HoopsHype 2014 Mock Draft
March 21, 2014 @ 10:26 AM ET by HoopsHype
Aaron Gordon, Adreian Payne, Cleanthony Early, Clint Capela, Dario Saric, Doug McDermott, Draft, Elfrid Payton, James Young, Jerami Grant, Jordan Adams, Markel Brown, Montrezl Harrell, Nik Stauskas, Semaj Christon, Shabazz Napier, TJ Warren, Tyler Ennis, Vasilije Micic, Zach LaV
30 - Jordan Adams (UCLA). Adams lacks a great body and isn't the most athletic wing, but he has elite level scoring ability and could find a spot in the late first round of this year's draft. He is deadly from mid-range with both spot up and pull up ability and one of those players that if you give him an ounce of daylight, he's going to find the basket. Adams has done a solid job of improving his body as the season has progressed. He's also a very strong defender, despite not being a tremendous athlete. If UCLA surprises in the tourney as they might, Adams stands to gain as much as anyone as he will surely be in the spotlight as UCLA's go to scorer.
29. Shabazz Napier (Connecticut). Has put it all together in his senior year and become both a team leader and a clutch go-to scorer. Napier received criticism for his lack of leadership and was even described as being selfish early in his college career. He has really evolved with four years of college and is praised for his leadership now in his senior year. Though he's not an explosive athlete, his talent has never been in question as he shows great quickness and belief in his abilities. He was a key reserve as a freshman to UConn's title team and with strong play throughout his senior year leading the Huskies into the NCAA tournament, he's now squarely on the first round bubble for this year's draft.
28. Cleanthony Early (Wichita State). Early benefits from the Shockers' undefeated season and has impressed scouts all season with his energy level and outside shooting ability. He's without question a tweener for the next level lacking great size to play in the post and the foot speed to defend wings on the perimeter. But looking at his strengths, he's an above average athlete who plays with good energy and has excellent touch from the perimeter. Early is getting first-round mentions from teams, but likely will have to impress in workouts to solidify a spot in the late first round.
27. Adreian Payne (Michigan State). Payne came in as a highly decorated recruit and while he had his ups and downs, he stuck around though his senior season, and it should prove very beneficial as his game showed significant improvement. His jump shot has become extremely accurate with excellent form and rotation. Though he's not a lock as first-rounder, and will need to win some battles in workouts leading up to the draft, his combination of athleticism and shooting ability gives him solid intrigue. A national title would surely enhance his standing.
26. Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky). Cauley-Stein became a force for Kentucky as a shot blocker in his sophomore season. He runs the floor like a deer and plays with good energy. While his offensive game lacks touch and polish and he may never possess much of a post game, he's able to score using his athleticism with alley-oops and putbacks.
25. James Young (Kentucky). Young is an athletic lefty two guard with a sweet shot, and plays with good intensity. Though he had some bumps during his freshman season and did not shoot as well as scouts would have liked, he remains UK's second best prospect and shows a lot of competitive fire. He has fallen from being a projected lottery pick to no longer being a sure fire first-rounder, though he still projects as a 20-30 draft pick. He has starting potential for the NBA level, but he'll need to become more aggressive attacking the basket.
24. Clint Capela (Chalon, France). Capela is a freakish athlete who fits a number of team's idea of the perfect draft and stash type of pick. He probably won't be an NBA contributor for a few seasons, but for a team with patience, he's a great athlete who could be a force by the time he is 24-25. He doesn't always play with a high level of intensity, his main drawback, but when he's on he's a handful and he's only 20 years of age. His progression this season has been remarkable, with a number of big scoring and rebounding outbursts, giving him a lot of intrigue as a late first-round pick.
23. Nik Stauskas (Michigan). Stauskas is one of the nation's best shooters and has developed some of the other aspects of his game showing adequate ability to run the pick-and-roll and be a facilitator in spurts. The Big 10 Player of the Year has garnered enough hype from scouts that he's a likely first-round pick. He's drawn comparisons to Kyle Korver and JJ Reddick and has even drawn some lottery chatter from some. He may always struggle with the speed and athleticism of NBA shooting guards, but his ability to dunk adds intrigue. He lacks great foot speed and doesn't show much lateral quickness, but the NBA obviously values pure shooters. There is a wide spectrum of opinions regarding Stauskas with some seeing a late lottery pick, and others questioning him as a first-rounder. Look for him to split the difference and fall somewhere in the 18-25 range.
22. Semaj Christon (Xavier). Christon has a tremendous basketball body with the speed and quickness to get to the basket as well as the length to give opposing point guards headaches as an on-ball defender. The one major weakness that he must improve upon is his shot, which comes off flat and lacks a fluid release. He shot very effectively as a sophomore, but his mechanics leave some question marks about his ability to extend his shot qith consistency at the next level. His shooting in workouts will likely be key to his draft stock. Playing at Xavier has made it more difficult for Christon to receive national attention.
21. Markel Brown (Oklahoma State). Brown is an undersized shooting guard but he has the requisite freakish athleticism to overcome the size disadvantage. His ability to create shots off the dribble are enhanced by his top flight speed and athleticism. He's long been one of the most explosive guards in the country, but he has added a consistent jumpshot and improved ball handling and decision making to his skill set. Playing alongside Marcus Smart for two seasons has certainly been beneficial to him. Despite being undersized, Brown is a solid bet to grab a mid-to-late first-round spot in a deep draft.
20. Vasilije Micic (Mega Vizura, Serbia). While Micic isn't the fleetest of foot, his leadership and ability to run a team makes him extremely intriguing. There are not many players on any level with the vision and passing ability that he possesses. He also seems to have gained some speed and athleticism over the past six months after coming back from a leg injury. There are still some concerns with his foot speed and ability to score, but his heart for the game and determination are excellent. For those that enjoy imaginative passing, Micic is a true joy to watch.
19. Aaron Gordon (Arizona). Gordon is an explosive leaper and a great kid. He had a solid freshman season providing energy to a 1 seed Arizona squad. He will impress teams in interviews and has proven himself as a focused, team oriented player. He made an excellent impression on scouts last summer winning MVP of the U19 Championships in Prague. He drew Blake Griffin comparisons coming into college, but it has become apparent to most that he lacks the size, power and all-around talent of Griffin. While he might benefit by returning to school, the other side of the coin is that if he doesn't show skill development in future seasons he could easily slip from his current first-round projection. He started out the season determined to turn himself into a small forward, but appears to be slowly accepting the fact that his future is as a 4. His shooting has proven to be a real weakness, particularly from the line, however his vision and passing has been a pleasant surprise. While some envision a future star at the next level, look for Gordon to ultimately become an excellent defensive oriented energy role player as a combo forward.
18. Jerami Grant (Syracuse). In terms of readiness, Grant should be looked at similar to the freshmen projected in the later half of the first round. Grant is the son of former NBA forward Harvey Grant, twin brother of Horace Grant. He's a high-level athlete with great length and quickness. His offensive game showed solid development in his sophomore season at Syracuse. Jerami shows a lot of potential but whether he has given scouts enough to work with and can overcome the tweener label to be a Top 20 pick is the question. The team was not as effective when he went down to injury, but he bounced back quickly and is one of the draft's top overall athletes.
17. Montrezl Harrell (Louisville). Harrell is an intriguing 4 man due to his great power and explosiveness. Despite being a shade below 6-foot-9, he possesses a huge wingspan and plays with a high level of energy. Scouts who watched him play for Team USA at the U19 Championships raved about him, comparing him to Ben Wallace. With Russdiculous and Chris Jones in the backcourt, Harrell is forced to get most of his baskets off of rebounds, put backs and the occasional alley-oop. But he has found ways to score putting up 14-plus points per game, with many of his baskets coming in aggressive, rim-punishing fashion. He's an energy guy who's most valuable to the team providing dirty work: rebounding and playing physical around the basket.
16. TJ Warren (North Carolina State). Warren is a talented wing with a nose for scoring. He has spring boarded off of a solid freshman campaign to become one of the most prolific scorers in the country. Though just an average NBA level athlete, Warren shows a knack for taking what the defense gives him and one of those guys that makes the game look easy. He still needs to extend his range and add a three-point shot to his repertoire, but he shows good form on his shot and should be able to improve that over time. Warren's incredible season taking home ACC POY honors virtually locks up a first-round selection, and he's likely to begin to get looks beginning in the late lottery.
15. Tyler Ennis (Syracuse). Ennis has been one of the most valuable freshman in the country, leading the Orange to an undefeated record through more than half the season. Amazing to think that Syracuse didn't even know who their point guard would be going into this season before Ennis blew up at the U19 World Championships in Prague in July. Ennis has been arguable the most consistent point guard in the country, and although he lacks elite level athleticism, he does a good job of changing speeds and getting by defenders into the paint. He's very good at finding teammates for baskets while on the move and shows impeccable decision making. His command of the point guard position and decision-making are truly special for a college freshman, and throw in the fact that he's got good touch and a promising mid-range game, and Ennis will likely be faced with a decision following the season with a chance to be a lottery pick after just one year in college. Syracuse's success in the tournament will likely have some effect on Ennis' draft stock.
14. Dario Saric (Cibona, Croatia). Saric has an old man's game as he has a high basketball IQ and beats opponents with brains over brawn. His shot has long been an area of weakness but has shown recent improvement – in particular at the Eurobasket. He's got legitimate point guard skills with the ability to see the floor and find teammates for shots, however his lack of foot speed might force him to play the 4, as opposed to being a full-time 3. Has a game that is probably best suited to being a star in Europe as opposed to an NBA role guy. However, his determination and toughness will allow him to play in the NBA and be a contributor if he so desires.
13. Elfrid Payton (Louisiana-Lafayette). Payton made a name for himself first by being a valuable contributor to the U19 USA team that won gold in Prague at the World Championships. He followed up a tremendous summer by leading the Raging Cajuns into the Big Dance. He is an elite level athlete for a PG with great length and quickness, and although his shot remains a work in progress, it is showing signs of improvement of late. Payton has a chance to be a standout starter in the league, which is something that cannot be said about many point guards on the college level. He's still got a long ways to go, but being the age of a sophomore gives him added intrigue. Look for Payton to get looks at the end of the lottery and find a spot in the mid first round. He has even drawn some comparisons to another former Payton (Gary) due to his defensive prowess.
12. Doug McDermott (Creighton). In today's NBA, having one standout skill can be better than being just good in many areas. McDermott is an elite level shooter with a tremendous feel for the game. Scouts have pegged his range as a likely 12-18 mid-first-rounder going into the season. A player that can spread the floor as well as pass and compete at a high level will fit right into many teams. McDermott may never be a good defender due to lack of foot speed and athleticism, but his offensive arsenal should be enough to make up for that.
11. Zach LaVine (UCLA). How shocking has LaVine's climb into the lottery been? He wasn't even ranked as a top 50 high school senior last season. Despite the national hype around Arizona's Aaron Gordon, it's LaVine that is actually the Pac 12's top freshman and prospect. While he has trailed off some of late, LaVine is finally garnering a great deal of national exposure recently. He's got a highly intriguing combination of explosiveness and shooting ability. A second year in Westwood to get stronger and work on his point skills would be beneficial. But if he continues to play at his current rate it will be difficult to turn down being a potential Top 10 selection after just his freshman season.
10. Rodney Hood (Duke). There were actually scouts prior to the season that predicted Hood would leapfrog Parker and go higher in the draft. Obviously that was before everyone realized just how talented Parker was, but it shows just how highly Hood was and is regarded. The Mississippi State transfer has tremendous outside shooting as well as being an above average athlete with a polished all-around skill level. He has proved to be an elite level prospect in his own right playing alongside Parker. One of Hood's main areas of weakness is lack of physicality and strength so that will be an area that he will need to focus on leading up to draft workouts. Hood stands a good chance to grab a spot in the lottery.
9. Kyle Anderson (UCLA). A case could be made that Kyle Anderson is the most valuable player to any college team in the country. His ability to set up teammates and handle the ball at 6-foot-9 is extremely rare. He's drawn comparisons to Magic Johnson from scouts and some feel that he's a legitimate Top 5 pick candidate. He led UCLA to win the Pac 12 tournament over Arizona and their great fan support in Las Vegas. A deep run in the NCAA tournament could really open some eyes to his abilities. He's moved into the Top 10 on our board. Slow Mo has shown excellent improvement between his freshman and sophomore seasons cutting down on his turnovers and improving upon his assists-per-turnover ratio. He looks much more comfortable creating offense for himself and others and his once inconsistent jumpshot has become much more reliable. He's even hitting three-pointers at an excellent clip, though on a low volume. While there is still concern about his lack of speed and quickness, his skill level and length make him a very intriguing prospect. Becoming a lottery selection now looks well within his grasp.
8. Gary Harris (Michigan State). Harris is a sophomore who plays with unusual maturity and poise. Though a tad undersized at 6-foot-4, Harris has solid length, athleticism and great quickness. He also shows a textbook shooting form and range from deep. The cerebral guard flirted with the idea of turning pro as a freshman in such a weak class, however his shoulder troubles would have likely dropped him further than where he would have liked. Though he hasn't been 100 percent healthy all season, which could concern some teams, he has been healthy at the end of the year. His ability to potentially be a combo guard gives him added intrigue. Harris figures to get looks in the mid to late lottery.
7. Julius Randle (Kentucky). Randle is a rare talent in that he combines raw power with a high skill level. He's Kentucky's top prospect in a year in which many pundits considered to be Coach Calipari's greatest recruiting haul. He's proven to be virtually unguardable for college players. His combination of power and skill set him apart and maked him a big-time post prospect for the NBA level. His on-court mannerisms have caused some to question his focus, however he's received positive reviews from scouts about his willingness to be coached and learn. In high school, he got a little too enamored with facing the basket and his post game needed some polish, but he has been virtually unstoppable around the basket at UK. While no longer a lock to be a Top 5 pick, Randle, an absolute physical specimen, remains one of this draft's most intriguing prospects to scouts.
6. Noah Vonleh (Indiana). Vonleh has had a surprisingly quick transition to the college level. He's a forward who has spent a lot of time working on his handle but seems to have realized that his bread and butter at the NBA level lies in the paint. He lacks much in the way of post moves and is just a raw physical specimen at this point. He shows some solid instincts around the basket and has learned how to use his size and length to his advantage. His rebounding has turned into a real weapon. He's a bright, coachable kid who works hard and showed steady improvement as the season progressed. While Vonleh lacks the offensive polish and explosiveness of Julius Randle, an interesting debate has developed between the two players with scouts.
5. Dante Exum (Australia). Exum is the biggest wildcard of this year's draft. He's a terrific kid with a great deal of talent, but without question he's still very unproven as his biggest accomplishments have been in the form of international competitions such as the Hoop Summit where he matched up with Aaron Harrison. He was very impressive playing for his Australian National Team in competitions such as the U19 World Championships in Prague. He's got a ton of upside due to his versatility to play either guard position and extreme quickness off the dribble, and has drawn comparisons to Penny Hardaway. He may scare away some teams due to unfamiliarity. Remember that feel that had Shabazz Muhammad sat out his freshman year and not been "exposed", a number of scouts feel he would have ended up being a Top 3-5 pick in 2013? Exum has the same kind of hype behind him and could end up a Top 5 pick without ever playing at the college level. He has some kinks to work out such as a shot that lacks much trajectory. Is he a PG or SG at the NBA level? Scouts appear to be split down the middle on this. He must learn to either become a facilitator or learn to play off the ball and also needs to learn how to play within more of a team context as opposed to having carte blanche as he does leading his Aussie team. A bright kid with a bright future, but is the hype and huge expectations going overboard?
4. Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State). Smart is a different kind of dude, as one scout put it, speaking about his maturity and decision to stay in school and bypass the draft in which he would have likely been a Top 2-3 selection. Smart first began playing the PG position full time while at Oklahoma State, so detractors must keep in mind that the holes to his game are still developing. His jump shot remains a work in progress. He also may always struggle to stay in front of elite point guards, but then again everyone does. Smart displayed his improved shooting and scoring ability with his 39 point outburst against Memphis. He had some bumps in the road including the incident shoving the Texas Tech fan, but his character is not in question, according to scouts. He's a natural leader and the kind of player that makes everyone around better just with his presence. He always seems to be a step ahead of the competition with a feel for the game that is very advanced for his age. Comparing Smart to past NBA guys is very difficult, as he's such a unique player.
3. Andrew Wiggins (Kansas). Wiggins is as physically talented as any wing player to come along since LeBron James. He has so much raw potential and talent that he still has only begun to scratch the surface in terms of skill development and realizing his abilities. After stuggling in the first half of the season, Wiggins answered his critics with a strong finish. He really emerged in the season's final month putting up a 41 and 30 in back-to-back games. With Embiid missing a number of games due to injury, Wiggins capitalized with incresed productivity taking KU on his back to stay competitive in games. He has solidified a spot in the Top 3 and put himself back into the conversation to go first. While his upside is considered greater than Parker's, he's also considered the riskier pick.
2. Joel Embiid (Kansas). Early in the year the thought was that Embiid could be drafted in the Top 5 based on potential. He was expected to show flashes and put up numbers sporadically. But he has progressed much faster than anyone expected. He showed excellent consistency, a strong motor and made a considerable impact. Rumors began in the summer that Coach Bill Self was calling Embiid and not Wiggins his best long-term prospect, and he proved that Self was not just blowing smoke. It's extremely rare to find a kid with his package of attributes. He's got a tremendous basketball body with not only great athleticism but the ability to add size and strength to his frame. The fact that he's shown an ornery side and has been willing to mix it up is only seen as a positive by scouts. He already shows signs of being an enforcer defensively with his length, explosiveness and timing on blocks. He just needs to learn discipline on fakes and how to stay out of foul trouble and he will be a force. With questions surrounding his back problems, as he had some issues as a senior in high school, the door has been left open for a player like Parker or Wiggins to grab the top pick. However, scouts remain extremely high on Embiid, who could re-emerge as the favorite to go first.
1. Jabari Parker (Duke). Jabari Parker may lack the long term potential of a Joel Embiid or the freakish athleticism of an Andrew Wiggins, but his offensive polish and maturity makes him a highly regarded prospect. He's both polished and versatile and understands what it means to be a professional having grown up around the game with his father, Sonny Parker, a former standout. He remains incredibly humble as well as focused and hard working. Parker is a much better athlete than he appears at first glance. He's also sure to blow away the competition during team interviews, as he's incredibly mature and well spoken. Parker lacks great foot speed and some scouts are worried about his ability to defend on the perimeter. Without question the safest of the Top 3 draft options, Parker has the potential to be a Top 5 player in the league and a strong NCAA tournament could go a long way towards capturing the top pick. He reminds people of Carmelo Anthony (without the drama) or a shorter, stockier Kevin Durant.