2014 NBA Draft

2014 NBA Draft pick-by-pick draft tracker (info on all the picks, trades)


No more rumors, no more smokescreens and no more agents trying to spin — it’s time for action.

NBA teams are on the clock.

The 2014 NBA Draft is here.

In this post we will update you with every pick, telling you a little about the player your team just selected. We’ll also keep you up to date with all the trade action going on (and there could be a lot of that tonight). Just hit refresh and you’ll have the latest news and analysis as teams sort through a crop of players with a lot of potential but a lot of questions.

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Let’s get this underway with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who for one year is not going to get booed.


1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Wiggins, 6’8” small forward, Kansas. The most hyped, anticipated draft pick in years, it’s a lot to live up to but he has a lot going for him — freakish athlete, he has good skills (which need polishing on the offensive end), he defends very well, and by all reports is very coachable with a good hoops IQ. He can be a key building piece along with Kyrie Irving. Can he be transcendent is another question.

2. Milwaukee Bucks:Jabari Parker, 6’8” power forward, Duke. A polished scorer, the most NBA ready of the top picks, he can put up points for the Bucks from Day 1. He can be used as a four in small line-ups or at the three for bigger one, that plus his versatility on offense led to Carmelo Anthony/Paul Pierce comparisons. But Parker has a lot of work to do on the defensive end (remember Coach K benched him late in Duke’s tournament loss, it was for that reason). Still, put him in a front line rotation with John Henson and Larry Sanders (if he gets his head screwed back on) and you have something to build on.

3. Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid, 7’0” center, Kansas. You already know the concerns about him being injury prone — he had two screws put in the navicular bone of his right foot, after a stress fracture in his back. Those are the kinds of injuries that can become chronic. Still, this is a great gamble by the Sixers. In a league without many dominant centers anymore, Embiid could become one. Before the injury he was incredibly athletic and mobile for someone his size, he was great at rim protecting, he could rebound, and his offensive game was all about potential. How far he bounces back remains to be seen but if he gets close to his potential the Sixers have a steal. They likely just have to wait a year to find out.

4: Orlando Magic: Aaron Gordon, 6’9” power forward, Arizona. A little surprised he went this high. One of the best athletes in a draft deep with good athletes, Gordon is going to impress Magic fans making plays running the floor in transition (expect some spectacular dunks), he will grab boards and he can defend multiple positions. But he has a lot of work to do, he needs a lot of polish in the halfcourt offense — he doesn’t have a good jumper or post up game. He just gets his points on athleticism, that could limit his ceiling (especially if it doesn’t change). Shawn Marion is often the comp used with him. Gordon and Victor Oladipo give the Magic a couple nice young pieces out of the last two drafts.

5. Utah Jazz: Dante Exum, 6’6” combo guard, Australia. He’s a big point guard who can play at the two spot, offering a lot of versatility next to Trey Burke in the backcourt. He’s got impressive skills for a young player — he can get to the rim and plays a smart game — with plenty of room to grow. He needs to develop a consistent jumper with three point range, the jumper needs work. There was a division between people in the Marcus Smart camp and the Exum camp — Exum has a higher ceiling but is lest tested and a bigger gamble. Still, the Jazz need a star to go with some nice young pieces, he’s the one guy on the board who could become one.

6. Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart, 6’3” point guard, Oklahoma State. With questions about what Danny Ainge will do with Rajon Rondo, Smart could be the Celtics’ point guard for the next decade. Smart has good size, he’s aggressive in attacking the rim, he’s a deft passer and, most importantly, he is possibly the best defender in the draft. He’s got to develop a more consistent jump shot, he’s got to learn to limit turnovers, but this is a quality pickup.

7. Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle, 6’9” power forward, Kentucky. He said he grew up a Kobe Bryant fan, now he gets to see what it’s like to be his teammate. Lakers’ fans are going to like Randle from the start because he can come in and start putting up points and grabbing boards from Day 1. He is strong and agile, which makes him dangerous in the post and on the boards. He can put up double doubles from the start. There is mixed opinions about how good a defender he can be, he’s not long. He needs to ultimately develop a jumper and take care of the ball better, this things can limit his ceiling. But there’s a lot to like.

8. Sacramento Kings: Nik Stauskas, 6’6” shooting guard, Michigan. This seems high to me but he is probably the best shooter in this draft, he has ridiculous range and can shoot from the midrange as well. More than just catch-and-shoot, he can put the ball on the floor a little to create a shot for himself (although how well he does that against faster NBA defenders remains to be seen). The Kings need someone who can space the floor and create a little extra room for DeMarcus Cousins inside, although last year the Kings picked Ben McLemore to be that guy (not sure how they fit together). There are serious questions about his defense — he’s not quick laterally, not long and he’s going to be matched up on athletic freaks at the two guard spot. His improvement at that end of the floor determines his playing time and longevity in the league.

9. Charlotte Hornets: Noah Vonleh, 6’9” power forward, Indiana. He slipped on draft day, he was top five projected by many. He’s a big man seemingly built for the modern game, able to play inside and score with either hand (he has a nice jump hook) plus he can shoot from deep, hitting 48.5 percent from three last season. He plays bigger than his size thanks to a massive 7’4.5” wingspan, plus he has huge hands. The questions are his high turnovers, poor passing, and doubts about whether he is explosive enough to adjust to the NBA game in the paint. He can learn next to Al Jefferson, nice fit.

10. Philadelphia 76ers: Elfrid Payton, 6’4” point guard, Louisiana Lafayette. He is being traded to the Orlando Magic for Dario Saric. For Payton this is good, he is a better fit in Orlando (no Michael Carter-Williams at the same position). One of the fastest risers in the draft over the past few weeks, there is a lot to like. A tall point guard he can break down defenses off the dribble, is good at finding teammates with the pass, and uses his quickness and length to be a very good defender. The big problem is he lacks a jump shot — he shot 25 percent on jumpers in the half court offense last season. That has to be fixed, but he has good form.

11. Denver Nuggets (to be traded to Chicago Bulls): Doug McDermott, 6’8” forward, Creighton. He appears headed to the Chicago Bulls in a trade, a place that is a great fit for him as they need shooting from the four and he can do that. McDermott certainly has the outside shot (44.9 percent from three) but more than that he can put the ball on the floor, post up and score in a variety of ways — and do it efficiently. The question is how his game translates — he’s not a great athlete by NBA standards, he plays below the rim, and while he got mismatches in college in the NBA the guys guarding him will be more athletic. How does he adjust? And there are questions about how well he can defend at the next level, and if he can’t defend Tom Thibodeau will not play him.

12. Orlando Magic: Dario Saric, 6’10” forward, Croatia. He will be traded to Philadelphia is a swap for Elfrid Payton. Saric has signed a contract to spend the next two years playing in Turkey, so this is a draft and stash for the Sixers after the trade. Saric is maybe the versatile offensive player in this draft, you may not know his name but scouts have followed him for years. He has point-forward skills with a very high hoops IQ. Saric has impressive ball handling skills for his size, great scoring instincts (in the post and in transition), plus he can pass. He needs a more polished jumper and to get stronger, plus to work on his defense, and he’s going to do that in Europe. Still a lot of potential here.

13: Minnesota Timberwolves: Zach LaVine, 6’6” shooting guard, UCLA. The question here isn’t athleticism — as the picture that went around the Web showed, he can leap out of the building. He is an elite NBA level athlete. The question is can he play basketball well? He used just 9.7 percent of UCLA’s possessions while on the floor, he is fantastic in transition or coming off screens, but he struggled to create in the half court. His jump shot mechanics are ugly but he hit 37 percent from three. PBT’s own Ed Isaacson didn’t even rank him in the top 10 shooting guards because of questions about his skills. Expect to see him get some D-League run as a rookie to see if he can find more of an all-around game.

14. Phoenix Suns: T.J. Warren, 6’8” forward, North Carolina State. One of the top scorers in college basketball last season, he knows to find holes in the defense to get his shot, works hard off the ball, has a nice runner, and should pair well with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe in Phoenix. However, most of those shots are from the midrange, a dying shot in the NBA (Warren shot 26.7 percent from three and his jump shot mechanics are not good). He’s not much of a passer How will his game translate?

15. Atlanta Hawks: Adreian Payne, 6’10” power forward, Michigan State. This is a good pick for Atlanta. Payne finally put his entire game together his senior year in Lansing, and he is a stretch four prospect in the NBA (he shot 42 percent from three last season). Not just a shooter, Payne can put the ball on the floor and has a post game. Is he strong enough to guard fours in the NBA? His defense has not been great, but is not terrible. Paired with Al Horford and Paul Millsap in the rotation it gives the Hawks some versatility along the front line.

16. Chicago Bulls (to be traded to Denver Nuggets): Josuf Nurkic, 6’10” center, Bosnia. He’s big, he’s physical but he is a bit of a project. There are things to like — NBA size, toughness, good footwork, he’s an efficient scorer with a good touch around the rim, and he works for rebounds. That said he’s not athletic for a center by NBA standards, and he needs to learn how to play defense and just gain experience in general. He could spend time in Europe for seasoning before coming over. Which is likely what the Bulls want because they want cap space to go after another star.

17. Boston Celtics: James Young, 6’7” swingman, Kentucky. He looks like an NBA wing, tall and long (6’11” wingspan). Young was recruited as a shooter but he hit just 35 percent from three last year and inside the arc took far too many contested shots. He can put the ball on the floor but really only goes left, something defenses figured out. He has the athleticism to be a good defender but needs a lot of work and more focus on that end. A lot of potential here but a lot of work to do to realize it.

18. Phoenix Suns: Tyler Ennis, 6’2” point guard, Syracuse. He is a real floor general kind of point guard, one who showed a mature game on the court. The kind of guy who could be a solid backup for Goran Dragic. The question is what kind of playmaker Ennis can be at the NBA level — he struggled to do that in college (don’t let a few buzzer beaters fool you, he only finished 50% of his half court offense shots in the paint) and the defenses are about to get tougher.

19. Chicago Bulls (to be traded to Denver Nuggets): Gary Harris, 6’4” shooting guard, Michigan State. This late in the draft this is a steal for Denver (and a great backup for Arron Afflalo). One of the best two guards in this class, he has a sweet shooting stroke he can use either off the bounce or catch-and-shoot. He plays a smart game, rarely turning the ball over. Maybe the things scouts like best about him is his defense — he can guard the one or the two, although he will be tested against taller two guards in the NBA. He’s not athletic for the NBA level, he’s not going to create his own shot much, but he’s a guy who could pay off long term as his skills develop more.

20. Toronto Raptors: Bruno Caboclo, 6’9” small forward, Brazil. The first way off the board, unexpected pick… expect we should have expected nothing less from Masai Ujiri. Caboclo worked out for zero teams. He came out of the NBA’s international Basketball without Borders program. Aside that he’s a complete mystery. Fran Fraschilla said on the ESPN broadcast he is athletic but very, very raw and at least three or four years away from the league. So a long-term draft and stash.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Mitch McGary, 6’10” center, Michigan. For a player that needs to develop some McGary couldn’t have landed in a better spot. He is a pick-and-roll big man who is trying to add the pick-and-pop to his game but appears to need work on his shot (he only played 8 games last season due to injury). He gets his buckets mostly running in transition, on the offensive glass (he’s aggressive going for rebounds) or just moving off the ball. He sets an NBA caliber pick already. He’s pretty average defensively. Should make a decent backup big off the bench.

22. Memphis Grizzlies: Jordan Adams, 6’5” shooting guard, UCLA. My favorite of the three Bruins likely to go in the first round, he plays a smart game. He finds holes in the defense to get of his shot and is an efficient scorer, although he needs to develop a three point shot, especially because the Grizzlies need shooting. He is a good, smart defender on and off the ball. He’s not an explosive athlete but he’s got a unique game in this draft class and should have a good NBA career.

23. Utah Jazz: Rodney Hood, 6’8” small forward, Duke. Good value pick for the Jazz here. Hood has the size of an NBA wing and is one of the best shooters in the draft hitting nearly 43 percent from three last season. He can shoot from the midrange, put the ball on the floor some and tends to make the smart pass. The questions are his defense (he was disinterested at times) and how his game translate when guarded by athletic threes not mismatched on fours as often happened at Duke.

24. Charlotte Hornets: Shabazz Napier, 6’1” point guard, Connecticut. He will be traded to the Miami Heat, according to multiple reports. The two-time NCAA champion has a lot of fans (including LeBron James) but scouts have not been as high on him, seeing him as a solid second string NBA point guard (but one who can step into that role tomorrow). He scores well in isolation or off the pick-and-roll, generally good shooter who can create space, and plays tough defense. The issues are his decision making is far from consistent (remember Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb looked pedestrian with Napier) and while his athleticism was enough for college he’s going to find it harder to create room at the NBA level.

25. Houston Rockets: Clint Capela, 6’11” power forward, Switzerland. This is likely a draft and stash pick, which makes sense for Houston as they try to keep their cap space to chase some big game. Capela had a breakout year in the top French league, has good size and is very mobile for a big man, he can finish at the rim and there is a lot of potential at both ends of the court. But he needs to fill out and get stronger, he needs to get much better at reading the game on defense and adding offensive polish.

26. Miami Heat: P.J. Hairston, 6’5” shooting guard, Texas Legends (D-League). He is going to be traded to the Charlotte Hornets for Shabazz Napier and picks, and this is a great pickup for Charlotte. Kicked out of North Carolina Hairston did what more players should do (and will if the age limit gets raised) — used the D-League for development. He can play some minutes right away in the NBA and he gives the Bobcats shooting. He has easy and comfortable three point range and can put the ball on the floor and attack off the bounce, although his catch-and-shoot needs to be more consistent. He struggled with his decision making at the pace of the D-League games and his defense was inconsistent, but he’s been playing at a higher level of competition and that will show (watch for him to have a good Summer League).

27. Phoenix Suns: Bogdan Bogdanovic, 6’6” shooting guard, Serbia. Not to be confused with the Bosnian with the same last name (whose rights belong to the Nets), this is still likely another draft-and-stash candidate (who may not come over, he will get big money offers to stay, more than an NBA rookie deal). He has good size, ball handling skills (he was forced into a point guard role last season and did well), and can shoot out to three. There is a lot of potential here, the questions are his defense and decision making skills remain. Good gamble by Suns.

28. Los Angeles Clippers: C.J. Wilcox, 6’5” shooting guard, Washington. Has the potential to be a three-point specialist in the NBA. He shot 39.1 percent from three last season and hit 43 percent on catch-and-shoot chances. He is one of the best shooters in the draft, plus he can put the ball on the floor. He has an impressive 6’9” wingspan, which will help his otherwise average defense. If he improves on that end of the floor you can see him getting on the court to space the floor at the other end.

29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Josh Huestis, 6’8” small forward, Stanford. He didn’t really standout when asked to lead Stanford on offense, but teams think he could be a good NBA role player. Specifically a defensive stopper — he is athletic, a smart defender and shows real pride on that end of the court. He was all over Wiggins in the NCAA Tournament. He shot 34 percent from three last season and that’s his key — he can be a “3 and D” guy if he develops the three. With the Thunder is the perfect place for a young player to develop.

30. San Antonio Spurs: Kyle Anderson, 6’8” small forward, UCLA. He played basically a point-forward position for UCLA and was their primary ball handler — he has fantastic passing skills and floor vision. That should fit in well with the Spurs. While he shot 48 percent from three last season he has a slow release and took most of his shots off the bounce and there are questions about how he adapts at the next level. One big concern is he’s going to struggle to defend his opposite number. However, if one guy should fit in with the Spurs it is Anderson.


31. Milwaukee Bucks: Damien Inglis, 6’8” small forward, French Guiana. Good second round pick for the Bucks. He has a great NBA build for the three — 6’8” at 240 pounds with 7’3” wingspan. He has good ball handling skills, is a good passer (when not turning it over) and is strong in transition. More impressive is his defense, he can cover the three and the four. His jumper has looked good in the French League but not so much when brought over to American workouts. A draft and stash guy, he’s the second youngest player in the draft and could develop into a player.

32. Philadelphia 76ers: K.J. McDaniels, 6’6” small forward, Clemson. He is long (6’11” wingspan) and that helps him generate steals on defense, which is the end of the floor getting him drafted. He’s very athletic and can guard the 1-3, which is something coaches like. He can hit an open jumper if he sets his feet, but he can’t create his own shot and gets most of his points off hustle — running in transition, hitting the offensive boards, and with that getting to the line.

33. Cleveland Cavaliers: Joe Harris, 6’6” swingman, Virginia. He’s a shooter and his NBA niche is floor spacing from the wing. He shot 40 percent from three his senior year and was knocking down the catch-and-shoot with the best of them at the draft combine. He works hard off the ball to get open and he can pump fake and drive if the defense is there, plus he has nice passing skills. But he is limited athletically, especially considering who he would match up with on the wing in the NBA. The question is if he can defend well enough to stay on the floor and get shots.

34. New York Knicks: Cleanthony Early, 6’7” forward, Wichita State. He can flat out score and do it efficiently, whether inside from the post if you put someone smaller on him, or he can shoot the jumper (37.6 percent from three) if someone larger is on him. If Carmelo Anthony leaves this guy is going to get a lot of shots. The question is how he adjusts to the NBA size — in college he got mismatches at the four most of the time, but in the NBA he will have to play quicker, longer guys at the three. Defense is going to be a concern, can he adjust to that at the NBA level? At age 23 (one of the older players in the draft) there are questions about how much more he can and will improve.

35. Utah Jazz: Jarnell Stokes, 6’8” power forward, Tennessee. He’s going to Memphis in a trade, and he will fit in there. He’s old school and brings the power to the power forward position. His most translatable skill is rebounding — he uses his strength to clear out space on both ends of the court and just out works guys. He has a good touch in the paint. He is not as explosive as the guys he’ll have to defend. On the other end of the court he needs to develop a midrange shot.

36. Milwaukee Bucks: Johnny O’Bryant, 6’8” power forward/center, LSU. When he’s being aggressive he can put up points, either from the post or knocking down midrange jumpers. He is physically strong and can defend on the block. The issue here has been conditioning and focus on the court, he showed more of that last season and the Bucks are betting he can make the next leap. He has the physical tools to play in the NBA, it’s the mental side he has to prove. Could be part of an interesting front court rotation in Milwaukee.

37. Toronto Raptors: DeAndre Daniels, 6’8” small forward, Connecticut. Highly recruited out of high school, he started to show some of that promise last season — he saved his best for the NCAA Tournament and the Huskies title run. He is long and athletic, and he is a good shooter from the perimeter (42 percent from three this past season). He can catch-and-shoot or go up off the bounce. Not great handles, he doesn’t really create shots (and can sometimes chooses bad ones), and he’s an average defender. But there is potential here.

38. Detroit Pistons: Spencer Dinwiddie, 6’6” shooting guard, Colorado. He tore his ACL during his senior season at Colorado which caused him to fall to the second round, where he is a good pick. Because of injury it could be a while before he gets on the court. When he was playing he was really more of the ball dominating guard who can get into the lane, finish or draw contact. He is a solid passer but not a classic playmaker. He’s not a great defender but not terrible. It may take a couple of years, but he could be a quality rotation guard in the league.

39. Philadelphia 76ers: Jerami Grant, 6’8” small forward, Syracuse. Really good second round pick, especially for uptempo Sixers. He is as athletic as anyone in this draft and he is long (7’2” wingspan). He also is raw. He can finish inside but get him outside 10 feet and his jumper is inconsistent (although somewhat improved). Kind of the same thing on defense, his athleticism on defense leads him to make plays and show potential, but he needs work on reading the game.

40. Minnesota Timberwolves: Glenn Robinson, 6’7” small forward, Michigan. Yes, he is the son of former No. 1 pick Big Dog Robinson. He is aggressive going to the rim but got most of his touches working off the ball — he looked good with Trey Burke setting him up two years ago but struggled to create his own shot this year. He can score within 15 feet but his jumper needs to be more consistent and show range (30.6 percent from three). He’s an okay but not thrilling defender.

41. Denver Nuggets: Nikola Jokic, 6’11” center, Serbia. He plays a very high IQ game with a great feel for when to shoot and when to pass. He has an unconventional game but one that could find a home in the NBA at some point. For now he’s a draft and stash guy.

42. Houston Rockets: Nick Johnson, 6’3” shooting guard, Arizona. The Pac-12 player of the year. He’s athletic, competitive, backs down from nobody. He’s not a guy who should do a lot of shot creating for himself and others (he struggled some with a larger offensive load this past season), but working off the ball he can make plays and shoot (36.7 per cent from three last season). He fell this far because is he is very undersized at the two.

43. Atlanta Hawks: Walter Tavares, 7’3” center, Cape Verde. To answer your first question, Cape Verde is an island off the coast of Senegal that is its own nation. Tavares has NBA size and shown good shot blocking and rebounding skills playing in the Spanish ABC league, but he is raw and somewhat new to the game. His offensive game needs a lot of polish still. He’s relatively new to the game and learning, expect this to be a draft and stash and see if he can develop in Spain for a few years.

44. Minnesota Timberwolves: Markel Brown, 6’3” shooting guard, Oklahoma State. He’s the $1 million man — the Brooklyn Nets bought his rights on draft night for that sum. Marcus Smart’s backcourt running mate, he’s a fantastic athlete but a guy who is undersized for the two at the NBA level. In college he could work off the ball and hit contested shots, that will get harder with the NBA level. He’s going to need to spread the floor and knock down shots to stick in the NBA.

45. Charlotte Hornets: Dwight Powell, 6’11” power forward, Stanford. He’s a good athlete for his size, which intrigued teams. He’s versatile, able to score in the post with a jump hook or facing up on the perimeter. That said, to really stick in the NBA that jumper is going to have to fall a lot more than the 25 percent it did from three last season. His jumper in general needs to be more consistent.

46. Washington Wizards: Jordan Clarkson, 6’5” combo guard, Missouri. He is being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. He can play either guard spot but even at the two he’s really going to be a guy who wants the ball in his hands and to drive and create. Mostly create for himself. He needs to improve his jumper (25 percent on catch-and-shoots last season, 28.1 percent from three overall). His decision making is up and down (he doesn’t have the athleticism to get himself out of trouble with that at the NBA level) and his defense is okay but his effort is in and out at that end.

47. Philadelphia 76ers: Russ Smith, 6’1” point guard, Louisville. He is being traded to the New Orleans Pelicans for Pierre Jackson. Smith had a fantastic and fun college career, but he helped his draft stock more by making fewer wild plays and maturing his game his senior year. He showed a more consistent outside shot, hitting 39 percent from three. His greatest asset is fantastic speed, which he has used to create for himself but he can create more for others. He’s a good defender. The concerns are he’s small for a point guard and he still makes some odd decisions, which could keep him off the court.

48. Milwaukee Bucks: Lamar Patterson, 6’5” shooting guard, Pittsburgh. This could be a nice pick, a good second round gamble. He’s a two guard whose best skill may be passing — he has a great feel for the game and vision of the court. He also shot 38.8 percent from three last season. He plays a smart game. The reason he’s still around is his athleticism — he’s average for the college level, and the levels are about to crank up a few notches (particularly at the two).

49. Chicago Bulls: Cameron Bairstow, 6’10” power forward/center, New Mexico (via Australia). He averaged 20.4 points a game for the Lobos last season and more impressively did it with an efficient 61.1 true shooting percentage. He is a very good midrange jump shooter. He’s not terribly athletic which leads to questions about how his game adapts and how well he defends at the next level.

50. Phoenix Suns: Alec Brown, 7’1” center, Wisconsin Green Bay. He turned heads at the NBA Draft combine, not just because of his hight but he hit 18-of-25 from three. He’s a good second round gamble as a big who can stretch the floor. However, he is not athletic for the NBA level and whether he can adjust and still play his game (as well as defend) is the question.

51. New York Knicks: Thanasis Antetokounmpo, 6’6” small forward, Delaware 87ers, via Greece. They will love him in New York. Yes, he is the older brother of the Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo. Like his brother Thanasis is very athletic and very raw. He brings a real energy to the game but put up pretty average D-League numbers and needs more time to develop. If he can develop a more consistent shot and bring his energy to defense he can make waves in the NBA.

52. Philadelphia 76ers: Vasilije Micic, 6’6” point guard, Serbia. He’s a big point guard and one with court vision, one who works particularly well in transition or the pick-and-roll when he can use his size to get into the lane and finish or find his open teammate. He turned the ball over a lot (23 percent of his used possessions), his jump shot is not near where it needs to be, and there are questions about his ability to defend other, quicker point guards. Still, not a bad gamble.

53. Minnesota Timberwolves: Alessandro Gentile, 6’6” swingman, Italy. The 21 year old has been playing at high levels internationally since he was 17. The guy is just a scorer and he has good size. What teams question is his athleticism — it’s not at an NBA level and teams are not sure he can adjust.

54. Philadelphia 76ers: Nemanja Dangubic, 6’8” shooting guard, Serbia. He will be stashed overseas for a while. He’s not much of a shot creator but can athletic and works off the ball. Needs to get stronger, needs to work on his shop. Teams got a good look at him at Adidas EuroCamp this past year, where he was MVP.

55. Miami Heat: Semaj Christon, 6’3” point guard, Xavier. He is going to Charlotte as part of the trade that got the Heat Shabazz Napier. Christon has good size for an NBA point guard (he can play combo) and plays hard at both ends of the floor. He’s unselfish. His problem is he doesn’t have much of a jump shot (although it improved as he hit 38.8 percent from three last season although he doesn’t take a lot of them) and isn’t efficient when he drives and tries to finish.

56. Orlando Magic: Devyn Marble, 6’6” shooting guard, Iowa. In theory he’s a catch-and-shoot guy at the NBA level, but he only hit 35 percent from three this past season. That has to improve. He can put the ball on the floor and tends to make good decisions when he does. He’s up and down defensively. A bit of a gamble but that’s what the late second round is for.

57. Indiana Pacers: Louis Labeyrie, 6’10” power forward/center, France. This pick will go to the New York Knicks via trade. He’s a classic big European stretch four. He’ll be stashed overseas.

58. San Antonio Spurs: Jordan McRae, 6’5” shooting guard, Tennessee. He has been moved to the Sixers in a trade. He is long, with a 7’0” wingspan, and he is a good athlete. He shot 34 percent from three last season and is really one of those guys who just seems to find ways to score. He can pass, has a good feel for the game. The questions are is he physically strong enough and is he athletic enough for the NBA.

59. Toronto Raptors: Xavier Thames, 6’3” shooting guard, San Diego State. He has been moved to the Brooklyn Nets in a trade. He was a scorer for San Diego State but there are questions about if he is athletic enough to create at the next level (in one big workout his three pointer wasn’t falling, so he put it on the floor and took contested midrange shots). Maybe he can adjust, the Nets are taking a flyer on it.

60. San Antonio Spurs: Corey Jefferson, 6’9” power forward, Baylor. He also has been traded to the Brooklyn Nets. Normally we like to write off “Mr. Irrelevant” but remember Kings PG Isaiah Thomas was pick 60th and turns out he can play and is about to get paid as a restricted free agent. Jefferson will try to follow that path.

Thunder waive Ronnie Price and Mitch McGary, keep Semaj Christon

2014 Oklahoma City Thunder Media Day
Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images
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The Thunder waived a former No. 21 pick who still had two years left on his rookie-scale contract and a 33-year-old journeyman.

The latter was the surprise.

Thunder release:

The Oklahoma City Thunder waived forwards Mitch McGary and Chris Wright along with guard Ronnie Price and center Kaleb Tarczewski, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

At this point, Oklahoma City waiving Mitch McGary was completely expected. Facing 15 games of drug suspension with no proven track record of NBA sustainability, McGary was an easy cut on a team with a roster crunch.

Price signed a fully guaranteed two-year contract worth nearly $5 million this offseason, and teams don’t generally waive players so soon after guaranteeing them multiple seasons (even if guaranteeing them multiple seasons was questionable in the first place). This opens the door not only for Semaj Christon to make the regular-season roster, but to serve as Russell Westbrook‘s primary backup at point guard with Cameron Payne injured.

Christon, the No. 55 pick in the 2014 draft, also signed this summer (with just a $200,000 guarantee). After leaving Xavier, he spent a year on the Thunder’s D-League affiliate then a year overseas. Perhaps, he’s ready for a regular role without the safety net of a veteran like Price behind him, but this sure seems like another case of Oklahoma City overrating its developmental system. See previously: Josh Huestis.

NBA Power Rankings Week 1: Warriors, Cavaliers top the list. Shocking.

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 04:  Kevin Durant #35, Stephen Curry #30, and Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors stand on the court during their game against the Los Angeles Clippers during their preseason game at ORACLE Arena on October 4, 2016 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The NBA is back — and that means the ProBasketballTalk NBA Power Rankings are back. As always, we like to admit up front this entire process is moot — the NBA has a playoff to determine what team is best. What kind of ridiculous sport would use a ranking system to decide what teams get to play for a title? Here are the start of the season rankings, there is always a lot of volatility in these the first few weeks. Last seasons record is listed for this week only.

Warriors small icon 1. Warriors (73-9). About that slow start while they figure things out… this was the best team in the NBA in the preseason, outscoring teams by 13.5 points per 100 possessions (the trio of Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson shot 46 percent from three). Yes it’s just preseason, so it has all the meaning of an Adam Sandler film, but a soft first few weeks of the schedule makes it likely the Durant era starts off smoothly in the Bay Area.

Cavaliers small icon 2. Cavaliers (57-25). It’s a good time to be a Cleveland sports fan. Tuesday night the Cavaliers get their rings, the first title banner goes up in Cleveland in more than five decades — and then the Indians throw the first pitch in the World Series. I picked LeBron to win the MVP this season, but how much will he dial back the regular season to save himself for the playoffs, and how much will voters punish him for it?

Spurs small icon 3. Spurs (67-15). LaMarcus Aldridge denies the rumors, but the buzz he’s not thrilled blending in with the Spurs come from quality sources. True or not, there is no way the Spurs are trading him during the season — they just paid Pau Gasol and Manu Ginobili a lot of money to make anther run at a ring. Aldridge is key to that. Fall short of the conference finals again and next summer things get interesting.

Clippers small icon 4. Clippers (53-29). Are the Clippers better than the Spurs? Can they finally develop a real home court advantage? Blake Griffin says this is the healthiest he’s been in years and when he’s right he’s as good a power forward as there is in the league. He and Chris Paul can be free agents this summer, putting extra pressure on the Clippers to make this the year they break past the barrier of the second round, who knows if they get another shot with this group.

Celtics small icon 5. Celtics (48-34). Boston’s offensive spacing already looks better with Al Horford involved, and the hand-off play between Horford and Isaiah Thomas than often opens the Boston sets is hard to defend. The Celtics played at a high pace and guys were getting open looks all preseason, all of which are very good signs they hope to carry over to games that matter. They play three games in four days to open the season.

Raptors small icon 6. Raptors (56-26). Jared Sullinger is out for a big chunk of the season, but that’s not a massive setback for Toronto as it just means more Patrick Patterson (and likely more Norman Powell also). A healthy DeMarre Carroll is huge for this team (and he can play some four as well). They need to get some wins the first couple weeks of the season because the second half of November they are on the road a lot.

Jazz small icon 7. Jazz (40-42). Everyone’s favorite pick for a breakout season (including mine), but they are without Gordon Hayward, and that is a troubling setback. The signing of George Hill was chosen by NBA GMs as the most underrated move of the summer (in the GM survey), plus Utah snagged Boris Diaw and Joe Johnson. Those veterans and the defense should keep Utah afloat until Hayward returns in a few weeks.

Rockets small icon 8. Rockets (41-41). Who was the second best team in the preseason, outscoring opponents by more than 11 points per 100 possessions? You got it. They looked good because they scored 118 points per game and their defense was good enough (middle of the road statistically) to get them big wins. That Rockets’ defense — without Patrick Beverley due to knee surgery — will be tested early with a string of games good offensive teams from last season, plus a lot of road games.

Thunder small icon 9. Thunder (55-27). They are not going to be an offense built around subtlety and clever off-ball movement — this will be as straight ahead a team as there is in the league. Westbrook is going to put up monster numbers, and expect Steven Adams to come into his own this season. Will the Thunder get enough wins to vault Westbrook into serious MVP consideration?

Pacers small icon 10. Pacers (45-37). The additions of Jeff Teague at the point and Thaddeus Young on the wing, plus the continued growth of Myles Turner, should improve an offense that was 25th in the NBA last season but was sixth best this preseason. The question is how much defense was sacrificed to get that offense? Larry Bird wanted an offense that played faster, but they were 10th in the NBA in pace last season, how much faster can they go?

Hawks small icon 11. Hawks (48-38). Atlanta had the best defense in the NBA during the preseason, a promising sign for Hawks fans. The trademark ball movement that has defined Mike Budenholzer teams also was there, even with the addition of Dwight Howard and now Dennis Schroder running the point. If those two things can carry over to the regular season it’s a good sign. The Hawks have the softest schedule in the Eastern Conference the first month of the season, which gives them time to find their groove and rack up wins.

Blazers small icon 12. Trail Blazers (44-38). Damian Lillard is talking MVP, which is going to require a step forward by the entire team, not just him. Portland made some smart moves this offseason: matching the Allen Crabbe offer sheet, re-signing Meyers Leonard, picking up Festus Ezeli on a good contract. But they gambled big on Evan Turner as a third playmaker, that’s going to go a long way to determining if this team is better.

timberwolves small icon 13. Timberwolves (29-53). Everyone expects Minnesota to make a leap this season under new coach (and GM) Tom Thibodeau. The question is how big a leap are they ready to make? One very promising sign: Minnesota had the second-best defense in the NBA during the preseason. How well that translates to the regular season remains to be seen, but that was the side of the ball where they needed to make the biggest leap.

Grizzlies small icon 14. Grizzlies (42-40). Even more than most teams health is the key to the Memphis season, so Tony Allen and Chandler Parsons missing the entire preseason is less than ideal (both are questionable for the opener). Memphis started launching threes at a rate we haven’t seen from them before in the preseason, expect that to carry over to the regular season. This is the new David Fizdale Grizzlies, and they play with pace and launch threes, we’ll see how that works long term.

Wizards small icon 15. Wizards (41-41). They finally start the season with a healthy backcourt in John Wall and Bradley Beal (now they just have to play well together), but they are banged up along the front line with no Ian Mahinmi (knee surgery, out for at least a month). Washington had the fifth-best point differential in the league during the preseason, outscoring opponents by 6 points per 100 possessions — can they keep that up when the games matter?

Mavericks small icon 16. Mavericks (42-40). The $94 million man Harrison Barnes shot 22.6 percent in the preseason, not a good sign. We all know what he’s getting paid Mavs’ fans, but this is a big adjustment for him and you’re going to have to be patient as he figures out how to play a leading role. Dallas had an ugly preseason, getting outscored by 8.5 points per 100 possessions (25th in the league), but that likely does not foreshadow what is to come during the regular season.

Pistons small icon 17. Pistons (44-38). This seems low, but no Reggie Jackson for the first 3-5 weeks of the season (knee tendonitis) is a blow. Stan Van Gundy wants his team to improve on the defensive end and get into the top 10 in the league, and that’s the test they face early in the season going against some the league’s best offensive teams the first three weeks. Get through the first month and things should look up in Detroit.

Hornets small icon 18. Hornets (48-34). Charlotte had the worst offense in the NBA during the preseason (90.2 points per 100 possession). Last season the Hornets made the biggest offensive leap of any team in the NBA, hopefully for them the preseason was just an anomaly (it’s hard to read much into those games). The Hornets should again be a top 10 defensive team this season under Steve Clifford, and that will carry them.

Bulls small icon 19. Bulls (42-40). The question is how the offense is going to look on a team where the key contributors — Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Rajon Rondo — are not guys opponents fear when they take a three. Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic will be key off the bench to provide spacing. My main question: Why exactly bring Fred Holberg out of college for his pace-and-space system if you’re not going to give him players that fit it? A heavy dose of road games for the Bulls before Thanksgiving.

Knicks small icon 20. Knicks (32-50). All the roster turnover last summer followed by key players missing time in the preseason — Joakim Noah due to injury, Derrick Rose due to his trial — means it’s going to take time for the pieces to fit together in the regular season. I’m skeptical Rose and Carmelo Anthony, both ball stoppers on offense, can mesh well in Jeff Hornacek’s system. The Knicks are going to have to figure all this out against the toughest schedule in the Eastern Conference over the first month of the season.

Nuggets small icon 21. Nuggets (33-49). Tough schedule to start with 6-of-7 on the road and 8-of-10 games against teams that were above .500 last season. I like that coach Mike Malone is playing Jusuf Nurkic and Nikola Jokic together to start games. There are a lot of other GMs watching to see how the Nuggets start the season because if it’s slow Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Kenneth Faried all could be put on the trade block (and there would be interest from some teams).

Bucks small icon 22. Bucks (33-49). The Kris Middleton injury is devastating — he was the glue that held some funky lineups together in Milwaukee. I like the Tony Snell deal for them better than most, but he’s still a serious downgrade at the position. The Bucks struggled in the preseason (outscored by 9 points per 100 possessions, despite the 3-3 record) because their offense was unimpressive. They need shooters around the Greek Freak.

Kings small icon 23. Kings (33-49). With the Cubs back in the World Series, the Kings take over the dubious banner of “team who hasn’t been to its sport’s Finals for the longest time” in American major sports. The last time the Kings were in the Finals was 1951. Forget the Finals, the Kings just want to make the playoffs for the first time in a decade. Beautiful new building, but the Kings have no Darren Collison for the first eight games (suspension for a domestic violence plea bargain), and they face a tough road-heavy schedule without him to start the season.

Pelicans small icon 24. Pelicans (30-52). Anthony Davis is back from his sprained ankle and will be ready to roll opening night. I like some of their summer moves — Solomon Hill, Langston Galloway, and E’twaun Moore are good free agent signings, while Buddy Hield is going to develop into a quality two guard — but they are desperately going to miss Jrue Holiday (and to a slightly lesser extent Tyreke Evans) to start the season. Holiday is the glue that brings this team together.

Magic small icon 25. Magic (35-47). On paper this ranking feels too low for an Orlando team with dreams of a strong defense leading them to the playoffs. However, their preseason (2-5, outscored by 9 points per 100 possessions, 29th in defense) did nothing to inspire that this team will put it together. Relatively soft start to the NBA schedule for the first month, which might help them get some wins, gain some confidence, and allow coach Frank Vogel to figure out the rotations that work. I still don’t love Aaron Gordon as a three, he’s much better suited for the four.

Heat small icon 26. Heat (48-34). Maybe this is too low, but the loss of Chris Bosh (along with Dwyane Wade over the summer) makes this look more like the start of a rebuilding process. They should be an entertaining, up-and-down team with Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow, not to mention Hassan Whiteside. Dion Waiters will have his good nights… and his bad ones. If they start slow expect the Dragic trade rumors to heat up.

Suns small icon 27. Suns (23-59). There are a lot of good players in Phoenix: Devin Booker is going to be a stud at the two, Eric Bledsoe and Tyson Chandler are veterans who can contribute, and Marquese Chriss shows promise (and a lot of athleticism). But the pieces have never fit together there, and I’ll need to see it to believe it. The Suns were a top 10 defensive team during the preseason, if they can carry that over to games that matter they will climb these rankings (and the standings) quickly.

Lakers small icon 28. Lakers (17-56). The team with the toughest first 20 game schedule in the Western Conference? You guessed it. Tough way for the Lakers to start with a young team and a rookie head coach. D'Angelo Russell is already a dangerous pick-and-roll ball handler who is going to put up numbers this season, and Brandon Ingram has shown flashes of figuring things out, but it’s going to a learning curve season. Also, where did this focused, sharp-shooting Nick Young come from and is he sticking around?

Nets small icon 29. Nets (21-61). They are going to be a decent to good offensive team with Brook Lopez and Jeremy Lin playing off each other and Kenny Atkinson’s offense spacing the floor. I’m far less sold that they are going to get enough stops to win many games. Bad breaks of the schedule, no team plays fewer teams on the second night of a back-to-back this season than the Nets (seven all season).

Sixers small icon 30. 76ers (10-71). Brett Brown just wants to get his numerous young front court players healthy so he can see how it all fits together, but Ben Simmons and Nerlens Noel are out with foot injuries that will eat up large chunks of their season. Joel Embiid has been a beast in preseason and if he gets enough run should be in the Rookie of the Year mix. A dark horse ROY candidate? Dario Saric. Also, this is going to be an entertaining team to watch when Sergio Rodriguez has the ball in his hands.

Lakers keep Metta World Peace and Thomas Robinson, waive Anthony Brown

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 15:  Metta World Peace #37 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands on the court during warmups before a preseason game against the Golden State Warriors at T-Mobile Arena on October 15, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Golden State won 112-107. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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The NBA just can’t shake Metta World Peace as a player.

Despite the Lakers’ reported intention of waiving World Peace and making him an assistant coach, they’ll keep him, Thomas Robinson and Nick Young into the regular season. After waiving Yi Jianlian at his request, they’ll also waive Anthony Brown.

Lakers release:

The Los Angeles Lakers have waived forward Anthony Brown, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak.

Brown was the No. 34 pick just last year, but he didn’t show much as a rookie and is already 24. There was no need to keep him over more valuable players – like Robinson.

But World Peace, who turns 37 next month? He’s washed up and offers no upside. The Lakers don’t already have enough veteran leadership between Luol Deng, Jose Calderon, Lou Williams and Timofey Mozgov?

The Lakers probably won’t regret dropping Brown – though they might – but there are better uses for a roster spot in 2016 than World Peace.

51 Questions: Which team will win the West? Make NBA Finals?

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It is the final days of PBT’s 2016-17 NBA preview series, 51 Questions. For six weeks we have tackled 51 questions we cannot wait to see answered during the upcoming NBA season. Today the PBT staff answers the biggest questions of them all this season:

Which teams make the playoffs, then who wins the East? Who will be NBA champion?

Here are our staff predictions.

Kurt Helin

1. Warriors
2. Spurs
3. Clippers
4. Jazz
5. Rockets
6. Grizzlies
7. Trail Blazers
8. Thunder

Western Conference Finals:
Warriors over Clippers
NBA Finals: Warriors over Cavaliers

There is a clear top three in the West, and while I think Golden State gets the top seed (but falls just short of 70 wins) I could flip Los Angeles and San Antonio without a problem — and I like the Clippers more in the postseason, they finally get past the second round. Much like the East, then I think 4-11 are all going to be within a handful of games of each other — Dallas, Minnesota, and Denver all could get into the playoffs with good health and a few breaks. Maybe Sacramento, too, but a lot more needs to go right for them.

As for the NBA Finals, the Warriors and Cavaliers are just clear and away the best teams on paper and, assuming health, it’s hard not to pick another Finals rematch. However, this time the Cavaliers can’t put LeBron James on Draymond Green when the Warriors go small because of the threat of Kevin Durant, and that opens up the Warriors offense again in ways it was shut down in the last Finals.

Dan Feldman

1. Warriors
2. Clippers
3. Spurs
4. Rockets
5. Jazz
6. Trail Blazers
7. Thunder
8. Grizzlies

Western Conference Finals: Warriors over Clippers
NBA Finals: Warriors over Cavaliers

I’d give the Warriors about a 50-50 chance of winning the title — which means there’s no way I’m picking any other single team. The Clippers and Spurs lead the pack fighting for second, and I’m clearly intrigued by Houston’s offensive prowess with Mike D’Antoni and James Harden. The Timberwolves and Nuggets could knock on the postseason door, but I don’t think either is quite ready.

Dane Carbaugh

1. Warriors
2. Clippers
3. Spurs
4. Thunder
5. Blazers
6. Jazz
7. Rockets
8. Mavericks

Western Conference Finals: Warriors vs. Spurs
NBA Finals: Warriors over Cavaliers

I genuinely hope I’m wrong about how the West shakes out if only for Chris Paul‘s sake. The Point God and his band of Merry Complainers are in a perfect position to take over a stratified Western Conference that will doubtless be a bastion of parity in only a few years time. But the Clippers just always fall short somehow, be it injury or otherwise. I’m going with the Spurs — who had a historic defensive season in 2015-16 — and who are just too good on paper vs. the rest of the competition. San Antonio still might be the only team that can challenge Golden State, as weird as that sounds.