NBA Draft pick-by-pick first-round analysis

NBA Draft pick-by-pick first-round analysis
June 27, 2014, 4:30 pm
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1. Cleveland Cavaliers
Andrew Wiggins, 6-foot-8 small forward, Kansas

The Cavs have a new coach, new general manager and now a new potential superstar to pair with All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving. Wiggins isn’t a finished product, but if he reaches his ceiling, he’ll develop into an elite two-way swingman. Capable of playing either wing position, Wiggins’ arrival could mean the departure of young shooting guard Dion Waiters, though a perimeter trio of Wiggins, Irving and Waiters has a lot of possibilities.

2. Milwaukee Bucks
Jabari Parker, 6-foot-8 small forward, Duke

The Chicago native wanted to play for the Bucks, just up the interstate from his hometown, and a forward tandem with rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo is very intriguing, as the athleticism, length and defensive potential of the “Greek Freak” goes well with Parker’s versatile scoring ability. Milwaukee can explore a small-ball lineup and if shot-blocking big man Larry Sanders bounces back from a disappointing season, the entire frontcourt could spell trouble for opposing teams. Parker immediately becomes the face of the Bucks franchise and should be a top-tier scorer from the outset of his career.

[RELATED: Mixed results for teams in NBA Draft] 

3. Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid, 7-foot-1 center, Kansas

Embiid’s recent foot injury, coupled with his back problems, caused him to slide a bit, but still landed fairly high in the draft. His surgery will cause him to miss summer league and at least a large portion of next season, though his high ceiling made him too difficult for the Sixers to pass up. Embiid’s potential to be a impact low-post scorer and defensive prowess, especially alongside Nerlens Noel (Philadelphia’s 2013 first-round pick, also a dominant shot-blocker, coincidentally missed his entire rookie year), give Philadelphia a foundation to build upon defensively.

4. Orlando Magic
Aaron Gordon, 6-foot-8 power forward, Arizona

A versatile, athletic and high-energy player, Gordon gives the Magic another young player on an already youthful roster. Not a proficient shooter, Gordon is an excellent defender and has great intangibles, though it’s unlikely he ever evolves a featured option as a scorer. Still, as all-around player who can impact a game with his effort, Gordon is a piece to the puzzle, though some of his skill set is duplicated by some of Orlando’s current forwards, such as Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless.

[ALSO: Deep 2014 NBA Draft means time is now for teams to get better] 

5. Utah Jazz
Dante Exum, 6-foot-6 point guard, Australia

Drafting Exum could mean that rookie floor general Trey Burke will be traded, have to move off the ball or at the very least, the Jazz will utilize a dual point-guard lineup, something that’s gaining in popularity throughout the league these days. Exum thrives with the ball in his hands and assuming Utah retains swingman Gordon Hayward in free agency, the triumvirate of Exum, Hayward and Burke, who knock down shots as a spot-up shooter, has some potential on the perimeter. Exum isn’t a great outside shooter, needs to add strength and is a bit of an unknown commodity in general, but his talent level and upside as a big playmaker and scoring threat makes him a worthy gamble.

6. Boston Celtics
Marcus Smart, 6-foot-3 point guard, Oklahoma State

Smart’s arrival in Boston could signal that veteran point guard Rajon Rondo, as has long been rumored, is on the trading block. If the Celtics hang on to restricted free agent shooting guard Avery Bradley, a defensive-minded backcourt is in the offing, as Smart is strong on that end of the floor. Not a traditional floor general, Smart has versatility and leadership ability, and while he needs work on his perimeter jumper, he should make an instant contributor.

7. Los Angeles Lakers
Julius Randle, 6-foot-9 power forward, Kentucky

Randle gives the retooling Lakers a building block for the future, as well as a player who can contribute right now, as the southpaw’s rebounding prowess and interior scoring ability are NBA-ready. A rugged inside force, Randle could stand to work on his off hand, defense and shooting range, but with Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill free agents this summer, the Lakers need help on the inside. He isn’t a proved veteran, but Randle’s hard-nosed style of play should be able to win over Kobe Bryant.

[MORE: With free-agency plans intact, Bulls confident in selling points] 

8. Sacramento Kings
Nik Stauskas, 6-foot-6 shooting guard, Michigan

Arguably the best shooter in the draft, Stauskas’ athleticism and ballhandling makes him more than a one-dimensional player. Sacramento could jettison rookie shooting guard Ben McLemore in favor of the Canadian import and while that might seem premature, Stauskas is a better fit. With center DeMarcus Cousins and forward Rudy Gay functioning as the Kings’ primary scorers, Stauskas’ ability to stretch the defense is vital.

9. Charlotte Hornets
Noah Vonleh, 6-foot-10 power forward, Indiana

Expected by some observers to be selected as high as third or fourth, Vonleh was drafted at an appropriate juncture of the draft, as his production hasn’t caught up to his potential yet. Equipped with huge hands and a long wingspan, Vonleh’s potential to stretch defenses from long range, shot-blocking ability and rebounding prowess could mesh well with veteran low-post scorer Al Jefferson. While his arrival does leave questions about the future of Hornets rookie big man Cody Zeller, Charlotte made a solid choice.

10. Orlando Magic (via Philadelphia 76ers)
Elfrid Payton, 6-foot-4 point guard, Louisiana-Lafayette

Payton was one of the draft’s highest risers, going from a fairly anonymous early-entry prospect out a mid-major program, to a top-rated floor general after excelling in pre-draft workouts. A long, athletic point guard with playmaking ability, sticky defense and great quickness, Payton isn’t a good shooter at this stage of his career, but compensates with his all-around game. Orlando has been expected to move veteran Jameer Nelson, clearing the way for a young, athletic, defensive-minded backcourt featuring Payton and rookie Victor Oladipo.

[RELATED: Bulls not the only team wheeling and dealing on draft night]

11. Chicago Bulls (via Denver Nuggets)
Doug McDermott, 6-foot-8 small forward, Creighton

The Bulls hit this one on the head, targeting a player who address the team’s primary need, outside shooting. For more analysis on McDermott, please see the separate story breaking down his game and how he fits in Chicago.

12. Philadelphia 76ers (via Orlando Magic)
Dario Saric, 6-foot-10 small forward, Croatia

After recently signing a contract with a pro team in Turkey, Saric won’t play in the NBA for at least two seasons, but that didn’t stop the dismal Sixers from selecting him. Despite having to wait for his services, Philadelphia should be encouraged by the point forward’s continued development in Europe, where he has evolved into one of the top players on the continent.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves
Zach LaVine, 6-foot-6 shooting guard, UCLA

LaVine’s explosiveness, shooting range and long-term ceiling made him one of the more intriguing draft prospects and while he might not see a lot of action at the outset of his career, his talent was too much to pass up for Minnesota. Whether or not he develops into a point guard, his preferred position, with floor general Ricky Rubio running the show is debatable, but he could be a piece to the puzzle if and when the Timberwolves begin their rebuilding process, assuming All-Star Kevin Love eventually leaves town. 

14. Phoenix Suns
T.J. Warren, 6-foot-8 small forward, North Carolina State

A unique, old-school scorer, Warren might be exactly what the run-and-gun Suns need, as opposed to another long-range shooter, pick-and-pop big man or jet-quick backcourt player. Possessing good size for his position, a mid-range game and back-to-the-basket skills, the reigning ACC player of the year should be able to produce right away in Phoenix. 

15. Atlanta Hawks
Adreian Payne, 6-foot-10 power forward, Michigan State

For the size-deficient Hawks, Payne is right up their alley, as he has the frame to handle playing inside, but fits the team’s philosophy with his deep shooting range. A solid potential fit next to Al Horford or in small-ball situations, Paul Millsap, expect Atlanta to insert the mature, athletic big man into the rotation immediately. 

16. Denver Nuggets (via Chicago Bulls)
Jusuf Nurkic, 6-foot-11 center, Bosnia

If he indeed plays in the NBA next season, as he’s reportedly indicated he’s eager to do, Nurkic’s size and bulk will give Denver a different element in their center rotation, currently consisting of JaVale McGee and Timofey Mozgov. A physical player with a mean streak and solid low-post game, the son of a giant police officer can serve as an enforcer on the court.

17. Boston Celtics
James Young, 6-foot-7 shooting guard, UCLA

Young still needs to refine various parts of his game, but the lefty’s potential could make him a key piece for Boston in time. Given that the Celtics don’t have a boatload of talent on the wing, Young will get the opportunity to show what he can do and assuming he improves the consistency of his jumper, his length and athleticism will make the youngster a fan favorite.

18. Phoenix Suns
Tyler Ennis, 6-foot-2 point guard, Syracuse

It wouldn’t be a stretch to consider Ennis an insurance policy against restricted free-agent point guard Eric Bledsoe leaving this summer, but even if he’s stuck behind both Bledsoe and Goran Dragic in the Suns’ rotation, the Canadian has the ability to contribute. Steady beyond his years and a natural playmaker, his talent is an asset for Phoenix, whether on the court or as a trade chip. 

19. Denver Nuggets (via Chicago Bulls)
Gary Harris, 6-foot-3 shooting guard, Michigan State

Although the Nuggets reacquired veteran shooting guard Arron Afflalo a day prior to the draft, Harris will also help what was shallow depth at the position last season. A solid two-way player, both his outside shooting and more importantly, his defense, can give Denver a sorely-needed boost in those departments. 

20. Toronto Raptors
Bruno Caboclo, 6-foot-9 small forward, Brazil

Easily the surprise pick of the draft, the Brazilian forward is a true international man of mystery, though his game was described after the fact as similar to Kevin Durant’s, probably due to his spindly frame and perimeter-oriented skill set. Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri is well-regarded around the league, but if Caboclo doesn’t pan out and more familiar names drafted after him end up acquitting themselves well, this selection could be held in infamy in the future.

[MORE: ESPN's Bill Simmons believes Carmelo Anthony signs with Bulls] 

21. Oklahoma City Thunder
Mitch McGary, 6-foot-10 power forward, Michigan

Despite missing most of last season due to a back injury, McGary secured a spot in the first round, giving the Thunder another rugged interior presence to go along with veteran center Kendrick Perkins and rookie Steven Adams.

22. Memphis Grizzlies
Jordan Adams, 6-foot-5 shooting guard, UCLA

One of the worst outside-shooting teams in the NBA, Memphis opted to upgrade in that department with Adams, who isn’t a high-level athlete, but is a natural scorer with a good feel for the game. 

23. Utah Jazz
Rodney Hood, 6-foot-8 shooting guard, Duke

Hood, a southpaw shooter with some versatility to his game, gives the Jazz more perimeter depth behind restricted free-agent swingman Gordon Hayward and should compete with shooting guard Alec Burks for minutes in Utah’s rotation. 

24. Miami Heat (via Charlotte Hornets)
Shabazz Napier, 6-foot-1 point guard, Connecticut

Miami selected Heat superstar LeBron James’ favorite college player and with veteran Mario Chalmers a free agent this summer, Napier, the star of the college national champions, could compete with backup Norris Cole for a starting job as a rookie. 

25. Houston Rockets
Clint Capela, 6-foot-10 power forward, Switzerland

While Capela has lots of potential, he has a long way to go before he can contribute, making him a prime draft-and-stash candidate for the Rockets, who are trying to lure the likes of James and Carmelo Anthony to Houston. 

26. Charlotte Hornets (via Miami Heat)
P.J. Hairston, 6-foot-6 shooting guard, D-League

An in-state product, Hairston’s impressive season with the Texas Legends was impressive after being dismissed from college due to off-court issues and now the talented, physically mature swingman joins a Hornets team that has a serious need for perimeter shooting, his specialty. 

27. Phoenix Suns
Bogdan Bogdanovic, 6-foot-5 shooting guard, Serbia

Regarded as one of the top young players in Europe, when Bogdanovic (not to be confused with the player of the same last name whose rights are owned by the Nets) comes to Phoenix, he’ll add shooting, underrated playmaking ability, experience and size to an already-loaded Suns backcourt. 

28. Los Angeles Clippers
C.J. Wilcox, 6-foot-5 shooting guard, Washington

With a playmaker like Chris Paul and inside presences like Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers can’t get enough shooting and Wilcox, an underrated four-year college player, excels in that aspect of the game. 

29. Oklahoma City Thunder
Josh Huestis, 6-foot-7 small forward, Stanford

An explosive athlete and defensive specialist, Huestis didn’t put up gaudy statistics in college, but has the ability to make a smooth transition into being an NBA role player, especially if he improves his offensive game. 

30. San Antonio Spurs
Kyle Anderson, 6-foot-9 small forward, UCLA

The Boris Diaw comparison is too easy, particularly because the Frenchman was much more athletic at the same age, but Anderson’s point-forward abilities, passing acumen and overall versatility just might be a perfect match for the Spurs’ team-oriented style of play.