2014 NBA Draft: Finally

The intoxicating fumes left by San Antonio’s precise ball movement hasn’t even dissipated yet, and I’m already excited for the next season to start. It’s mostly because of this incoming rookie class, which is supposed to have infinite future Hall-of-Famers. Let’s just get to it because I can barely contain myself.

Here’s the (t5!) shakedown of the 2014 lottery picks:

1. The Cleveland Cavaliers selected… Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF, Kansas

Upside Potential: Tracy McGrady with urgency
Entrance Music: Kardinal Offishall — On Wit Da Show
Proposed Nickname: Andrew “Alpha Flight” Wiggins

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(t5!) Opinions!: Canadians! Three Canadians have been drafted in the Top 5 in the history of the draft, and all of them were drafted by the Cavaliers. Wiggins was the second Canadian in a row drafted first overall by the Cavs, and I have extreme confidence that he’s going to exceed the performance of last year’s Canadian first overall. Imagine you’re trying to create Wiggins as a virtual player in NBA2K. He would have his speed, jumping ability, quickness, and dunk sliders maxed out. There’s room for improvement on all of his other skills — moreso on offense than on defense — but at least he is starting off with all of the right physical tools. He also smiles like an anime character.

(t5!) Fit Analysis!: I love Wiggins’ unlimited potential, and I love the idea of him, Anthony Bennett, and Tristan Thompson staying late at night talking about their fantasy hockey teams and their favorite flame-grilled burger from Harvey’s. But Joel Embiid addresses almost all of the Cavs’ roster leaks, and if he wasn’t injured, the Cavs were a lock to take him. Also, with the way Cleveland’s roster is constructed now, Wiggins may not actually have a chance to develop his on-ball skills with them. Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters feuded with each other regarding sharing ball-handling duties last year; now there’s a third person who also needs to get touches.

(t5!) Level Of Excitement: !!!!!
(t5!) Correct Pick: Trade down, then pick Joel Embiid

2. The Milwaukee Bucks selected… Jabari Parker, SF, Duke

Upside Potential: Bigger dog Glenn Robinson
Entrance Music: Blondie — Fade Away And Radiate
Proposed Nickname: “Kareem Abdul” Jabari Parker

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(t5!) Opinions!: There are seven potential all-stars in this draft class, but Jabari Parker may be the only one that can be an all-star immediately. His offense vocabulary is eloquent and he plays with such exquisite control. He will lead this league in scoring for sure; it’s just a question of how soon and how often.

(t5!) Fit Analysis!: The pairing of him and Giannis Antetokounmpo might just be my new favorite 1–2 punch in the NBA. Now if only Larry Sanders can lay off the weed and keep his composure when he’s gallivanting in the clubs of Milwaukee, then that front court will be formidable for years to come.

(t5!) Level Of Excitement: !!!!!
(t5!) Correct Pick: Jabari Parker

3. The Philadelphia 76ers selected… Joel Embiid, C, Kansas

Upside Potential: Back-to-reality Hakeem Olajuwon
Entrance Music: Foo Fighters — Monkey Wrench
Proposed Nickname: Joel “Need for” Embiid

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(t5!) Opinions!: Embiid has only been organized playing basketball for five years, and he is already dream-shaking centers of the Big 12. Because of all the Wiggins’ hype, TSN (Canadian ESPN) decided to televise all of Kansas’ games last NCAA season, but all it revealed was how Embiid can potentially have a higher ceiling. A month ago, Embiid was the consensus #1 pick in the draft. But then he made teams hesitant to take him after he declared to have suffered a stress fracture to his navicular bone and after reports of him suffering from low bone-density and hepatitis. I guess the Sixers faith on Embiid’s potential is strong to take him in spite of all the health risks.

(t5!) Fit Analysis!: Let’s ignore the fact that Embiid will most likely skip an entire season to get healthy, and the shape of the Sixers a year from now is still up in the air. But even if he is playing in the upcoming season, I don’t see how Embiid can coexist alongside Nerlens Noel, the eraser-headed shotblocker 2013 draft pick who plays the same position and the same style as Embiid.

But that shouldn’t be the correct approach if you’re talking about mediocre teams. Sixers GM Sam Hinkie went to Houston GM Daryl Morey’s school of asset collection, and he understands that the quickest way to improve your team is to stockpile cheap valuable pieces that can be combined if a superstar becomes available via trade. With drafts, you take the best talent available and worry about z roster that can’t coalesce later. Moreover, the Sixers are aware of their inevitable losing record next year, with or without Embiid, and they will get another high lottery pick as a result. They can afford to be patient, and that’s what they’re going to have to be with Embiid.

Having said all of that, a backcourt with Michael Carter-Williams and Dante Exum would have been exciting as fuck.

(t5!) Level Of Excitement: !!!!
(t5!) Correct Pick: Dante Exum

4. The Orlando Magic selected… Aaron Gordon, PF, Boston

Upside Potential: Shawn Marion on pogo sticks
Entrance Music: Moby — Jam For The Ladies
Proposed Nickname: Aaron “Aar Gordon” Gordon

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(t5!) Opinions!: Maybe a little higher than expected, but Gordon is another sure bet in this draft. He can’t shoot, which may be problematic, but that doesn’t mean that that can’t be improved upon. There have been plenty of prospects who couldn’t shoot in college who have become terrific shooters in the NBA (like, for instance, this year’s NBA Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard). Gordon does possess this draft class’ highest motor, and sometimes willingness to play hard in the paint every night is enough to be productive in the NBA. He is also Wiggins’ equal as far as athleticism is concerned, so he has that going for him.

(t5!) Fit Analysis!: Gordon will be rocking Orlando crowds when he’s dunking on everyone on sight, but the Magic do have a superfluity of athletes who can’t quite figure out if they’re a small forward or a power forward. Eventually, Gordon might end up defeating Tobias Harris, Mo Harkless, and Andrew Nicholson if the Magic host a tweener Hunger Games. But they could have just drafted Dante Exum and saved themselves the headache.

(t5!) Level Of Excitement: !!!!!
(t5!) Correct Pick: Dante Exum

5. The Utah Jazz selected… Dante Exum, PG, Australia

Upside Potential: an imperative Jamal Crawford
Entrance Music: INXS — New Sensation
Proposed Nickname: Dante “The Satellite Radio” Exum

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(t5!) Opinions!: From the kangaroo-laden courts of Australia to the Mormon-laden courts of Utah. No one knows exactly how good Exum is or can be, because the USA-Australia time zone difference pretty much made him anonymous. But the scouts who have seen him play, like the one who frenziedly compared him to young Kobe, can’t stop raving about him. GMs, like everyone else in the world, are only going by his YouTube highlights, but if the way he broke down fellow Aussies off the dribble in those videos is any indication of what his career is going to be like, he can be the league’s next great oversized point guard.

(t5!) Fit Analysis!: The Trey Burke-Dante Exum backcourt combo (T-Rexum?) is going to be dynamic. Having both point guard on the court at the same time won’t be counter-productive, for two reasons: (1) Exum’s height (6’-6”) allows him to guard opposing shooting guards and (2) Exum’s more of an attacking presence while Burke is more of a perimeter-oriented facilitator. It will be a poor man’s variation of the Chris Paul-Jamal Crawford pairing, which the Clippers found success with habitually.

(t5!) Level Of Excitement: !!!!!
(t5!) Correct Pick: Dante Exum

6. The Boston Celtics selected… Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State

Upside Potential: Dwyane Wade on full explosions
Entrance Music: Yeah Yeah Yeahs — Heads Will Roll
Proposed Nickname: Marcus “Proactive” Smart

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(t5!) Opinions!: There’s violence in the way Smart carries himself, on offense, defense, and when the action spills over to the stands. I am also enamored with the idea that he was willing to stay an extra year in Oklahoma St to improve his game. He could have declared eligibility before last season, and he could’ve easily been a top-three pick and the Rookie of the Year of that embarrassing rookie crop. Sure, it ended up costing him some money, but he is now better prepared to take on his rookie year, and he will have a more prosperous career because of it. No one does this anymore and it’s refreshing.

(t5!) Fit Analysis!: Rajon Rondo trade status: Confirmed. This pick would have never been made if they plan to keep point guard Rajon Rondo, especially if you have Julius Randle and Noah Vonleh still available. This isn’t similar to Utah’s Burke-Exum situation. Today’s NBA is so concerned with spacing, and you can’t have two guards who can’t shoot from outside. Smart with Avery Bradley should be a better fit; Bradley is a better shooter than Rondo and that back court will be cataclysmic against opposing dribblers.

(t5!) Level Of Excitement: !!!!!
(t5!) Correct Pick: Julius Randle

7. The Los Angeles Lakers selected… Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky

Upside Potential: Karl Malone if John Stockton didn’t exist
Entrance Music: The Stooges — Raw Power
Proposed Nickname: Julius “The Scandal” Randle

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(t5!) Opinions!: I was head over heels when he said during his post-draft interview that “the other teams are going to regret not drafting me.” That’s the intensity you seek from your first overall draft pick. More importantly, that’s the type of intensity Kobe Bryant demands from his young teammates. Under his tutelage, Randle should develop a beastly attitude necessary to shoulder block post defenders and grab rebounds away from the brawny power forwards of the NBA. Even if he has to break him down psychologically and bring him back up again, Kobe will instill this killer instinct in him.

(t5!) Fit Analysis!: Given that Kobe, Steve Nash, and Robert Sacre are the only players that have contracts with the Lakers right now, they could’ve drafted anyone and they would’ve addressed a need. But out of everyone projected to go in the lottery, Randle and Marcus Smart are best equipped to handle Kobe’s stringent approach with his teammates.

(t5!) Level Of Excitement: !!!!!
(t5!) Correct Pick: Julius Randle

8. The Sacramento Kings selected… Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan

Upside Potential: Arrogant Allan Houston
Entrance Music: Norah Jones — Shoot The Moon
Proposed Nickname: Nik “Weapon X” Stauskas

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(t5!) Opinions!: Stauskas transformed himself from a skinny spot-up shooter last season to a full-fledged scorer this season. Experts thought that because Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr. went to the NBA and Mitch McGary went to the weed often enough to get suspended that Michigan had no chance repeating last March Madness’ success. But if it wasn’t for a Harrison twin buzzer beater, they would’ve been back to the Final Four with Stauskas shouldering most of the scoring load. Although I don’t know if that’s a bigger achievement than having an Instagram-conquering girlfriend.

(t5!) Fit Analysis!: Are the Kings giving up on last year’s lottery pick so soon? Stauskas and Ben McLemore play the same position, and I’m not sure if less playing time is the answer to McLemore’s unwaveringly degrading confidence. They have an obvious need to fill at power forward and Noah Vonleh, who could stretch the floor for post demon DeMarcus Cousins, is sitting right there. Stauskas will prosper for sure, but I don’t know if I can say the same about McLemore. Maybe the decision to cut ties with him now is actually the best decision.

(t5!) Level Of Excitement: !!!!
(t5!) Correct Pick: Noah Vonleh

9. The Charlotte Hornets selected… Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana

Upside Potential: Chris Bosh without the photobombs
Entrance Music: Ma$e — Breathe, Strech, Shake
Proposed Nickname: Noah “The Epic Tale” Vonleh

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(t5!) Opinions!: Out of all the players being projected to be selected in the Top 10, I’m least excited about Vonleh. It’s basically because I don’t know anything about him. Indiana weren’t good enough to be considered into the Tournament, and Vonleh was essentially an unknown because of it. Thanks to his pre-draft workouts though, he skyrocketed up everyone’s draft boards as we moved closer to the draft. But the highest form of ignorance is rejecting what you know nothing about, so I’ll keep an open-mind about him. From what I’ve read, he is the prototypical 2014 front court player due to his ability to shoot from the outside while possessing the physical attributes to rebound and defend bigs. He couldn’t be that bad.

(t5!) Fit Analysis!: Just like the Kings, are the Hornets giving up on last year’s lottery pick so soon? Vonleh and Cody Zeller play the same position and the same style. What’s amusing though is that Vonleh took over as Indiana’s main feature when Zeller left for the NBA, and now he is supplanting him in Charlotte’s depth charts. Anyway, in theory, if you can design in a lab a power forward that can be combined with Charlotte’s low post connoisseur Al Jefferson, it would yield Noah Vonleh.

(t5!) Level Of Excitement: !!!
(t5!) Correct Pick: Noah Vonleh

10. The Philadelphia 76ers selected… Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana Lafayette
then traded him to the Orlando Magic

Upside Potential: If Rajon Rondo traded his basketball IQ for smiles and a hairdo
Entrance Music: Passion Pit — Little Secrets
Proposed Nickname: Elfrid “Blue Bomber” Payton

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(t5!) Opinions!: Oh what Damian Lillard had wrought. The byproduct of the 2012 Rookie Of The Year turning out so well is that these seasoned point guards from unknown mid-major schools are being hyped up annually. The outlook on C.J. McCollum, the Lehigh combo guard drafted that the Blazers drafted last year, is still unsettled, but he never actually got ample playing time to show off. But it seems like the Magic will reward Payton some playing time because the Magic can definitely use Payton’s playmaking ability and perimeter defense. We’ll see if he translates as well as Lillard did in the NBA

(t5!) Fit Analysis!: Before the trade happened, I wasn’t certain how Payton and last year’s Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams could share point guard duties for the Sixers. But with the Magic, Payton is able to cease the Magic’s experiment last year of employing Victor Oladipo to handle point guard duties. In addition, Payton surrounded by high motor athletes will be an enabler for my league pass addiction.

(t5!) Level Of Excitement: !!!!!
(t5!) Correct Pick: Elfrid Payton

11. The Denver Nuggets selected… Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
then traded him to the Chicago Bulls

Upside Potential: Glen Rice at his hottest and his slowest 
Entrance Music: Wes Nyle — Fresh Like Dougie
Proposed Nickname: I’m fine with Dougie McBuckets

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(t5!) Opinions!: Generally, I’m more excited about players with one outstanding skill than a player who is above-average at every skill. McBuckets may be mediocre in most NBA things. He is too small to guard 4’s, too slow to guard the wing, too unathletic to keep up with the speed of today’s NBA. But Dougie McBuckets gets buckets. Yeah, I’ll fuck with that.

(t5!) Fit Analysis!: Whether they get Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Love or neither, McDermott will still find ways to score for the Bulls, which should improve the Bulls’ third-worst offensive rating in the NBA. Derrick Rose, who will test his leg out for another go-round, will attract so much attention and will obviously help out with the scoring. Combine his ability to attract defenders with Joakim Noah’s masterful passing ability, and McBuckets should get open looks for days.

(t5!) Level Of Excitement: !!!!
(t5!) Correct Pick: Dougie McBuckets

12. The Orlando Magic selected… Dario Šarić, PF, Croatia
then traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers

Upside Potential: Hedo Turkoglu before drug usage
Entrance Music: Vitalic — My Friend Dario
Proposed Nickname: Dario “The Adriatic Sellsword” Šarić

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(t5!) Opinions!: Like I mentioned when Embiid got picked, the Sixers will postpone their aspirations of winning basketball for a later date so that they can hoard assets. The Šarić situation of him staying in Europe for two more years is exactly what they need. Sixers will throw away two more seasons and get high lottery picks in the process. When it’s time, they will get a 6’-10” facilitator that plays with palpable vitality. Genius is eternal patience. Genius is Sam Hinkie.

(t5!) Fit Analysis!: Again it’s difficult to forecast the Sixers in 2016, but Saric can turn even the bitterest situation enjoyable. There are sunny days ahead, Sixers fans.

(t5!) Level Of Excitement: !!!!!
(t5!) Correct Pick: Dario Šarić

13. The Minnesota Timberwolves selected… Zach Lavine, PG, UCLA

Upside Potential: Gerald Green in Europe
Entrance Music: Maroon 5 — Makes Me Wonder
Proposed Nickname: Zach “Do It For” LaVine

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(t5!) Opinions!: The guy just muttered “fuck me” under his breath as he was getting selected. Now that could mean that he was just overwhelmed by being drafted so high, but I’ll lean more towards him not wanting to move all of his stuff from sunny UCLA to hyperborean Minneapolis. I don’t care if you dunk like there are trampolines permanently transplanted on the painted area; lethargy shows up in the way you play. And I don’t want to watch someone who has a disinterested body language play basketball.

(t5!) Fit Analysis!: It depends who’s there when the season starts. Kevin Love is asking to be traded out of there and it’s unclear still if another player is going to be packaged with him. Although in LaVine’s case, it’s probably better for him if he had Love and Kevin Martin (someone who is ahead of LaVine on the depth charts) still there. A year coming off the bench and learning from these seasoned veterans could be beneficial for him. His game still lacks the maturity and refinement necessary to flourish in the NBA

(t5!) Level Of Excitement: !!
(t5!) Correct Pick: Someone who wants to play in Minnesota

14. The Phoenix Suns selected… T.J. Warren, SF, North Carolina State

Upside Potential: Talking Kawhi Leonard
Entrance Music: Telefon Tel Aviv — Stay Away From Being Maybe
Proposed Nickname: T.J. “Tender Juicy” Warren

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(t5!) Opinions!: Like I said earlier, I’m much more excited about prospects with one exceptional skill than a prospect who is above-average in everything. Warren seems to be a player who is competent at most things, but those type of players usually don’t translate their college success to the NBA. To be fair though, that’s what I said when Paul George got drafted by Indiana in 2010.

(t5!) Fit Analysis!: A quick glance at their starting lineup and it looks like they are most feeble at the small forward position. Therefore, Warren will get a crack at it. That all depends though on whether or not the Suns, who are basking at the expansiveness of their cap room, can sign a 3 like Gordon Hayward or Luol Deng. But as far as small forwards go, I just prefer James Young more, who should be able to catch and shoot in the NBA.

(t5!) Level Of Excitement: !!!
(t5!) Correct Pick: James Young