a title next year, or the year after. This time is invaluable to the young Magic and will do Embiid a world of good.
With the 5th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Utah Jazz select Julius Randle from the University of Kentucky
ThunderStolt: Very little downside to this pick. Randle can come in and play right away next to Favors. He can take the ball in the post and go get buckets. This leads to a little logjam in the front court but bringing in Kanter off the bench isn’t the worst thing in the world. Burke is going to love playing with Randle and they could get a two man game going. The former Wildcat has room to improve, especially on the defensive end but he is ready to play game 1 and give the Jazz solid minutes as a rookie.
With the 6th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics select Marcus Smart, from Oklahoma State University
BockerKnocker: Despite all the chatter of Brad Stevens being a coaching wunderkind, a basketball rebuilding project always has an accelerated clock. This makes sense when you consider the recent flirtation between Boston and Kevin Love, a player who has never been to the playoffs. The Celtics, gritty and well-coached last season, will need to field a substantially better roster, even in the much-maligned Eastern Conference.
It was Kevin Durant who declared that Marcus Smart is ready for NBA ball right now, which sets him apart from every other player in this loaded lottery. Forget whether Smart and Rondo can play together; this pick has all the makings of trading either one of them in a package for a marquee player.
With the 7th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers select Dane Exum, from the Australian Institute of Sport
The CDP: There is no doubt that the NBA community knows less about Dante Exum than any other top prospect, limited to grainy YouTube highlight reels over subpar competition and word of mouth. Still, he is a tantalizing talent, only 18, and could very well end up being the biggest impact player in the draft. Exum has let it be known that he’d love to be in LA, and the feeling is mutual, The Lakers have been interested in Exum for months are thrilled that he fell into their lap, believing him to be the kind of game-changing future All-Star you can’t normally get with the 7th pick. It’s hard to take any comps of the 6’6″ Exum too seriously, but people have likened his competitiveness to a young Kobe Bean Bryant. With his length, athleticism, and smooth handle, he’s drawn comparisons to a young Penny Hardaway, There’s no question it will take some time for him to grow into his body, but the Lakers feel good about drafting a franchise building block in Dante Exum.
With the 8th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings select Aaron Gordon, from the University of Arizona
AO: What I like most about this pick is his pairing with DeMarcus Cousins. For all of Boogie’s brilliant skills, he’s pretty slow and unathletic. Gordon pairing with him in the frontcourt (Gordon should be able to play 4 when he puts on a little muscle) gives SacTown some much needed athleticism and running ability to pair with Isaiah Thomas and Rudy Gay assuming he comes back. Gordon’s size, upside, and athleticism are just too much to pass up here. Mike Malone will see an athlete like Gordon and think he can turn him into an absolute menace on the defensive side of the ball.
With the 9th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Hornets select Gary Harris, Jr., from Michigan State University
KOBEshigawa: I like Gary Harris, but I don’t love Gary Harris. That’s probably because he looks like he’s going to be a solid NBA player. But that’s about it.
From my vantage point, Harris doesn’t do anything poorly. He’s a nice shooter (form-wise anyway), who declined a bit this season in terms of accuracy (35%), but can also put the ball on the floor and get to the rack. Harris’s handle is solid for a ball-handling combo guard, though he’s nothing more than a capable passer. Defensively I have no reason to suspect that he’ll hurt a team on the NBA level, but I’m not certain that we’re seeing the next Tony Allen either. To me, Harris profiles similarly to Gerald Henderson, a player already on the Bobcats–he’s a very nice all-around player, but not an All-Star by any means.
However, that’s not to say that the Hornets (with their first pick in over a decade!) should stray from nothing more than a good role player–that’s exactly the type of players they need while Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson continue to improve their play together. While McDermott and LaVine might have more upside on one side of the ball, the Hornets need Harris’s well-rounded game.
With the 10th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select Doug McDermott, from Creighton University
6 on Hibbert: I don’t think this is a tough call for the Sixers at all. While his upside is not as high as some, Doug McDermott’s floor is Kyle Korver, who has made a living as a jump shooter and as a haircut. McDermott is every bit the shooter that Korver is, and he adds in a variety of post moves and herky-jerky drives to the basket which make him an all around phenomenal scorer. He’s never going to be an above average defender, but there is a place on any contender for a guy who can hit shots from everywhere on the floor, and can create shots for himself with the basketball. He’s not used to playing against NBA caliber athletes, but he’s shown that he can beat double and triple teams, so I’m not as worried about NBA defenses as others might be. McDermott has worked on his game constantly, and at the ripe age of 22 is already mastering the Dirk step back one-footer. He’s going to find ways to score and stretch the defense in the NBA. I would not be surprised if he scores 15+ per game next year if he ends up on a team like the Sixers.
So in this scenario, the Sixers draft the two best offensive players in college basketball last year, and hope to God that Nerlens Noel turns into a defensive stopper down the line.
With the 11th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Denver Nuggets select Zach LaVine, from UCLA
El Miz: If Jim Dolan didn’t pantsed by the Kroenkes and Masai Ujiri back in 2010, we can assume this would be a selection of the New York Knickbockers, and Tyler Ennis would be the answer to the “Who replaced Raymond Felton after his second stint with the Knicks?” Aflac trivia question.
As it stands, since the Nuggets owe Ty Lawson north of $37 million over the next three seasons, Denver Draft HQ passes on the chance to recreate the Dragic-Bledsoe backcourt dynamic in the Rockies (although if Marcus Smart falls to 11, he does profile as the closest thing to Eric Bledsoe in this draft), and instead uses the final asset obtained in exchange for Carmelo Anthony to select Zach LaVine, an afterthought on UCLA who is going to trick one front office into thinking they found the next Russell Westbrook. LaVine didn’t even average 10 points per game last year, but he jumps out of the building, will be 19 for most of his rookie season, and will probably shoot the ball well enough in empty gyms with nobody guarding him to convince a team to take a flier on him. What better team than the Nuggets, playing with house money thanks to JD and the Straight Shot. LaVine probably won’t amount to much and definitely isn’t the best basketball player on the board right here, but Denver rolls the dice for the upside.
With the 12th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic select Adreian Payne, from Michigan State University
El Mariachi: The one thing that the Magic lack more than anything is an offensive go to guy. Afflalo is that to a certain extent, but with his trade value higher than ever before, it is looking more and more like he will not be in a Magic uniform for much longer. While Oladipo continues to grow into his offensive role around a young and technically sound group, the addition of Payne could be a huge addition to the Magic offensive and defensive power. His length and offensive versatility give Jacque Vaughn a solid bench player to spell Tobias Harris and or Moe “I-don’t-have-much-Moe-left-to-my-game” Harkless. Payne’s ability to stretch the floor with his jump shot definitely gives the Magic much needed room for its now dominant front court with Vucevic and Embiid. And his shot blocking ability gives the not-so-athletic Vucevic and the uber athletic Embiid even more rim protection which could potentially evolve into one of the most prolific defensive front courts in the game, or at least the eastern conference but that isn’t saying much. Or even if he is supplanted into the starting lineup, who wouldn’t like to see the young Adreian “The Video Game” Payne awkwardly drive to the basket and lob up and inexperienced shot for Vucevic to put back over and over again? Because trust me, if Payne is the Magic’s 12th pick, we won’t be talking about Oladipo’s turnovers anymore.
Plus, who wouldn’t want to draft a guy that draws a Robert Horry comparison??! It’s a no brainer.
With the 13th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select Nik Stauskas, from the University of Michigan
ThunderStolt: The T-Wolves would be wise to take Nik Stauskas with the 13th pick as they need wing help to develop behind Corey Brewer and Kevin Martin. The T-Wolves need a reliant shooter who can space the floor immediately and knock down shots. Stauskas’ defense could use some work, like most rookies, but his energy and effort are there. At 6-7, 207 pounds he is arguably the most complete player in this tier of the draft. I would expect Stauskas to get his reps as a rookie but could see his playing time escalated significantly if Kevin Martin is dealt in a deal involving Kevin Love. If Stauskas shows he is capable of knocking down catch-and-shoot threes off of Rubio drives, and is able to show some development on the defensive end, he could find himself a staple in the rotation early in his career.
With the 14th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Phoenix Suns select Rodney Hood, from the University of Kentucky
BockerKnocker: P.J. Tucker is a very capable rotation player, and will continue to earn his money on the defensive side of the ball. But Phoenix really needs a wing who can score, and Rodney Hood fits the bill. In your typical NBA Draft, Hood would be a top-10 lock. His offensive repertoire is advanced for his age, despite being overshadowed by a more talented teammate at Duke. If the Suns re-sign Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic continues to become a steady lead guard, Hood will put points on the board in a hurry.