With a loaded 2014 draft class, NBA teams and executives have been hard at work scouting some of the top college players more than ever this season. Most of the top projected picks are freshman who have already shined on the national level. Below, we take a look at five projected teams and the players who best fit their rebuilding strategy.
(Please note, these are the teams who are being projected to have the top picks in the draft by the end of the season. For instance, Denver owns the New York’s first round draft pick.)
Andrew Wiggins, SF- Kansas
The Bucks have the worst record in the league and will most likely have the highest probability of landing the top overall pick. With that top overall selection, Wiggins makes the most sense for the franchise. O.J. Mayo is the team’s best player averaging 13.9 points a game, and around him they’ve got young bright spots in John Henson, Brandon Knight, Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova. Wiggins is a natural fit for them at small forward and could give the team a dynamic finisher in transition which they severely lack. If a player like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist can start as a rookie, why not Wiggins as well, who has the highest ceiling of anyone in this class?
Jabari Parker, SF- Duke
If the Jazz are able to land Parker, it would be consecutive drafts in which the team comes away with two legit starters for years to come. Rookie Trey Burke has taken over at point guard and just had a career game against Orlando with 30 points, seven rounds and eight assists. Add Parker to the mix and they would have two scorers from the perimeter capable of scoring 20 a night. Parker’s game is very Carmelo-esque. The Bucks could also play small ball if needed and slide Derrick Favors over to center and Parker can play the four. The Bucks priority heading into the offseason though needs to be re-signing Gordon Hayward.
Julius Randle, PF- Kentucky
Randle would be the perfect complement for Nikola Vucevic in the Magic frontcourt. Glen Davis, who has another year on his contract, is best suited to come off the bench. Similar to Zach Randolph’s style of play, Randle is best facing up and attacking off the dribble, catching the ball around the rim and finishing over his right shoulder (since he’s a lefty). He plays like a grown man amongst boys already and he’s only 18 years old. Can you imagine the Magic in three years with Victor Oladipo, Randle, Vucevic, and Tobias Harris?
Joel Embiid, C- Kentucky
If it weren’t for Wiggins, Embiid would have the highest ceiling in this class. This is a 7-footer who played volleyball and soccer growing up – no wonder why he’s drawing comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon because of his Dream-like agility. The Nuggets do have Timofey Mozgov (27) and Javale McGee (25), but neither is expected to develop anymore than they already have. Embiid would fit perfectly in the offense ran by Ty Lawson and has the potential to grow into the game’s best center since Dwight Howard.
Marcus Smart, PG- Oklahoma State
Led by the new Masai Ujiri regime, the Raptors appear to be trading away their top players and ridding themselves of bad contracts (Rudy Gay last week, Kyle Lowry could be next) to build around a top draft pick. Smart fits right into those plans especially if Lowry gets traded. He can play the point and this year, he’s improved his jump shot enough (five threes against Memphis – 33% from three this year, up from 29% last year) to play off the ball as well. DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross, and Smart is a young core to build around.