NBA Draft: Pick-by-Pick Analysis
By Brandon Lawrence
New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - As selections are made, we'll provide pick- by-pick analysis for the entire first round of the NBA draft as it plays out Thursday night in New York.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Andrew Wiggins (SF, Kansas)
Cleveland did a great job Thursday night of keeping its cards to its chest leading up to the draft start. But the Cavs, who selected No. 1 overall for the second straight year and the third time in four years, ended up settling on Wiggins. Both Wiggins and Duke's Jabari Parker were considered for the pick. Wiggins has amazing potential and freak athleticism, and will develop to the NBA game with some time and experience. He's a star in the transition game, and pairing him with Kyrie Irving will make for an unbelievably dynamic tandem.
2. Milwaukee Bucks - Jabari Parker (SF/PF, Duke)
It was either going to be Wiggins or Parker for the Bucks, who take the already polished Parker from Duke with the second pick. Parker is an agile big man who is a serious scoring threat from outside, inside, and can dominate both the offensive and defensive glass. The pick makes sense for Milwaukee, since Parker grew up and developed his game 80 miles from the city before enrolling at Duke. Like Wiggins, Parker is likely to step in and become an immediate factor for a Bucks team hungry for some sense of direction.
3. Philadelphia 76ers - Joel Embiid (C, Kansas)
Embiid was regarded as the best prospect in this draft class (and still is in terms of talent potential), but injury concerns following a fractured foot arose for Embiid a few weeks ago. The Cavaliers were rumored to be enamored with Embiid before the injury, but dropped him in their rankings for obvious reasons. Embiid, if healthy, can be a dominant force both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball underneath the basket. He's quick and a very strong athlete for a 7-footer, and has already developed post moves that draw comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon. Pairing him with Nerlens Noel in Philadelphia (assuming they can both remain healthy) could make for a scary forward combo. Talk about giants under the basket.
4. Orlando Magic - Aaron Gordon (SF/PF, Arizona)
This is somewhat of a surprise pick, since many had Dante Exum pegged as the potential fourth overall pick. Instead of going with a guard combo of Exum and Victor Oladipo, the Magic decided on the freakishly athletic combo forward Gordon. He is one of the top athletes in this draft, and is a terrific defender. Gordon is strong in the transition game and can move well to the basket for a forward. Needs to develop his outside shot, but Orlando will enjoy using him running the floor this upcoming season.
5. Utah Jazz - Dante Exum (PG/SG, Australia)
The Jazz will gladly take Exum with this pick. The young, extremely coordinated guard played in Australia this past season, and absolutely dominated the competition. He can score seemingly at will, and uses his great size (6-foot-6) for a guard to his advantage in the passing game. He's a combo guard that averaged over 19 points per game that also handled the ball a majority of the time. Utah will love to put him with Trey Burke, which can make for a dynamic scoring duo at the guard positions.
6. Boston Celtics - Marcus Smart (PG, Oklahoma State)
The board fell apart for the Celtics in the first five picks. They really wanted Aaron Gordon before the Magic swiped him up. The selection of Smart raises some questions about Rajon Rondo's future in Boston. Smart is a very bulky, very athletic guard who had some troubles with his attitude this past season. But his competitiveness is unquestioned, and he uses that mentality and physical ability to score and dish the ball. We'll see in the coming weeks what the Celtics' plan will be in regards to trades and offseason moves. Either way, Boston just received one of the better prospects in the draft.
7. Los Angeles Lakers - Julius Randle (PF, Kentucky)
Randle was the best available player at this pick, so it makes plenty of sense for the Lakers to take him. As a lefty, Randle will present matchup problems for defenders in the low post. But that's not all Randle can do. He's extremely athletic and can draw defenders outside, where he's been known to beat them off the dribble. Needs to work on his defensive skills, but he'll immediately make the Lakers a better squad in 2014-15. There's a lot of growth potential, and in Los Angeles playing for the Lakers, the sky's the limit for Randle.
8. Sacramento Kings - Nik Stauskas (SG, Michigan)
The eighth pick seems like a bit of a reach for Stauskas, but the Kings are in desperate need for scoring, and Stauskas can deliver that statistic. With the future of Ben McLemore in Sacramento in question following trade rumors, Stauskas can be inserted in the lineup at shooting guard. He's one of the best outside shooters in this draft class, and improved significantly between his freshman and sophomore years. Defense is a questionable trait for Stauskas, but he'll provide a spark in the scoring department for the Kings next season.
9. Charlotte Hornets - Noah Vonleh (PF, Indiana)
The (brief) slide for Vonleh is no more. The Hornets take Vonleh with the ninth pick, which, depending on his development, could prove to be a value pick. Vonleh has massive upside and a long, built frame that includes a 7- foot-4 wingspan and giant hands. Vonleh is very athletic and could be a serious scoring threat in the post with some time. Charlotte could use a strong scoring threat down low.
10. Philadelphia 76ers - Elfrid Payton (PG, Louisiana)
Payton was poised to be a sneaky mid-round pick in the first round, but the Sixers decided not to gamble with another player here to take someone they thought has a huge upside. Payton is a point guard, so we'll see what that does for the status of Michael Carter-Williams. But Payton proved this past season he can be a strong scorer and a great distributor. He needs to improve his outside shot (much like Carter-Williams), but he's a strong finisher at the rim. Payton also is one of the better defenders in this class, and was at the top of the nation in steals per game in 2013-14 at Louisiana.
UPDATE: Payton has been traded to Orlando for the rights to Dario Saric, the 12th overall pick. The Sixers also get a 2015 second-round pick in the deal.
11. Denver Nuggets - Doug McDermott (SF/PF, Creighton)
There goes Dougie McBuckets. "The Nuggets take McBuckets" is your headline. The Nuggets went with McDermott, who led the NCAA in scoring this past season, averaging well over 20 points per contest, with the 11th pick. There were plenty of questions raised about his size and how he'll be able to guard some of the bigger power forwards in the NBA, but there's no questioning his shooting and scoring ability.
UPDATE: McDermott has been traded to the Chicago Bulls for the 16th and the 19th picks in the draft.
12. Orlando Magic - Dario Saric (PF/C, Croatia)
Saric, along with Exum, is one of the top international prospects in the draft. The issue is that Saric is staying in Croatia to play and develop for the next two years, so this pick equates to Orlando stashing away future players (or trade chips). Saric is a big player (6-foot-10) and has very strong post skills and also a bit of an outside game offensively. Assuming his game comes along, Saric could be a feared power forward in the NBA in a few seasons.
UPDATE: The rights to Saric have been traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for Elfrid Payton.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves - Zach LaVine (PG/SG, UCLA)
LaVine is one of the most explosive and dominant athletes in the draft, but needs to develop his all-around game transitioning to the NBA. He'll provide Minnesota with highlight-reel dunks and athletic plays, but won't be a deadly shooter from outside or a lockdown defender. The Wolves made this pick with the idea that LaVine can provide a spark off the bench when needed, but won't be counted on to provide clutch plays. He's a lanky guard which could provide matchup issues for defenders trying to match him.
14. Phoenix Suns - T.J. Warren (SF, N.C. State)
Warren was an absolute monster for the Wolfpack in 2013-14 in terms of scoring. He doesn't have extremely long range, but he was a sure thing from mid range. Led the ACC in scoring and in field goal percentage this past season, and the Suns will gladly take his offensive talent for the young up- and-coming Phoenix squad.
15. Atlanta Hawks - Adreian Payne (PF, Michigan State)
Payne is one of the older players in the draft, and has four years of college playing experience under his belt. He's an extremely athletic power forward who has strong post moves, but has the ability to shoot 3-pointers and draw his defenders outside. Defensively, Payne is long and can alter shots. Plays with intensity and drive. Pairing him with Paul Millsap should make for a formidable frontcourt in Atlanta.
16. Chicago Bulls - Jusuf Nurkic (C, Bosnia)
This pick of Nurkic will likely go to Denver following a pending trade with Chicago that also included Doug McDermott. Nurkic, only 19 years old, is 6- foot-11 and has great qualities for a center still developing. He runs the floor well for a big man, and uses his lengthy wingspan well on defense. His post moves can blossom eventually with more practice.
UPDATE: The rights to Nurkic have been traded to Denver in exchange for Doug McDermott.
17. Boston Celtics - James Young (SG, Kentucky)
Young was one of the targets for the Celtics at this second first-round selection, though with Michigan State's Gary Harris - a proven scorer - still on the board the choice is a bit of a head-scratcher. But Young has a vast upside and an already strong outside shot. He showed his explosive ability in his one year at Kentucky by finishing strong at the rim (he's a left-handed player) and utilizing his solid pull-up jumper. Development pending, Young has a very high ceiling.
18. Phoenix Suns - Tyler Ennis (PG, Syracuse)
Ennis proved his ability in his one year at Syracuse, and his maturity levels showed in that one season. Ennis averaged almost six assists per game for the Orange in 2013-14, but was more than just a passer and a defender. He can score with a strong outside shot and an ability to finish at the rim. Phoenix clearly wanted to up its scoring numbers with Warren and Ennis as its first two first-round selections.
19. Chicago Bulls - Gary Harris (SG, Michigan State)
Like the 16th pick, this one for Chicago will also likely be sent to Denver. Harris slipped a bit in the first round; he was a projected lottery pick. But he's a very strong scorer that was a key member of the Michigan State team this past season. He spent some time on the injury list, but when healthy, Harris can be a dominant player with the ball in his hands. Denver gets a steal this late.
UPDATE: Harris has been traded to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Doug McDermott.
20. Toronto Raptors - Bruno Caboclo (PF, Brazil)
Who? What? What's happening here? It's safe to say no one saw this pick coming. Of course, that's not to say this is a terrible pick for the Raptors (though it is a swing-for-the-fences selection). Caboclo is unbelievably raw and needs years of development before he can be anywhere close to NBA ready. Apparently Toronto thinks its can wait. Caboclo is an amazing athlete, but not a basketball player yet. Surprise pick for the Raptors with players like Shabazz Napier still on the board.
21. Oklahoma City Thunder - Mitch McGary (C, Michigan)
The Thunder, searching for more help in the low post, took a chance with Mitch McGary at 21. McGary missed most of the 2013-14 season with a back injury, and was facing a potential suspension from Michigan for testing positive for marijuana had he stayed for another year in Ann Arbor. But McGary showed his true potential two seasons ago for the Wolverines, and he can be a strong center for an NBA squad assuming he stays healthy and out of trouble.
22. Memphis Grizzlies - Jordan Adams (SG, UCLA)
Adams is a good pick for Memphis, which could use some more help in terms of scoring. Adams is a pure shooter that can also get to the rim and finish off the dribble. He was part of a strong trio of guards at UCLA this past season along with Zach LaVine and Kyle Anderson. Adams was the stronger all-around basketball player of the three.
23. Utah Jazz - Rodney Hood (SG/SF, Duke)
The Jazz have significantly upgraded the team's backcourt in this draft. Hood slipped into the early 20s after being projected in the mid- to late-teens. He's a strong scorer from the outside with a pure shot, and is a vocal leader on the court. Adding Exum and Hood to a lineup with Trey Burke could prove to be a huge boost for Utah. If Gordon Hayward leaves, Hood could be a viable replacement.
24. Charlotte Hornets - Shabazz Napier (PG, UConn)
Shabazz, I believe you're acquainted with Kemba Walker? The two players won a championship together at UConn and are reunited in Charlotte. Napier may be small, but he's a true leader that put his 2013-14 UConn team on his shoulders en route to a national championship. He's a feisty player both on defense and on offense, is a strong scorer and a very hard worker. He upped his passing game and court vision this past season, too.
UPDATE: The reunion for Shabazz with Kemba Walker was short-lived. Napier was traded to Miami in exchange for P.J. Hairston.
25. Houston Rockets - Clint Capela (PF, Switzerland)
Capela is a big forward (6-foot-11) that, like other foreign players, needs a bit of development in order to transition to the NBA game. Capela is a strong rebounder and plays with tenacity. Houston likely made this selection to avoid a serious cap hit, since the Rockets are on the books with large contracts for Dwight Howard and James Harden.
26. Miami Heat - P.J. Hairston (SG, Texas Legends D-League)
Hairston left the North Carolina program early due to off-the-court issues, but was able to play in the NBA's Developmental League this past season. Was the fourth-leading scorer with the Texas Legends at 21.8 points per game. He needs to work on improving his defense. This pick will likely be sent to Charlotte, pending the league accepting the Shabazz Napier trade to Miami. Hairston will help Kemba Walker in the scoring department in Charlotte if the trade goes through.
UPDATE: Hairston was traded to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Shabazz Napier.
27. Phoenix Suns - Bogdan Bogdanovic (SG/SF, Serbia)
The Suns go with Bogdanovic with their third first-round selection. The Euro League's Rising Star Award winner, Bogdanovic is ready to play in the NBA now after starring on his Partizan Belgrade team. This is another move by Phoenix to acquire some more scoring, which they have by the truck loads now after selecting Warren, Ennis and Bogdanovic. The Serbian player can be a nightmare for opposing defenders by using his size (6-foot-6) and power to crash to the rim.
28. Los Angeles Clippers - C.J. Wilcox (SG, Washington)
This is a pretty bad pick for the Clippers, who really could've used another post man that specializes on the defensive end. But instead, the Clippers go with (another) 3-point shooting specialist. Apparently they didn't think they have that already in J.J. Reddick and Jamal Crawford. Wilcox is also something of a one-trick pony. He can shoot the lights out, but the rest of his game needs work. The selection seems like more of an impulse choice rather than a pick to fill a need.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder - Josh Huestis (SF, Stanford)
The pick of Huestis comes as a bit of a surprise, since he was largely considered a second-round talent. But the Stanford senior is a very strong defender with a 7-foot-1 wingspan that OKC wasn't willing to overlook. He has leadership experience and works very hard, but will need to develop more of an offensive game. Granted, in Oklahoma City, the offense is pretty much accounted for in other players currently there.
30. San Antonio Spurs - Kyle Anderson (SG/SF, UCLA)
The Spurs are a team fluent in drafting quality late-round players that can come in and contribute right away by utilizing certain strengths. Anderson is a matchup nightmare as a 6-foot-9 guard/small forward combo. He's not a fantastic shooter or a strong defender, but he can do a little bit of everything sufficiently well. He, like Zach LaVine, is a super athlete that can produce highlight after highlight. Following a championship season, the Spurs used their last-of-the-first-round pick very wisely to upgrade their lineup and push toward youth and athleticism.
06/26 23:52:20 ET