Buckle up NBA fans, the 2014 NBA Draft is expected to be one hell of a ride. If you live for the mock drafts and offseason trade rumors, then forget Christmas – this is your favorite time of the year.
It seems like every day leading up to the draft there has been a change in who will go number one to the Cleveland Cavaliers, while new trade rumors have popped up across Twitter timelines by the second. With just hours left until the fortune and fame of the NBA turns the lives of sixty young men upside down, we attempt to put a finger on just how tomorrow night might play out in Brooklyn. These are Dime’s five predictions for the 2014 NBA Draft.
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Cleveland Will Trade The Number One Pick
There seems to be some confusion in Cleveland’s front office as they hope to draft their next franchise cornerstone tomorrow night with the number one pick. After the Joel Embiid injury saga came to fruition last week and Jabari Parker reportedly “tanked” his workout with the Cavs, new GM David Griffin certainly has his hands full at the top of the draft. Since losing LeBron James to free agency, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has been known for bold statements like guaranteeing that Cleveland would win a title before James, re-hiring Mike Brown and stunningly drafting Anthony Bennett first in last year’s draft. Gilbert clearly struck out on all three, and it might be in the organization’s best interest to play it safe.
With Embiid’s injury woes and questions regarding Parker’s desire to be in Cleveland, Andrew Wiggins seems like the obvious fit here, but drafting the Canadian sensation over Parker may not be the “safe” thing to do. The Cavs can’t afford to swing and miss as they did with last year’s top overall pick and if Parker doesn’t want to be there, Cleveland will be better off taking an offer from one of the many organizations that are courting the first pick. An offer from the Orlando Magic of the fourth pick, 12th pick, and Arron Afflalo sounds like a nice offer to me if I’m Cleveland.
Wiggins Goes First
A year ago, ost NBA scouts would have told you that they expected Wiggins to be the next Canadian born player to go first overall. After having his name shuffled around on every mock draft for months, those long-held expectations will ultimately come to fruition as Wiggins hears his name called first on Thursday night. It might not be as a Cavalier, but Wiggins could follow in the footsteps of Paul George and blossom into one of the league’s top wing players at a very young age.
While Parker is more of a polished player at this point might be more NBA ready, Wiggins has the higher ceiling and is the right selection with the first pick, wherever that may be.
Kevin Love Does Not Get Traded
While I expect Kevin Love to get traded before training camp after informing the Wolves that he will not be signing an extension, Flip Saunders and company will take their time in finding the right suitor for the three-time All-Star and choose to not move him on Thursday. Love may not be the centerpiece on a championship ball-club, but he can certainly help many teams that are on the verge of contention get over the hump – he’s arguably a top-10 player in all of professional basketball.
With everyone and their mother interested in trading for Love, Minnesota should end up with multiple young assets in return, but it won’t be on draft night.
Celtics Get Their Guy
Celtics fans everywhere were distraught after learning that their team’s poor season didn’t yield the number one pick once again. The last time that the ping pong balls were not particularly friendly to Boston was when it lost out on Tim Duncan in 1997 after having the best odds (36 percent) of winning the lottery.
A few weeks ago, Embiid seemed to be the likely choice at number one despite his back injury that caused him to miss the NCAA tournament. After recently suffering a stress fracture in his right foot, however, Embiid may end up falling out of the top-5. Embiid’s agent, Arn Tellem, can choose what teams will his client’s medical records, and it has been reported that if he is not selected first that Tellem would prefer Embiid go to Boston or the Los Angeles Lakers.
It’s difficult to see a team that needs a guy to come in and play right away drafting Embiid in the top-5, but post players that warrant Hakeem Olajuwon comparisons don’t come around often. If the Celtics fear that Embiid will be selected before their pick despite his ailments, look for Danny Ainge to trade up to get Embiid in green.
Josh Smith Goes To Sacramento
After an underwhelming season in Detroit, any team willing to take on Josh Smith and his 40.5 million dollar contract for the next three years would instantly become best friends with new Pistons Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations Stan Van Gundy. This contract may appear immovable on the surface, but if anyone is interested in Smith’s services it will likely be the Kings. Sacramento seems like an ideal landing spot for the 6-9 swingman and the Kings new ownership team has proven to be aggressive in putting talent on the floor, regardless of the price tag (see Rudy Gay).
If the Kings do acquire Smith, they might do so with an ulterior motive as they have also been linked to Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. Rondo and Smith were high school teammates at Oak Hill Academy and would certainly make for an intriguing (and possibly dysfunctional) core along with Gay and DeMarcus Cousins in Sac-Town.
Which of these will come true?
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