HoopsHype 2014 Mock Draft
April 24, 2014 @ 06:21 AM ET by The Lighter Side
Aaron Gordon, Adreian Payne, Cleanthony Early, Clint Capela, Dario Saric, Doug McDermott, Draft, Elfrid Payton, James Young, Jerami Grant, Markel Brown, Nik Stauskas, Semaj Christon, Shabazz Napier, TJ Warren, Tyler Ennis, Vasilije Micic, Zach LaVine
30. Semaj Christon (Xavier). Christon helped Xavier to an excellent season, but the issues with his shot and ability to play PG make him a borderline first rounder. He has 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. He shot very effectively as a sophomore, but his mechanics leave some question marks about his ability to extend his shot with consistency at the next level. His shooting in workouts will likely be key to his draft stock.
29. Clint Capela (Chalon, France). Capela's poor performance in front of numerous scouts in Portland at the Hoop Summit has dropped him to a bubble first- rounder. 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.
28. Markel Brown (Oklahoma State). Brown is an undersized shooting guard but he has the 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 jump shot and improved ballhandling 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.
27. Glen Robinson III (Michigan). Probably the biggest head scratcher among the early entrants. GRIII really had a disappointing season, struggling to live up to preseason first team All-American hype. He often found himself as the third option with more assertive teammates Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert taking over games late. His tourney performance was solid, but he had far too many ups and downs for scouts. Regardless, he should make an excellent role player and could be underrated due to a down sophomore season. He's a player who some thought could be a mid-lottery pick coming into the season, so he might be viewed as one of those 'inefficiency in the market' type of prospects.
26. 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, and looking a step slow at the 2013 adidas Eurocamp in Treviso. 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.
25. Jordan Clarkson (Missouri).Clarkson transferred from Tulsa and became one of the top playmakers in the nation. The fact that this team underachieved is chalked up by most to bad coaching. Clarkson is a real talent, and when he decided to be a little more selfish and take over games, his talent became obvious. He's got the athleticism and skill level to be an NBA starter at the PG position and could be one of this draft's biggest sleepers.
24. Cleanthony Early (Wichita State). Early impressed scouts all season with his energy level and outside shooting ability. His excellent tourney performance against Kentucky sealed the deal for him as a likely first-rounder. He's without question a tweener for the next level lacking great size to play in the post and skill level to play 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. After a tremendous season and performance in the NCAA tournament, Early should find a spot in the mid-to-late first round.
23. DeAndre Daniels (Connecticut). Daniels, and not his teammate Shabazz Napier, may actually be the player that benefited most from UConn's unlikely run to a National Championship. Before the tournament few had Daniels pegged as a first-rounder. But by the time the Sweet Sixteen rolled around, his name was beginning to get mentions, and that was only solidified after four more wins. Daniels was the X-factor and showed why he was such a highly rated recruit coming out of high school. His talents, in particular his ability to knock down shots and get to the rim, were on full display.
22. Elfrid Payton (Louisiana-Lafayette). Payton made a name for himself by being a valuable contributor to the Under 19 USA team that won gold in Prague at the World Championships, where he received high praise from all of the coaches. 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 showed signs of improvement towards the end of the year. Payton has a chance to be a standout starter in the league, which is something that cannot be said about many PGs 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 beginning at the end of the lottery and find a spot in the mid first round. He has even drawn some comparisons from scouts to another former Payton, (Gary) due to his defensive prowess.
21. TJ Warren (North Carolina State). Warren is a talented forward with a nose for scoring. He spring boarded off of a solid freshman campaign to become one of the most prolific scorers in the country, third in the nation at over 24 per game. 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 could even get looks in the late lottery.
20. Adreian Payne (Michigan State). Payne has proved to be a clutch performer and a true weapon as a three-point shooter. While he still has some work to do as a post threat, his potential to be an inside-outside big forward with high-level athleticism gives him real intrigue. He was a top recruit and stayed four years, developing a once questionable work ethic under Coach Izzo. His jump shot has become extremely accurate with excellent form and rotation. His tournament performance helped him and snagging a late lottery pick is a possibility.
19. Jerami Grant (Syracuse). Grant lacks readiness, but his athleticism is among the top players in this year's draft. Defensively, he shouldn't have any trouble guarding small forwards. But his skill level makes him a tweener as he is very raw in terms of passing and ballhandling. Jerami 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.
18. Dario Saric (KK Cibona, Croatia). Saric is a potential lottery pick as this year's top European prospect. He's been on scouts' radar from some time now proving to be an effective player at the European pro level at a young age. His highly polished skill set may be a better fit for Europe, however his toughness and feel for the game gives him some intrigue for the NBA. What he lacks for in speed and athleticism, he makes up for in skill level and desire. Saric was a point guard a few years ago and retains a tremendous feel and the vision and passing to create for others. His jump shot continues to be a work in progress. He'll also need to continue to get stronger as his lack of speed on the perimeter likely makes him a PF in the NBA.
17. Zach LaVine (UCLA). For a player that wasn't even ranked in many recruiting service's Top 50 coming out of high school, LaVine's ascent has been astronomical. Despite the national hype around Arizona's Aaron Gordon, LaVine is the prospect that we consider to be Pac 12's top prospect. While he struggled late in the season, LaVine garnered a good deal of national exposure. He's got a highly intriguing combination of explosiveness and shooting ability. A second year in Westwood to get stronger and possibly work on his PG skills likely would have be beneficial, but that wasn't in the cards. LaVine is a player who will likely take some time to become a contributor, but his upside is among the very best in the this draft. Probably the biggest boom or bust pick... Who's ready to roll the dice?
16. Tyler Ennis (Syracuse). Ennis turned into one of the most consistent and valuable freshmen in the country, leading the Orange to an undefeated record through more than half the season. 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. His command of the point guard position and decision making were advanced for a college freshman. Ennis's game likely would have benefited from another season or two in college, but as a possible lottery pick, he probably made the right decision from a financial standpoint.
15. Nik Stauskas (Michigan). Stauskas is one of the nation's premiere shooters and has developed some of the other aspects of his game showing an adept ability to run the pick and roll and be a facilitator. The Big 10 Player of the Year has garnered enough hype from scouts that he has a chance to be selected in the lottery. He's drawn comparisons to Kyle Korver and JJ Redick and could end up one of the better three-point shooters at the next level. He may always struggle with the speed and athleticism of NBA shooting guards, but he shows the athleticism finish with off drives with dunks. He lacks great foot speed and doesn't show much lateral quickness, but pure shooters are always highly regarded in the league. 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 find a spot in the 10-20 range.
14. Doug McDermott (Creighton). The fifth leading scorer in the history of the NCAA. Something tells me he will figure out how to score at the next level. 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. A player that can spread the floor as well as pass and competes with a high level of intensity will fit right into many teams. McDermott may never be much of a defender due to lack of foot speed and athleticism. But his offensive arsenal should be enough to make up for that.
13. Aaron Gordon (Arizona). Scouts point to Gordon's age, he is very young for his grade, as a huge selling point for his potential. Despite being a tweener with limited offensive skills, he's an elite level leaper with a tireless motor. He had a solid freshman season providing energy to a No. 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 Under 19 Championships in Prague. He started out the season determined to turn himself into a small forward, but it is apparent that his future is as a 4. His shooting proved to be a real weakness, particularly from the line, however his vision and passing were 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 small 4.
12. Shabazz Napier (Connecticut). Nobody's stock improved more with their tourney performance than Napier's, leading the Huskies to their (and his) second national championship in four seasons. Napier went from a player who some criticized for lack of chemistry in past years to the ultimate leader. He refused to allow his team to lose, repeatedly putting the Huskies on his back to 'survive and advance'. Though he's not an explosive athlete, his talent has never been in question as he shows great quickness and belief in his abilities. His tournament performance has made him a lock for the first round and a player that could challenge to be one of the top point guards selected.
11. James Young (Kentucky). Young proved what an explosive athlete he can be with his dunk over UConn's big men in the national championship game. Young is an athletic lefty two guard with a sweet shot, and plays with good intensity. Though he ran into 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 real competitive fire. Young was projected as a one-and-done lottery pick entering the season, and over his final 10 games he looked as much.
10. Rodney Hood (Duke). How much a dismal tourney performance will hurt his stock remains to be seen, but some scouts do not have him pegged as a lottery pick. We are still high on him due to his versatility and scoring ability. One of Hood's main areas of weakness is lack of physicality and strength so that will be something that he will need to focus on leading up to draft workouts. Despite impersonating a ghost in the NCAA tourney, Hood stands a chance to grab a spot in the late lottery, though after the Top 6-7 picks, things become extremely murky.
9. Kyle Anderson (UCLA). His ability to set up teammates and handle the ball at 6-foot-9 is extremely rare. Slow Mo showed excellent improvement between his freshman and sophomore seasons, cutting down on his turnovers and improving upon his assist-per-turnover ratio. He looks much more comfortable creating offense for himself and others and his once inconsistent jump shot has become much more reliable. He's even became effective from the college three-point. 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 played a little sporadic and there is some thought that he could fall into the late lottery because of it. Despite being just a sophomore, he plays with unusual maturity and poise. Though a tad undersized at 6-foot-4, he has solid length, athleticism and great quickness. He also shows a textbook shooting form and range from deep. He didn't have the type of season shooting the ball as many anticipate, though he did finish the season strong and played well in the tournament. His ability to potentially be a combo guard gives him added intrigue.
7. Noah Vonleh (Indiana). Vonleh is a player who will likely need a few seasons before things fully click. He made a surprisingly quick transition to the college level, but remains raw in terms of skill level. He lacks much in the way of post moves. 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, he may have more upside due to his length. With a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Vonleh is well-liked due to his length, upside and desire to improve.
6. Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State). Smart struggled in his sophomore season as questions arose about his shooting ability and maturity. He could slide some on draft night because of this. 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 him better just with his presence. While he's obviously a work in progress, scouts really like his competitiveness and will to win. He appears to be a guy that will work hard to correct all of the deficiencies in his game. Comparing Smart to past NBA guys is very difficult, as he's such a unique player.
5. Dante Exum (Australian Institute of Sport, 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 playing against low level of competition. He was very impressive playing for his Australian National Team in competitions such as the Under 19 World Championships in Prague. He's got a ton of upside. Due to his versatility, potential to play either guard position and extreme quickness off the dribble, he has drawn comparisons to Penny Hardaway. He may scare away some teams due to unfamiliarity. 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. But surely a kid with a bright future.
4. Julius Randle (Kentucky). Kentucky's unexpected run to the title game did nothing but help Randle's stock. While he may lack the franchise changing ability of the top three, he's a strong bet to be a productive NBA player. His combination of power and skill set him apart. He's received positive reviews from scouts about his willingness to be coached and learn, though there was some frustration from Coach Cal about his ability to manage his minutes late in the season. While his face-the-basket skills are ahead of his back-to-the-basket game, he has the strength and footwork to develop into a quality inside/outside threat in the league.
3. Jabari Parker (Duke). Despite an unimpressive tournament performance, Parker's stock remains high. He's a lock for the Top 3, with a chance to go first depending on who lands the pick. 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 a former standout, Sonny Parker. 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 a mature, high-character guy. Parker lacks great foot speed and some scouts are worried about his ability to defend on the perimeter.
2. Andrew Wiggins (Kansas). Wiggins is as physically talented as any wing player to come along since LeBron James. He still has only begun to scratch the surface in terms of skill development and realizing his abilities. After inconsistency through 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, though he struggled with just 4 points in Kansas' season-ending tourney loss to Stanford. His defensive potential is far superior to Jabari Parker's, though he may struggle to score initially. The order of picks is sure to factor into who goes where among the Top 3.
1. Joel Embiid (Kansas, Cameroon). Embiid possesses the most upside of any prospect in this year's draft. He is our No. 1 projected player, but which team lands the pick could affect things. 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 must learn discipline on fakes and how to stay out of foul trouble and he will be a force. Embiid is a raw talent who has come a long way in a very short time. He shows terrific form and touch on his shot, plus amazing footwork, giving his potential as an offensive center great intrigue. Embiid's back checking out in physicals will also be imperative.