The look of the first round in the 2014 NBA Draft is shaping up, following the conclusion of the NBA Finals.
Many mock drafts have changed over the past few weeks, as prospects have gone through pre-draft workouts and met with various NBA teams. A few projected lottery picks have seen their draft stock rise, potentially making them top selections, in what is the most-highly touted draft class in over a decade.
For much of the year, it looked like Andrew Wiggins was the favorite to be taken with the No.1 overall pick. With less than two weeks to go until the draft, his teammate appears to be the likely first selection.
Embiid might have the highest ceiling of any player in the draft. He’s a terrific athlete, standing at seven-feet tall, and exhibiting some very good post moves. Considering he’s been playing basketball for only three years, he has a lot of potential to improve. The freshman has been impressive in pre-draft workouts, and some have compared him to a young Hakeem Olajuwon.
The biggest question surrounding Embiid is his health. If the Cleveland Cavaliers are confident that he won’t have any lingering injuries, they’ll like take him atop the first round. However, his back issues could force him to fall to No.2 or No.3.
Many NBA and college basketball fans are unaware of Exum, since he’s from Australia. That will soon change, as he’s likely to become the first international player taken in the draft and go in the top half of the lottery.
Exum is one of the youngest players in the 2014 class, and won’t turn 19 until after the draft. He’s tall for a point guard at 6’6, and has a lot of time to get stronger. The 18-year-old is a very talented scorer, with the ability to get to the basket and finish at the rim. He’s reportedly on the Orlando Magic’s radar, and has been compared to Penny Hardaway, who helped lead the club to the 1995 NBA Finals.
The guard will be jumping into the NBA, after failing to face very high competition, which will be his biggest obstacle at the next level.
While some thought it was a mistake for Smart to return to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season, the point guard will still be a lottery pick. He’ll almost certainly be a top 10 pick, and could be the first player selected after the top three of Embiid, Wiggins and Jabari Parker.
Smart made an immediate impact in college, averaging 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game as a freshman. He’s already got an NBA body at 6’4 and 220 pounds. He didn’t shoot for a high percentage with the Cowboys, but his combination of strength and quickness make him a very tough cover. On the other side of the ball, he could be one of the best rookie defenders in 2014-2015.
The point guard will forever be known for pushing a fan during a game, though, and the incident could raise questions for lottery teams about his character.