Thursday’s NBA Draft could be a pivotal moment for several teams that are looking to become contenders in the 2014-2015 season. In a year that’s expected to have the best draft class in 11 years, there is a lot of opportunity for teams with first-round picks to improve.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have the biggest decision of the night with the first overall selection. It’s the team’s third No.1 pick in four years, and last year’s selection, Anthony Bennett, could turn out to be one of the biggest busts in draft history.
For much of the NBA playoffs, it appeared that Kansas’s Joel Embiid was the frontrunner to go atop the draft. However, a foot injury has almost guaranteed that the big man won’t go No.1. It’s likely a two-man race between Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, with neither freshman having a major advantage. According to ESPN, Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert wants Wiggins, while the front office is in favor of taking Parker.
The Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls could be very active on draft day, as both are coming off disappointing seasons. L.A. didn’t even make the playoffs, while Chicago was knocked out in the first round, after playing the majority of the year without Derrick Rose. Both teams could look to trade a first-round selection, especially the Bulls, considering they have the No.16 and No.19 picks. If the Lakers hold onto their selection, it will be their first lottery pick in nine years.
Eight teams have multiple first-round picks, including the Boston Celtics. They could look to move the No.6 pick, as they continue their quest to trade for Kevin Love.
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Below is a mock draft for Thursday’s first round.
1) Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
2) Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker, Duke
3) Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid, Kansas
4) Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, Australia
5) Utah Jazz: Noah Vonleh, Indiana
6) Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
7) Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle, Kentucky
8) Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon, Arizona
9) Charlotte Hornets: Rodney Hood, Duke
10) Philadelphia 76ers: Zach LaVine, UCLA
11) Denver Nuggets: Dario Saric, Croatia
12) Orlando Magic: Nik Stauskas, Michigan
13) Minnesota Timberwolves: Gary Harris, Michigan State
14) Phoenix Suns: Doug McDermott, Creighton
15) Atlanta Hawks: Kyle Anderson, UCLA
16) Chicago Bulls: James Young, Kentucky
17) Boston Celtics: T.J. Warren, North Carolina State
18) Phoenix Suns: Jusuf Nurkic, Bosnia & Herzegovina
19) Chicago Bulls: Adreian Payne, Michigan State
20) Toronto Raptors: Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
21) Oklahoma City Thunder: Clint Capela, Switzerland
22) Memphis Grizzlies: Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
23) Utah Jazz: Elfrid Payton, Louisiana Lafayette
24) Charlotte Hornets: Kyle Anderson, UCLA
25) Houston Rockets: Glenn Robinson III, Michigan
26) Miami Heat: Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
27) Phoenix Suns: Jerami Grant, Syracuse
28) Los Angeles Clippers: Mitch McGary Michigan
29) Oklahoma City Thunder: C.J. Wilcox, Washington
30) San Antonio Spurs: K.J. McDaniels, Clemson