Updated NBA Mock Draft Heading into 2014 Final Four
With the Final Four set, the 2014 NBA draft field is beginning to build and grow.
Prospects who have been eliminated from postseason play have started to announce their plans to declare, including big names like Kansas' Andrew Wiggins, Indiana's Noah Vonleh, North Carolina State's T.J. Warren and UCLA's Zach LaVine.
Some prospects have also announced they'll be returning, such as Kansas' Wayne Selden.
There are still some NBA prospects to watch for in the NCAA tournament, including Connecticut's Shabazz Napier and everyone in Kentucky's lineup. And look out for Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky, who's making a legitimate push into the conversation.
Team needs, along with each prospect's NBA potential, were taken into account when deciding how we project the draft to play out.
The draft order was generated based on NBA standings through games played on Tuesday, April 1, and future trades.
1. Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker, Duke, 6'8", SF/PF, Freshman
Though he didn't end on the best note, Jabari Parker's body of work was strong enough to allow for a slip-up.
Of all the top dogs in the class, he appears to be the safest pick, given his refined, versatile offensive game and 6'8", 235-pound NBA-ready frame.
The Milwaukee Bucks could go with Kansas' center Joel Embiid here, but with questions over his durability, along with the presence of Larry Sanders, Parker would seem like a better fit for a franchise in need of a sure thing.
It would be tough to argue against drafting Kansas' Andrew Wiggins here, but at 6'8" and 200 pounds, he has the same skinny build and position as the team's current prized rookie, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Parker offers the versatility and body that should allow him to complement Antetokounmpo as a 4, posing as a tough mismatch in the post and less of a liability while defending the perimeter.
While all three prospects offer the upside to justify the No. 1 pick, Parker seems like the best fit for Milwaukee based on team needs and the direction of the franchise. You just can't go wrong with him.
He finished his freshman season with averages of 19.1 points and 8.7 boards on 47.3 percent shooting.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, 6'8", SF, Freshman
Andrew Wiggins officially announced at a press conference on Monday that he'll be entering the 2014 draft after spending his entire freshman season under the microscope.
Though his game has obvious holes, he still managed to average 17.1 points in a loaded lineup that likes to share the ball. And for the most part, those holes are fillable—shooting consistency, his left hand and finishing in traffic at the rim.
The only thing preventing him from reaching that can't-miss status as a No. 1 overall lock is his questionable killer instinct. And after being criticized for it all year, it was disappointing to see him take only six shots and score four points in 34 minutes during Kansas' loss to Stanford in the round of 32.
Still, if we're talking straight talent here, Wiggins has enough to be the first name called off the board. At 6'8", he's arguably the top athlete in the draft with a mid-range game, three-point range and an unstoppable attack game.
Defensively, he has lockdown potential and the ability to guard up to three or four positions.
Based on team needs and the long rebuilding plan that Philadelphia is looking at, the Sixers should have no problem waiting for Wiggins to develop. He'd seem like an ideal fit at the wing between Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel.
3. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, Australia, 6'6", PG/SG, 1995
Outside of Duke's Jabari Parker and Kansas' Andrew Wiggins, I'm not sure anyone fits into Orlando's rebuilding plans better than Australia's Dante Exum.
The 6'6" scoring point guard with unlimited potential could slide next to Victor Oladipo to form one of the most athletically explosive backcourts in the league.
Kansas center Joel Embiid could be tough to pass on, but with 7-foot, 23-year-old Nikola Vucevic coming into his own, the Magic might want to avoid doubling up on positions to focus on filling a hole.
4. Utah Jazz: Joel Embiid, Kansas, 7'0", C, Freshman
If the top three teams draft based on needs, the Utah Jazz could be in position to land some serious value with Joel Embiid at No. 4.
Sure, they have Enes Kanter in the middle, but in 74 games this year, he's blocked just 37 shots.
Embiid's ceiling towers over Kanter's, given his superior athleticism, extra 3.5 inches of length and two-way skill set as a go-to post scorer and dominant rim protector.
Of course, we'll have to wait and see whether his back checks out prior to the draft, but if doctors give him a clean bill of health, the upside here is just too much to pass on.
5. Boston Celtics: Noah Vonleh, Indiana, 6'10", PF, Freshman
It didn't take long to spot Noah Vonleh's talent and upside despite his limited role on a lousy team.
At 6'10" with a massive 7'4" wingspan and solid 240-pound frame, he has some mesmerizing physical tools to match a skill set that is built for the pros.
He has moves to go to in the post, including righty and lefty jump hooks and drop steps into layups. And with nice touch from outside, he can stretch the defense as a shooter and spot-up threat behind the arc (16-of-33 from downtown as a freshman).
He recently announced he'll be declaring for the draft, telling CBS Sports' Gary Parrish: "I've heard the fourth pick to the 12th pick is wide open. [I think I'll be selected] anywhere in that range."
The Boston Celtics are looking at a longer rebuilding process than most teams and can afford the extra year it might take the 18-year-old Vonleh to hit his stride.
6. Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle, Kentucky, 6'9", PF, Freshman
Julius Randle continues to do the dirty work for the Kentucky Wildcats, who have beaten the odds and some pretty good teams on their way to the Final Four.
He just keeps pounding out double-doubles. In four NCAA tournament games, he's averaging 15.8 points and 12.0 boards, most recently going for 16 and 11 in a sensational win over Michigan.
The only concerns with him stem from his lack of shooting range and length. With only a 6'11" wingspan—which is short for an interior-oriented player—Randle's shot is vulnerable to getting blocked or altered, while he averages less than one block per game of his own at the defensive end.
Still, there's no denying the physical presence he brings to the paint, both as a scorer and rebounder.
The Los Angeles Lakers need to go with the best player available here, and Randle looks like the answer.
7. Sacramento Kings: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, 6'4", PG/SG, Sophomore
Marcus Smart's season ended early again in 2014, but it shouldn't reflect on his outlook as a future NBA floor general.
He averaged 18.0 points, 5.9 boards, 4.8 assists and 2.9 steals as a sophomore. There isn't another guard in the country who is capable of making the same level of two-way impact.
He'll ultimately need to improve his shooting stroke and mid-range repertoire, but between his attack game, passing instincts and difference-making defense, he has plenty of valuable strengths that are likely to translate to the pros.
He also offers the versatility that should allow him to play on or off the ball, which means a team like the Sacramento Kings could do some mixing and matching with Isaiah Thomas.
8. Detroit Pistons: Dario Saric, Croatia, 6'10", SF/PF, 1994
Reports on Dario Saric's future intentions seem to vary by the week. But the latest one spells good news for teams in the lottery.
Per Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress, "it's almost certain that Dario Saric will declare for this year's draft, regardless of which agent he signs with."
This will be a story to follow closely from here on out—especially when you consider the type of season he's having abroad. Saric leads the Adriatic League in scoring and rebounding while 50.2 percent shooting from the floor.
A unique forward at 6'10" who can handle the ball, score, pass and rebound, he offers offensive versatility that might be too valuable for the Detroit Pistons to pass on.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers: Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky, 7'0", C, Sophomore
Willie Cauley-Stein suffered an ankle injury early against Louisville in the Sweet 16 and sat out against Connecticut in the Elite Eight. It's tough timing, and it's still unclear just how long he'll be out, but don't expect this injury to affect his NBA draft stock.
He's one of the top athletes in the draft when you take into account his size, strength, hops and coordination. Though limited offensively, he presents guards with a monster target around the rim for dump passes and lobs.
Defensively, he averages 2.9 blocks in just 23.8 minutes per game or 4.8 per 40. And he's only one of two natural rim protectors (with the other being Kansas' Joel Embiid) in this projected first-round field.
The Cleveland Cavaliers should want to inject their frontcourt with some more athleticism, as Anderson Varejao averages less than one block per game.
10. Denver Nuggets (via NY): Aaron Gordon, Arizona, 6'9", SF/PF, Freshman
Despite an underwhelming offensive effort in Arizona's disappointing loss to Wisconsin in the Elite Eight, Aaron Gordon's stock is up.
He was great all tournament, where he was unstoppable around the rim and even successful at times on the perimeter.
Gordon shot just 3-of-11 in the loss to the Badgers, but he grabbed 18 boards and blocked a couple of shots.
The argument over his NBA position is starting to get irrelevant at this point, based on his ability to make plays in so many different ways.
The Denver Nuggets just might have to take him at No. 10 as the top prospect available.
11. Orlando Magic (via Denver): Clint Capela, Switzerland, 6'10", PF, 1994
Clint Capela was just invited to play with the World Select Team at this year's Nike Hoops Summit following his eye-opening season abroad.
Per 40 minutes, he averaged 16.5 points, 12.7 boards and 3.5 blocks on 65.7 percent shooting in 24 games in France.
At 6'10", he is a long, athletic big man who protects the rim, finishes around it and cleans the glass. He also moves extremely well; he can even put it on the floor for a few dribbles to attack an open driving lane.
Capela would inject Orlando's frontcourt with some big-time athleticism—something it doesn't get from Nikola Vucevic or Tobias Harris. He's a project, but one who looks to be worth investing in for those that have the time.
12. Philadelphia 76ers (via NO): Gary Harris, Michigan St., 6'4", SG, Sophomore
Gary Harris went for 22 points in Michigan's State's tough Elite Eight loss to Connecticut following his rare no-show in the Sweet 16.
He has been somewhat inconsistent throughout the year. And it might have something to do with the fact that he took 72 more three-pointers as a sophomore than he did during his freshman season.
But he finished the season averaging 16.7 points, showing a more complete offensive game as an on- and off-ball scorer.
Harris doesn't necessarily have that takeover ability, but he has the skill set to shine in a supporting role. The Sixers don't have much to offer at the 2-guard position, so he could be a target with the team's second lottery pick.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Doug McDermott, Creighton, 6'8", SF, Senior
Doug McDermott had a monster senior year. He did just about everything he could have done to maximize his 2014 NBA draft stock.
Building upon his junior year, where he averaged more than 23 points a game for the Creighton Bluejays, didn't seem possible. But he returned and added even more to his offensive game, including a lethal Dirk Nowitzki-like one-legged fadeaway that he used consistently to separate one-on-one.
He also finished the season shooting more than 40 percent from downtown for the fourth year in a row.
He has obvious defensive limitations (five blocks, eight steals all year), but there's no debating the value of his extensive shot-making ability and range.
Minnesota could use a wing like McDermott who can stretch the floor at the small forward position.
14. Memphis Grizzlies: Nik Stauskas, Michigan, 6'6", SG, Sophomore
No player's stock got a bigger boost from one season to the next than Nik Stauskas'.
Named the Big Ten Player of the Year after averaging 17.5 points and 3.3 assists per game while shooting 44.2 percent from downtown, he has transformed into a serious offensive weapon after spending his freshman year in a spot-up shooting role.
Stauskas has shown he can create shots in all different directions, whether he's separating into a step-back jumper or rising and firing over his defender with a pull-up. He even took 100-plus more free throws than he did a year ago.
And at 6'6" with deceiving athletic ability, he has an offensive game that should translate nicely to the pros.
His defensive limitations will hold him back in the NBA (he averaged less than one steal per game), but his elite shot-making ability and high basketball IQ are too valuable when paired together. With Memphis in desperate need of sharpshooters, Stauskas makes perfect sense here.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Zach LaVine, UCLA, 6'5", SG, Freshman
It didn't take long for Zach LaVine to announce he'd be declaring for the NBA, after scoring just 11 points total in his final five games at UCLA.
To his credit, he never really got the opportunity while playing behind Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams and Norman Powell, and though he might not be NBA-ready, that shouldn't stop a team from reaching.
LaVine is the type of kid who's going to crush it during workouts, where he can showcase his show-time athleticism, dangerous outside stroke and smooth off-the-dribble game. His upside is big-time—the only question is whether he'll be better off developing in the pros (or the D-League) or in college.
But with so much potential reward, expect someone to chase it. Given the Atlanta Hawks' lackluster backcourt, they'd be a strong candidate.
16. Chicago Bulls (via Charlotte): Tyler Ennis, Syracuse, 6'2", PG, Freshman
Tyler Ennis was quick to announce he'll be headed to the pros after a standout freshman year as Syracuse's poised floor general.
Unfortunately, he just couldn't get enough jumpers to fall against Dayton in the NCAA tournament, and there's no doubt that shooting consistency will be on his must-improve list moving forward.
Still, he's showcased some impressive offensive instincts as a passer, scorer and overall decision-maker. And even if he never emerges into a star or starting point guard, he projects as a valuable, high-end backup.
Other than Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls don't have any point guards under contract for the 2014-15 season. And given the wear and tear on Rose's knees, they might want to target Ennis with one of their two first-round picks.
17. Phoenix Suns (via Washington): Rodney Hood, Duke, 6'8", SF, Sophomore
Rodney Hood had a day to forget in Duke's loss to Mercer in the round of 64, but one poor outing shouldn't cloud his entire body of work as a sophomore.
He averaged 16.1 points on 46.4 percent shooting overall and 42.0 percent from downtown, showing off that beautiful lefty stroke and deceiving athletic ability with excellent 6'8" size for the wing.
He is limited defensively, but he has an NBA-ready skill set for a role as a stretch forward and shot-maker. The Phoenix Suns could use his reliable outside stroke and offensive versatility.
18. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn): Jusuf Nurkic, Bosnia, 6'11", C, 1994
Jusuf Nurkic continues to produce at a staggering rate in the Adriatic League. Since February 1, he has scored 100 points in 134 minutes.
At 6'11", 280 pounds with a wingspan over 7'0", he is a handful in the paint at both ends of the floor. Offensively, he combines overpowering strength with a soft touch around the rim. He also moves well for a guy his size, showing some nifty footwork and impressive mobility.
Nurkic has emerged as one of the most intriguing international prospects when you consider his production, efficiency and NBA-caliber physical tools.
The Celtics have a number of centers, but none is talented enough to hold down the position long term. Between his two-way services and unteachable size and presence, Nurkic could be a legitimate force when he enters his NBA prime.
And based on Boston's rebuilding timetable, this team can afford to wait on his development.
19. Chicago Bulls: Cleanthony Early, Wichita State, 6'8", SF, Senior
Cleanthony Early was strong all year as Wichita State's most productive offensive option. But when that production comes against mid-major competition, there's always going to be an argument against it.
That's why it was a fantastic look for him when he dropped 31 points on Kentucky's NBA-caliber front line in the NCAA tournament. He lit it up from outside with four three-pointers, got to the rack off the bounce and finished plays at high speeds in transition.
He shot better than 37 percent from downtown this season, and if he shoots it well in workouts, his outside stroke, 6'8" size and athleticism on the wing could look appealing as a package.
The Bulls could use some athleticism on the wing, and at 22 years old, Early might be able to give it to them as a rookie.
20. Toronto Raptors: Kyle Anderson, UCLA, 6'9", PG/SF, Sophomore
Kyle Anderson had one heck of a sophomore year at UCLA, averaging 14.6 points, 8.8 boards and 6.5 assists and posing as arguably the most unique offensive mismatch in the country.
At 6'9", he ran the point, where he showcased his top-notch vision and passing instincts as well as his ability to seamlessly make plays over the defense.
Though slow and methodical with his movement, he makes up for a lack of athleticism with size, intelligence and timing.
The big question is whether his unorthodox game will translate to the pros. Defense is another issue, as he just doesn't have the foot speed to defend the perimeter or the strength to man the interior.
Still, if he's able to figure it out, the upside could be enormous. The reward just might be worth the risk at No. 20 for the Toronto Raptors.
21. OKC Thunder (via Dallas): Adreian Payne, Michigan State, 6'10", PF, Senior
Adreian Payne has evolved into a legitimate stretch forward option this season, as he finished his senior year with 44 three-point makes—more than double the number of threes he hit as a freshman, sophomore and junior combined.
Down low, he has the strength and hops to finish through contact or above the rim, though he could still use some work on his post game.
But at 6'10" with an NBA body and a sharpshooting 42.3 percent three-point stroke, Payne projects as an inside-outside big man who can make plays around the hoop and knock down jumpers in the pick-and-pop or drive-and-dish game.
And at 23 years old, he might be able to step in right away for a contender like Oklahoma City.
22. Phoenix Suns: Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette, 6'3", PG, Junior
Elfrid Payton had a monster junior year, averaging 19.2 points, 6.0 boards, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals. And he led the Ragin' Cajuns to an NCAA tournament appearance, where he went for 24 points, eight boards, three assists and three steals in a loss to Creighton in the round of 64.
He's just so smooth off the bounce, where he can change speed or directions on a dime and explode to the rack for easy buckets. Defensively, he's active and disruptive, with the NBA size and athleticism to comfortably hold down the position in the pros.
He needs to improve his perimeter game, but there's legitimate upside here if he can. The Suns need a backup for Goran Dragic, and given how tough Payton is in transition, he'd fit nicely into Phoenix's uptempo system.
23. Utah Jazz (via Golden State): T.J. Warren, North Carolina State, 6'8", SF, Sophomore
T.J. Warren has established himself as one of the draft's most unique and productive scorers, after averaging nearly 25 points on just 26.7 percent shooting from downtown and 69 percent at the line.
Somehow, he still managed to shoot 52.5 percent from the floor. His scoring instincts are just extraordinary, as he's been able to generate offense inside the arc using an array of different runners, pull-ups and off-ball action to the rim.
But you won't find too many NBA small forwards who can't stretch the floor, and without much bounce or explosiveness, he might have to make some adjustments to his half-court scoring repertoire.
Still, based on his 6'8" NBA size and mobility, along with his mind-blowing college production, Warren is worth a first-round look for a team that could use a cheap source of offense.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (via Portland): James Young, Kentucky, 6'6", SG, Freshman
James Young's stock slipped a bit as the year progressed, thanks to some frustrating inconsistency and questionable defensive focus.
Still, at 6'6", he has NBA 2-guard size and athleticism to match a threatening three-point stroke. In between, he has the slash game working with runners and floaters on the move, and he's shown he can step into mid-range jumpers and knock down shots off the dribble.
He averaged less than one steal per game and only shot 34.6 percent from downtown, but he has potential as a complementary scorer and shot-maker on the wing.
25. Houston Rockets: Jerami Grant, Syracuse, 6'8", SF, Sophomore
Jeremi Grant didn't have his best outing in Syracuse's loss to Dayton in the round of 32, fouling out in 34 minutes with just four points and six boards.
Regardless, he had been productive and fairly consistent throughout the year, giving the Orange an active body and easy-bucket machine around the rim.
At 6'8" with a 7'2" wingspan, he has a frame that is built for the pros as a finisher, rebounder and potentially versatile defender.
Grant didn't hit a three-pointer all year, and without the strength to man the power forward position, he'll have to make some adjustments. But late in the first round, he should be a project worth taking on.
26. Miami Heat: Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, 6'8", PF, Sophomore
Montrezl Harrell had a huge second half of the season manning the paint for Louisville, and though he's still limited as a one-on-one scorer, there's no denying the impact that his physical tools can make.
At 6'8" and 235 pounds with powerful arms and destructive athleticism, he's a force around the rim as a finisher and rebounder. He averaged 14.0 points per game on 60.9 percent shooting, doing most of his damage around the low block and some on the elbow with short- to mid-range jumpers.
His physical tools are still far ahead of his skill set, but for teams that are looking to get stronger and more athletic up front, Harrell should be a nice late-round option.
27. Los Angeles Clippers: P.J. Hairston, Texas Legends, 6'6", SG
P.J. Hairston has been up and down lately for the Texas Legends, but there's just no denying the tools and NBA skill set he brings to the table.
He's averaging more than 21 points per game in the D-League, where he's mixed in a few offensive explosions with a few duds.
But at 6'6", 230 pounds, he is a physical guard who can attack the rim with aggression or generate offense on the perimeter thanks to some deep range, a quick release and the ability to create his own shot.
He's a first-round talent, and as long as he interviews well and looks sharp in workouts, that's where he should end up getting drafted.
28. Phoenix Suns (via Indiana): Nick Johnson, Arizona, 6'3", PG/SG, Junior
Despite Arizona's tough loss to Wisconsin in the Elite Eight, Nick Johnson's junior year was good enough to land him in the first-round conversation.
His leadership and floor presence stood out immediately, as did his jaw-dropping athleticism and above-the-rim hops.
He might not have a true NBA position, given his 6'3" size and lack of natural point guard instincts. But whether you consider him a 1, 2 or combo guard, he is still a flat-out playmaker with or without the ball.
Look for Johnson to make some noise during the athletic-testing portion of the NBA combine.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder: K.J. McDaniels, Clemson, 6'6", SF, Junior
K.J. McDaniels brought the Clemson Tigers to the semifinals of the NIT before getting knocked out by Southern Methodist. In four NIT games, he averaged 17.3 points, 8.0 boards and 3.5 blocks.
He has the explosive athleticism that allows him to make plays as a driver, finisher and shot-blocker. And when he's in the offensive zone, we've seen him knock down shots on the perimeter as a pull-up or spot-up shooter.
The fact that he led the ACC in blocked shots at 6'6" tells you all you need to know. McDaniels is a two-way, above-the-rim wing with an improving offensive game and still plenty of room for growth.
30. San Antonio Spurs: Shabazz Napier, Connecticut, 6'1", PG, Senior
Shabazz Napier averaged 23.3 points, 6.0 boards and 4.5 assists in four NCAA tournament wins over Saint Joseph's, Villanova, Iowa State and Michigan State.
And now he has his Connecticut Huskies in the Final Four with his stock on the rise.
He has the mean handle that allows him to shake and bake off the dribble, whether he's getting to the rim, driving and dishing or separating for a jumper on the perimeter.
Though he plays under the rim and weighs 180 pounds, he has become just too dangerous with the ball in his hands. Plus, you can't help but admire his confidence and toughness.
There isn't much upside here, but Napier should have the chance to excel in a backup role as a ball-handler, passer and shooter.