We won’t know for sure whether or not the Pistons own a pick in the 2014 draft until after the season. Detroit owes their pick to the Charlotte Bobcats for taking on Ben Gordon’s salary in a trade back in 2012. The pick is top-8 protected, meaning that if the Pistons pick 8th or higher, they get to keep the pick. For example, if the Pistons miss the playoffs, finish in the 11th slot but somehow win the lottery, then they keep the pick. Until Detroit has ceded a pick to the Charlotte HornetCats (Bobnets?), it is hard to put a final stamp on the Gordon trade. Let’s take a look at how the draft might shape up this year.
*NBA comparisons are made on style of play, not talent and impact.
** Draft order as of the start of games on January 11, 2014
1st – Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker – F – Duke – 6’8, 235 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Carmelo Anthony
Anybody who has seen Jabari Parker play this season at Duke knows why he would be an easy choice first overall. His blend of size, skill and scoring ability have had teams blowing up their roster for a shot to draft him. Parker compares to Anthony for his ability to score inside and out, as well as his rebounding. They also compare favorably in terms of athleticism. Parker would fit well in Milwaukee playing alongside a rim-protector (Larry Sanders) a potentially lethal wing-defender (Giannis Antetokounmpo) and multiple floor stretchers (Khris Middleton, OJ Mayo). Parker probably doesn’t make the Bucks a playoff team right away, but they wouldn’t be far off.
2nd – Orlando Magic: Marcus Smart – PG – Oklahoma State – 6’4, 220 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Tyreke Evans
The Orlando Magic are in much better shape than their current record suggests. They have a legitimate NBA center in Nikola Vucevic, two defensive stoppers on the wing (Afflalo and Oladipo) and a pair of talented, though unproven forwards in Tobias Harris and Mo Harkless. So why has Orlando been so bad this year? The Oladipo experiment at PG, an injury to Tobias Harris and extreme amounts of youth, mixed in with Glen Davis have led to a lot of losses for Orlando this season. A lineup with Smart, Oladipo, Afflalo (if they keep him), Harris and Vucevic would be a nice start. If I were an Orlando fan, I’d try to parlay some of my good pieces into one great piece. Maybe this pick gets traded and they find a PG lower down in this year’s loaded draft.
3rd – Utah Jazz: Andrew Wiggins – SF – Kansas – 6’8, 200 lbs
Current NBA Comparison:
LeBron James Rudy Gay
The hype machine around Andrew Wiggins has slowed down significantly since he has struggled a little bit at Kansas this year. He doesn’t have a consistently good three-point shot (30.4%), and the lack of a defensive three second rule in the college game hurts his ability to get into the lane with ease. The LeBron comparisons that used to be thrown around in regards to Wiggins really look bad when you see that he averages more turnovers per game than assists. That doesn’t mean he won’t be a good NBA player, though. Wiggins gets to the free throw line frequently, is an okay rebounder and has all the tools to be a good defender. No shame in adding a guy like that to a team that already has young pieces like Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors.
4th – Philadelphia 76ers – Julius Randle – PF – Kentucky – 6’9, 250 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Zach Randolph
Randle isn’t a perfect fit in Philadelphia’s system, as he might be a tad too bulky to run the floor like Brett Brown has his team doing this year. However, they don’t need a PG or a C (unless they believe that Nerlens Noel can play PF), so Exum and Embiid would make little sense. This pick might also see some movement if Philly ends up not having a chance at Wiggins or Parker. Randle is a good rebounder, impossible to keep off the free throw line and nearly impossible to stop in the restricted area. He doesn’t bring much in the way of rim protection and might have trouble dealing with athletic PFs in the NBA on the defensive end. His offense is good enough to the point where that isn’t a huge issue. If Randle can develop any type of jump shot, he has a chance at being a 25 PPG scorer in the NBA, in his prime.
5th – B0st0n Celtics – Joel Embiid – C – Kansas – 7’0, 250 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Dwight Howard
It seems like every year there’s a pick with massive amounts of upside, that also has the potential to be a huge bust. This year’s prospect that fits that billing is easily Joel Embiid. Embiid has only been playing organized basketball for a few years, has a massive frame and athleticism and possesses the ability to take over a game on physical tools alone. Embiid doesn’t have a vast offensive game and may never develop one. However, he should score points in the NBA well enough on put-backs and by simply being stronger and more athletic than opposing big men. He has a 7’4 wingspan and huge hands, enough to make him a force on the defensive end, where he will provide enough value to justify a top-five pick. Depending on the pick order, Embiid could even justify going first overall. He would be a great fit to play alongside Jared Sullinger in the frontcourt.
6th – Sacramento Kings – Dante Exum – PG – Australia – 6’6, 185 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Michael Carter-Williams
Exum probably isn’t as good of a defender as Carter-Williams (there isn’t nearly as much video of Exum as other prospects), but on the offensive end the comparison works. Exum could use more muscle on his frame, which would likely come with working every day with an NBA trainer. Exum works mostly off his quickness and ball-handling, as his jump shot is still developing consistency. His size and length should give him the ability to pass over the top of opposing guards. Sacramento’s odd mixture of scorers could use a guy like Exum who can be a good distributor at the highest level.
7th – Cleveland Cavaliers – Gary Harris – SG – Michigan State – 6’4, 210 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Eric Gordon
The Cavaliers could really use a replacement for ultra-inefficient SG Dion Waiters. Harris would work well playing alongside Kyrie Irving, as he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to score. Harris is a capable three-point shooter (41.1% this season), a good athlete and fits well in Cleveland’s lack of an offensive system, where he can create his own looks with his quickness and athletic burst. Harris is a nice player, and should be a starter, but probably doesn’t have the size and ball-handling ability to be a star in the NBA.
8th – Denver Nuggets (via NY Knicks) – Rodney Hood – SF – Duke – 6’8, 215 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Danny Granger
Rodney Hood is one of the least-known names on this list thanks to Jabari Parker’s stardom at Duke this year. Hood mixes a deadly jump shot (47% from three) with a quick first step and good length. He has all the skills to be a great scorer at the NBA level if he can put some weight on his frame. He’s an okay rebounder and passer, so his all-around value isn’t through the roof, but from a scoring standpoint, he’s one of the best in this class. I think it’s not too outrageous to suggest that he probably would’ve gone first overall last year, he’s a much better wing prospect than Anthony Bennett (even before we knew what a bust he is). Hood would fit well playing alongside Ty Lawson, Wilson Chandler and in Denver’s up-tempo offense.
9th – Los Angeles Lakers – James Young – G/F – Kentucky – 6’7, 205 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: DeMar DeRozan
The Lakers have the greatest variability in the draft in terms of positions where they need somebody. With only Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash under contract for 2014, the Lakers can justify drafting a player at any position, even SG. This puts the Lakers in the position to draft the best player available. In this case, it’s James Young from Kentucky. Young is a scorer who is still developing pieces of his game. He doesn’t shoot well from the perimeter, getting most of his points on cuts to the basket. He possesses good length (6’11 wingspan) and quickness. Young has a high ceiling and may fit well in Lakerland at either perimeter spot once Kobe is no longer running the show.
10th – Charlotte Bobcats (via Detroit) – Glenn Robinson III – SF – Michigan – 6’7, 220 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Andre Iguodala (h/t to nbadraft.net)
The Bobcats benefit from taking on two years of Ben Gordon in exchange for one year of Corey Maggette. This pick is top-8 protected, so if the Pistons get any worse (it just might happen!!!) then it goes back to Detroit. Robinson is a frustrating talent, who often sleepwalks through games on the offensive end of the floor. His physical gifts (strength, leaping ability) too often go to waste just standing in the corner. If he can develop a mean streak and a willingness to take over games, Robinson would be a huge steal at the 10th pick. As a Michigan fan, I can say that I don’t see that happening.
11th – Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans) – Jerami Grant – SF – Syracuse – 6’8, 210 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Al-Farouq Aminu
Grant is a project offensively who may be able to utilize his 7’2 wingspan as a defensive specialist early in his career. He lacks a jump shot and ball-handling skills, so at this point his offensive game would consist mostly of scraps and lobs. Would work well in Philadelphia’s fast-break, up-tempo style, which would help mask his lack of offensive talent. Jerami Grant is a player who could be a bust if drafted by the wrong team.
12th – Memphis Grizzlies – Dario Saric – F – Croatia – 6’10, 225 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Hedo Turkoglu before things fell apart
Saric is the first international pick in the draft, as he’s almost guaranteed to come to the NBA next year, with his current European club in financial ruins. Saric is a prototypical, European point forward in the mold of Hedo Turkoglu. He’s a capable passer and shooter who lacks physical gifts. The Grizzlies are desperate for help at the SF position.
13th – Minnesota Timberwolves – Noah Vonleh – PF – Indiana – 6’10, 240 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Ed Davis (right-handed version)
This pick is top-13 protected from going to Phoenix, so the Wolves just barely keep the pick. Vonleh was highly hyped out of high school and is off to an okay start at Indiana. He runs the floor well, has good length and can elevate. Minnesota may want him as insurance in case Kevin Love leaves in free agency in 2015, or if they decide to trade him.
14th – Orlando Magic (via Denver) – Willie Cauley-Stein – PF/C – Kentucky – 7’0, 235 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Samuel Dalembert
Orlando solved its PG problem with their first pick and look to add a rim protector with their 2nd pick. Going simply on overall talent, WCS probably isn’t worth using a lottery pick on. However, Orlando doesn’t have a single player averaging over 1.1 BPG and they don’t need another combo forward. Cauley-Stein is averaging almost 4 blocks per game in just 27 minutes. If he can develop a jump hook, using his length and athleticism, he will have enough of an offensive game to justify him as a starter in the NBA.
15th – Chicago Bulls (via Charlotte) – Jordan Clarkson – PG – Missouri – 6’5, 195 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Reggie Jackson
Clarkson is a big, athletic PG who isn’t a pass-first player. He has good quickness, athleticism and a good first step. He would make for a good insurance policy for when Rose is out, and a great backup for when he’s healthy. While the Bulls have bigger long-term needs than a backup PG, they can’t ignore Rose’s fragility any longer. Time to find a Plan B. Clarkson makes for a good one.
16th – Atlanta Hawks (via Brooklyn) – Doug McDermott – SF – Creighton – 6’8, 225 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Khris Middleton
The Hawks get another shooter to open up the paint for Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap. McDermott has been a strong scorer his entire career as a Blue Jay (14.9 PPG, 22.9 PPG, 23.2 PPG, 24.3 PPG). He lacks the quickness and explosion to score at will in the NBA but will be able to find his niche as a sharp shooter, and might be a decent rebounder from the SF position. In a league where the PF position is no longer dominated by bulk, he might prove to be a good stretch four in a small-ball lineup.
17th – Phoenix Suns (via Washington) – Kyle Anderson – SF – UCLA – 6’9, 230 lbs
Current NBA Comparsion: Nic Batum
Kyle Anderson is a do-it-all player for UCLA. He leads the Bruins in APG and RPG, and is the team’s second-leading scorer. In a different draft with less options on the wing, Anderson is a sure-fire lottery pick. He’s a bit slender right now, but with a little added strength, his game should translate to the next level. One concern I have about Anderson is how he’d perform if he didn’t constantly have the ball in his hands.
18th – Chicago Bulls – T.J. Warren – SF – NC State – 6’8, 230 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Weird Thaddeus Young/Paul Millsap
T.J. Warren is an interesting prospect. He isn’t an explosive athlete or a good shooter, but he’s a good scorer and rebounder. He has the offensive production of Thad Young (without the athleticism) and the body of Paul Millsap. This is a terrible comparison, but the best I have.
19th – Toronto Raptors – Tyler Ennis – PG – Syracuse – 6’2, 180 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Darren Collison
Ennis is a good outside shooter, strong passer and decision-maker. If he had more natural athleticism and strength, he would probably be a lottery pick in the 2014 draft. Should fit in well on the Raptors’ roster where he wouldn’t be asked to score.
20th – Atlanta Hawks – Isaiah Austin – C – Baylor – 7’1, 220 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Alexis Ajinca
Austin was a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school due to his height, length and skill with the ball. He’s yet to turn into much of an offensive player at Baylor, but has made a solid impact on the defensive, averaging over 3 blocks per game this season. As a thin guy, he has a tendency to drift towards the perimeter. He shot 90 threes last season, and while he’s only at 7 this year, there’s no reason for a guy his size to be out there. Especially when he’s shooting 14% on the year. He’s a high-ceiling type pick, but he could easily be out of the league in five years if he can’t add weight.
21st – Oklahoma City (via Dallas) – Vasilje Micic – PG – Serbia – 6’5, 220 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Ramon Sessions
Micic is a big Point Guard, with good court vision and no skill that really blows you away. His size and ball-handling should make him a servicable back-up in the NBA. Could use improvement on his form when shooting. OKC already has Reggie Jackson and Russell Westbrook, but may want an insurance policy for Westbrook’s injury issues. He’s also a candidate to be a draft-and-stash guy, saving OKC some cap room. Micic turns 20 this month.
22nd – Phoenix Suns – James Michael McAdoo – F – North Carolina – 6’9, 225 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: DeMarre Carroll
McAdoo certainly isn’t what people thought he was going into his Sophomore season at UNC. He’s failed to develop his offensive game beyond being a long, athletic finisher. McAdoo might do well to try and pack on 15-20 pounds and trying to model his game around that of Terrence Jones. He has the body and the athleticism to contribute in the NBA, just needs to find a bit of consistency. Would work well in Phoenix’s up-tempo system.
23rd – Houston Rockets – C.J. Wilcox – SG – Washington – 6’5, 195 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Reggie Bullock
Wilcox is a pure shooter. He’s shooting 42% on threes this season, despite taking over 7 per game. He could probably stand to add some weight to his frame. Wilcox would fit well on Houston’s bench, benefitting from open looks created by James Harden and Dwight Howard.
24th – Utah Jazz (via Golden State) – Elfrid Payton – G – Louisiana-Lafayette – 6’3, 180 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Archie Goodwin
Payton is a guard who can stuff the stat sheet, just about anywhere except the three point shooting column. I think his game is well-suited for a bench role where he can be the lead guard and not have to worry about whether he’s a PG or a SG. If he can develop a reliable three-point shot, he’ll be tough to guard.
25th – Los Angeles Clippers – Jordan Bachynski – C – Arizona State – 7’2, 255 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Timofey Mozgov
Bachynski is a big body and a good shot blocker at the college level. His offensive game probably won’t translate to the next level due to a lack of athleticism. His 7’4 wingspan and height suggest that he should be able to at least alter shots at the NBA level. Not going to be more than a back-up, but the Clippers could really use some defensive help in the paint.
26th – Miami Heat – Deonte Burton – PG – Nevada – 6’1, 190 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Avery Bradley (offense only)
Burton is an explosive leaper and a score-first PG. He could help Miami in case LeBron ever does actually swallow Mario Chalmers whole after he does something stupid. Burton lacks a reliable three-point shot, but has enough quickness and explosion to make up for that. Could be scary running the break with LeBron and Wade.
27th – Charlotte Bobcats – Dwight Powell – PF – Stanford – 6’10, 245 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Josh McRoberts
Powell draws the McRoberts comparison for his ability to pass from the high post. Powell is averaging over 4 assists per game in Stanford’s triangle offense this season. He doesn’t have explosive athleticism or range, but neither of those things are weaknesses for Powell either.
28th – Oklahoma City Thunder – Cameron Clark – SF – Oklahoma – 6’7, 210 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Jordan Hamilton
Clark would work well for the Thunder as an aged sharp-shooter who can contribute right away if need be. He’s shooting 42% from three this season and averaging 6 rebounds per game for the Sooners. OKC really doesn’t need this pick either and may utilize another draft-and-stash, or trade the pick to avoid the guaranteed salary for a player who isn’t a guaranteed contributor.
29th – San Antonio Spurs – Clint Capela – F – Switzerland – 6’10, 215 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: skinny Bismack Biyombo?
There’s practically no way the Spurs use this pick on an American player, so we’ll see Capela in three years when he’s somehow playing very solid minutes off the Spurs’ bench behind 73 year-old Tim Duncan. He’s got good length and runs the floor well. Needs to add at least 20 pounds before he can play in the NBA.
30th – Phoenix Suns – C.J. Fair – SF – Syracuse – 6’7, 215 lbs
Current NBA Comparison: Corey Brewer
Fair saw an uptick in his three point shooting last season, but has regressed once again this year. He’s a good athlete and is the kind of player who can develop into a solid bench guy. Phoenix could once again use his athleticism in the open floor.
In this scenario the Pistons lose their pick to Charlotte and miss out on a guy like Glenn Robinson III. So essentially Ben Gordon got traded with GR3 for Corey Maggette, Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings. Did the Pistons win this deal? Absolutely not. Did they get beat in it? Time can only tell when the draft pick materializes.