Andrew Wiggins Kansas/Cleveland Cavaliers 1st Overall: The Cavs have failed miserably in recent drafts to find a running mate for Kyrie Irving. Dion Waiters has proven time and time again that it just doesn’t work when he shares the backcourt with Kyrie. Anthony Bennett was an abject failure in his first year in the league after being picked 1st overall in 2013. The Cavs got a bit unlucky in 2012 picking 4th in that draft. They just missed the perfect player to pair with Kyrie in Bradley Beal who went 3rd overall to the Wizards. We all know what the partnership of Beal and Wall looked like last year in D.C. Then last year they hit the lottery in a bad draft. Bennett seemed to be the best fit as a scoring power forward prospect with some range and then his rookie year happened. Well all that is in the past as the Cavs hit the lottery in the right year this time. There were as many as four players that could have been argued as the best overall prospect in the 2014 draft, but almost none had the upside that Andrew Wiggins has. Wiggins will come into the league with freak athleticism and a better than average jump shot to go along with his next level defensive skills. He should fill up the stat sheet from day one even though he won’t be a ball dominant player in the Cavs’ offense. In a few years he could be the entire focus of the Cavs offense if everything develops the right way. With Kyrie resigned this could be the beginning of a rebirth in Cleveland.
Jabari Parker Duke/Milwaukee Bucks 2nd Overall: The Bucks were desperate for a face of the franchise and they couldn’t have done any better than getting Parker in the 2 slot. I feel for last year’s head coach Larry Drew who was a good soldier and helped the team tank all the way up to the second pick in the loaded 2014 draft. Drew was fired after the Bucks had already traded for Jason Kidd from the Brooklyn Nets. Now Kidd gets to look smart as he unleashes the NBA ready Parker on the Bucks’ opponents. Parker may be slowed down in his year one production by the shoot first point guard play of Brandon knight, but I expect that to work itself out over time. Parker is the closest thing to Carmelo Anthony to come into the league since Anthony left Syracuse early. He will be a beast for years to come so don’t hesitate to draft him even in year one.
Julius Randle Kentucky/Los Angeles Lakers 7th Overall: The Lakers had to be jumping for joy when Randle fell to them at 7 in the 2014 NBA draft. Randle could have easily gone in the top three if any of those teams had needed a power forward that is going to bang and fight his way to a double double almost every night. He’s a man’s man. He will fight for every rebound and actually knows how to box out because he can’t rely on superior leaping ability or wing span. He’s been compared to Zach Randolph in the draft process and that seems pretty spot on especially if he can develop a mid-range jumper to go with his finishing in the paint. He should score and rebound right away with the Lakers’ front court minutes up for grabs, but he may lack some defensive statistical production until he learns how to defend in the NBA.
Elfrid Payton Louisiana Lafayette/Orlando Magic (via trade w/ Phil.) 10th Overall: The Magic looked like a team without a plan last year when they selected Victor Oladipo 4th overall and then didn’t know whether to play him at the point or at the two-guard. It looks like they finally made a decision in the off season that Oladipo is better off at the 2. Payton being traded for on draft day cements that thought as he’s a point guard all the way. He’s young, fast, long and is already a very good defender. Just like most point guards that come into the league he has a bit of a broken jump shot. That being said he and Oladipo probably form the best young defensive backcourt in the game. There should be steals and fast breaks galore with these two and the fourth overall pick in 2014 Aaron Gordon in the fold. I like the fit for Payton with the Magic especially with them waiving Jameer Nelson recently.
Doug McDermott Creighton/Chicago Bulls (via trade w/Denver.) 11th Overall: The Bulls lacked shooters last year and it really hurt when they got to the playoffs. Mike Dunleavy and Tony Snell were hot and cold much of the year. When they were cold the Bulls were a tough team to watch as teams would just double Noah and Boozer without worrying about wide open threes. As long as the Bulls don’t get Carmelo Anthony in free agency McDermott has clear path to minutes and shots. He should immediately help fantasy owners in three pointer made, shooting percentages and scoring. Bill Simmons mentioned it on draft night and it was so true that this trade was rumored for months before the draft and then it actually happened on draft night.
Shabazz Napier UCONN/Miami Heat (via trade w/Charlotte) 24th Overall: Napier was so fun to watch in UConn’s run to a championship that it’s funny to think that he fell all the way down to 24th overall. The complete opposite can be said of the point guard play in Miami in their finals loss to the San Antonio Spurs. The Heat were rumored to be all over Napier and they got their man in a trade with the Hornets. Napier should play big minutes right away and help the Heat by making smart passes as well as being able to drive into the paint to help free up LeBron and Wade. Of course his value and fit have a lot to do with what happens with the big three in free agency, but for now it looks to be the second best fit for a rookie point guard.
Kyle Anderson UCLA/San Antonio Spurs 30th Overall: Anderson to the Spurs made so much sense that it made some people sick just to say it. A high basketball IQ point forward who can dish the basketball as well as score it in different ways. He’s like a point guard stuck in a 6’9″ slow body. On any other team I would have probably said to look elsewhere, but with the Spurs he could find himself in Boris Diaw’s sooner than later. He’ll be a sneaky bet to help you in your assists category if he gets some rookie year minutes. Just don’t ask Pop if he’s gonna play. Pop doesn’t like questions.
K.J. McDaniels Clemson/Philadelphia 76ers 2nd pick of the 2nd Round: So what was it the 76ers lacked last year? Oh yeah, DEFENSE! McDaniels was looked at leading up to the draft as a mid 1st round pick that could immediately see minutes as an elite wing defender that can finish at the basket. He slipped to the 2nd round and the 76ers and fantasy basketball players look to be the beneficiaries. The 76ers lacked anyone that could lock down an opposing player last year and were forced into a ton of shoot outs. McDaniels could see big minutes right away and should see an uptick in scoring production if the rest of the 76ers defense continues to struggle.
Cleanthony Early Wichita State/New York Knicks 4th pick of the 2nd Round: Cleanthony Early was looked at as a late first round pick that would contribute right away for a contender. Instead he fell to the top of the second round where the Knicks got an excellent piece for their team. The Knicks struggled at the small forward position last year when Carmelo Anthony would slide over to the four. Sometimes Tim Hardaway Jr. would be asked to play the three and he struggled mightily when he was asked to. Metta World Peace was supposed to give the Knicks the freedom to use Anthony as a stretch four, but that didn’t work out. Early can score inside or outside and has a 6’11” wingspan on his 6’7″ body that allows him to rebound well and defend even bigger fours. He could see minutes right away with the Knicks’ frontcourt a bit of a question mark and he would benefit greatly if Carmelo would happen to sign elsewhere.
Honorable Mention: Dante Exum Australia/Utah Jazz 3rd Overall: I’m a big believer in Exum’s talent, but the fit wasn’t the best for me, at least for year one. He goes to a team with a young point guard already in tow in Trey Burke and they also have two other players that look to be part of their plans in Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks that like to be in possession of the ball. I think it will take some time for the Jazz to figure out how to use all of their pieces and in the meantime it will hurt Exum’s year one production. Honestly, I would have loved to see him land somewhere else, but I still think he’s a top three pick in dynasty leagues. Huge upside!
Make sure you check back next week when I’ll put some words together about some rookies that may be able to fight their way to meaningful minutes and which high upside rookies you should target in your dynasty drafts.
My Pre 2014 NBA Draft Thoughts can be found here.