Guess what everybody? It's June and there are only 24 days until the 2014 NBA Draft! While most Celtics fans are busy getting excited over Kevin Love's trip to the city of Boston, draft workouts and preparations are still going on behind the scenes.
To have some fun before draft night, we had five of our writers each pick a handful of teams to "GM" in our first of two mock drafts.
To the right is a table with each writers' list of teams, though their names are also listed next to each team's individual selection. Here we go...
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (Tim) - Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Although Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins both have tremendous two-way upside at their respective positions, I believe David Griffin and the Cavs would be "better off" selecting Embiid with the number one overall pick. At 7'0 with a 7'5 wingspan, Embiid has the athletic ability, developing post and mid-range games, and defensive mindset to evolve into a once in a generation type player. You can't go wrong with either guy here. But if I'm in Cleveland's war room, I'm taking JoJo. Oh, and his back looks just fine.
2. Milwaukee Bucks (Kevin) - Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas
A lineup featuring Andrew Wiggins, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Larry Sanders would be one of the most athletic in all of the NBA. Even though they'd be quite young, that length could develop into a highly effective defensive unit. Plus, if Wiggins develops his ball handling, it won't be surprising if he becomes a go-to scorer.
3. Philadelphia 76ers (Jack) - Jabari Parker, F, Duke
The 76ers are eyeing the youthful threesome of MCW, Nerlens Noel and Jabari Parker as their foundation (although rumor has it Wiggins was their No. 1 target). Parker is a bit redundant with Thad Young (26 yr), but Young and Parker can also provide a lot of offense from their SF/PF positions.
4. Orlando Magic (Kevin) - Dante Exum, G, Australia
Dante Exum and Victor Oladipo would make up an exciting, athletic, and talented backcourt duo. They would prefer to see one of the "Big 3" fall to them, but Exum is the next-best choice, and could arguably be better when it's all said and done.
5. Utah Jazz (Jack) - Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana
Vonleh can "handily" stretch the floor and play some defense a.k.a. their missing AK47 . . . and Utah is set at the guards with Trey Burke and Gordon Hayward, and in the paint with Favors and Kanter, so Vonleh gives them a dimension they don't have and need . . . a good fit of BPA and need for the Jazz.
6. Boston Celtics (Jeff) - Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona
I'm a little torn between Vonleh and Gordon but the Jazz pick makes this decision easier. I could see Brad Stevens loving Aaron as a defensive minded, high IQ, high athleticism 3 that can play some 4 as well. Despite his size, he could be a useful rim protector in his own right. His shooting and overall offense is a concern, but he's already shown he's willing to work on his release and form.
7. Los Angeles Lakers (Bill) - Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State
Los Angeles is looking for two things with this pick: a player that can 1) maximize the two remaining years of Kobe Bryant's extension and 2) be a star--not a future second or third option--but a star for years to come. The NBA is increasingly becoming a point guard driven league and after the Lakers' trade for Chris Paul got vetoed, they've been searching for their next floor general. Nash has been a bust and the ping pong balls didn't land them Dante Exum, so Mitch Kupchak will go with the best available playmaker in the Oklahoma State point guard. Smart has elements of Dwayne Wade and Ty Lawson in his game and the Lakers would be lucky to get some combo of both.
8. Sacramento Kings (Tim) - Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
It's been rumored that GM Pete D'Alessandro and the Kings are looking to move this pick for a veteran star. However, assuming they keep the pick, it would make the most sense for them to take Kentucky's Julius Randle. Randle has arguably the most NBA ready body in this year's draft class which sort of addresses Sacramento's actual desire. Add in the fact that Jason Thompson just isn't the answer at power forward and you have the makings of a very solid front court in Demarcus Cousins and Randle.
9. Charlotte Hornets (Kevin) - Nik Stauskas, G, Michigan
Nik Stauskas is a sharpshooter that could give the Hornets a potential upgrade at the two-guard position. He could also open up plays for Kemba Walker off the ball considering his playmaking potential.
10. Philadelphia 76ers (Jack) - Doug McDermott, F, Creighton
The 76ers were next to last in effective FG% (just behind the C's) and will seize the opportunity to get some outside shooting from the NCAA's best. The 76ers have many holes to fill, but McDermott is the BPA at No. 11 and makes it an easier pick than taking a project big man or one of the available swingmen.
11. Denver Nuggets (Jack) - Dario Saric, F, Croatia
Saric seems like a good investment for the Nuggets. If not for the injuries this year, the Nuggets would have been in the playoffs, and don't have a glaring need. Saric has the offensive potential that all teams would love in their back pocket, and he could step in sooner than later if Gallinari cannot regain his form.
12. Orlando Magic (Kevin) - Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
The Magic might as well double-dip for International talent this year since Jusuf Nurkic is arguably the player with the highest upside available. Even though some other players are nearly as talented, they don't fit team needs, so Nurkic gets the edge because of his potential as a classic center.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves (Jeff) - Gary Harris, G, Michigan State
Their current roster has more need for small forward but everything could change if/when Love is dealt so they'll focus on BPA. Gary Harris is a very good value at this spot and he provides them immediate help. He's a fearless scorer, well rounded, high character guy that could be a mainstay in Minny for years.
14. Phoenix Suns (Bill) - James Young, SG, Kentucky
Aaron Harrison stole headlines at the Final Four with his late game heroics and Julius Randle is the more vaunted recruit, but Young might end up having the best career as a pro. He put together a professional freshman season at Kentucky and his ability to score from the wing and above the rim could make him a star. Phoenix has three picks in this year's draft and could address all their needs in the first round. Jeff Hornacek got production out of former draft busts Gerald Green (ugh) and the Morris twins, but Young could be the Suns' future at the 2 or 3 and could allow former Celtics' assistant GM Ryan McDonough to trade Eric Bledsoe or Goran Dragic.
15. Atlanta Hawks (Kevin) - Kyle Anderson, F, UCLA
DeMarre Carroll is a solid energy player for Atlanta, but he lacks the playmaking potential that Kyle Anderson has. With "Slow Mo", Atlanta would be able to spread the floor as one of the most versatile Eastern Conference teams.
16. Chicago Bulls (Tim) - Zach LaVine, G, UCLA
With two first round picks in this year's loaded class, the Bulls can afford to gamble here at 16, and UCLA's Zach LaVine is their guy. Despite fluctuating minutes in the Bruins' rotation this past year, LaVine was able to catch scouts' attention with his athleticism and shooting stroke. His potential was then bolstered as a result of his excellent showing at the Combine and, if he's able to reach his high ceiling, he and (a healthy) Derrick Rose could form a dangerous backcourt.
17. Boston Celtics (Jeff) - Rodney Hood, SF, Duke
The Celtics are in need of players that can hit shots from long range and stretch offenses. Rodney Hood fits that need and if he can expand his game, all the better. Seems to play under control and make the right plays. Should be able to play NBA defense if focused properly.
18. Phoenix Suns (Bill) - Clint Capela, C, France
The hit parade continues through the valley of the sun. Phoenix will get a full season out of last year's #5 pick Alex Len and pair him with the Swiss sensation Clint Capela. It's an intriguing twin tower tandem that could be a cornerstone for the franchise. Capela can't stretch the defense like the Suns' other stretch 4's, but he's a beast defensively and will shore up Phoenix's undersized front line.
19. Chicago Bulls (Tim) - Elfrid Payton, PG, LA-Lafayette
Elfrid Payton is far from a "sure thing" but he does project as a very solid point guard in the NBA. With that said, Chicago should seriously consider him if he's still on the board when it's their turn to pick, given Rose's injury history of course. Payton will be able to either thrive as a reserve or do a sufficient job in spot starter's minutes. Think insurance policy.
20. Toronto Raptors (Jack) - Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
The main uncertainty Toronto is facing next year is what to do if they can't come to terms with Kyle Lowry and Greivis Vasquez. Otherwise, positions 2 through 5 looks solid for the Raptors. Enter the best PG available in Ennis, and you have a match. If they don't need the Lowry insurance, they go with K.J. McDaniels as he could really help shore up Toronto's defense at the wing position.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder (Jeff) - Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
The Thunder could use a stretch 4 to space the floor. Payne can score from deep or bang down low for points. Long and athletic, though a bit inconsistent. High character guy that will fit in well in OKC.
22. Memphis Grizzlies (Tim) - P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends
We all know that Dave Joeger's club is one of the most talented defensive units in the entire Association. Unfortunately, they struggle mightily when it comes to scoring the ball, especially from beyond the arc. Enter P.J. Hairston; a big two-guard with a smooth jumper from almost anywhere on the floor. Hairston is well-known for his offensive abilities and if any team could use some extra scoring punch somewhere in the lineup, it's these Memphis Grizzlies.
23. Utah Jazz (Jack) - T.J. Warren, F, N.C. State
The Jazz will be happy to welcome the talents of the NCAA's No. 2 scorer who looks like a Paul Milsap clone . . . the Jazz need help at small forward with the Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams experiment over, and could really use another offensive weapon on the wing to complement Gordon Hayward. If the Jazz do grab Vonleh, Warren provides a nice rookie battle for minutes at SF/PF.
24. Charlotte Hornets (Kevin) - Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia
If Kristaps Porzingis doesn't withdraw from the draft, he'll be a steal if he falls this far. The 7-footer from Latvia brings three-point shooting and rim protecting potential, making him one of the most unique players in this year's class.
25. Houston Rockets (Bill) - Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn
The Rockets are in win now mode and at #25, there isn't a more seasoned player than Shabazz Napier. He might be a little bit of a reach here, but you gotta love his swagger and ability to score the ball. Patrick Beverley could start again for Kevin McHale at the point, but if Daryl Morey chooses to move Jeremy Lin this summer, he could replace him the tournament's most outstanding player.
26. Miami Heat (Jeff) - Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA
Adams knows how to score and has the right kind of attitude, putting team first. Wade can benefit from getting more rest and Adams can learn from one of the best in the game. Adams lacks athleticism, but can find a spot in the Heat lineup by being an opportunistic scorer.
27. Phoenix Suns (Bill) - Glenn Robison III, SF, Michigan
This summer, McDonough will be armed with about $30M in salary cap space. Most of his overachieving roster will return and he'll be able to add some veterans to the mix. Young and Capela at #14 and #18 are day one contributors, so the Suns could pick a bit of a project at #27. Scouts have loved Glenn Robinson Jr.'s athleticism and pedigree, but questioned his aggressiveness in his two years at Michigan. Baby Big Dog could have a similar progression as a pro, but Phoenix would be thrilled if Robinson matured to his fullest potential in 2-3 years.
28. Los Angeles Clippers (Bill) - Mitch McGary, C, Michigan
Yeah, yeah. Back-to-back Michigan picks and yes, I'm a Michigan man and a little bias, but I think McGary is a perfect pairing here. Doc tried several low cost (and former Celtics) options as DeAndre Jordan's back up, but nobody really panned out. McGary could. He'll come to the Clippers after virtually missing the entire season to a back injury but if he can regain the form that would have made him a lottery pick last year, this pick is a steal at Sullinger proportions. McGary has a similar carefree personality as many of his future teammates, but there's a little killer instinct in him like CP3.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder (Jeff) - Bogdan Bogdanovic, G, Serbia
Solid shooting guard has good feel for the game. If he gets jump shot falling consistently he could benefit the Thunder by stretching the floor and giving Durant and Westbrook room to operate. Should be able to defend either guard position.
30. San Antonio Spurs (Kevin) - K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
It'll be stunning if K.J. McDaniels drops this far on draft night, but he's too talented for the Spurs to pass up. Even though they have a similar player in Kawhi Leonard, it doesn't hurt to add another high-energy, defensive-oriented player that also brings complimentary offense.
Five Notable Exclusions
Spencer Dinwiddie, G, Colorado
Cleanthony Early, F, Wichita State
Jerami Grant, F, Syracuse
Jarnell Stokes, C, Tennessee
C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington
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