Possible Landing Spots for the Next Potential NBA Superstars
Rarely are draft classes praised by NBA Draft experts. It seems like every season the analysts’ proclaim that the current year’s draft is worse than the one prior. However, it is even more rare for analysts to even dare to compare a draft class to the legendary 1984 class or even the illustrious 2003 class…until now.
For over a year now we have been hearing about this upcoming 2014 Draft as perhaps the most talented since the 2003 Draft, which included LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony among others. Names like Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker have been frequently mentioned as potential superstars since the time they were in high school, while college athletes like Nik Staukas and Marcus Smart have built their draft stock by dominating at the college level.
NBA Teams have taken notice of the immense talent of this class, and have acted appropriately. Teams like the Lakers, Celtics, and especially the Sixers have seemingly blown up their team in an effort to cash in on one of these franchise-changers. Now, with the Cavaliers on the clock with the first pick, these teams must carefully choose which player they believe will turn around their franchise. Here are my predictions for how Thursday night at the Barclays Center will play out:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Wiggins - With what was at one point a sure-fire Joel Embiid selection, the Cavaliers take the most athletic player in the draft and the “next LeBron.” Okay, maybe he’s not the next LeBron like college scouts predicted him to be, but the Canadian shooting guard has scary good potential. With Embiid’s stock falling due to his ailing back and broken foot, the Cavs will look to take the next player with the highest ceiling, rather the seemingly NBA-ready Jabari Parker. His improving jump shot, freak athleticism (and his 44-inch vertical mind you), and his vicious defense should be enough to win over the Cavs for the top pick.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker - With Wiggins off the board and Embiid’s injuries, the Bucks take the most NBA-ready prospect in the draft. The Bucks have been begging for a superstar for decades, and they might have it with the Chicago native. Parker should be able to come and become a mainstay at the small forward position, providing a solid 17 to 20 points a game for the offense-deprived Bucks.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Dante Exum - The 76ers missed out on their prized prospect Andrew Wiggins, and their backup plan, Jabari Parker, has been drafted as well. So with the 3rd pick, the Sixers take the mystery man from Australia. Dante Exum is believed to be a can't miss prospect according to NBA scouts. That much is known. However the rest of his scouting report remains an enigma. Most scouts have only seen him play one game, the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Oregon, and a great deal of scouts cant decide whether he is a point guard or a shooting guard. Despite this uncertainty, the Sixers take another player with an extremely high ceiling, making sure they cash in on their 63 losses. After the selection the Sixers will make the tough choice to shop Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams in order to get the ball in Exum’s hands more.
4. Orlando Magic: Joel Embiid - Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan has been distinctly stingy and conservative since taking over the job in 2012. He refused trade to Dwight Howard until their relationship reached its boiling point, and even then he declined multiple trades in order to seek the one he thought fairest. His overall goal is to build the team through smart draft choices and financial decisions/signings. Nonetheless, this year he will shock the league and take Joel Embiid to finally regain that dominant presence in the middle. At this point in the draft Embiid is simply just the player with the highest ceiling, even with his back and feet problems. If Embiid can stay healthy, and that’s a big if, Hennigan’s gamble will pay off and the city of Orlando will embrace its next superstar.
5. Utah Jazz: Noah Vonleh - Having lost confidence on the development of their starting power forward Derrick Favors, the Jazz look to draft the tantalizing Noah Vonleh. I say tantalizing because of his unreal measurables: 6’10’’, 240 pounds, 7’4’’ wingspan and 12-inch hands. Not to mention the guy is 18 years old! Moving past the mere physical standpoint, the former Indiana Hoosier played well his freshman year averaging 11 points, 9 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, all while shooting 48 percent from the arc. With this selection the Jazz should have another young talented prospect to build around.
6. Boston Celtics: Julius Randle - What fall for Julius Randle. Once considered a potential first overall pick, the former Kentucky Wildcat lost draft stock during the season for his suspect defense and lack of post moves. To top it all off, Randle injured his foot, which caused him to drop down to the sixth selection where Danny Ainge selects him. Ainge has been known to take risks with players coming back from injuries. He trusted that Rondo would come back to top form, recording from his torn ACL, and he trusted that Jared Sullinger would recover from back injuries that plague him. Both rewarded Ainge for his trust, and specifically Sullinger, proved that he wasn't as bad as NBA scouts projected. Ainge will be hoping that Julius Randle can do the same.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart - Smart is another player that was in first overall talks earlier this season. After his dominant freshman year at Oklahoma State, Smart decided to return one more year, only to dramatically hurt his draft stock. Character and leadership issues, highlighting by his attack on a fan mid-game, have tainted him in the eyes of scouts. Nonetheless, his talent still makes him a top-10 pick and a pick that the Lakers can’t refuse. With Steve Nash unable to stay healthy, and rotating door at point guard, a returning Kobe Bryant will love to play with the skilled Marcus Smart. Kobe might even be able to relate with Smart’s young immaturity and nurture him to become a leader like him.
8. Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon - This pick makes sense because…pretty much why not? The Kings have loads of young talent, namely Demarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore, and Rudy Gay. The only position missing? Power Forward. With the ultra-athletic Gordon in the lineup, the Kings will add a dynamic compliment to Cousins down low. He’ll be able to play off the pick and roll with Thomas, and finish hard at the rim with dunks. He will also be able to take power forwards out to the perimeter and beat them off the dribble, giving them a new dynamic to their offense.
9. Charlotte Hornets: Doug McDermott - New name, new uniform, same team. At the nine spot, Michael Jordan selects another college veteran and Player of the Year winner in Doug McDermott. However, unlike Adam Morrison, McDermott should actually pan out and projects to follow more of a Kemba Walker path. He should be NBA-ready and available to plug into a starting lineup that desperately needs scoring.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: James Young - With MCW shipped away and Exum slated to start at the point, the Sixers will be looking to find a shooting guard. Enter James Young, a Kentucky Wildcat and southpaw scoring two-guard. With Young, the Sixers should see an increase in scoring and dribble penetration not seen last year with James Anderson starting.