The 2014 NBA Draft was considered one of the deeper drafts in recent history. Time will tell if this draft is as good as the hype that the pre-draft talk generated. Many of these players will step in immediately and make an impact. Several picks are considered developmental choices and will play overseas for some time. The Cleveland Cavaliers had the first pick of the draft for a record sixth time in the common era. The Cavs also selected a Canadian player #1 overall for the second year in a row. Canada had three players (Wiggins, Staukas and Ennis) selected in the top 18 in this draft.
1. Andrew Wiggins, Forward, Cleveland Cavaliers, He has great natural ability but needs to show more consistency on a regular basis. Wiggins has elite athleticism, is excellent in transition and is also a good defender. He has a very quick first step and plays above the rim. Wiggins should be a help on defense also, as he has the speed, length and quickness to defend multiple positions. He can explode on offense at times but can also disappear for stretches.
2. Jabari Parker, Forward, Milwaukee Bucks, Parker is generally regarded as the most NBA ready player in this year’s draft. He is a smart player who can create his own shot. His ball handling and footwork are excellent for a player of his size. He can rebound on both ends of the floor. Parker, who is 6’8” and 240 pounds, may eventually switch from the 3 to the 4 as he matures. He will need to work on defense in the pros. He can play with his back to the rim to get his own shot. He was considered one of the safest picks in this year’s draft. The Bucks may play him at the #4 slot and use last year’s rookie find Giannis Antetokounmpo at SF.
3. Joel Embiid, Center, Philadelphia 76ers, Embiid is by far the best big man in this year’s draft. He has a great feel for the game despite playing only four years of basketball. He is very raw on both ends of the floor but his length and athleticism are impressive even for a seven-footer. He can score with either hand around the basket and moves well without the ball. He has good footwork, good post moves and a soft touch around the rim. He needs to get stronger and get used to playing against NBA caliber centers. His recent foot surgery for a stress fracture in his navicular bone and an earlier back injury were a major concern to many teams. Embiid offers probably the highest upside of any player in the draft along with the biggest risk.
4. Aaron Gordon, Forward, Orlando Magic, Aaron is a hard worker who can defend multiple positions in the pros. He has freakish athletic ability but needs to improve his shooting. He has good skills around the basket and also in transition. At 6’ 9” and with a 7”0” foot wingspan, he can play above the rim as he has a 39” vertical leap. He also had the fastest shuttle run at the NBA combine. This drill is designed to measure how well one changes direction. He thrives in the open court and can get to the rim. Only 18 years old, Gordon has a great deal of potential to develop.
5. Dante Exum, Guard, Utah Jazz, Exum is a playmaker with great vision and length. He will create matchup problems at 6’6”. He led Australia to back-to-back medals at both 2012 and 2013 FIBA World Championships. He can take over games with his athleticism. He has a bright basketball IQ and good genes as his father played at North Carolina. He has the tools to be a very good defender with his size, length and quickness. He has a great feel for the game and can play both guard positions. He may initially be in a three guard rotation in Utah along with Trey Burke and Alec Burks. Exum must learn to be more consistent on offense and resist forcing things when he has the ball.
6. Marcus Smart, Guard, Boston Celtics, Smart brings intangibles to the game. He can create well and get to the rim. He is a very good defender and has good size for his position at 6’3” and about 225 pounds. He finished in the top three in steals in the country in both of his college seasons. He possesses strong passing instincts, is a fearless competitor and has a high motor. He can be reckless at times and must learn to play more under control. He can play in transition and can also play off of the pick and roll. He needs to work on his jump shot. Smart is considered one of the safer picks in this year’s draft.
7. Julius Randle, Forward, LA Lakers, Randle has an NBA ready body after one year of college ball at Kentucky. He has good post moves, uses his body to create space and rebounds well. He will need to develop moves to his right as he moves almost exclusively to the left when he has the ball. he has the foot speed and body control to beat slower big men off the dribble. He was the most physically imposing power forward in this year’s draft. He will need to work on extending the range of his jumper. Defense is also an issue.
8. Nick Staukas, Guard, Sacramento Kings, Staukas is one of the better shooters in this year’s draft. His stock soared during his sophomore season at Michigan. He improved his off-the-dribble game. He also showed good vision and good ball handling with over three assists per game this past season. He has a complete offensive game and brings a little swagger as well. Questions remain about his lateral quickness. He will need to get stronger and work on his defense.
9. Noah Vonleh, Forward, Charlotte Hornets, Vonleh has a very good upper body build for the pros. He can make plays on the glass and also block shots. At 6’9“, he has a very long 7’4” wingspan and very large hands. He already has good post moves for a young player. He led the Big Ten in rebounding last season despite playing under 30 minutes per game. He will need to develop more moves in the pros and watch his tendency to get into foul trouble. Vonleh needs to get more aggressive on both ends of the floor. He is only 19 and has a great deal of upside.
10. Elfrid Payton, Guard, Orlando Magic, Payton is a solid player who played in a small conference. He attacks the rim well for his size. Many scouts consider him to be a bit of a sleeper in this draft. He has long arms and gets a great number of deflections. He needs to learn to guard the perimeter better and also work on his three point shot. He may eventually supplant Jameer Nelson as the starting PG for the Magic.
11. Doug McDermott, Forward, Chicago Bulls, McDermott has the needed offensive tools for a long career in the NBA. He has a nice feel for the game and led the NCAA in scoring last year. He can put up points from anywhere on the floor. He already has NBA three point range on his shot. He can get position in both the high and low post and can get to the basket. He lacks athleticism and will need to improve his defense.
12. Dario Saric, Forward, Philadelphia 76ers, Saric is a very skilled offensive player who handles the ball well for a big man. He has good court vision and passing ability but needs to work on his jumper. He will need to get stronger to defend against NBA power forwards. It is hard to determine how his game will translate into the NBA. Saric just signed with a team in Turkey where he must remain for two years before joining the NBA.
13. Zach Lavine, Guard, Minnesota Timberwolves, Lavine’s stock really rose during the post-season combines. He has explosive athleticism and is considered to have a high ceiling. He has a quick first step and can get to the rim. He has a nice jump shot. He needs to work on his ball handling and decision making.
14. T.J. Warren, Forward, Phoenix Suns, Warren’s draft stock rose when he helped NC State advance to NCAA tourney. He is a natural scorer and 2013-14 ACC player of the year, but plays flat-footed. He makes shots that are contested and has a knack for scoring. He has the ability to start at SF for the Suns where T.J. Tucker is nothing special.
15. Adreian Payne, Forward, Atlanta Hawks, Payne is one of the older players in this year’s draft at age 23. He finally put everything together this past year for the Spartans. He can score both in the post, in the perimeter and from the three point lane. He will need to get more aggressive on the boards and learn to pass out of double teams.
16. Jusuf Nurkic, Center, Denver Nuggets, Nurkic will most likely stay in Europe for the near future. He has a few nice moves and is already a good rebounder at age 19. Nurkic, who stands 7’0”, knows how to use his body to get position in the low post. He will need to improve his conditioning and strength to battle other big guys in the post.
17. James Young, Forward, Boston Celtics, Young was a five-star prospect coming out of high school. He is a good shooter with strong mechanics and can finish well around the rim. He is also a solid player in transition. He needs to get stronger while working on his ball handling.
18. Tyler Ennis, Guard, Phoenix Suns, Ennis was considered one of the better point guards in this draft class. He has great composure while running the offense. He did play mostly zone in college at Syracuse and will need to learn to play man-to-man in the pros.
19. Gary Harris, Guard, Denver Nuggets, Harris is regarded as solid on both ends of the court who could play in the NBA for many years. He will need to bulk up a bit and could use more length as a two guard.
20. Bruno Cabolco, Forward, Toronto Raptors, Caboclo was MVP in 2014 in the World without Borders. He is extremely raw and will need a great deal of seasoning. One analyst best described him by saying, “he is two years away from being two years away”. He has been called the Brazilian Kevin Durant. Time will tell about that comparison.
21. Mitch McGary, Forward, OKC Thunder, McGary has a quick set of feet for a man who stands about 6”10”. He is also a nice passer for man of his size. He is an aggressive rebounder on both ends of the floor. He was bothered by back problems most of this past season at Michigan. He can play the pick-and-roll game and hit the open shot quickly.
22. Jordan Adams, Guard, Memphis Grizzlies, Guard, Adams was one of the better all-around scorers in college this past season. He has good range and can move without the ball. He is a good transition player and will need to improve his ball handling skills. He also averaged 2.6 steals per season at UCLA last year.
23. Rodney Hood, Forward, Utah Jazz, Many scouts view Hood as a niche player who will be the 7th or 8th man in a rotation and play many years in the NBA. He is a long player who can defend four positions. He will need to add fifteen pounds of muscle though.
24. Shabazz Napier, Guard, Miami Heat, Napier helped lead UCONN to the NCAA title this past season and could have a long career in the NBA. He brings leadership and good passing ability to the game. He is a bit undersized at 6’1” and must learn not to take so many quick shots. He was reportedly greatly coveted by LeBron James of Miami after the Heat’s shaky PG play in the recent NBA finals.
25. Clint Capela, Forward, Houston Rockets, Capela had a breakout season in France’s Pro A League. At 6’9”, he is a good leaper and shot blocker for his size. He moves his feet well on offense but needs to work on his offensive game. If he continues to improve, he should be ready to contribute in two or three years.
26. P.J. Hairston, Guard, Charlotte Hornets, Hairston played in the D-League after his NCAA career came to an end when he lost his eligibility due to off the court incidents. He is already a good scorer with NBA three-point range as he hit 2.8 treys per game in the D-League last season. Charlotte needs help on its outside game so he could fit that role. He is a decent defender but will need to adjust to the pace of the NBA game.
27. Bogdan Bogdanovic, Guard, Phoenix Suns, Bogdanovic has the potential to be a good wing player. He sees the floor well and knows how to find the open man. Although not a weak defender, he will need to adjust to the speed of the NBA. He may stay in Europe one or two years to work on his all-around game.
28. C. J. Wilcox, Guard, LA Clippers, Wilcox was known mostly as a three point shooter in college at Washington. His future in the NBA will be an offensive spark off of the bench. He must also work on his defensive game.
29. Josh Huestis, Forward, OKC Thunder, Huestis is a defensive specialist. He will most likely be relegated to a small role off the bench. In 36 games for Stanford last season, he averaged 11.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.9 blocks.
30. Kyle Anderson, Forward, San Antonio Spurs, Anderson has shown good vision; passing ability and a nice feel for the game. He understands schemes well and could be a point forward for the Spurs. Anderson has an inconsistent shot and plays too flat footed on defense.