Mock Drafts

NBA AM: Expanded 2014 NBA Mock Draft

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Explaining The Latest Mock Draft:  Every week all the way up to the 2014 NBA Draft we will drop what have always called our “Consensus Mock Draft”, and while some poke fun at the idea that the four personalities powering the multi-opinion mock rarely agree or have a “consensus”, the idea is what is the “consensus of the draft” and what we often find is there really isn’t one.

Recently more and more of you have asked for a deeper dive into the mock draft with explanations behind each pick. We have built some pretty elaborate draft tools to organize the mock draft process, and those tools were not built with detailed explanation in mind. We’ll work on that going forward, but for now I’ll break this out manually for you and give you at least my thoughts on the latest mock draft version.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Every week I introduce a new variable in my process. Until we really start to get a sense of which players a team is narrowing in on. I play the wrinkle game. I ask myself, what does the draft look like if this event happens. That changes from week to week. Last week my mock reflected the idea that Creighton’s Doug McDermott could go very high in the draft. Several executives at the draft Combine raved about McDermott so I played that idea through. This week it’s UCLA’s Zach LaVine. There has been some hype around LaVine. It’s doubtful he goes in the top ten, but this week’s draft plays out as if he does.

If you wonder why I do it this way, it’s because this is how NBA teams do it. This is how teams prepare for every eventuality. Believing that one guy has to go number one and the next guy absolutely has to go number two, is how you end up unprepared on draft night. Teams play through every draft scenario possible, so I try and do the same with my mock drafts.

With that in mind, here is this week’s mock:

#1 – Cleveland Cavaliers

Andrew Wiggins Kansas SG/SF 6’8″ 197 lbs.  19 years old

There is real chance that Joel Embiid is going to go number one. Word is that his agents are going to allow the Cavs to conduct a thorough medical exam on him and if that comes back as clean as his camp is saying he could go number one overall. The problem here is I doubt that it comes back completely clear. From there I think the Cavaliers and new General manager David Griffin go with a can’t-miss athlete like Wiggins to shore up their roster and pass on the risk.

#2 – Milwaukee Bucks

Joel Embiid Kansas C 7’0″ 240 20

Where I see the Cavs passing on questions surrounding Embiid’s health, the Bucks have several bigs on the roster and they can take the chance on him. The talent level is too high and the Bucks are in a situation where they can take a risk. If it pans out they get a really good player. If it does not they get the chance to pick in the lottery next year. Unless Embiid’s back gets flagged as requiring the worst case surgery – spinal fusion – I seriously doubt that the Bucks pass on Embiid at number two. Either they pick him or they trade the No. 2 to a team that would. Two dark horse picks here are Jabari Parker from Duke and Australia’s Dante Exum. Word from Chicago is the front office would like to take Exum and build around him knowing they’d be in the lottery again next year, so it really may come down to what ownership will approve.

#3 – Philadelphia 76ers

Dante Exum Australian Institute of Sport PG/SG 6’6″ 196 18

The 76ers have been unpredictable for the last year, so I do not expect that to change in this draft. The smart money says take Jabari Parker and the 76ers very well may. But if you look at how the 76ers see the world, they have a long-term vision that is built around steady progress. The fact is that 76ers head coach Brett Brown has some history with Exum and that Exum could conceivably play with rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams. The temptation of Exum’s ceiling may be too much for the 76ers to pass on. The pick is a little unconventional, but so was trading Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel and drafting Carter-Williams last year.

#4 – Orlando Magic

Jabari Parker Duke SF/PF 6’8″ 241 19

Assuming Exum is off the board that leaves Orlando with Jabari Parker. There is chance the pick is Marcus Smart, or there is a bigger chance that the Magic take Parker, and see if Utah wants him as bad as it seems they may. Drafting Parker might be a solid addition in Orlando, but it would create massive logjam at the three spot for the Magic, so drafting and keeping Parker likely means Mo Harkless or Tobias Harris get moved in the offseason. Point guard is absolutely the biggest need in Orlando, but playing broker with Parker might yield them multiple assets if the Exum is off the board.

#5 – Utah Jazz

Julius Randle Kentucky PF 6’9″ 250 19

It seems likely that the Jazz are trading down with this pick, mainly because there is nothing there for the Jazz that makes sense at number five. If the Jazz can swing a deal for Jabari Parker the belief is they would, but assuming they don’t move the pick Julius Randle may be the best talent for their roster. There are some that would suggest that sliding Derrick Favors over to the five spot and playing a frontcourt of Favors and Randle could yield bigger dividends than a the current Enes Kanter-Favors front court. There is a chance that Marcus Smart goes here as well, it would give the Jazz a very small backcourt, but Smart is a relentless defender and could bring some leadership and maturity to the process. Drafting Smart would be a best talent available scenario, although Randle may make more sense in the long run.

#6 – Boston Celtics

Aaron Gordon Arizona PF 6’9″ 220 18

If Randle is here, he is likely the Celtics guy but with him off the board the Celtics likely turn to Noah Vonleh or Aaron Gordon. There is a sense in NBA circles that the Celtics are smitten with Gordon and view him as a possible star, especially paired with Rajon Rondo. Gordon at number six might be a bit high, but we have seen the Celtics do this before, where they zone in on a guy and simply take him when they can get him and there is a sense that Gordon is the Celtics’ guy if Randle is off the board. Vonleh could be an interesting pick here as well as would Dario Saric. The Celtics are said to be high on Saric and Saric seems to be high on the Celtics.

#7 – LA Lakers

Marcus Smart Oklahoma State PG 6’3″ 227 20

There are a couple of interesting options here for the Lakers, including Noah Vonleh and Dario Saric. However, Smart offers a ready to play point guard that could thrive playing with Kobe Bryant. Smart’s shot is not nearly as bad as its made out to be but with a season of Bryant in his ear Smart likely improves in every facet of his game and that fact that he is a ‘get-after-it’ defender likely makes the pick a solid one for the Lakers.

#8 – Sacramento Kings

Noah Vonleh Indiana PF/C 6’9″ 247 18

The Kings want to trade this pick, so there is a real chance that the number eight belongs to someone else after the draft is done. Vonleh is likely the pick; the question is where does he end up? If the Kings have to keep the pick Vonleh doesn’t necessarily fit the roster, but he is the best talent on the board. Saric could be an option here as he fills a more immediate need, but it’s unclear if Saric would come to the NBA this year is he drops to number eight, so there is some risk.

#9 – Charlotte Hornets

Zach LaVine UCLA SG 6’6″ 181 19

This is likely really high for LaVine, but if there is a team that might take the gamble on the best athlete in the draft it’s likely the Hornets. There is a real chance this pick ends up with someone else. The Hornets have eyes for Orlando’s Arron Afflalo and if some combination of the ninth pick and a roster player gets the Magic off the dime the Hornets would do it. In this week’s draft, LaVine needed to go top ten for the variable to work, and the Hornets would be the fit if he is indeed the top-ten talent some have tried to paint him as. For the record, I think James Young, Rodney Hood or Adrien Payne could end up here as well.

#10 – Philadelphia 76ers

Dario Saric Cibona Zagreb SF/PF 6’10” 223 20

At this point Philly is playing with house money. There is a chance they draft a player that comes to camp with the tenth pick or they may very well go with Saric as a ‘draft-and-stash’. Given how many second round picks the 76ers hold, there is always a fear of bringing in too many rookies into training camp, and in this case with Noel in effect being a rookie, the third pick and at least one of the second round picks; bringing in a mature player like Saric or allowing him to stay abroad makes more sense for Philly given how many young guys they may have the rights to. If the 76ers spend this pick on a player for this upcoming season, Adrien Payne, James Young and Nik Stauskas all become interesting options.

#11 – Denver Nuggets

James Young Kentucky SG/SF 6’7″ 213 18

This is where the picks start to become more about talent than fit. Young is an explosive talent that could fit in nicely in Denver. This could also be were Nik Stauskas or international big man Jusuf Nurkic lands. A dark horse here might be Doug McDermott, mainly because he can contribute right away for a Nuggets team that wants to be in the postseason next year.

#12 – Orlando Magic

Tyler Ennis Syracuse PG 6’2″ 182 19

Assuming the Magic have not traded their way into a higher pick, this is where they get their point guard. Ennis presents a ready to play type of guard that can run a team. Paired with last year’s second overall pick Victor Oladipo, the Magic get a solid backcourt tandem. If the Magic are able to pull off a deal and land Smart in trade, this could be where guys like Rodney Hood, K.J. McDaniels and P.J. Hairston get a long look.

#13 – Minnesota Timberwolves

Adreian Payne Michigan State PF 6’10” 239 23

At some point he Timberwolves are trading Kevin Love, so they are going to need a four man. Payne isn’t nearly the All-Star caliber four that Love is, but he could play off the bench behind Love, bring some physicality and toughness. He is ready to play as one of the older guys in the draft. For the Wolves, they want to be in the postseason next year and Payne would be a solid addition to the frontcourt. This could also be where Hood, McDaniels or Stauskas land as well, especially if the plan is to pack Kevin Martin into whatever Love deal the Wolves decide to do.

#14 – Phoenix Suns

Doug McDermott Creighton PF 6’8″ 218 22

This is absolutely about the best offensive talent on the board. McDermott can play from the bench for the Suns and he is polished enough to get minutes under Jeff Hornacek. There are a lot of options Phoenix could consider including “draft-and-stash” with Jusuf Nurkic. Rodney Hood would be an excellent fit as would K.J. McDaniels. A real dark horse here might be Nik Stauskas, although they may not have a lot of minutes at the off-guard spot.

#15 – Atlanta Hawks

Rodney Hood Duke SF 6’8″ 208 21

Hood is a knock down shooter and he’d fit in nicely with what the Hawks have going. If you think about Hood on one side and Kyle Korver on the other, the floor is going to open way up for guys like Paul Millsap and Al Horford. There are too many reasons why this pick works for the Hawks; the only problem is if he is gone. If he is there at 15 that would be hard to pass on unless they opted for Nik Stauskas, who is more of a two guard.

#16 – Chicago Bulls

Elfrid Payton La Lafayette PG 6’4″ 185 20

Sixteen may be a little high for Payton, but the Bulls need a backup point guard and Payton has enough promise to work, but needs enough development time that playing smaller minutes behind Derrick Rose won’t be a problem. The Bulls could look for perimeter scoring here, but in terms of best talent that solves the biggest need Payton could be that guy. Rodney Hood would likely be the pick here if Atlanta passes. Stauskas could also been an option here as well.

#17 – Boston Celtics

Nik Stauskas Michigan SG 6’6″ 207 20

If Stauskas is still here at 17, there is too much that works for this not to be the pick. He is knock down shooter and would fit in perfectly with Brad Stevens and how the Celtics want to play. This pick also gives them options if Avery Bradley’s free agency gets silly. P.J. Hairston likely gets a look here as does Clint Capela.

#18 – Phoenix Suns

Jusuf Nurkic Cedevita C 6’11” 280 19

This is likely a “draft-and-stash” move as Nurkic just signed a new extension. Unless he went really high in the draft he likely is playing abroad next season. The Suns would have some other options, but considering the log jams they already have deferring this pick into next season or beyond with a big like Jusuf might be the smart play. Some names to look at here that could make sense are Clint Capela, Walter Tavares or Kristaps Porzingis. Nurkic might be the best of the bunch. This is also a pick that could get traded.

#19 – Chicago Bulls

Gary Harris Michigan State SG 6’4″ 205 19

It is very likely this pick is traded. However, the best talent on the board will be Gary Harris. The word on Harris is very hot and cold. Some teams like him a lot, some teams are not interested at all. If the Bulls have to keep this pick Harris might fit, but this would again be drafting the best talent on the board. There are a couple of other options that might get play here and that is Kristaps Porzingis and Clint Capela. Two dark horses here might be T.J. Warren and Jarnell Stokes, especially if the Bulls are planning to move on from Carlos Boozer either by trade or Amnesty cut. Warren and Stokes would be interesting if Nikola Mirotic is staying aboard for another year.

#20 – Toronto Raptors

Clint Capela Chalon PF 6’11” 222 20

It is easy to say put the Euro in Toronto, but this really would be best talent on the board and he does fill a roster need too. Its unclear if Capela comes over if drafted at 20, but he would be a solid fit with the Raptors, especially developing off the bench. The Raptors could also play the “draft-and-stash” game and look at Kristaps Porzingis or Walter Tavares. A couple of dark horse picks could be Shabazz Napier, DeAndre Daniels and Cleanthony Early.

#21 – Oklahoma City Thunder

Kyle Anderson UCLA SF 6’8″ 230 20

This is a project pick. There is a lot to like about Anderson, but he is not an elite level athlete and he is not someone you could lean on right away. The Thunder are pretty good about having vision on their draft picks and this might be the best talent on the board. A couple of other options here are T.J. Warren, P.J. Hairston, K.J. McDaniels and Glenn Robinson III.

#22 – Memphis Grizzlies

P.J. Hairston Tex Legends SG 6’5″ 229 21

Hairston fits the Grizzlies culture in so many ways and with Chris Wallace likely making the pick, this is exactly the kind of player the Grizzlies covet. This would create a bit of a long-jam with Courtney Lee and last year’s second rounder Jamal Franklin, but Hairston might be the best talent on the board. There is a chance K.J. McDaniels and Glenn Robinson III could land here too. The Grizz want perimeter scoring.

#23 – Utah Jazz

K.J. McDaniels Clemson SF 6’6″ 196 21

If the Jazz keep this pick (they may very well use this to move up), McDaniels solves a lot of problems. He is a decent outside shooter. He is a solid athlete and he is a great defender that blocks shots and rebounds. As far as best talent on the board McDaniels might be the guy if he is still here. Other options here include Mitch McGary, Cleanthony Early and Walter Tavares.

#24 – Charlotte Hornets

Jerami Grant Syracuse SF 6’8″ 214 20

This is where Charlotte might defer their pick by drafting an international player or trade out of this spot in favor of something in the second round to avoid the guaranteed contract. If the Hornets keep the pick, Grant likely fill a need and would be a “best on the board” type selection. This could also be where Mitch McGary, Cleanthony Early or Jarnell Stokes lands.

#25 – Houston Rockets

T.J. Warren N.C. State SF/PF 6’8″ 220 20

This might not be the ideal pick for the Rockets, but they have a long track record of drafting 6’8 guys and figuring out where they fit. Warren might be a good addition to the roster, but this one is really about best talent available. DeAndre Daniels, Jarnell Stokes, Dwight Powell and Johnny O’Bryant could get long looks here too.

#26 – Miami HEAT

Shabazz Napier Connecticut PG 6’1″ 175 22

The HEAT are likely losing Mario Chalmers to free agency and while Norris Cole is likely taking over the starting spot, the HEAT need a reserve guard and Napier may be too good to pass on. The HEAT very rarely draft for need and in most cases they defer their first round picks into the second round as much as possible. Because they need the talent and Napier solves the problem, he might be the best option. Word is the HEAT are also very high on Mitch McGary, Cleanthony Early and Patric Young; all three could land here if still available.

#27 – Phoenix Suns

Kristaps Porzingis Sevilla PF 7’0″ 220 18

If the Suns do not trade this pick, this is a draft-and-stash. The Suns are highly unlikely to bring more than two rookies into camp this year, so at some point they have to either defer picks by drafting international guys or they have to trade out of them. Assuming they are stuck with the pick, Porzingis is the best talent on the board. Other options here include Bogdan Bogdanovic, Walter Tavares and Nikola Jokic.

#28 – LA Clippers

Cleanthony Early Wichita State SF 6’7″ 209 23

The Clips have been searching for help at the small forward spot all year and Early could be the best talent and best option at small forward on the board. There are a few other options that likely get some play here and those include Glenn Robinson III, Dwight Powell, Mitch McGary and Jordan Adams. Early may present the best solution to the problem and he should be able to contribute right away.

#29 – Oklahoma City Thunder

Jarnell Stokes Tennessee PF 6’8″ 263 20

If Stokes is still here, this represents the best talent that solves the biggest need. The Thunder needs someone behind Serge Ibaka and as much as the team hoped it would be Perry Jones III, they have been reluctant to go to him even when the situation might call for it. Stokes is a beast physically, a decent shooter out to the three point line and would solve an immediate need. Other options here in the best talent available department include Glenn Robinson III, Dwight Powell, Mitch McGary and Jordan Adams. There are also a couple of solid “draft and stash” candidates in Bogdan Bogdanovic, Walter Tavares and Nikola Jokic

#30 – San Antonio Spurs

Walter Tavares Gran Canaria C 7’3″ 265 22

The Spurs are the hardest team in the NBA to project picks for and with them sitting dead last in the first round they could go any number of direction. Historically the Spurs have drafted young international guys and stashed them aboard. They did it last year with Livio Jean-Charles and Tavares has San Antonio Spurs written all over him. There are a few others that make sense here including Bogdan Bogdanovic, Mitch McGary and Jordan Adams, but if history holds true expect the Spurs to “draft and stash” a super upside talent and Tavares may be the best on the board.

So there you have it, the logic behind all of my picks this week. The next Consensus Mock Draft will drop next Wednesday and we’ll do this thing all over again.

If you don’t agree, want to argue my thought process or just want to log your picks or protest, drop your thought in the comment box below.

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