By Angel L. Quiles Jr.
This Thursday at 8pm ET the N.B.A. will be introducing its newest members to the world. The N.B.A. draft will be taking place live from New York City, and it will be deep in talent. All the teams that were placed in the lottery (14 teams who did not make playoffs, or teams that hold draft rights from previous trades with teams that didn’t make the playoffs), this year have a chance to draft players than can make significant impacts in the 2014-2015 N.B.A. season. Moreover, teams that draft after the lottery teams have a strong chance to draft exceptional players. The depth in this draft is significant, and will play a major role in what trades are made and which free agents are signed during this off-season. Expect a lot of surprises on Thursday. The following are the Bleu Sports predictions on how the draft will play out:
1- Cleveland Cavilers- Trade 1st Pick to Orlando for 4th Pick- C- Joel Embiid- Kansas
Many experts think that because of the foot injury that lead to surgery for Kansas star center Joel Embiid. The Cavaliers will draft Kansas’s other star player guard Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins is talented, and there is no doubt that once he grows into his N.B.A. body he will be a force to be reckoned with. However, we have a feeling the Cavaliers have a trick up their sleeve. They will no doubt make a move for LeBron James, who has opted out of his contract with the Miami Heat. Therefore, look for the Cavs to trade their number one pick to the Orlando Magic for Arron Afflalo and the number four pick. Orlando would love nothing better than to acquire someone everyone thinks is the best player in the draft. The Cavs would receive a great supporting player, and a chance to draft Embiid without the pressure of doing it with the first overall pick.
2- Milwaukee Bucks- SF- Jabari Parker- Duke
Let’s face it the Bucks need to draft the best player available. Jabari Parker is that! He is an explosive talent with an N.B.A. ready body, and offensive game. This guy can flat out put the biscuit in the basket. Something the Bucks had a hard time doing last year. They averaged 95.5 points per game ranking them 28th. Experts think they may draft dynamic Australian point guard Dante Exum. However, Exum is an unknown. Therefore, if the Bucks are wise they will draft Parker who played and scored big points in the toughest conference in college basketball the ACC.
3- Philadelphia 76ers- PG- Dante Exum- Australia
This kid is explosive, and has an incredible first step. The Spurs proved this year that in order to win in this league you need interchangeable parts. In addition, you need players that are unselfish, and usually these players come from other parts of the world. A backcourt of Michael Carter-Williams and Dante Exum will give them a look, and feel that NBA teams aren’t used to. Two 6-6 guards who can dish, put the ball on the floor, and score.
4- Orlando Magic- Trade 4th pick for 1st pick – SG- Andrew Wiggins- Kansas
Andrew Wiggins is the sexy pick in the draft. The Orlando Magic will upgrade their backcourt and fan moral with this pick. Orlando with the sacrifice of Arron Afflalo and the fourth pick offers a great package for the Cavs to ponder. If the Cavs want to show LeBron they are for real, this may be the way to do it.
5- Utah Jazz- Noah Vonleh- PF- Indiana
An incredible defender, and rim protector at Indiana. Noah Vonleh gives the Jazz a big man who can patrol the paint. Something they were desperately missing in last years campaign. He is a bit rough around the edges and may need to develop his low post game. However, there is no doubt that anyone that penetrates the Utah lane will have a big surprise waiting for them.
6- Boston Celtics- PF- Aaron Gordon- Arizona
Rajon Rondo paging Rajon Rondo your help has arrived. Aaron Gordon is a beast. He has amazing hops, and is a finisher at the rim. He makes the Celtics an instant threat on the fast break, and will give their leader Rajon Rondo hope for a brighter future. The kid can also play defense and is adept and swatting weak stuff coming in the lane.
7- Los Angeles Lakers- PF- Julius Randle- Kentucky
Those Lakers sure know when to pick a good season to stink. Now Kobe has a big man he can work with. Randle is an absolute monster down low in the post, and has a N.B.A. ready physic. He will bring the Lakers instant toughness, and a big boy swagger. If Zach Randolph had a clone Julius Randle would be it.
8- Sacramento Kings- PG- Marcus Smart- Oklahoma State
The Kings had a little problem last year with a thing called defense. They could not keep any dribblers out of the lane, and were an absolute disaster. Enter Marcus Smart. This 6’3 point guard with a 6’9 wingspan will make certain that it will no longer be easy to mosey on down the lane next year. He should feel comfortable flying under the radar in Sacramento and thrive as a rookie.
9- Charlotte Hornets- SF- Doug McDermott- Creighton
This man can flat out score, and that is what the Hornets were lacking last season. Yes, they had a breakout year in which they surprisingly made the playoffs. However, they were whipped by the Heat in the post-season, and it was like they were playing in the Sahara by how dry their offense was. McDermott will definitely give them a go to sharp shooter.
10- Philadelphia 76ers- PF- Dario Saric- Croatia
Exports are the flavor of the N.B.A. right now, and this man brings some honey. Saric is a creative player down low, and gives the 76ers a presence in the paint they were missing all of last season.
11- Denver Nuggets- SG- P.J. Hairston- UNC/D-League
Hairston had problems off the court while at the University of North Carolina. However, he is explosive and can finish at the rim. Ty Lawson has been good on Denver. However, Hairston gives them size and the ability to defend the point guard position in the post, and on penetration.
12- Orlando Magic- SG- Gary Harris- Michigan State
This pick gives the Magic a well-rounded base of youngsters who can wreak havoc for years to come. Harris is a knockdown shooter from long range. Paired up with Wiggins and last years first round pick Victor Olidipo. The Magic has stars on the horizon, which are as athletic and talented as anyone in the N.B.A.
13- Minnesota Timberwolves- PF- Adreian Payne- Michigan State
The Wolves need size and athleticism. They need someone who can block shots, and make point guards think twice before coming in the lane. Moreover, who knows what’s going to happen with their star Kevin Love in the coming months. Therefore, this is good protection whether Love stays or not.
14- Phoenix Suns- SF- James Young- Kentucky
The last lottery pick goes to Phoenix and Young is wise beyond his years. As a freshman he scored 20 points in the NCAA title game, and showed his various skills at the small forward position. Something the Suns are lacking and need desperately.
15- Atlanta Hawks- SG- Nick Stauskas- Michigan
The Hawks did make the Playoffs last year but their record was 38-44. They did push the Indiana Pacers to the brink of elimination but they lacked strong bench play. Enter Nick Stauskas Michigan’s sharp shooting guard who can play the point or the shooting guard position. He should help the Hawks generate some offense off the bench.
16- Chicago Bulls- PG- Tyler Ennis- Syracuse
God only knows if Derrick Rose will stay on the floor next season. Ennis should give the Bulls insurance in case Rose goes down again. In addition, he gives them a clutch player who knows how to distribute the ball, and who doesn’t shy away from big moments. Something he showed in the ACC conference making dazzling game ending shots.
17- Boston Celtics- PG- Zack Lavine- U.C.L.A.
Boston can’t afford to have their super star Rajon Rondo on the court 48 minutes per game. Lavine has the ability to score and pass the ball as well as anyone in this draft. He should give second year coach Brad Stevens a viable point guard option off the bench.
18- Phoenix Suns- PF- Jarnell Stokes- Duke
He is undersized for a power forward because he is listed at 6’8 and 241 pounds. However, it may be an advantage for the Suns because they are a team that likes to run up and down the floor, and Stokes can definitely get jiggy with that style of play.
19- Chicago Bulls- SG- Rodney Hood- Duke
Hood is a tough player who will fit in nicely with the Bulls tough group. The knowledge and discipline he learned playing under legendary head coach Mike Krzwzewski should transition well with Tom Thibodeau. Hood also has an innate ability to score and score in many ways. Something the Bulls desperately lacked last season in the absence of Derrick Rose.
20- Toronto Raptors- SF- Cleanthony Early- Wichita State
Early was a prime time player on the Shockers. A team that went undefeated in the regular season last year. He was nightmare for defenders, and led his team in scoring. The Raptors need someone Kyle Lowry can dish the ball to besides Demar Derozan. Early should fit well at the small forward position along side Derozan and Lowry.
21- Oklahoma City Thunder- C- Jusuf Nurkic- Bosnia
If there was anything the Thunder were missing last season that was highlighted by the San Antonio Spurs offensive machine. It was size. Nurkic should take a while to get comfortable with the N.B.A. game. However, once he gets his feet wet he will be able to take the defensive load off Serge Ibaka’s shoulders in the paint.
22- Memphis Grizzlies- SF- Jeremy Grant- Syracuse
Memphis will be taking a huge risk with this small forward because he’s shot isn’t developed yet. However, the Grizzlies need athleticism and this boy can jump through the roof.
23- Utah Jazz- PG- Elfrid Payton- Louisiana-Lafayette
Payton is a brilliant defender, and does an amazing job of getting into the passing lanes. Proven by his 2.3 steals per game average at Louisiana-Lafayette. However, he needs to develop his offensive game, and until he does he will be the back-up point guard on the Jazz.
24- Charlotte Hornets- PF- Kyle Anderson- U.C.L.A.
There is a weight question with this 6’9 power forward from U.C.L.A. Nonetheless, if he can find a way to get in N.B.A. shape. His offensive skills, and passing ability should be enough to get him some minutes on the Hornets.
25- Houston Rockets- SG- C.J. Wilcox- Washington
Wilcox has the ability to make a strong impact for the Rockets, and could be the steal of the N.B.A. draft. He is a knock down shooter with a fit body. If he shows up ready he can give James Harden extra rest during the season. Which will be important if the Rockets want to make a legitimate run at the Finals.
26- Miami Heat- PG- Shabazz Napier- UConn
Never sleep on undersized UConn point guards. Evident by what Kemba Walker has been able to do in the league. However, his show boating antics and attitude may be something Eric Spolstra may need to curb. Nevertheless, Napier has amazing ball handling skills, can knock down his mid-range jumper, and led the UConn Huskies to the NCAA title this past year.
27- Phoenix Suns- SF- K.J. McDaniels- Clemson
Yes the Suns do pick again, and K.J. McDaniels will be a great addition if drafted. He also likes to run up and down the floor making him perfect for the frenetic pace the Suns like to play. McDaniels is a tremendous athlete, and should help bring some defense to the small forward position for the Suns.
28- Los Angeles Clippers- PF- Clint Capela- Switzerland
We don’t know who the owner of the Clippers will be officially next season. What we do know is Clint Capela will add another dynamic big man to the Clippers already stout front-line. Capela will be a work in progress but you can’t teach height, and this big-man has already shown in Europe that he has game.
29- Oklahoma City Thunder- SF- T.J. Warren- N.C. State
Warren doesn’t have the greatest upside, and is still learning about himself as a player but he can put the ball in the hole. He shot 69.7% around the rim in the rough ACC conference, and was one of the bright spots for N.C. State this year. If he can develop his game in the off-season, T.J. could be a decent replacement for Thabo Sepholosha who may leave as a free agent.
30- San Antonio Spurs- PF- Mitch McGary- Michigan
Mitch is not the prototypical Spurs guy. He has gotten in trouble due to marijuana use at Michigan and was suspended for a year. Nonetheless, Duncan is aging and McGary might be the Band-Aid if Duncan were to miss any action this upcoming season.
Enjoy the draft where the fate of every team could change in an instant.