After months of waiting and anticipation, the NBA draft class of 2014 has finally arrived. This year’s class is one of the richest in terms of talent and size and many teams actually “tanked” the previous regular season to ensure that they get first dibs. Now that the dust has settled, there were only minimum trades as no lottery team was willing to trade their draft picks. Here are the top 5 picks:
1) Andrew Wiggins S/F (Cleveland Cavaliers)—With the injury to prospective top pick center Joel Embiid, the Cavaliers chose the super athletic Wiggins as the No. 1 pick. While Wiggins’ stock fell a little during his lone year in college, he will definitely be a good fit as the Cavaliers need a small forward. He will be able to immediately contribute on both ends of the floor and has a very high ceiling. With a core of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, and now Wiggins, Cleveland has a shot at making its first playoff appearance since the LeBron James era. Wiggins will become an All-Star in a few years.
2) Jabari Parker S/F (Milwaukee Bucks)—This early, Parker is already the favorite for Rookie of the Year. In a weak Bucks team, Parker will get heavy minutes and will carry the scoring load. He has a repertoire of shots that allow him to create his own scoring and has the strength to finish around the rim. He dropped to No.2 since there were doubts about his defensive abilities. Like Wiggins, Parker is a future All-Star.
3) Joel Embiid C (Philadelphia 76ers)—He is probably the most talented player in the draft but a foot injury made him slide to No. 3. Embiid’s injury is the same as Bill Walton and Yao Ming—some of the best big men to play the game whose careers were cut short. Despite this, the 76ers took a big gamble and if things go well, they will also reap big rewards. With Embiid and the come-backing Nerlens Noel (who missed last season due to a torn ACL) on the floor, the 76ers will have a dominant frontcourt for years to come. Embiid is the real deal and has the complete package for a center.
4) Aaron Gordon PF (Orlando Magic)—Gordon instantly brings defense to the Magic. At 18 years old, Gordon has good upside and is the reason why the Arizona Wildcats ranked 1st in adjusted defense in the nation. His offensive game is still raw but his rebounding and defense is unquestioned. He will probably make a lot of baskets off the offensive boards. Gordon is freakishly athletic and has a vertical leap of 39 inches. He reminds me of Blake Griffin.
5) Dante Exum G (Utah Jazz)—At 6-6, Exum can play combo guard and has enough size to be a match-up problem. His length (6-9 wingspan) and speed will make him an elite lockdown defender. While he hasn’t played a lot against top-tier talent, he has good vision, passing, and decision-making. Only problem is the Jazz already have a budding star guard in Trey Burke. Exum can play alongside Burke but he may also be used as trade bait in the future. Regardless where he ends up, Exum will make waves.