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NBA AM: Who Is The Top Draft Pick?

The NBA Draft Lottery is tonight, so where would each team go with the top overall pick?… Wolves deny interest in trading Kevin Love… Up Close with Marcus Smart.

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What To Do With The Top Overall Pick : The 2014 NBA Draft Lottery will be held tonight and all the mystery and suspense over who will draft with the top overall pick will be revealed – sort of. There is always a chance the top pick gets traded, however if you look back historically it rarely happens. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at who has the best shot at the top overall pick and what might they do with it if they land it.

Milwaukee Bucks

15–67

250 Chances

The Milwaukee Bucks have the best odds at landing the top pick. The problem with that is the worst team overall hasn’t won the Draft Lottery since 2004, when Orlando turned a 20 win season into Dwight Howard. The Bucks have the best chance, but the lottery historically has proven to be cruel to the worst team.

Should the Bucks come out with the top pick, they do have some options they will likely consider. As much as fans might want to hear Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, both might not be where Milwaukee goes simply because of how much they value Giannis Antetokounmpo and his future with the team. The word out of the Combine is that Joel Embiid will get a strong look as will Australian guard Dante Exum.

The Bucks have tried on a number of options at point guard and view that as one of their biggest areas of need. The logic of Exum going number one is to then slide Brandon Knight over to the off-guard spot and set up a backcourt of big guards that can interchange.

Embiid gets a look mainly because there is too much potential not to explore it, but it does seem that his agent is trying to steer and control the process, with the common belief of avoiding Milwaukee. Given Embiid’s back injury and the fact he skipped the NBA Combine, Milwaukee would want him in their building before selecting him, so that’s still very much up in the air.

A dark horse pick for Milwaukee might be Kentucky big man Julius Randle, although that’s more likely that happens if Milwaukee could trade down from the top pick.

Data: Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects

Philadelphia 76ers

19–63

199 Chances

Should the Sixers land the top pick, and they have 199 ping pong ball combination in their favor, they are as wide open as anyone on the board. At the NBA Draft Combine there was talk that Philadelphia would consider Exum, despite drafting Michael Carter-Williams last year. Wiggins and Parker are firmly in the hunt for the top spot if Philly holds the pick as it Embiid.

There has been a sense for a while that Philly has eyes for Wiggins and then Parker. Both would have to work out in Philly, but it seems those two are where the Sixers have their attention.

Given that the Sixers invested in Nerlens Noel last season it’s unlikely they go after Embiid, although there have been some that have suggested a Noel-Embiid front court could wreak havoc, mainly because of Noel’s shot blocking and Embiid knack for playing around the basket.

If Philly lands the top pick, it safe to safe Wiggins and Parker are the top two options, with Exum and Embiid being third and fourth in some combination.

Orlando Magic

23–59

156 Chances

The Orlando Magic are stocked in the front court, so a top overall pick might seem like a no-brainer: take a point guard; but the word from Orlando is they will draft the best possible player regardless of position.

There has been a sense for a while that Orlando likes Parker and after the Draft Combine there is a sense that Exum is on their radar as well.

The Magic will give Wiggins a long look because some believe he could play off-guard at the next level and a Wiggins – Victor Oladipo backcourt could be crazy good.

The Magic could be a dark horse team on Embiid simply because they have a ton of young bigs on rookie scale contracts and could be patient with Embiid’s back and development, but he would have to clear his medical with flying colors to be a real option in Orlando, especially when you factor in that the Magic really don’t need a center unless they come out of the process believing Embiid is the player long term of the bunch.

Utah Jazz

25–57

104 Chances

Should the Jazz come out of the lottery with the top pick you can bet that Parker and Wiggins are their top two options. The Jazz desperately need an impact scorer and Wiggins might be that guy, especially if paired with a front court of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.

Parker could be the safest bet of the bunch for the Jazz, but Wiggins may offer more upside. The Jazz landed Trey Burke in the draft last year and still have Alec Burks on the roster so going point guard (Exum) or a two guard may not be the answer and with Gordon Hayward heading into free agency a top pick spent on Parker or Wiggins would give the Jazz options, especially in the sign-and-trade department should the price tag on Hayward get silly.

Embiid or Randle do not seem to be viable options for the Jazz, although they too could look at Embiid as potentially the best long-term player on the board and draft him knowing that Kanter can hold thing down until he is ready to take over.

Story: 2014 Consensus Mock Draft Ver. 2.0

Boston Celtics

25–57

103 Chances

This is where the lottery could get interesting. With 103 chances at the top pick the Celtics have a shot at not only the top overall pick, but one of the top three. Should Boston come out of the lottery with the top pick, Joel Embiid may have a real shot at going number one overall. Boston has taken some chances on injured guys over the last few years and has come away with solid players after investing in their rehab and being patient.

If Embiid clears medically, or there is enough assurance from Boston’s medical staff that he doesn’t have long-term issues, Embiid to Boston seems very likely.

Boston likely looks at Parker and Wiggins as well, but given what’s on the roster already going Embiid might make more sense.

This is also a dark horse team to look at Julius Randle. The Celtics continue to say they are committed to Rajon Rondo long-term, so that may remove Dante Exum from consideration, although Boston could look at Exum as a two-guard in their system.

The smart money says that if Boston lands the top pick Embiid gets the longest look; his health would determine if he is the pick.

Los Angeles Lakers

27–55

63 Chances

The Lakers are a long-shot to land the top pick, but with 63 number combinations they have a shot. Should the Lakers pull the top overall pick if seems likely that Exum and Wiggins are the top two options with Joel Embiid being a likely third choice.

The Lakers are looking for that “star after Kobe Bryant” player and Wiggins and Exum both offer that kind of potential. Both players could flourish after a year or two of mentoring with Bryant, especially if both embrace his tenacious work ethic.

Embiid becomes interesting simply because of the Lakers history of playing with an elite level big man. Clearly Embiid’s back will be a big concern for the Lakers who have endured two straight years of injuries; going with Embiid might be the best long term answer, but only if he clears medically and at this point that’s really unclear.

Given that Exum is represented by Bryant’s agent Rob Pelinka, you can bet that the Lakers give Exum a real long look, especially if they land the top pick.

Sacramento Kings

28–54

43 Chances

This will mark eight consecutive seasons that the Kings have been in the Draft Lottery and with 43 number combinations, the odds they pull the top pick are fairly slim.

However, should the Kings draw the number one pick, things get interesting. With as much as the Kings have invested in big man DeMarcus Cousins it’s unlikely they look seriously at Embiid, although there are some that wonder if Cousins could be a better player playing the four spot.

Point guard is believed to be Sacramento biggest need going into the offseason, but there is also the uncertainty of what Rudy Gay will do with his pending option for free agency.

The Kings came out of the draft last year with Ben McLemore at shooting guard, so the question becomes would Sacramento go with Randle and lock up their front court, or will they go small forward with Parker or Wiggins?

The Kings likely go best possible talent if they land the top overall pick, and that might create some unwanted duplication, much like Cleveland faced last year when they drafted Anthony Bennett with the top overall pick and struggled to find him minutes, which ultimately killed his confidence.

Would the Kings do something similar or is this another spot where Exum lands simply because he is the best talent that solves the biggest need?

Detroit Pistons

29–53

28 Chances

The Pistons have such low odds of landing the top pick, it’s almost not worth mentioning them, but considering this would be Stan Van Gundy’s first draft, lets have some fun with the concept.

Given what the Pistons have in the front court now with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, you can pull Embiid out of the discussion. With Josh Smith being tough to move in trade, there may not be a window here for Parker or Wiggins. Randle would almost assuredly be a no-go. So would Detroit go Exum? Maybe.

But given Stan Van Gundy’s mindset and the Pistons desire to be a postseason team, next year the dark horse pick here might be Marcus Smart.

Van Gundy has always valued big in control guards, and while Exum might be the better long-term answer, Smart is the best ready-to-play option. Smart also might be good enough today to beat out Brandon Jennings in training camp too.

It’s highly unlikely that the Pistons come out of the lottery with a pick in the top three, but if they do, watch for Smart as an option for the Pistons, simply because he seems to fit exactly what’s missing from the roster.

Basketball Insiders will have all of the picks and reactions to the Draft Lottery later tonight, so if you are looking for who landed what pick and what it all means, make sure to swing by later tonight.

Not Ready To Move Love?: Despite countless media reports suggesting that the Minnesota Timberwolves would be open to trading star forward Kevin Love, Glen Taylor the owner of the team said he doubted anything was happening, and said he seriously doubted anything would happen around the NBA Draft.

“Not by the draft,” Taylor said to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.

Timberwolves’ president of basketball operations Flip Saunders said on Sunday that he hasn’t spoken to Love’s agent and he is proceeding as though Love will be part of the team.

“We’re proceeding the same way, that Kevin is part of our team, that we have,” Saunders told WCCO Radio on Sunday. “You’re always trying to get your team better. There have been reports we’re actively trying to trade him, which isn’t true. What we’re actively trying to do is get our team better. When you do that, you look to see what’s out there no matter what it is or for anybody. We’re a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in 10 years. We’ve got to get better.”

Story: Potential Trade Destinations for Kevin Love

The Wolves made a tactical bad decision when they extended Love in 2012, opting to give him only a four-year deal which resulted in his camp asking for an opt-out after the third year which is the summer.

The Wolves have taken the stance that they still believe they can retain Love beyond this season if they put the right kind of contending team around him.

The LA Lakers, Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets have all been linked in interest in trading for Love.

Sources in and around the situation say Love has made it known he’d like to be traded to a contending team this summer and plans to hit free agency in July of 2015, although he would have the option of opting into his final contract year, something an acquiring team would almost assuredly require.

Data: Minnesota Timberwolves Salary Page

Up Close With Marcus Smart: NBA Draft hopeful Marcus Smart talks about preparing for the Draft, what he expects from the process and where he see himself fitting in the NBA.


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Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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