We are now storming towards December and a nice portion of the season is in the rearview mirror. The leagues bottom dwellers appear to be set in place and the overwhelming majority of those teams reside in the Eastern Conference. Several of the teams are going to come as a surprise, considering their lofty expectations coming in to the season but its only the first mock draft at least a few of these teams will climb out of the ditch they are in. Utah, Milwaukee, Orlando and Phoenix were all expected to be here, but Brooklyn and New York are complete shocks.
Here is the crap thing for Brooklyn, they surrendered their picks in hopes for the instant gratification of winning a championship by investing in a hand full of past their prime stars. Probably not good long term planning, but they may be able to salvage their draft hopes by trading away what they can to crawl in to the latter end of the lottery. Meanwhile if Carmelo leaves for greener pastures and the Knicks continue to suck then a trip to the lottery may be just what this team needs. Problem is, they traded this pick away for Carmelo. They have several pieces they can part with and well if another week goes by of win less basketball they may need to consider the fire sale option. Which may be able to get them back into the lottery.
The good news for many of these teams (currently excluding Brooklyn and New York) the class of 2014 may be the best in the last 10 years. It most certainly appears to be the richest in terms of depth and talent of the last 5 years. All lottery teams will walkaway with a major piece if they select right. The top five can't go wrong, unless they completely shock the world (Cleveland in 2013, how is Anthony Bennett working out?) and pick someone other than the obvious. Four of the potential top five picks (Parker, Randle, Smart and Gordon) have been lights out so far this year. The fifth player, 6'6 Dante Exum is in Australia finishing up high school and left a good enough impression over the summer to lock in his place.
The remainder of the potential players in this draft class have been just as pleasant and are expected to remain near the top of the drat lottery shopping list. Below are my early predictions, based off of current NBA records and top rated talent playing in college and overseas.
*All personal opinion based off of the facts I have at my disposal*
1. Utah Jazz - Jabari Parker, PF/SF, Duke, 23. 6 ppg and 8 rebounds
2. Milwaukee Bucks - Andrew Wiggins, SF/SG, Kansas 16.8 ppg and 5.6 rebounds
3. Denver Nuggets (Knicks Pick) - Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky 19 ppg and 13.1 rebounds
4. Atlanta Hawks (Nets Pick) - Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia
5. Sacramento Kings - Marcus Smart, PG, OKST 22.5 ppg and 3.7 assists
6. Cleveland Cavaliers - Gary Harris, SG, MSU 17.7 ppg and 4.3 rebounds
7. Boston Celtics - Semaj Christon, PG, Xavier, 16 ppg and 4.5 assists
8. Orlando Magic - Andrew Harrison, PG, Kentucky 10.7 ppg and 3.7 assists
9. Philadelphia 76ers - James Young, SF, Kentucky 12.3 ppg and 3.7 rebounds
10. New Orleans Pelicans - Rodney Hood, SF, Duke 19.9 ppg and 4.6 rebounds
11. Charlotte Bobcats - Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton 27.4 ppg and 7.6 rebounds
12. LA Lakers - Adreian Payne, PF, MSU 17.2 ppg and 8 rebounds
13. Minnesota Timberwolves - Mitch McGary, PF, Michigan 8.8 ppg and 7.8 rebounds
14. Phoenix Suns - Aaron Gordon, SF/PF, Arizona 12.5 ppg and 9.7 rebounds
The Draft Fanatic