Lakers Nation 2014 NBA Mock Draft: Week 17
1. Milwaukee Bucks (10-45): Jabari Parker (Duke) – Something like 34 percent of lottery selections from 2004 to 2008 are out of the league already and Parker has the highest floor of any prospect by a mile.
2. Philadelphia 76ers (15-41): Joel Embiid (Kansas) – GMs looking for a high ceiling player need not look further as Embiid is a top notch prospect who has been playing basketball for just three years. His offensive development has been nothing short of astonishing and he has drawn comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon.
3. Orlando Magic (17-41): Andrew Wiggins (Kansas) – Wiggins has unquestionably faced growing pains this season, but his reputation has tended to magnify his struggles. The truth lies somewhere in between as he has certainly still been one of the country’s most impressive freshmen.
4. Boston Celtics (19-38): Dante Exum (Australia) – Scouts project Exum as a point guard at the next level largely due to his developed ball handling and passing. His excellent length for the position (he stands 6’6”), is just the cherry on top.
5. Los Angeles Lakers (19-37): Julius Randle (Kentucky) – Despite having trouble taking care of the ball, Randle is a bruising forward who can score and rebound with the best of them. He recorded a double double in his first seven games at Kentucky and has, at times, looked like a man among boys.
6. Utah Jazz (19-36): Noah Vonleh (Indiana) – Unlike most forward-centers coming out of college, Vonleh has legitimate NBA size. He has been extraordinarily productive in limited minutes and GMs are always ready to roll the dice on big men.
7. Sacramento Kings (20-36): Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State) - Smart’s lack of a consistent jump shot is the single biggest reason that talent evaluators are divided on him. His sub 30 percent three point field goal percentage over nearly two seasons is alarming, but he remains an elite prospect if only for his physicality and tenacious on ball defense.
8. Denver Nuggets from New York Knicks (21-35): Gary Harris (Michigan State) - The state of the shooting guard position in the league is a big reason why Harris is ranked so high. He projects as a prototypical two, but his shot has been streaky this year and GMs will look for him to regain the form he showed in his freshman season.
9. Cleveland Cavaliers (22-35): Tyler Ennis (Syracuse) - Rocking just a 1.6 turnover per game average, Ennis does not look like a freshman floor general. He is plenty adept at dishing the rock, but he will have to show greater ability at generating his own offense to merit a high pick.
10. Charlotte Bobcats from Detroit Pistons (23-33): Aaron Gordon (Arizona) - While Gordon is an athletic specimen, he is a classic tweener as a power forward stuck in an NBA small forward’s body. He will need to improve his shooting as his chances of success in the league looks a lot better at small forward.
11. Philadelphia 76ers from New Orleans Pelicans (23-32): Dario Saric (Croatia) - Courtesy of strong ball handling and passing ability at his 6’10” frame, Saric has the potential to be a matchup nightmare as a point forward in the league. Like most European prospects though, he desperately needs to add weight to his slight frame.
12. Orlando Magic from Denver Nuggets (25-30): Zach LaVine (UCLA) - LaVine does not project as a true point guard as he lacks inherent court vision and passing instincts. That being said, he is a young player who already does a tremendous job handling and taking care of the basketball to the tune of just 1.2 turnovers a game.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves (27-29): Jerami Grant (Syracuse) - Like Gordon, Grant will be a tweener at the NBA level. More importantly though, he is an NBA caliber athlete and the progress he’s made on his jump shot has been encouraging.
14. Memphis Grizzlies (31-24): Rodney Hood (Duke) - Hood has largely been overshadowed by the hype that follows his teammate Jabari Parker, but he has been a sensational player for the Blue Devils and undoubtedly has a place in the league as an excellent shooter.
15. Atlanta Hawks (26-29): Doug McDermott (Creighton) - Through nearly four years at Creighton, McDermott has never averaged less than 50 percent from the field or 40 percent from three in any one season. He is college basketball’s premier scorer and while he lacks athleticism, he is a smart player and a deadeye shooter, both of which are characteristics that NBA franchises value at a premium.
16. Chicago Bulls from Charlotte Bobcats (27-30): Nik Stauskas (Michigan) - Stauskas may be the best pure shooter in the draft, but he is fully capable of scoring in a multitude of other ways and has shown that this season.
17. Boston Celtics from Brooklyn Nets (26-28): Clint Capela (Switzerland) - At 6’10”, Capela has the size and length to make a defensive impact in the league someday. As of now, he is a very raw player, but GMs are enamored with his explosiveness and athleticism.
18. Phoenix Suns from Washington Wizards (28-28): K.J. McDaniels (Clemson) - The only Clemson player averaging double figures in scoring, McDaniels has become a reliable scorer despite facing defensive schemes designed to stop him. He is an electrifying player that boasts elite athleticism, making him a promising two-way prospect.
19. Chicago Bulls (29-26): James Young (Kentucky) - Despite shooting just 41.3 percent from the field and 33.5 percent from beyond the arc, Young is the Wildcats’ leading shot taker. GMs will consider him here if only for his defense and his reputation as a shooter, but he could see his stock fall fast if his shooting woes persist.
20. Toronto Raptors (31-25): Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky) - In just 24.5 minutes a contest, Cauley-Stein is swatting an average of three shots. He has the physical tools to be an NBA big and GMs are captivated by his defensive potential.
21. Dallas Mavericks (34-23): Adreian Payne (Michigan State) - At the college level, Payne is a physical, bruising power forward, but talent evaluators are intrigued by his potential as a stretch four. This season, he has shot the rock at over 44 percent from beyond the arc on a healthy three attempts per game.
22. Phoenix Suns (33-22): Montrezl Harrell (Louisville) - Harrell is an undersized, albeit effective forward who has largely been used as a role player in his time with the Cardinals. Should he declare for the draft this year, his tireless motor and elite athleticism should be enough for a team to take a flyer on him at this point.
23. Utah Jazz from Golden State Warriors (34-22): P.J. Hairston (Texas Legends, NBA D-League) - Hairston’s antics at North Carolina and other off-court issues are what makes GMs hesitant about him. Even so, he remains a strong prospect who possesses legitimate NBA range and size at the shooting guard position.
24. Los Angeles Clippers (38-20): Kyle Anderson (UCLA) - Though he lacks elite athleticism, Anderson is a smooth and skilled player who projects as an NBA point forward. He is a wizard offensively and he even holds his own on the glass, but his slight frame keeps him from being even an average defender.
25. Charlotte Bobcats from Portland Trailblazers (38-18): Wayne Selden, Jr. (Kansas) - With Wiggins and Embiid garnering all the attention, Selden has flown under the radar. He is the sort of rare freshman who plays within the flow of the offense and he possesses a strong all-around game that will develop as he shoulders a bigger load.
26. Houston Rockets (38-18): C.J. Wilcox (Washington) - Wilcox is an excellent athlete and a polished shooter who should make a quick impact in the league. He is, however, already 23 years old, which will certainly make some GMs tentative.
27. San Antonio Spurs (40-16): Glenn Robinson III (Michigan) - Coming off the heels of a monster freshman season, Robinson’s production has leveled off some and his efficiency has fallen. Nonetheless, he remains a high upside pick with his NBA pedigree and above the rim style of play.
28. Miami Heat (40-14): Russ Smith (Louisville) - Smith is a combo guard who can score in bunches with the best of them and he has improved his efficiency significantly this season. He is best suited as a third guard in the NBA where he can be inserted to give his team’s offense a lift.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder (43-14): Mitch McGary (Michigan) - The breakout player of last year’s tournament, McGary has been unable to produce at those unsustainable levels in the eight games he’s played this season. Still, I believe he will be an effective player who can give his team twenty good minutes a night at the next level.
30. Phoenix Suns from Indiana Pacers (42-13): Shabazz Napier (Connecticut) - Napier has an excellent all-around game, but his size will be an issue at the next level. Both his game and his swagger remind me a lot of his ex-teammate Kemba Walker and he would be wise to follow Walker’s lead as he will face many of the same challenges as a pro.
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