Joel Embiid is the wild card of the 2014 NBA Draft following foot surgery that will sideline the once-presumed No. 1 overall pick for at least 4-6 months. But don’t expect his slide to be excruciatingly long Thursday night. The Orlando Magic with the No. 4 overall pick appear to be a good landing spot.
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: 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 Magic may opt for Marcus Smart but likely can’t pass on Embiid, who will work quite nicely alongside Nikola Vucevic to give Orlando a solid young frontcourt.
5. Utah Jazz: Noah Vonleh, PF, Fr., Indiana. Should Vonleh be available, look for the Jazz to take him and his massive 7-4 wingspan to bolster a young front line. Trading up for Parker has been rumored and Smart could be in play here, too, but Vonleh’s size and athleticism make him the pick.
6. Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart, PG/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: Julius Randle, PF, Fr., Kentucky. Just like Embiid, the health of Randle’s foot is a hot topic with rumors a previous injury didn’t heal correctly. He is adamant the foot is fine, and was able to play without any questions in his 1 year at Kentucky.
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: Nik Stauskas, SG, Soph., Michigan. The sharp-shooting Stauskas saw his scoring average take a big jump with his increased role in Michigan’s offense last season. The NBA loves shooters who can space the floor, and Philly’s up-tempo style could prove a good fit.
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: Elfrid Payton, PG, Jr., Louisiana Lafayette. Once relatively unknown, Payton has skyrocketed up everyone’s draft boards with his pre-draft workouts, and would provide some depth at the point for the Magic depending on what they do with Jameer Nelson.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Int., Bosnia. The bruiser from Bosnia has soft hands and a nice touch around the basket to go along with a 6-11, 280-pound frame that could provide a nice replacement should the Wolves deal Kevin Love. The athletic Clint Capela could be a fit here, as well.
14. Phoenix Suns: Dario Saric, SF/PF, Int., Croatia. The 6-10 Saric may drop a few spots with the news that he will be staying in Europe for another two years, but Phoenix has multiple picks and is in position in which it can wait until he’s ready to come to the NBA.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Zach LaVine, PG/SG, Fr., UCLA. The one-and-done 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 in the NBA.
16. Chicago Bulls: Tyler Ennis, PG, Fr., Syracuse. The adjectives used to describe the young point guard are “mature,” “wise beyond his years” and “intelligent.” He would be a nice complement to Derrick Rose and fill the void left by Kirk Hinrich.
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: Gary Harris, SG, Soph., Michigan State. Harris is the type of tough, all-around player coach Jeff Hornacek respects, and he could team up with Goran Dragic in Phoenix quite nicely.
19. Chicago Bulls: Rodney Hood, SF, Soph., Duke. Hood possesses the physical characteristics and athleticism to fit right into coach Tom Thibodeau’s system. He can provide much needed help offensively on the wing and play the type of defense Thibodeau demands.
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: Jerami Grant, SF, Soph., Syracuse. Grant is explosive around the basket and his athleticism would be a nice complement to the Grizzlies’ front line of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
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
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