With the San Antonio Spurs returning home to clear more room in their trophy cabinet, all eyes and rumor mill feeders have turned their attention to the rapidly approaching 2014 NBA Draft on June 26.
The draft field is now set with the passing of the June 16 deadline for underclassmen and international players to withdraw their names.
My Mock Draft 2.0 has Kansas big man Joe Embiid landing with the Cleveland Cavaliers at No. 2, setting the stage for a dramatic lead up to the draft with the Milwaukee Bucks fielding phone calls while debating what the No. 2 pick – and Andrew Wiggins – may be worth.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Joel Embiid, C, Fr. Kansas. With the dynamic and athletic Kyrie Irving already in the fold, look for the Cavs to go with the Jayhawks big man to bolster their front line.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF, Fr. Kansas. Philadelphia is reportedly doing whatever it can to land Wiggins, but Milwaukee won’t likely pass on him. Bucks fans should be excited about the possibility of having Wiggins paired with the “Greek Freak,” Giannis Antetokounmpo. The young and athletic wings should give Milwaukee plenty to cheer about for years to come.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, SF, Fr., Duke. Parker’s game has been compared to Carmelo Anthony. He will be a welcome addition to a young 76ers squad in need of a dynamic scorer to team up with Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams.
4. Orlando Magic: Marcus Smart, SG, Soph., Oklahoma State. Smart had big plans for his sophomore season that didn’t really pan out, but he has been very good in pre-draft workouts. He’s a natural scorer with long arms who would make a nice backcourt mate to Victor Oladipo.
5. Utah Jazz: Dante Exum, PG, Australia. Utah already has Trey Burke running the show at point guard, but Exum’s skill set might be too tempting for the Jazz to pass up with the fifth pick. Exum’s athleticism and all-around game could be a nice complement to Burke in the Jazz’s backcourt.
6. Boston Celtics: Julius Randle, PF, Fr. Kentucky. Originally thought to be a top 5 pick, Randle has gone on the defensive after it was announced that numerous teams are concerned with a foot injury that may require surgery. He should stay in the top 10 and would be a nice addition to Boston’s front line.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Noah Vonleh, PF, Fr., Indiana. Vonleh’s freakishly long 7-foot-4 wingspan and his willingness to chase down rebounds and loose balls are characteristics that would make him a favorite teammate of Kobe Bryant. With Pau Gasol likely done in Los Angeles, the Lakers need Vonleh’s length.
8. Sacramento Kings: Doug McDermott, SF/PF, Sr., Creighton. With Isaiah Thomas’ future in Sacramento looking murky, the Kings could go for Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis, but the potential of matching McDermott with DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay might be too much for the Kings to pass up.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Aaron Gordon, PF, Fr., Arizona. Gordon’s athletic game has drawn comparisons to that of Blake Griffin. Pair Gordon with Al Jefferson in Charlotte, and look for an already improving Hornets team to get even better.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Dario Saric, SF/PF, Croatia. The 76ers love to play up-tempo, and the 6-foot-10 Croatian can play pretty much any position on the floor. Saric’s skill set and Philadelphia’s style of play could be a match made in heaven.
11. Denver Nuggets: Kyle Anderson, SF, Soph., UCLA. Another talented jack-of-all-trades big man who would fit into Brian Shaw’s philosophy of playing up-tempo with interchangeable positions. Anderson might be the best non-guard passer in this year’s draft.
12. Orlando Magic: Tyler Ennis, PG, Fr., Syracuse. The adjectives used to describe the young point guard are mature, wise beyond his years, and intelligent. The Magic can use Ennis to back up Jameer Nelson or have him take over should they end up trading Nelson.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Gary Harris, SG, Soph., Michigan State. With Kevin Love announcing he won’t sign a contract extension in Minnesota, it will be interesting to see the direction the Timberwolves take. Harris is a tough all-around player who could team up with Ricky Rubio quite nicely.
14. Phoenix Suns: Nik Stauskas, SG, Soph., Michigan. The sharpshooting Stauskas saw his scoring average take a big jump this year with his increased role in Michigan’s offense. The NBA loves shooters who can space the floor, and Phoenix, with point guard Goran Dragic, could be a good home for him.
15. Atlanta Hawks: T.J. Warren, SG, Soph., North Carolina State. Look for the Hawks to go after someone who can help Jeff Teague in the backcourt. Warren is a scoring machine who potentially could become a dangerous weapon at the shooting guard position.
16. Chicago Bulls: Rodney Hood, SF, Soph., Duke. Hood possesses the physical characteristics and athleticism to fit right into Tom Thibodeau’s system. He can bring some much needed help offensively on the wing and play the type of defense Thibodeau demands.
17. Boston Celtics: Zach LaVine, PG/SG, Fr., UCLA. The athletic LaVine had a very good pre-draft combine and is rising up everyone’s draft boards. He is still raw but is capable of playing both guard positions and is easily one of the best athletes in the draft.
18. Phoenix Suns: Jerami Grant, SF, Soph., Syracuse. Grant is explosive around the basketm, and his athleticism would fit in nicely in Jeff Hornacek’s system.
19. Chicago Bulls: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia. The bruiser from Bosnia has soft hands and a nice touch around the basket to go along with a 6-foot-11, 280-pound frame that could bolster Chicago’s already very good front line.
20. Toronto Raptors: Adreian Payne, SF, Sr., Michigan State. Payne’s ability to shoot from deep makes him dangerous against other big guys. Pairing him with DeMar DeRozan and an emerging Terrence Ross could make the Raptors’ offense even more formidable.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: James Young, SG/SF, Fr., Kentucky. The athletic freshman could be a lottery pick. However, should he slide, look for the Thunder to add another dangerous athlete alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Elfrid Payton, PG, Jr., Louisiana-Lafayette. The relatively unknown Payton would help provide some depth behind Mike Conley and help make Memphis’ backcourt more dangerous.
23. Utah Jazz: Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland. Utah already has a raw, European big man in Rudy Gobert, but the athletic Capela is intriguing enough for the Jazz to take a chance on.
24. Charlotte Hornets: Glenn Robinson III, SF, So. Michigan. The Hornets need offensive weapons on the perimeter to help space the floor for Al Jefferson, Robinson has NBA pedigree and a perimeter game tailor made for the NBA.
25. Houston Rockets: C.J. Wilcox, SG, Sr., Washington. One of the best spot-up shooters in the draft. Wilcox’s dangerous shooting touch could be a valuable floor-spacer to help free up room down low for Dwight Howard.
26. Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier, PG, Sr., Connecticut. The breakout star of the NCAA Tournament could bring some dangerous offense to Miami’s backcourt and give Mario Chalmers some competition for the
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