With the 2014 NBA Draft a little over a week away we finally have enough clarity, in regards to who worked out for whom and other logistical things of that nature, to try and predict how things will turn out. Most of the analysis in this mock will be focused on the Boston Celtics, but I’ll still make picks for the rest of the first round in order to determine what the Celtics’ board may look like when they’re on the clock.
There are no trades in this mock, though I definitely think the Celtics are shopping both their first-rounders, even if a deal doesn’t necessarily include Kevin Love.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
5. Utah Jazz: Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia
I’m extremely confident that these are going to be the first five guys taken. With that being said, I am not so confident on that being the order. I think Exum could go as high as No. 2, especially if some bad news about Embiid’s health pops up in the next week. Regardless of Embiid’s status I think Wiggins goes No. 1. His upside as a perimeter player in the modern NBA is simply too much for a team like the Cavaliers, which lost a superstar years ago (LeBron James) and are facing the possibility of losing another (Kyrie Irving) very soon, to pass up. Everyone is mocking Exum to the Magic, but Vonleh fills a bigger need and has rocketed up draft boards in the last two months.
6. Celtics: Aaron Gordon, SF/PF, Arizona
This where the draft really starts to get interesting and unpredictable. There have been a couple of reports out there saying that Danny Ainge is locked into Gordon if he’s on the board here. I don’t buy it. Every year we hear tons of talk about GMs being “locked into” a player and more times than not those reports prove false. Even if Ainge is 100 percent set on Gordon, why would he tell ESPN or Yahoo about it? And if he did, he’s just blowing smoke. The Celtics don’t want to show all their cards before the draft even starts. That’s just dumb team-managing.
However, if the draft plays out this way I believe Gordon is the pick. He would immediately make the Celtics significantly better on defense and provide an athletic element their current front court lacks with Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk. This rebuilding process is going to take longer than one or two years, so the Celtics can afford to try and develop Gordon much like the Indiana Pacers did with Paul George. He has that kind of upside if he can develop his skills. He’s still 18 and had the fastest shuttle time of ALL players at the combine despite standing 6-foot-9.
10. 76ers: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky
12. Magic: Elfrid Payton, PG, UL-Lafayette
14. Phoenix Suns: Gary Harris, PG/SG, Michigan State
15. Atlanta Hawks: Dario Saric, PF, Croatia
17. Celtics: Zach LaVine, PG/SG, UCLA
You probably didn’t see much of LaVine at UCLA. That’s because he rode the bench for most of the year. He’s a 6-foot-6 combo guard with outstanding athleticism as well as being one of this class’ top shooters. The Celtics have a lot of questions in the backcourt moving forward in regards to both Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley. LaVine’s upside and versatility would give them much more flexibility.
18. Suns: TJ Warren, SF/PF, NC State
19. Bulls: Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia
21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Rodney Hood, SG/SF, Duke
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
23. Jazz: Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA
24. Hornets: CJ Wilcox, SG, Washington
27. Suns: Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan
28. Los Angeles Clippers: Clint Capela, PF, Switzerland
29. Thunder: Mitch McGary, PF/C, Michigan
So there’s how I have the first round playing out for now. I’ll likely make some changes over the next few days. Boston doesn’t currently have a second rounder.
As always, I have more draft thoughts on Twitter @ZakKondratenko.