Photo: The first 30 selections of the 2014 NBA draft are projected onto a video screen at the conclusion of the first round, Thursday, June 26, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Syd Salazar is a blogger for NBA.com Philippines. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the NBA and its member organizations.
The 2014 NBA Draft went blazing and the card collector in me wanted to get dibs on all the rookie cards of what is seen by many as the best batch to set foot in the NBA since the boys of 2003.
But did the teams have this right?
Game starts now.
1 – Cleveland / Andrew Wiggins
I had this right. Even if people initially thought the Cavs need size, I will cringe like hell if they don’t find a way to clog the starting lineup hole CJ Miles and Alonzo Gee were trying to “strengthen” for years now. I do think he needs to pad weight on his scrawny frame if he wants to bang bodies (his build reminds me of Harrison Barnes). This also in some ways solves the fate of Luol Deng who’ll likely leave the team for a playoff contender. Wiggins is the second Canadian to go first with last season’s Anthony Bennett getting that distinction. Hopefully he escapes the tag of second consecutive top pick bust.
2 – Milwaukee / Jabari Parker
Wiggins is off to make Cleveland a legitimate contender but in my opinion, Parker is bound to win the Top Rookie plum. This is not a bad thing for Wiggins because since the Cavs has Kyrie Irving and a heavy set of frontliners, Milwaukee has Brandon Knight, Giannis Antetokounmpo and practically that’s about it. Parker has to dig deep in order to even give the Bucks semblance and I think Parker is delighted to get that role. Like I said, it feels as if we’re looking at the kid of Dominique Wilkins and Tracy McGrady because of his combo of rim-rattling dunks and solo act showmanship.
3 – Philadelphia / Joel Embiid
I am not surprised with the pick… although Embiid is set to join the team on the injured list. While I don’t believe Embiid is the best talent, he deserves a spot in the Top 5 and Philly should be satisfied that they’ll have the former Kansas Jayhawk teaming up with Nerlens Noel. The Blake Griffin or Greg Oden comparisons will probably surface in six months but you can never question the fact that Embiid is a project possibly in the mold of the great centers of recent memory. Contrary to public opinion, Philadelphia had the right mindset in this draft as they will expose this reality a couple of picks after.
4 – Orlando / Aaron Gordon
If this pick was supposed to shock me… then congratulations it did. Orlando had a mission to twist the minds of people by making people think they were gunning for either Marcus Smart or Dante Exum and lo and behold they took in the power forward from Arizona. Will he become like the Drew Gooden of old who did well in his rookie year despite fighting alongside tolerable big men or will he end up as Cody Zeller – a tolerable big man who got picked too high for his spot?
5 – Utah / Dante Exum
Orlando’s loss is Utah’s gain with Exum possibly replacing either Alec Burks or Richard Jefferson in their starting lineup. The Aussie is 6’6 that could play in multiple positions which is a plus for the Jazz as they had to suffer without Trey Burke at the start of last season. With Gordon Hayward re-signing with the squad, there’s a possibility that this potent 3-strong backcourt will give Utah respectable results.
6 – Boston / Marcus Smart
Funny how Boston selected a backcourt guy which is the one real spot that the Celtics are already set in. Does this mean Avery Bradley becomes expendable? Or hell… Rajon Rondo? Anyway, despite all of this I approve of the C’s selection. Not only is Smart the other big pick left in the draft, it also gives Boston a player that has a scorer’s mentality apart from his defensive upside. He looks like when Dwyane Wade first came to the NBA but hopefully he has enough skills to play like him in the pros.
7 – LA Lakers / Julius Randle
To the shock of no one (and with the hopes of every Laker fan in this planet), the Lake Show claimed an elite beast in the middle of the draft lottery prospects. Randle started 2013 fighting for the top spot position but for some insane reason, he slipped down. If Randle brings in the goodness that Kobe Bryant and the rest of the team wants to see, then the power forward from Kentucky will be a darkhorse for the Rookie of the Year award. That is… if he escapes the foot problem he has at the moment.
8 – Sacramento / Nik Stauskas
For those who think Sac-Town has already given up on Ben McLemore… well… yeah they did. This is like having Nick Young with Jodie Meeks – two of the four Laker SG/SFs they have in rotation last season. The fact that Stauskas is a better defender than McLemore makes it even tougher to discount this fact. The Kings either have a Klay Thompson clone at the moment… or Adam Morrison at worst.
9 – Charlotte / Noah Vonleh
The Hornets got a treat when they scored Indiana Hoosier Noah Vonleh. I see him as a steal especially since I thought for sure he’s a Top 7. Whether or not Vonleh makes good, Michael Jordan scored on a nice pick. Yes I’m giving MJ the Owner mad props considering that he’s the instigator behind the acquisitions of Kwame Brown, Adam Morrison, and Cody Zeller (Too soon? Let’s see.)
10 – Philadelphia / Elfrid Payton
I am not that high with this pick because the Sixers have already Michael Carter-Williams and Tony Wroten but… oh… oh… OHHHH!!!
10 – Orlando / Elfrid Payton (traded by Philadelphia)
First of all, Payton showed a lot of skills and created a lot of buzz leading to the draft which is a good thing because he combines mad skills and a sense of urgency. Payton brings to the table a new fresh perspective on the backcourt of Orlando if and when they finally pull the trigger on Jameer Nelson’s tenure.
11 – Chicago / Doug McDermott (traded by Denver)
Oh McBuckets… one of the five seniors drafted in the first round. For a coach who salivates on defensive tenacity, I’m puzzled as to why Tom Thibodeau wants him in his roster. Hoping he’ll still find Stuaskas? Anyway, hopefully Thibs can transform McDermott into something for his liking although I’m guessing he’s going to be used as a replacement or notion to lowball their other big shooter Mike Dunleavy Jr.
12 – Philadelphia / Dario Saric (traded by Orlando)
Like I said, I savor this pick. Saric can either be a good prospect to cultivate in the Euroleague or they can buy him out from his current contract and use him ASAP if they are unsure of Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid. While the safest answer here is to stash him in Turkey, he is a low risk, high reward offensive option that also gave them a 2017 first round pick and a 2015 second round surprise.
13 – Minnesota / Zach LaVine
There is a meme where we see LaVine pissed as hell when his name was called. No idea if his mouth is uttering what I think he’s uttering but I think Minnesota got a good benchie in LaVine. While there is a chance that the Timberwolves’ core will be shaken with the exodus of Rick Adelman and possibly Kevin Love, and LaVine could possibly jumpstart the Timberwolves’ new era.
14 – Phoenix / TJ Warren
Not to sound as a buzzkill but the Suns have already the Morris Brothers – two players who does the combo forward game as a niche. Warren probably found working space with Channing Frye looking for a roster spot away from the desert.
15 – Atlanta / Adreian Payne
The announcement for Payne’s drafting must be a pain for the Atlanta supporters. While the Hawks are in need of backcourt depth, this Michigan State Spartan must have been taken because of his range despite his position and not a way to brace the loss of Al Horford or Paul Millsap or Elton Brand or Pero Antic or Mike Scott?
16 – Denver / Jusuf Nurkic (traded by Chicago)
I’m definitely intrigued with the prospect of Nurkic fitting in with Kenneth Faried, Javale McGee, JJ Hickson, and Tim Mozgov in Denver. While I’m pretty sure he’s a draft-and-stash project… maybe Danilo Gallinari will be available in the next season?
17 – Boston / James Young
I was really hoping the Celtics would pick up Jabari Parker’s running mate in Duke Rodney Hood but hey – maybe they are doing this to appease fellow Kentucky alum Rajon Rondo. Young is a tolerable defender that needs to work on his outside game to possibly hold his own against Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart.
18 – Phoenix / Tyler Ennis
Dude got the bad end of an Eric Bledsoe contract negotiation proceeding. Not only will Ennis brace for becoming the team’s third point guard option, he will be wondering on when he can escape the heavy minutes Goran Dragic will pull in. Did you know that Phoenix’ D-League affiliate is the Bakersfield Jam?
19 – Denver / Gary Harris (traded by Chicago)
Well the team had a bunch of players like Evan Fournier and Quincy Miller prevailing on the position Nate Robinson left because of the ACL. And frankly, Robinson shouldn’t have played extensive minutes if not for the injuries to the rest of the squad which makes Harris a valuable steal at that spot.
20 – Toronto / Bruno Caboclo
According to online reports, he is the Brazilian version of Kevin Durant. Well… that’s cool considering the fact that Nikoloz Tskitishvili is the Georgian Dirk Nowitzki and Jan Vesely is the Czech Blake Griffin. A draft and stash find no less… but remember when the Raptors had a lot of international players? And remember when most of us thought it was a bad decision to let go of Rudy Gay and they will never reach the playoffs with their ways of thinking? Maybe they know something that we don’t?
21 – Oklahoma City / Mitch McGary
It’s a given. The injury of Serge Ibaka in the playoffs and the inability of Kendrick Perkins to replicate the success he had in Boston were factors in the acquisition of Steven Adams last season and McGary in this season. If Adams fails to increase his relevance this season, then the Michigan Wolverine will get his due.
22 – Memphis / Jordan Adams
One of three UCLA Bruins taken in the first round, Adams could be an upgrade for their swingers like Courtney Lee, Mike Miller, Nick Calathes, Quincy Pondexter, and Tony Allen. While these guys are dependable scorers, they have yet to find an explosive option in this position since the departures of Gay and OJ Mayo.
23 – Utah / Rodney Hood
I hate this pick for a lot of reasons. For one, I am still not sold with the capabilities of the Jazz’ big men! Second, they already have Hayward, Burks, Jefferson, and now Exum. How will Hood fit in their scheme of things? Hood has the scoring and the mad intentions of overcoming a should-be better college career if not for being in the shadows of Jabari Parker.
24 – Miami / Shabazz Napier (traded by Charlotte)
Pat Riley had to dig deep to please his golden cow Lebron James. To virtually pick just two steps ahead of their actual spot, the Heat had to send their own pick, their second round pick, their 2019 second round pick, plus cash considerations. So imagine the spite the reigning NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player will garner if LBJ decides to take his talents elsewhere.
25 – Houston / Clint Capela
The 20-year old Frenchman of African descent got himself a good team when the management sent Omer Asik to the New Orleans Pelicans (not unless the Rockets want to stash him in Europe). This is good in the sense of him getting screen time – but I doubt if he’ll ever get past Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones.
26 – Charlotte / PJ Hairston (traded by Miami)
This marks the return of the former North Carolina speedster in representing the state whose tenure with the squad was tarnished after accepting a car from a local felon and a bunch of speeding tickets. Continuing to play competitive ball with the D-League’s Texas Legends, he is a steal… if he smartens up.
27 – Phoenix / Bogdan Bogdanovic
Continuing the tradition of Vlade Divac and uhurm… Darko Milicic, Bogdan is one of three Serbians that were drafted. I have no idea on whether Phoenix will have space for this European scoring juggernaut as it all depends on whether or not Eric Bledsoe returns to their fold.
28 – LA Clippers / CJ Wilcox
No relation to former Clipper Chris Wilcox, this shooting guard is in dire need of luck since he is going to be playing in the super stacked LA Clipper SG/SF spot. An “old” rookie at 23, Wilcox needs to do well in the pickup tourneys to at least pass either Jamal Crawford, JJ Redick, Jared Dudley, Danny Granger, Hedo Turkoglu, and even Reggie Bullock for playing time.
29 – Oklahoma City / Josh Huestis
After getting the size they craved for, they took out their checklist and crossed out the SG/SF spot with the signing of this Stanford Cardinal. I doubt he’ll spring quickly to action with Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones in line for a better season but let’s wait and see on how he’ll try to sway the bosses.
30 – San Antonio / Kyle Anderson
To those who have seen Anderson’s gameplay – you’ll figure out that he’s kind of like Boris Diaw. The UCLA Bruin looks like a power forward but has the skills of a slasher – like the Frenchman. Diaw lost his speed and quickness when he checked in to San Antonio (just like Robert Horry) but maybe he remembers his old moves and at least try to help Anderson in his first season with the reigning champs.
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