2014 NBA Mock Lottery

This is my third season making a knee-jerk reaction NBA Mock Lottery, and somehow it’s my second time puzzled about which player the Cleveland Cavaliers will take first overall.

Unlike last year where the Cavaliers picked Anthony Bennett (and I had them picking Nerlens Noel then Alex Len) the Cavaliers have three great players to choose from: Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, and Jabari Parker. That trio leads what should be the best top of the draft since 2009–maybe even since the vaunted 2003 draft.

This year’s draft is very intriguing with the (perhaps over-)hyped top of the class and normally-successful Celtics and Lakers drafting in the early lottery. You can expect a full mock draft and perhaps my own Big Board closer to draft night.

1

Joel Embiid

C 7-foot 250 lbs Kansas 20 Years Old

The Cavs had two #1 picks and two #4 picks from the past three years and still missed the playoffs. They also signed a coach to a five-year deal who they fired three years earlier and canned him again after year one. With this big of a dumpster fire, I fully expect them to draft Joel Embiid, who will immediately succumb to career-long debilitating knee injuries. And then Johnny Manziel will tear his ACL. Because God hates Cleveland.

2

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Andrew Wiggins

SG 6-foot-8 200 lbs Kansas 19 Years Old

The Bucks really only have two keepers: small forward Giannis Antetokounpo and owner’s daughter Mallory Edens. (Shameless plug: Last summer I said the Hawks would “win the NBA Draft” last year by drafting Mason Plumlee and The Greek Freak.) I have Wiggins, Parker, and Embiid graded out as mostly equal, and since Wiggins has a less redundant skill set to The Greek Freak than Parker does, I have Milwaukee taking the Toronto native.

3

Jabari Parker

SF 6-foot-8 241 lbs Duke 19 Years Old

This one’s pretty easy for Philly. In a vacuum, Dante Exum is a similar talent to Parker, but with Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams at point guard and Nerlens Noel a cornerstone big man, Parker is exactly the perimeter player this team needs. Honestly, I would probably take Jabari Parker with the number one pick. He’s a complete player and ready to make an immediate impact on both sides of the ball. I just don’t see a way he fails.

4

Dante Exum

PG 6-foot-6 196 lbs Australia 18 Years Old

The Magic likely would have taken Marcus Smart over Victor Oladipo with the second overall pick last year, and Exum is a better Smart. The only thing that might talk the Magic out of Exum here is the thought that they could grab a quality point guard with the 12th overall pick (Tyler Ennis or Zach LaVine) and grab a quality big man (Julius Randle) with their first pick.

5

Julius Randle

PF 6-foot-9 234 lbs Kentucky 19 Years Old

The Jazz just get screwed here because they could really use another wing (say, Mormon Jabari Parker) but the top tier of wing players have no chance of falling this far. Since they’re unable to fit a need, I think the Jazz should and will go with the best available player, which in this case is Julius Randle. Utah does already have Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter down low, but Kanter is up for an extension soon, and Randle would be a fantastic replacement. They could also be a candidate to trade out of this pick.

6

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Aaron Gordon

PF 6-foot-9 220 lbs Arizona 18 Years Old

Gordon is a strange prospect to me because he’s unbelievably athletic but lacks a ton of basketball skills. Most of his points in Arizona came from putbacks and close shots. He’s a bit short for power forward and cannot shoot, but his motor and athleticism are so tantalizing. If he puts everything together, he could be Blake Griffin, but if he doesn’t put things together, he could be a really bad player. The Celtics really just need to draft based on upside and need anything other than a point guard.

7

720px-LosAngeles_Lakers_logo.svg

Noah Vonleh

PF 6-foot-10 247 lbs Indiana 18 Years Old

Noah Vonleh is the latest player rising up draft boards with an outstanding combine, just like fellow Hoosier Cody Zeller last season. Similar to the Celtics, the Lakers are a bit of a mess just looking for upside, so Vonleh makes sense here. He also makes sense here because I’m not a particularly big fan of this freshman (terrible name) and I’m not a particularly big fan of the Lakers.

8

Marcus Smart

PG 6-foot-3 227 lbs Oklahoma State 20 Years Old

You have to think the Kings are the absolute floor for Smart, who could go as high as 5. Sacramento needs help at the 1 and 4, making Smart a great fit. Isaiah Thomas has been a good player, but Smart is more likely to be a long-term starter at point guard. Hey, DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay, Ben McLemore, and Marcus Smart isn’t the worst core. Probably makes the playoffs in the East.

9

Charlotte-Hornets_new_logo

Gary Harris

SG 6-foot-5 205 lbs Michigan State 19 Years Old

It’s nice to see that logo next to Gary Harris’ name, isn’t it? The Hornets need another star, but that isn’t going to be around at this pick. Otherwise, they need shooting, a backup point guard, another big, and shooting. “You said shooting twice.” I like shooting. Harris could very well be a starter soon for Charlotte with great range and perimeter defense.

10

Dario Saric

PF 6-foot-10 223 lbs Croatia 20 Years Old

After taking Parker, the Sixers could go with another forward or a shooting guard. Personally, I would love to see Parker and Rodney Hood reunited in Philly, but most teams don’t have Hood as high on their board as I do. Saric would give the Sixers great size (6’7″ at point guard, 6’8″ at small forward, 6’10” at power forward, and 6’11” at center) and another ball handler to go with Carter-Williams and Parker. James Young could also make sense here if Philadelphia would prefer shooting over an unconventional big man.

11

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James Young

SF 6-foot-8 213 lbs Kentucky 18 Years Old

Picking this late in the lottery doesn’t really solve the Nuggets’ issue of having a lot of above-average players, but Young would give them something every team could use: a great shooter. Young’s .349 three-point shooting percentage at Kentucky didn’t blow anyone away, but his sweet shooting stroke portends better results in the future, just like Bradley Beal in the 2012 draft.

12

Doug McDermott

SF 6-foot-8 218 lbs Creighton 22 Years Old

Orlando heads into the draft needing a point guard and forward depth, and with Exum on board, Dougy McBuckets makes sense here. The Magic’s two current cornerstones (Oladipo and Nik Vucevic) are great defensively with limited offense, so taking an all-offense, no-defense player like McDermott could work in their favor.

13

Tyler Ennis

PG 6-foot-3 182 lbs Syracuse 19 Years Old

Yes, the Wolves already have a point guard, and yes, David Kahn is off to greener pastures, but Ennis is more talented than the 13th player taken in the draft. He really belongs in the 8-12 range, but he’s certainly not going to be taken by a team that has Marcus Smart, Kemba Walker, Michael Carter-Williams, Ty Lawson, or Dante Exum. Ennis’ speed and mid-range shooting could work well alongside Ricky Rubio, and he could be the player Johnny Flynn never was.

14

Rodney Hood

SF 6-foot-9 208 lbs Duke 21 Years Old

It looks bad now, but going into the season, I thought no team had less talent than the Suns. Their success this season is a testament to Jeff Hornacek’s coaching skills and my apparent lack of talent evaluating skills. Anyway, I love Eric Bledsoe and like Goran Dragic, but I’m still not convinced the Morris twins and Miles Plumlee are long-term starters. The Suns will probably go for the best player with the edge going to sweet-shooting forwards, making Hood a great pick here.

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