Now that the second round of the 2014 NBA playoffs is in full swing, 22 teams are in full-blown offseason mode and preparing for the draft. Four more clubs will be joining that group shortly and, soon enough, every team in the Association will be making preparations for the upcoming NBA draft.
If you haven’t done so already, now is a great time to start familiarizing yourself with the top prospects and where they might wind up. It’s also an ideal moment to get caught up on the latest buzz and speculation surrounding these elite players and the teams that might select them.
Keep reading to find out the latest rumors and whispers concerning the 2014 NBA draft.
Cavs Seeking Small Forward
The Cleveland Cavaliers made a splash trade for Luol Deng in the middle of the 2013-14 campaign, but it wasn’t enough to right a sinking ship, and the team ultimately landed in the lottery.
Now the club is reportedly looking to cut its losses and find a serviceable option at small forward in the draft, rather than waste its resources attempting to court and re-sign Deng—a high-priced veteran who is more than likely ready to move on to a real contender.
According to Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer, the Cavs' brass has too many concerns about Deng’s mounting injuries after 10 tough seasons in the NBA and will look to either pull off a draft-day trade to bring in a veteran or acquire one with their lottery selection.
Pluto noted that the organization has been scouting swingmen who are projected to fall toward the middle of the first round—a wise move considering they are expected to pick around No. 10 overall.
While the Cavs have been lucky in the past and pulled off improbable lottery victories, the odds of them landing top-prospects Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker are quite miniscule.
Instead, Cleveland will likely take a long, hard look at Doug McDermott or Rodney Hood. Both are talented players who can stretch defenses and give the team coveted outside shooting.
It’s going to be interesting to watch this squad rebuild this offseason, and it will likely start at the draft with a small forward acquisition.
Parker Has Chance to Be First Overall Pick
There are a handful of elite prospects in contention to be selected No. 1 overall, but it seems the most likely to come off the board first is Jabari Parker out of Duke.
ESPN conducted an informal poll of 30 NBA executives and found that a large majority would choose Parker over Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid of Kansas. Parker received 17 votes, while Embiid garnered eight and Wiggins a mere five.
However, an unnamed executive told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman that the race for the top pick figures to be immensely close and will likely come down to which general manager wins the lottery and what his team’s greatest need is:
"This is about as close of a top three as I've seen in a long, long time," said one veteran general manager. "It really does depend on who gets the top pick and whether they are willing to take a risk or not."
It appears that most GMs are convinced Parker is a sure thing and could contribute right off the bat, but Wiggins has a ridiculous amount of upside. Embiid is also in play for a team that needs a rock-solid big with a relentless motor.
A different executive best summed up the general consensus to Goodman as follows: "I think one GM would go with Parker, another would go with Embiid and another with Wiggins. No one knows who will go first right now."
It’s going to be interesting to see not only what team wins the lottery, but also who that club plans to use that winning ticket on. With so many options on the table, expect the team that owns the No. 1 pick to explore every possible scenario before making a decision this June.