With the 2014 NBA Draft over, the biggest winners were the teams that selected in the top three- as the top three prospects are franchise-changing players.
Cleveland Cavaliers (Andrew Wiggins): The Cleveland Cavaliers selected first and gained the player I believed was the top prospect in the draft in Andrew Wiggins.
At the conclusion of the college basketball season, scouts and fans were underwhelmed by Wiggins, particularly by the fact that he was compared to LeBron James entering college and didn’t meet the expectations.
Wiggin’s weaknesses were more about inconsistency and a lack of maturity on the offensive side of the ball, but at 18 years old, these things are understandable.
His combination of size(6’8) and athleticism package(44-inch vertical) proved too hard to pass up for Cleveland and the fact the he can become a defensive stopper and has the work ethic to improve on the offensive end made this year’s number one pick for the Cleveland Cavaliers a no-brainer.
Milwaukee Bucks (Jabari Parker): The second pick of the NBA Draft was another home run for the Milwaukee Bucks as Jabari Parker is an offensive machine. He can score inside and out, and was the standout freshman during the 2013-14 season.
The biggest weakness in Parker’s game is on the defensive end, but this can be offset with Milwaukee’s strengths on the defensive end in Larry Sanders, John Henson and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
With Parker, the Bucks have a consistent scorer who should come into the league straight away and be Milwaukee’s leading scorer and is the early pre-season favorite for Rookie of the Year.
Philadelphia 76ers (Joel Embiid): the Cameroon-born Joel Embiid went third to the Philadelphia 76ers, was originally considered the top prospect in this year’s NBA Draft by many scouts before breaking his foot during workouts.
Fortunately for the 76ers, injuries have now allowed them to draft the best big men consecutively from the 2013 NBA Draft in Nerlens Noel and Embiid from the 2014 NBA Draft. Although Embiid is likely to be out for most of next season, it is rare to get the opportunity to draft a player his size who shows potential on both ends of the floor.
I also liked what the Philadelphia 76ers did with their overall draft, trading for Dario Saric, a good playmaker on the low block, K.J McDaniels and Jermai Grant, potentially forming a great defensive perimeter combination.
Utah Jazz (Dante Exum): I also liked what the Utah Jazz did in drafting Dante Exum to play in the backcourt with Trey Burke, which takes the pressure off Exum to play immediately and gives him time to develop his shot and learn the NBA game.
I also liked what they did with their second first round pick in Rodney Hood, a lottery talent who dropped to them with the 23 pick. He’s a guy who will come in and contribute straight away on the offensive end.
Toronto Raptors (Bruno Caboclo): The biggest shock of the draft was the Toronto Raptors selecting Bruno Caboclo. If they wanted to go with a small forward, Cleanthony Early was available and a better value with the 20th pick than Caboclo.
Clearly, the Raptors wanted a point guard in the first round as they set their sights on local product, Tyler Ennis formerly of Syracuse—who the Phoenix Suns selected 18th—even if point guard was the position they wanted at 20, the Raptors missed out on UCLA’s Kyle Anderson was also available.
Orlando Magic (Aaron Gordon): Another team I thought didn’t do a good job was the Orlando Magic in reaching for Arizona’s Aaron Gordon at No. 4, particularly with the fact he has no true position and projects as more of a role player.
If they wanted to go with a true power forward, Indiana’s Noah Vonleh was available and would have been a better value pick. He has shown more potential as a stretch four and is a better rebounder.
I also felt the trade for Elfrid Payton was a mistake particularly pairing him with Victor Oladipo, two non-shooters in the backcourt which will create an unbalance within the Magic.
Sacramento Kings (Nik Stauskas): I also thought the Sacramento Kings had a poor draft. I mean why would they pick Nik Stauskas? They drafted Ben McLemore in last year’s draft (who plays in the same position as Stauskas) and they already have Rudy Gay on their roster, who has picked up his option for next season and has a similar skill set to these guys.
What makes it even more disappointing for Kings fans is Noah Vonleh was available at this spot in the draft and would have fixed a position the Kings have a glaring weakness at.
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