2014 NBA Draft Lottery

PBT Mock Draft: With the No. 1 pick, the Cleveland Cavaliers select… Andrew Wiggins

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It’s more fun to write about drama. It’s more fun to say, “There is no consensus No. 1 pick, this could go any direction.”

Reality is, as long has been expected, Andrew Wiggins likely goes No. 1. Most scouts grade him out as the top prospect, only Joel Embiid’s back might change that. The real fun question becomes who goes next? And through the rest of the first round?

This is the first mock of the season at PBT — our draft expert Ed Isaacson of NBADraftBlog.com and Rotoworld rightly believes you can’t really do a mock until you know the draft order. Now we do. So he has compiled a mock for Rotoworld and PBT.

The draft order will shift on team’s boards as they work guys out closer to the draft and our future mocks will reflect that. Also, per Isaacson, “Team needs were taken into account in a very broad way at this point, but these selections are based on who I believe each team will take, as of today.”

1) Cleveland – Andrew Wiggins, F, Kansas

The top prospect in this class, Wiggins has a combination of skill and athleticism which will allow him to make an immediate impact in the Cavaliers’ lineup, while still having a lot of untapped potential to make him a strong pick at number 1. The combination of Kyrie Irving and Wiggins, with a hopefully improved Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett, could give Cleveland a dominant scoring group.

2) Milwaukee – Jabari Parker, F, Duke

Ideally, Joel Embiid will be given a clean bill of health, and I would put him in this slot. However, until that happens, Parker becomes Milwaukee’s best option at number 2. Parker will give them an instant boost in scoring, and the ability to play him inside or out should give the coaching staff plenty of lineup options.

3) Philadelphia – Joel Embiid, C, Kansas

Embiid’s health will be one of the most talked about aspects of this draft over the next month, and what teams are able to find out will help determine who is going to pick him. In this scenario, he falls to the 76ers and instantly gives the Sixers a dominant rim-protecting duo in Embiid and Nerlens Noel. It also gives them two very raw offensive players, though Embiid may be a bit further along.

source: Getty Images4) Orlando – Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State

The addition of Smart will not only give the Magic a much needed point guard presence (I am a non-believer in the Victor Oladipo, point guard campaign), but in combination with Oladipo, they will have a potentially very good defensive duo in the backcourt. Dante Exum may be the other option here, but I am not sold yet that he could be an NBA point guard, and taking him will likely keep the Oladipo experiment going. The Magic are much better off getting the point guard and defensive stopper in Smart.

5) Utah – Dante Exum, G, Australia

The lottery’s mystery man this year, Exum has good size and he is skilled for his age. He hasn’t really faced top-level competition and many teams will be getting a real close look at him for the first time in the coming weeks. As mentioned above, I’m not sold on Exum as a point guard, but he could become a solid complement next to last year’s first round pick, Trey Burke, in the Jazz backcourt, with the potential for maybe some short stints running the point.

[MORE — Ed Isaacson’s top underclassman of the 2014 NBA Draft]

6) Boston – Noah Vonleh, F, Indiana

Personally, I have Julius Randle rated higher than Vonleh, but with Jared Sullinger already in the fold and coming off a good season, the longer Vonleh would make more sense with this pick and he could play alongside Sullinger. Also, Vonleh’s ability to shoot from the perimeter would allow Sullinger to operate around the basket, where he is most comfortable.

7) Los Angeles Lakers – Julius Randle, F, Kentucky

The Lakers are looking at a complete rebuild during Kobe Bryant’s final years with the team, and while a higher pick could have secured their future a bit more, Randle has the ability to make an immediate impact next season. Randle is a strong post player who is very agile for his size, and he can be a terror on both the offensive and defensive boards. He won’t provide a very good defensive presence yet, but he will be a double-double threat from the get-go and a nice piece to start the Lakers’ rebuilding.

8) Sacramento – Doug McDermott, F, Creighton

This is a stretch in terms of where I have McDermott’s value, but Sacramento would be an ideal spot for him to bring his scoring strengths. He can provide a much needed consistent perimeter shooter, which would open up space for the ever-improving DeMarcus Cousins to operate in. Concerns about McDermott’s defensive ability have been blown out of proportion and he understands the game well enough to cover up his deficient areas.

9) Charlotte – Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia

Big-bodied with still-developing skills, Nurkic could be the Hornets’ big man of the future. I wouldn’t expect him to come over right away, but with Al Jefferson’s contract up in a couple of years and Bismack Biyombo a continued disappointment, it may be tough for the Hornets to pass up on this opportunity that could pay off down the road.

10) Philadelphia – Nik Stauskas, G, Michigan

Having taken Joel Embiid at number 3, the 76ers can use the 10th pick to shore up the backcourt alongside Michael Carter-Williams. Stauskas will give the Sixers an immediate deep threat, while also giving them another playmaker in the backcourt.

source: Getty Images11) Denver – Rodney Hood, G/F, Duke

The Nuggets have some crowding at the shooting guard position, but Hood has the ability to slide over to the other wing and give them another long-range threat. He has great size and is very good running the floor, giving Ty Lawson another target in the open floor.

12) Orlando – Dario Saric, F, Croatia

The Magic shored up their backcourt with Marcus Smart at number 4, and they can look to add another strong offensive weapon in the highly-skilled Saric. While it isn’t known yet whether Saric will come to the NBA right away, he could be a very good addition to the Magic’s core group of young players in the near future.

13) Minnesota – Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona

Kevin Love is certain to find his way out of Minnesota at some point in the next year, and while Gordon isn’t really a replacement; he will provide an extremely athletic forward who can run the floor and rebound, as well as guard multiple positions. He still has a lot of work to do on the offensive end, but he will certainly bring a little excitement to the Timberwolves.

14) Phoenix – James Young, G, Kentucky

This season’s surprise NBA team, the Suns were supposed to be in rebuilding mode, and fell just shy of the playoffs. They may not be able to keep rising star Eric Bledsoe, who may command too much money, but Young will give a different type of presence to the backcourt. He has good size and should be a good shooter, though he needs to become much more consistent. He runs the floor well and should provide a nice complement to Goran Dragic in the Suns’ backcourt.

15) Atlanta – Gary Harris, G, Michigan State

I consider Harris to be the best shooting guard prospect in this class, but I can see teams looking at other options ahead of him, so he falls here to Atlanta. Harris will be able to provide some scoring and defense right away for the Hawks, but the real payoff could come long-term as he continues to hone his skills. Tremendous value if they can get him at number 15.

[MORE — Ed Isaacson’s Top 10 seniors in the 2014 NBA Draft]

16) Chicago – Tyler Ennis, G, Syracuse

Ennis will help provide stability at the point guard position for the Bulls as Derrick Rose comes back from another knee injury. This to me is the Bulls playing it safe, though I rate Elfrid Payton ahead of him as a point guard prospect. Coach Tom Thibodeau should be able to help Ennis build his defensive ability, and his ability to protect the ball will work well in their offense.

source: Getty Images17) Boston – Elfrid Payton, G, Lousiana-Lafayette

Rajon Rondo’s career with the Celtics will end sooner rather than later, and Phil Pressey certainly isn’t the answer as his replacement. Payton will remind many of a young Rondo with his ability to rebound well for his size and a strong ability to get into the lane and create. He needs to work on becoming a more consistent shooter, but he will improve. Payton will also provide a strong defensive presence on the perimeter, which will make him very popular with coach Brad Stevens.

18) Phoenix – T.J. Warren, F, North Carolina State

With their second of three first-round picks, the Suns can elect to add another offensive weapon in Warren, one of the NCAA’s top scorers this past season. Warren loves to find holes in the defense to get his shot and he will find plenty of them with Dragic at the point. He is also able to seek out mismatches when he is a smaller defender on him, setting up in the low or mid-post area for a quick shot.

19) Chicago – Adreian Payne, F, Michigan State

Payne will give Chicago a strong inside-outside scoring presence with very good size and the underrated athletic ability. Payne showed steady improvement throughout his college career and while his ceiling may not be much higher, he is ready to contribute from Day One for a Bulls team that needs scoring.

20) Toronto – K.J. McDaniels, F, Clemson

McDaniels is one of the more underrated players in this draft class, and he could end up being a steal for the Raptors here. He will provide a tremendous defensive presence on the wing for a team that really needs it. McDaniels is also a strong slasher and rebounder, as well as an improving shooter. I have him slotted here now, but by the draft, he could be bordering on being a lottery pick.

source: Getty Images21) Oklahoma City – Kyle Anderson, F, UCLA

Anderson is the toughest player to project in this class with his unique skill set. He has high level vision and passing skills to go along with an improving jumper, but at 6’9, he will be playing at the forward position. What he does provide coaches with is the ability to mix and match lineups and to find him spots on the floor where he can be most effective. I ‘m not sure anyone knows who he will defend in the NBA, but his skills are tough to pass up at number 21.

22) Memphis – Clint Capela, F, Switzerland

The Grizzlies may have just a year or two left with the current core, but there aren’t likely to be any college players who bowl them over in this spot, so Capela could be a good future piece when the team looks to replace player in a year or two. He has very good size and athletic ability, though he needs time to continue to develop his skills and toughness.

23) Utah – Glenn Robinson III, F, Michigan

The Jazz added some talent to their backcourt at #5 with Dante Exum, and now they can add some potential scoring and athleticism at the wing with Robinson. While he didn’t take the step forward that many expected last season, Robinson is still developing as a player and worth a shot at number 23. Also, Robinson should have an added comfort level being reunited with his old Michigan teammate, Trey Burke.

24) Charlotte – Jerami Grant, F, Syracuse

Taking Nurkic at number 9 was a step towards securing Charlotte’s future in the frontcourt, but adding Grant should pay off some quicker dividends. Grant’s skills may still be developing, but he is a high-level athlete who should help on defense and on the boards fairly quickly. If he can develop his offensive skills well, he will be a nightmare match-up for many defenders.

25) Houston – P.J. Hairston, G, Texas Legends

He may not have played for the Rockets’ D-League team last season, but the team does know the value of players developing there, and with Hairston they get a player who is already adjusted to spending time in the D-League, but he also has some very good long-term potential. The Rockets’ offense can never have enough shooters and Hairston is a very good one. He could be make an impact by the end of year one if given a chance.

26) Miami – Zach LaVine, G, UCLA

LaVine may be one of the most polarizing picks in this year’s draft. Some see his elite athleticism and see a huge future. Others, like me, see an AAU player who happens to be out of high school now. There’s no doubting that there is potential in LaVine, it’s just very far off. Miami would be a nice place for him to develop long-term, and there’s no real risk taking him at this point of the 1st round.

27) Phoenix – Kriztaps Porzingis, PF/C, Latvia

This is the Suns’ third first-round pick and a great place for them to take a chance on a draft-and-stash candidate with big potential. Long and athletic, Porzingis’ skill is developing rapidly and he can be ready in two years to come over and give the Suns some added depth to their frontcourt.

28) Los Angeles Clippers – Jordan Adams, G, UCLA

The third player from UCLA taken in this first round, Adams is the best scorer in the group with the type of game that will allow him to get plenty of points at the NBA level. He loves to operate in the mid-range area, but he has the skill to post up smaller guards and get easy buckets. He’s improving as a long-range shooter and the Clippers don’t need to rush his development.

29) Oklahoma City – Shabazz Napier, G, Connecticut

Russell Westbrook isn’t going anywhere, but the Thunder may not be able to hold on to Reggie Jackson long-term, so they can get a solid back-up in Napier who will be able to step in and take the role on quickly, if necessary. Napier is a winner and should fit easily in with the Thunder’s culture.

30) San Antonio – Spencer Dinwiddie, G, Colorado

The Spurs can really go in many directions here, but the first idea that popped into my head was taking a chance on the injured Dinwiddie. He should be recovered from his knee injury by the start of next season, but the Spurs won’t need to rush him into action. He can give them a big guard with some point guard abilities who can get to the basket easily against smaller defenders.

Steve Kerr will not “just stick to sports,” embraces new era of player political/social activism

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NEW ORLEANS — “Just stick to sports.”

Anytime an athlete speaks out on social issues, or wades into the political arena, Twitter swells with that comment — from people who disagree with the statement. In the wake of a polarizing election and controversial moves from President Donald Trump — such as his executive order on an immigration seven majority Muslim countries — there has been criticism of his moves from Commissioner Adam Silver, coaches such as Gregg Popovich, as well as players.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr has been at the front of that criticism, and he is not going to “just stick to sports.”

“If you stick to that mantra, then everybody should stick to what they’re doing, right? That means nobody’s allowed to have a political opinion,” Kerr said during All-Star weekend, where he was repeatedly asked about political and social issues. “It just so happens we get these microphones stuck in our face and we have a bigger platform. But it’s free speech and, if you look at the history of the world, the biggest problems come when people don’t speak.”

The “just stick to sports” crowd almost always opposes what the players said, but root their comments in the idea sports should be an escape from the political realm or other worldly challenges. Even though at it’s best sports has never been that — not with Jackie Robinson or Muhammad Ali or Olympic protests.

Kerr noted that in our modern world with so many outlets for getting your information, fans can choose to avoid political discussions in sports if they wish — just don’t click the link.

“I think you can follow sports however you want as a fan. If you want to watch the games to get away from everyday life, you can do that,” Kerr said. “You can turn on the games and watch the Warriors play or watch the Spurs play or whoever, and it’s just going to be about basketball. If you don’t want to read about political issues, you don’t have to read it. It’s the same in any field, whether it’s basketball, or entertainment, even politics themselves, you have to choose what you want to read about and follow. 

“We are in a society where a lot of us have microphones in our face every day, and a lot of us feel strongly about our need to speak out on injustice. I think it’s important. But it’s up to the individual fan to take that in or not. They can pick and choose.”

For a long time, there has been less social activism among athletes — not just in the NBA, but across sports. That is changing again, and Kerr said it’s a reaction to the times in which we live.

“I think maybe over the last 20 or 30 years there hasn’t been that same sense of urgency because we’ve generally lived in a pretty peaceful era, but it feels like it’s changing and so the whole country is changing in terms of its activism and social awareness,” Kerr said…

“For a long time, a lot of athletes stayed out of the political forum, out of fear of losing customers, and I think it’s refreshing that we have athletes who are putting their social beliefs ahead of any marking issues. I think that’s powerful.”

Kerr spoke out some on a long weekend where he had a microphone in his face a lot,  opposing President Trump policies such as building a border wall with Mexico for example. However, mostly he praised both the increased social activism of players and the stance of the league to stand up for inclusion — including moving the All-Star Game out of Charlotte because of North Carolina’s “bathroom bill.”

“Free speech is one of the principles our country was founded on, I think there’s some responsibility that goes with that if you see injustice,” Kerr said. “That’s why I think the league has been great in terms of understanding that responsibility and taking action, such as moving the All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans….

“I think what the NBA tries to preach is equality, and inclusion — we don’t just talk about it, we live it. We have this beautiful game where we have people from every race and religion and background, and we like that in our fans, too.”

While the league has turned its words into actions such as moving the All-Star Game — and warning Texas if they pass a similar bill Houston is likely out of the running for the 2020 edition of the game — the question is what the next step will be for the players. Commenting on social injustice is one thing, but how do they turn that into actions?

“That’s not my department,” Kerr said with a shrug. “I have spoken out on issues and will continue to do so, and I think the league has done a really good job of walking the walk. Moving the All-Star Game from Charlotte to here I think was an important statement for the league — we are about inclusion and equality for everybody, regardless of gender, race, religion, background, anything.”

Coaches such as Kerr, as well as NBA players, have a bigger megaphone to get out their views because they are interviewed by the media almost daily. Kerr said that he feels players have a responsibility to step up and be heard on issues, not just “stick to sports.”

“I think if you’re in a certain position, and you feel strongly about something, then I think it’s important and you should (speak out),” Kerr said. “But we all live different lives in different places, we’re from different backgrounds with different journeys, and what’s important to me might not be important to somebody else, and visa vera.

“But we’re all in a position where we can make a difference, and I think players understand that.”

Isaiah Thomas (correctly) says that trade wouldn’t be allowed in a video game

Sacramento Kings Media Day
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
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The Kings trade of DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi for a first-round pick, a second-round pick, Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway left many of us shellshocked by Sacramento’s meager return.

Apparently including Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas:

I recently participated in the Dunc’d On Basketball Podcast mock trade deadline, in which Nate Duncan, Danny Leroux, Kevin Pelton and I each took teams and negotiated trades. After the actual Cousins deal, I asked Pelton what he would’ve done if he had the Kings in our podcast and got that offer.

He just burst into laughter.

Thomas might likewise find the trade laughable, but that’s not everything at play with his tweet. The Kings once scorned him, and he hasn’t forgotten.

Emotional DeMarcus Cousins near tears saying goodbye to Sacramento after trade

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Kings’ general manager Vlade Divac took a parting shot at DeMarcus Cousins‘ character when he spoke to the media about the deal.

Cousins could be challenging in the locker room, but he was committed to Sacramento in ways most teams wish their star would be. He was active in the community, did charity work, and was not one of the players that alerted the media and dragged along a video crew when he did. Cousins loves Sacramento.

You can see it as he tears up when saying goodbye to those close to him in this video.

On the court, the trade to New Orleans and the chance to play next to Anthony Davis could be a huge boost for Cousins’ career. We’ll never know what could have been if the Kings knew how to draft or stuck with a system/coach.

But off the court, Sacramento will miss him. And he will miss them.

All-Star game television ratings are best since 2013

Western Conference forward Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans (23 ) slam dunks during the first half of the NBA All-Star basketball game in New Orleans, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, Pool)
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NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA All-Star game drew an average audience of 7.8 million viewers, making it the most-viewed All-Star broadcast since 2013.

Turner Sports announced the numbers on Monday. The number of viewers peaked at 8.5 million and the total audience was up 3 percent from last year’s game.

The hype surrounding the game centered on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook playing on the Western Conference team together. Durant left Oklahoma City last summer to join Golden State, leaving his longtime teammate Westbrook behind with the Thunder. Westbrook did not hide his dissatisfaction with Durant, which ratcheted up the intrigue heading into the game on Sunday.

The two shared the court for just 81 seconds and Oklahoma City posted the highest local market rating with a 10.9.