By: William Harrison
Two weeks have now passed since we last saw the San Antonio Spurs dismantle the Miami Heat to win their fifth championship. Today, it will be time for the winners to put the champagne down as the 2014 NBA Draft commences. For the 29 other teams, it’s a chance to build their roster in hopes of attaining that coveted NBA trophy in the future.
Entering draft week, there was some incredibly sad news when Baylor’s Isaiah Austin had to retire from competitive basketball due to his Marfan syndrome diagnosis. The NBA has a plan to honor the once projected lottery pick during Thursday’s event in Brooklyn.
All Eyes on Cleveland
Once the draft begins at 7 p.m., everyone will be looking to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs are still reaping the benefits of losing LeBron James to the Miami Heat in the 2010 free agency period. They’ve mastered the art of the ping pong ball three out of the four springs. However, Cleveland finally has a chance to replace King James at the forward position.
Now this is where opinions will differ completely. Up until a week ago, Kansas center Joel Embiid was the clear cut No. 1 pick. Unfortunately, after sustaining a back injury during his freshman campaign, Embiid broke his navicular bone and was operated on less than a week before his name was to be called.
Now Cleveland is likely to choose between the No. 1 and No. 2 players coming out of high school in 2013. If the Cavaliers are looking to take the best basketball player, they will snatch up Jabari Parker over Andrew Wiggins.
Regardless of which player is picked first, both players are almost a lock to go in the top three picks. In fact, it’s been reported that Jabari Parker is a lock for the Milwaukee Bucks at the second pick.
76ers Have Options
The Philadelphia 76ers have the No. 3 pick and they can go in plenty of directions during tonight’s proceedings. With two picks in the top 10, expect Philadelphia to take Dante Exum (if he’s around) with the third pick. He can be a great fit with Michael Carter-Williams in the backcourt. It’s a risk reward selection, but it could pay great dividends.
Later in the Draft…
The Orlando Magic has been stockpiling talent as of late and they’ll have another opportunity to get a highly touted prospect. While the Magic already have a nice young front court, they’ll have options at their choosing. Orlando can take Joel Embiid if he’s still available, or they can get another “pick-n-pop” sweet-shooting big man with Noah Vonleh.
The Utah Jazz have the fifth pick in the draft. The Jazz need a lot of help, so their options should be wide open as the draft unfolds. They’ll look to get more athletic in the front court, and if Vonleh is still available, expect him to head to Salt Lake City.
Boston Celtics have the sixth pick and what they need is time to mature. Maybe they are making a play for Kevin Love, but it would be fun to see a player like Aaron Gordon in Celtic green.
The Los Angeles Lakers will have a chance to get either Julius Randle, Marcus Smart or Doug McDermott. All three players were box office attractions in the 2014 college basketball season.
Once we get to the eighth pick, expect trade rumors to start circulating. We may see certain players changing hats before they get comfortable with their new team. Nik Stauskas could find his way to Philadelphia, but that will really make the 76ers guard heavy. They could also take a look at Michigan State’s Adreian Payne.
Five Sleeper Moves on Draft Night
The Miami Heat are trying to make a jump into the teens via trade. Their sole purpose is to select Shabazz Napier out of UCONN.
The San Antonio Spurs will find away to select another sharpshooter late in the first round. We’ll all ask how it happened again.
Inevitably, one of the projected lottery picks will slide.
If Doug McDermott doesn’t get drafted by the Lakers, the Charlotte Hornets will select him with the 9th pick.
P.J. Hairston should be a lock to be in the first round. Yet, it will be a shock if he’s taken in the top 15 due to off the court issues. He lit up the NBDL and might be ready to contribute from game 1.
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