There isn’t a GM that doesn’t want to build a team around Durant, or to plug and play Lebron for quick results.
But how do you avoid the pitfalls of drafting the most hyped player?
Hype can result in an underwhelming star, and many times it can also result in a championship ring. There are potential franchise stars in this draft with a world of expectations, but ultimately it will come down to NBA general managers to decide which player fits their team the best and decide their draft picks.
What if the Knicks win the Lottery...
"There's no panic button being pushed right now" - Melo
...and hand over the #1 pick to Denver?
- Do you go for the best player available?
- The highest potential?
- Or the most NBA ready?
When the Pistons drafted Darko Miličić, they missed out on one of the most dominant scorers of the past decade.
But they won a ring.
And great hair.
Drafting also takes luck. Every draft pick is one ACL injury away from ruining both your team dynamic and your cap space.
(I feel you Portland)
This list will compile the most need driven draft picks of the 2014 NBA Draft.
This list isn’t necessarily in order of draft pick, but I’m trying to stay as realistic as possible to the projected order.
#1) Utah Jazz - Jabari Parker
"Why not Wiggins?" - Abraham Lincoln
Let’s be real. You’re the Jazz; your track record for keeping franchise players isn’t great. Malone left you for the Lakers, Boozer left you for Chicago, and Deron left you for Brooklyn. AK47, the poster child for SLC Punk left you for his frozen tundra homeland.
It gives him wings
You need a player with incentive to stay, Utah needs a plug and play SF. Jabari doesn’t seem like a project; he’s already polished. Jabari will make Utah better now, whereas Wiggins will be a project; Utah won't be able to retain its current core. The only situation I would choose Wiggins is if I don’t resign Gordon Hayward, and start from scratch.
#2) Boston Celtics - Julius Randle
WNW? Conventional wisdom has Wiggins above Randle, but the small sample size shows Randle is ready for the NBA. You’ve committed to running Rondo and Jeff Green as your stars, adding another SF doesn’t help your cause.
While I like Boston’s PF situation, I’d rather take Randle’s all-star potential for a playoff run. The only situation where Celtics should blow it up is if Brad Stevens can’t control Rondo, and he’s traded. Although, I wouldn’t mind getting someone like Dennis Schröder back.
#3) Philadelphia 76ers - Andrew Wiggins
I get it, the kid is incredible, but is incredibly raw. He’s underperforming in college, and Brett Brown is the right guy to mold him. The Sixers shouldn’t be in a rush to get to the playoffs; it took Lebron 3 years to get to the finals, and he still wasn’t ready to win it all.
There’s a second reason I draft Wiggins. Philadelphia has the luxury of starting from scratch, they don’t have focal points like Rondo or Bledsoe yet. Can MCW be the franchise star? It’s really too early to tell, and the New Orleans pick changes everything, because they get to choose a second duo this year, to match last year’s masterpiece:
Wiggins & Mario Hezonja.
Wiggins is described as lazy, he needs someone to curse his ass out every time he plays below his potential. A Russell Westbrook, or a D. Wade personality; he needs a player like Hezonja.
"Weaknesses: Hezonja has incredible intensity, but sometimes that manifests itself in him being too hard on himself and especially teammates. He's been seen getting in the face of teammates when they don't play up to his expectations" - NBADRAFT.net
Hez isn’t a top 10 RW type, but he will get in your face.
Wiggins won’t be ready for the playoffs year one like Randle or Parker, he needs a patient coach and someone that isn’t afraid to talk to him. Wiggins needs a constant reminder of his expectations in order to rise.
The expectations of Noel to be Ibaka and not Biyombo are also very generous.
I’d rather risk it all on Wiggins than play it safe.
Dante Exum & Dario Saric
The vanilla equation are two high IQ players that won’t have the ceiling the first duo will.
A roster of MCW - Exum - Saric - Young - Noel ~ (sixth man Wrotten) is akin to the consistency of the Spurs vs. the limitless potential of the Thunder (pre-Harden trade).
I like risk, because marketable stars get favorable calls. The Spurs are the most clinical team in the NBA, but by God, if the Thunder hadn’t broken up the band, they would have been magical.
"Only in my dreeeeeeams~~"
#4) Milwaukee Bucks - Dante Exum
Milwaukee has very few things to look forward to, one of those things is Giannis, who is still very young. Dante is also very young, and together they can form the basis for Milwaukee to turn things around.
Why not Embiid or Smart? For better or worse, Milwaukee already has Henson, and Sanders, and Smart belongs on a team that’s ready to compete now, not in three years.
Dante Exum needs the ball in his hands to be effective, Milwaukee’s lack of a franchise PG allows for him to control the team tempo. This is his best chance to team up with a young core.
#5) Phoenix Suns - Joel Embiid
The Suns are overloaded at Guards and Forwards, but they lack a franchise big man.
I’m a fan of Plumlee and Len, but they could contribute more as PF-C types.
An Eric Bledsoe & Joel Embiid future would be very bright future for the Suns.
#6) Orlando Magic - Marcus Smart
This should be self-explanatory, but I can see why it isn’t to the casual fan.
From a financial standpoint Marcus Smart - Victor Oladipo - Vucevic are a big 3 group, that the Magic can commit to for years to come.
He’s not a prima donna that will leave Orlando; he passed on a top 5 pick in last years draft to stay with Oklahoma.
Orlando can make the playoffs with Smart, they don’t need a project player like Exum, they need to compete. Marcus Smart is the competitor, leader, and winner they need.
Let me put it another way, if in the 2013 draft, I had told you you get to walk away with Oladipo and Smart, would you be thinking about Wiggins or would you be thinking about your seeding in the playoffs?
#7) Toronto Raptors - Noah Vonleh
Toronto traded away Rudy Gay and Bargs; Noah Vonleh is a hard working forward that could be the next Lamarcus Aldridge. He’s still only 18, and while he may not be polished yet, he has the potential to be the max contract guy the Raptors need.
#8) Atlanta Hawks (from Nets) - Aaron Gordon
The Hawks have lacked athleticism since they broke up their playoff roster. This is as good as it gets in terms of athleticism.
#9) Los Angeles Lakers - Andrew Harrison
I don’t think the Lakers will make the playoffs, their roster is a mess. Nick Young is not taking over the Lakers reigns, and Kobe is not getting younger.
The window for a championship is closing, and the smart thing to do (irrelevant of trades) is to use his experience to groom a high quality guard in the draft. Drafting a big with hopes of having him playoff ready in his rookie year is a hopeless dream; start with a PG, draft a big next season.
#10) Sacramento Kings - Isaiah Austin
Isaiah Austin is already 7’1" at center, and he’s still growing.
Oh yea, and he can also shoot a clutch three.
I am the ball
I’d love to see him play next to Cousins; this kid could be the next Dirk. If only the Kings had better coaching...
#11) Denver Nuggets (via Knicks) - Willie Cauley-Stein
Unless the Knicks tank the season, this seems like the most realistic spot for the Nuggets.
Willie is the most interesting Center in the draft after Embiid; the Nuggets can’t continue to play JaVale if they hope to compete in the playoffs.
Unless they tank...
#12) Cleveland Cavaliers - Rodney Hood
Hood has studied the same system at Duke that Irving did, he’s also polished, albeit with a lower ceiling.
#13) Philadelphia 76ers (via Pelicans) - Mario Hezonja
This kid has enormous potential; he’s also a selfish, immature, a poor student.
Cocky, verbally abusive to his teammates, and a wild child off the floor. If he plays for the wrong coach, he’ll be the next Michael Beasley, if he plays for a coach like Greg Popovich, he’ll unlock his tremendous potential. Having said that, there’s no way the Spurs can get him.
But you know, that guy that was next in line to be Pop can (Brett Brown).
#14) Chicago Bulls (from Charlotte) -Glenn Robinson III
Glenn is a defensive SF, that plays unselfish basketball. Chicago does not need projects, they need someone they can bring in to replace Deng, and can play off the ball.
This kid is Chicago’s only hope at a quality rookie SF, (unless they tank...) given their strict cap management.
#15) Charlotte Bobcats (from Pistons) -Wayne Selden
I really like Selden, he’s a solid 6’6" SG, that would fill a lot of holes for them, somehow I doubt they go for him and go for a project instead.
#16) Phoenix Suns (via Timberwolves) - Dario Saric
The Suns can really build on something great with Saric.
Bledsoe and Goodwin are the theoretical future Guards, Embiid would be an amazing lock at Center, and they have a plethora of viable PF. Saric gives them a superior Point Forward with a lot of marketable personality.
More than the Morris twins...
#17) Orlando Magic (from Knicks via Nuggets) - Montrezl Harrel
Orlando doesn’t lack scoring, they lack toughness. Vucevic is incredible, but he could use a forward like Zach Randolph next to him.
This forward may be the toughest kid in the draft, I really like his off the ball potential.
#18) Boston Celtics (from Atlanta) - Jordan Clarckson
High quality player from Mizzou, Danny Ainge is already scouting the 6’6 Guard, he’d be a nice fill in regardless of what the team does going forward. He excels at getting into the lane and scoring.
#19) Memphis Grizzlies - Garry Harris
The Grizzlies have shown they lack guard depth. Harris is extremely polished, and he’s his weakness at ball-handling isn’t an issue for the team with Conley. He fits their defensive culture better than most of the guards that have been chosen before him.
#20) Chicago Bulls - Jahii Carson
Rose’s future is questionable in terms of health, the Bulls were dominant in the playoffs last season with a physical scoring PG in Nate Robinson. Who’s got Nate’s stature, but Rose’s ice cold blood running through his veins? Jahii Carson. Chicago needs a solid backup at PG, and this is the only guy I would trust with "Derrick Rose’s" team, that wouldn’t cost the team too much cap space.
"This kid has hops!" - Abraham Lincoln
#21) Phoenix Suns (via Wizards) - James Young
This may be a low position for Young, but the left handed SF doesn’t have great ball-handling, or 3pt shooting.
He’s a work in progress, and at the same time lacks the ceiling a lot of these other guys have. I see him as security in case Saric doesn’t work out.
#22) Oklahoma City Thunder (via Mavericks) - Chris Walker
Chris Walker is the typical Thunder draft pick in terms of physical attributes. This may be a low projection for Walker, but the Thunder tend to get this type of luck in the draft, and are ironically one of the few team his lack of a true position can fit.
Chris Walker is a combo guard, but he’s very talented. My only issue with this pick is that Brooks will bury this talented forward on the bench and stifle his learning.
#23) Houston Rockets - Doug McDermott
Houston doesn’t need any more starters, unless it’s an all-star.
Doug is ready to produce now, they could use a polished scorer to come off the bench. McDermott's game is cerebral, he can ignite the bench as a role player, and his ball-handling can compete on the NBA level.
His age and polish make him an asset to a team that’s competing, rather than rebuilding.He’s also a great fit for Houston due to their slower tempo; his weakness is his lack of speed.
#24) Los Angeles Clippers - Semaj Christon
I am not sold on Semaj. The Clippers could really use a 3pt threat like Nik Stauskas to help cover J.J. Riddick’s constant injuries, but Semaj has more talent.
He’d also presumably be under the tutelage of Chris Paul in order to improve his decision making.
#25) Utah Jazz (via Warriors) - Mitch McGary
A solid backup for Derrick Favors, this is low for him, but you must remember this is a draft of needs, not wants.
#26) San Antonio Spurs - Alex Poythress
The forgotten one: Alex’s stock has significantly dropped since last season, but the Spurs excel at taking on projects like him and turning them into quality players.
If anyone can save take Poythress and unlock his potential, it is Pop. He’d also be an interesting fill-in at PF once Duncan finally retires.
Bobcats Hornets (from Trail Blazers) - Aaron Harrison
His stock has taken a hit, but the Hornets have enough picks to take chances. I have a feeling Harrison is a late bloomer.
#28) Oklahoma City Thunder - Zach LaVine
UCLA has been good to the Thunder in Westbrook (sorta). He could be a potential trade pick, or the Thunder can use him as a scorer off the bench, his speed would certainly be an asset when Westbrook rests.
#29) Miami Heat - Aaron Craft
Aaron Craft is a leader, a winner, a lock-down defender, and an extremely talented draft prospect. In short, he’s no joke.
He’s also a senior, which means most teams aren’t interested in his polish, they’d rather draft for potential in this loaded draft class.
The Heat aren’t in rebuild mode though, their team is already constructed. Mario Chalmers’ expiring contract however, leaves a hole at Point Guard; he’s going to be too expensive to keep around.
Craft is a risk the Heat can afford to take, drive like his is tough to come by in the NBA these days.
#30) Phoenix Suns (via Pacers) - Kyle Anderson
Too much love for UCLA? Perhaps not enough from the AP.
Anderson is long, athletic, and a steal at 30; the point forward is also a work in progress. The Suns multiple draft picks give them the luxury to keep him in the D-League or rafters until he’s ready to contribute, but he offers another option for Phoenix to create a roster with great ball-movement.
Then again, Shabazz Muhammad reminds us that this picture will be very different by May.
Long time reader, first time writer on SB Nation; I hope I've kept you entertained ~ Gsai