The news of Joel Embiid’s foot surgery scheduled for Friday sent a shockwave through the top portion of the 2014 NBA Draft.
With two other premier talents available in Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins and Duke’s Jabari Parker, the Cleveland Cavaliers can’t afford to take such a big gamble on the Kansas big man after swinging and missing – so far – with Anthony Bennett at No. 1 last year.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF, Fr., Kansas. Former teammate Embiid’s foot injury opens the door for Wiggins to reclaim the top spot everyone long believed he would assume since last summer. Embiid’s injury makes him too risky to select at No. 1, and Wiggins’ athleticism is too much for the Cavs to pass up.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker, SF, Fr., Duke. Parker’s game has been compared to Carmelo Anthony and if Larry Sanders can get his head straight, the Bucks could have a nice young core in Sanders, the “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo and Parker to re-energize a dormant fan base.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Dante Exum, PG, Int. (Australia). The Sixers love Wiggins and will reportedly make a strong push to trade up to get him. If it doesn’t happen they’re said to be looking for another PG even though they have the reigning Rookie of the Year in Michael Carter-Williams.
4. Orlando Magic: Noah Vonleh, PF, Fr., Indiana. The Magic would love to have Exum fall into their lap to pair in the backcourt with Victor Oladipo and use Jameer Nelson as trade bait, but Vonleh and his 7-4 wingspan will work quite nicely alongside Nikola Vucevic to give Orlando a solid young frontcourt.
5. Utah Jazz: Julius Randle, PF, Fr., Kentucky. Randle’s foot is also a hot topic leading up to the draft. However, he is adamant his foot is fine and was able to play without any issues during his one year at Kentucky. The Jazz may go for Embiid here, but Randle would be a solid choice to bolster their young frontcourt.
6. Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart, SG, Soph., Oklahoma State. Smart had big plans for his sophomore year that didn’t really pan out, but he has been very good in pre-draft workouts. He’s a natural scorer with long arms that would make a nice backcourt mate to Rajon Rondo.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Joel Embiid, C, Fr., Kansas. Talk about a bad break, Embiid was practically a shoe-in for the No. 1 pick after his impressive workouts for the Cavs, but his foot fracture coupled with his back injury from last season has thrown up major red flags regarding his durability. The Lakers are looking for a replacement for Pau Gasol and Embiid could fall right into their lap.
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: Zach LaVine, PG/SG, Fr., UCLA. The athletic LaVine has been showing off his athleticism in workouts. He’s still raw but is capable of playing both guard positions. He’ll need some time before he’s NBA-ready, but he has shown the potential to be a matchup nightmare.
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: T.J. Warren, SG, Soph., North Carolina State. Rajon Rondo is a master at setting up scorers and Warren is a scoring machine that could potentially become a dangerous weapon at the shooting guard position.
18. Phoenix Suns: Jerami Grant, SF, Soph., Syracuse. Grant is explosive around the basket and his athleticism would fit in nicely in Jeff Hornacek’s system.
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
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