Hoops Rumors Mock Draft 2.0

May 23 at 3:45pm CDT By Alex Lee

With the lottery now in our rear view mirror, the only barrier between us and the highly anticipated 2014 NBA Draft is five weeks of rumors, smokescreens and in-depth prospect breakdowns. All of this has already begun, in fact. Tuesday night’s lottery set off a string of inconsistency, with each team’s big board entirely dependent on your draft pundit of choice.

The lone certainty is that this year’s draft class is as hyped as any we’ve seen in some time. There were some disappointed fan bases on Tuesday night for sure, but there is consensus that any team picking before No. 10 still has a pretty good shot at an impact player. But with the type of star power at the top of the draft, expect plenty of trade talk over the next five weeks, especially with teams outside the top three like the Magic, Jazz, Celtics and Hornets all armed with multiple first round picks.

In short, things are sure to change over the next five weeks. Nevertheless, here is the second version of the Hoops Rumors Mock Draft, which comes on the heels of version 1.0 from earlier this month. As we’ve done in previous years, these picks are based on what we’re hearing around the league, our player evaluations, and what we perceive a team’s draft needs to be. Whether you’re an aspiring draft expert or merely a fan, we welcome your opinion in the comments section.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Joel Embiid. The charmed Cavs will get their pick of the draft’s top prospects for the third time in four years. And the more I look at it, the more I think they go with Embiid, who simply has too much potential to pass up. Luol Deng’s likely departure makes Andrew Wiggins a decent bet and owner Dan Gilbert’s win-now mentality even gives Jabari Parker an outside chance, but a healthy Embiid will be too alluring.
  2. Milwaukee Bucks Andrew Wiggins. The Bucks need everything after managing only 15 wins this season. Pairing the defensive potential of Wiggins with a core of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Larry Sanders could give Milwaukee the type of identity every cellar-dweller craves. Or the Bucks might want to supplement the defensive pieces they have with a high-volume scorer like Parker. My money is on Wiggins.
  3. Philadelphia 76ers – Jabari Parker. No one tanked like the Sixers, who fielded what looked like a D-League team after the All-Star break. While GM Sam Hinkie and company must be bummed they didn’t end up at No. 1, no team has an easier selection. Whoever remains of the top three guys will head to Philly to play with Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel.
  4. Orlando Magic – Dante Exum. Victor Oladipo’s versatility allows the Magic plenty of flexibility at the other guard spot. While neither Exum nor Oladipo are traditional point guards, they could make for a dynamic backcourt duo in Orlando. Look for the Magic to try to find some shooting with their second lottery selection.
  5. Utah Jazz – Noah Vonleh. Utah was really hoping they’d get lucky on Tuesday, but they still might have the firepower to move up. Parker and Exum would be good fits, but Vonleh’s stretch-four potential makes him an enticing selection should the Jazz stay put. I cautiously had the Indiana big man this high in version 1.0, but it’s now looking more and more like he’s a top-five pick.
  6. Boston Celtics – Julius Randle. The board really doesn’t align with the Celtics’ needs here, who will likely snatch up Vonleh should he be there. While Aaron Gordon is a possibility, Danny Ainge is more likely to grab the best player on the board in Randle. His lack of length and height gives them more of what they already have, but if his jumper comes around he will give Brad Stevens a big floor-spacer to play with.
  7. Los Angeles Lakers – Aaron Gordon. The Lakers will undoubtedly try to turn this pick into an established veteran who will give Kobe Bryant some help. If they keep it they’ll want someone who can help right away, but I’m not sure that type of guy will be available. Gordon provides the most value and has the athleticism and defensive ability to see the floor in year one. The Lakers have been creative in the past, so I wouldn’t rule out Dario Saric either.
  8. Sacramento Kings – Marcus Smart. Even if restricted free agent Isaiah Thomas sticks around, he is best suited to come off the bench. In Smart the Kings get a guard with an NBA-ready body and attitude whose competitiveness might do their losing franchise some good. Tyler Ennis’ distribution skills are a more pure fit, but he would be a huge reach here.
  9. Charlotte Hornets – Nik Stauskas. The Hornets were the beneficiaries of the Pistons’ misfortune on lottery night, and now sit pretty with two first rounders, cap space and a true impact player in Al Jefferson. They could certainly wheel and deal on draft night, but if not they’ll need to get some shooting to go with those athletes. Doug McDermott is a possibility, but Stauskas fits better with his ability to spell Kemba Walker at the point.
  10. Philadelphia 76ers – Doug McDermott. I think the Sixers would prefer Stauskas here, especially given their selection of Parker at three. As susceptible a combination of McDermott and Parker would be on defense, they’d be equally imposing on the other end of the court. And something tells me Hinkie isn’t worried about need or fit just yet. Watch out for Zach LaVine here too.
  11. Denver Nuggets – Gary Harris. There are a handful of prospects left with more upside, but Harris seems to be a perfect fit for what is a talented roster in Denver. They have a need at shooting guard and his ability on defense would help the Nuggets compensate for Danilo Gallinari‘s shortcomings in that department. After losing Arron Afflalo and Andre Iguodala in consecutive years, Harris gives them a player in that same mold.
  12. Orlando Magic – Dario Saric. With the pure shooters off the board, Saric makes a lot of sense here for Orlando with the second first-rounder. The Magic already possess an international flavor with Exum and Nikola Vucevic and can afford to wait on Saric, who has an enormous ceiling. If James Young continues his rise he could be the guy, but for now I’m sticking with Saric.
  13. Minnesota Timberwolves – James Young. It seems like every team in the late lottery needs shooting and the Wolves are no different. With the Kevin Love fiasco, they also need upside. Taking Young, who would slot in nicely at the three in Minnesota, gives them the type of grand slam potential they need should everything click for the Kentucky product. It might be impossible to entice Love to stick around, but Young has the upside necessary to turn heads.
  14. Phoenix Suns – Zach LaVine. With three first round picks and a dream backcourt, the Suns could be very active leading up to the draft. Should they stick at No. 14, they’re likely to target a wing player, which is where LaVine will probably end up if his point guard skills don’t translate. Even if they do, his ability to facilitate on the wing (not to mention his stroke) would add another weapon to an explosive offense in the desert.
  15. Atlanta Hawks – P.J. Hairston. I have a sneaking suspicion that someone might take a chance on Hairston before this, but if not his sharpshooting ability and toughness would look great next to Jeff Teague in the Atlanta backcourt. The Hawks have win-now pieces in place and Hairston showed in the D-League that he’s ready to play in year one.
  16. Chicago Bulls – Tyler Ennis. At Nos. 16 and 17, the Bulls and Celtics both have shaky situations with elite point guards. If Ennis does indeed drop this far, it’s hard to imagine one of those squads not shoring up that spot with a player who profiles as at least a solid backup. The Bulls will be happy to grab Ennis and look for some scoring help at 19.
  17. Boston Celtics – Rodney Hood. Watch out for the Celtics, who have stolen Rajon Rondo, Al Jefferson, Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger in this part of the draft in recent years. Hood gives Stevens his first real perimeter sniper and has the size to become something more. The Celtics, of course, will also be in the mix to make a major trade.
  18. Phoenix Suns – Cleanthony Early. The Suns continue to attack their need on the wing with Early, who will bring some much-needed toughness to Phoenix. At 23, Early can help the Suns right out of the gate and his predictability might help offset the risk the Suns took with LaVine at 14. There are whispers that Early’s age might cause a tumble. Some contender will get a heck of a player if so.
  19. Chicago Bulls – Adreian Payne. Payne is another 23-year-old prospect who is ready to contribute right away. Should the Bulls make a depth selection at No. 16 with Ennis, Payne would help compensate for the likely loss of Carlos Boozer next year in Chicago.
  20. Toronto Raptors – Clint Capela. Shabazz Napier and Elfrid Payton are both possibilities here if the Raptors feel they need Kyle Lowry insurance. The more pressing need in Toronto, however, is size. Capela has that and adds upside to go with it after breaking out overseas this year. He might be a bit of a gamble, but if he pans out his explosive athleticism would fit nicely next to Jonas Valanciunas.
  21. Oklahoma City Thunder – Jusuf Nurkic. I’m sticking with Nurkic to Oklahoma City, which would get great value at No. 21 with the 6’11″ Bosnian. Nurkic has a huge body with soft touch, but his lack of athleticism limits his upside. With Thabo Sefolosha a free agent, the Thunder could also grab K.J. McDaniels here as a replacement.
  22. Memphis Grizzlies – T.J. Warren. The front office shakeup in Memphis makes it tough to pinpoint the direction the Grizzlies will go. They need offensive help on the wing, making Warren and Kyle Anderson the best fits here. Jerami Grant and McDaniels give them more of what they have. Warren and his bag of offensive tricks are the safer pick, though Anderson or even Napier wouldn’t shock me.
  23. Utah Jazz – Kyle Anderson. After selecting Vonleh at No. 5, the addition of Anderson would give the Jazz some interesting offensive pieces. It’s conceivable that they’d gamble that Grant or McDaniels would turn into a “three and D” type. But Anderson is awfully intriguing given that Trey Burke can swing between either of the guard positions.
  24. Charlotte Hornets – Jerami Grant. The Hornets would get plenty of value in Grant should the Syracuse product fall to No. 24. After landing the shooter they need at No. 9, Grant would add another elite athlete to a roster full of them. With a ridiculous 7’3″ wingspan, Grant might just be long enough to play the four. Either way, he’s worth the risk here.
  25. Houston Rockets – Elfrid Payton. Daryl Morey has a penchant for finding gems late in the draft, and Payton definitely fits the bill as a potential steal at No. 25. He’s not exactly NBA-ready, making him an iffy selection for the ambitious Rockets despite the fit. There’s a decent chance Payton goes higher, and the Rockets could easily move this pick as well.
  26. Miami Heat – Shabazz Napier. Speaking of guys who should go higher, Napier would be a coup for the Heat here. He’s nowhere near a pure point guard, but he would give Miami some punch off the bench as well as provide some defensive toughness on the perimeter. He’s going to help someone quickly.
  27. Phoenix Suns – Kristaps Porzingis. I can’t imagine that the Suns make and keep three selections in this draft, but if they do taking an international flier on a guy like Porzingis feels about right. Capela makes sense in the same fashion, though they’d probably have to grab him at No. 18 if so.
  28. Los Angeles Clippers – K.J. McDaniels. I think it’s safe to say the Clippers are set offensively. The defense could use some work, however. Enter McDaniels, who is ready to play lock-down D right now and offers some upside should his offensive game develop. He could easily go higher if the right team is enamored with him.
  29. Oklahoma City Thunder – C.J. Wilcox. If McDaniels somehow fell to No. 29, the Thunder would have to scoop him up, but in this scenario, they’ll grab Wilcox, who can probably play some in OKC right away. We know he can shoot remarkably well, but at 23 years old, there are questions about whether or not he can develop any other NBA skills.
  30. San Antonio Spurs – Mitch McGary. It would be hard to envision a name as big as McGary’s falling out of the first round. If he’s healthy, he could help the Spurs down low pretty quickly. Tim Duncan has to run out of gas eventually. I also think Jarnell Stokes is a possibility here.
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