The Lottery Picks of the 2014 NBA Draft (5/26 Update)

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The Lottery Picks of the 2014 NBA Draft (5/26 Update) 

The NBA Draft is comprised of 30 franchises attempting to select a young player primed to help them win an NBA title. In this draft, the 16 teams who made the playoffs the previous season are awarded the last 16 picks of each round. The 14 teams who missed the playoffs are relegated to the lottery: a ping-pong-ball picking extravaganza to determine which teams end up with the top selections. But which draft-eligible players are worthy of being selected so high? These are the Lottery Picks.


1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Joel Embiid (Last Edition: 2)

By all accounts, Joel Embiid's back injury is being a bit exaggerated. This makes sense, especially with the history of big men picked at the top having their careers ravaged by health problems. However, once his physical comes out and people know he's okay, Embiid is going to be the top pick. He's too talented and rare to pass up.


2. Milwaukee Bucks - Andrew Wiggins (3)

Milwaukee already has a very raw, talented and young small forward on its roster. Nevertheless, Wiggins is clearly one of the top two talents in this draft, and passing on him would be a mistake. The Bucks would surely love Embiid to drop to second, but if not, they would have to take the upside of Wiggins over the ready-now play of Parker.


3. Philadelphia 76ers - Jabari Parker (1)

The top three players in this draft are relatively set in stone. Philadelphia has a borderline luxury in that it won't have to make a decision that could haunt the franchise for years to come. Instead, the 76ers are just left with whichever of the top three talents falls. If it's Parker, he's the most NBA-ready of the trio.


4. Orlando Magic - Dante Exum (5)

Orlando has a point guard in Victor Oladipo. But, based on his skill set, he is really more of a two-guard. Bringing in a true point, especially one of Exum's size, would be the perfect complement to Oladipo and give Orlando a special backcourt moving forward.


5. Utah Jazz - Julius Randle (4)

The Utah Jazz may luck out by teams simply having too much tape of Julius Randle. He was not nearly as raw as the likes of Wiggins and Embiid this past college season. Because of that, teams think they know what he is and what his ceiling is. The flawed logic in this reasoning is that what he showed was translatable dominance. He was a double-double machine who couldn't be single-covered on the block.


6. Boston Celtics - Noah Vonleh (13)

Noah Vonleh has been flying up draft boards. After the draft combine, where he measured out bigger than people expected and showed good athleticism, many consider him the top power forward in this draft. He has better NBA size than Randle, although his offensive game is not as far along just yet. Scouts are feeling though that his future is brighter than that of Randle's.


7. Los Angeles Lakers - Aaron Gordon (9)

The last of the mini-run of power forwards is Aaron Gordon. He is supremely gifted on the defensive end and while running and leaping. His offensive game has a long way to go though. There isn't even much of a baseline to build off of. Shawn Marion comparisons are being bandied about. Gordon falls to seven because of the depth ahead of him. He may have been the top overall selection had he been in last year's draft (which of course could be said about A LOT of players this season).


8. Sacramento Kings - Marcus Smart (6)

The tumbling stock of Marcus Smart drops him to a very unpleasant spot: the Sacramento Kings' pick. The Kings do need a true point guard with Isaiah Thomas being more of an undersized two. Nevertheless, this has been a toxic organization for a while now, and Smart is coming in with character baggage, whether deserved or not. He also lost his outside shot this past season, which is never a good "oh by the way" comment to add to a prospect's report.


9. Charlotte Hornets - Rodney Hood (11)

There are a number of gifted shooters entering the 2014 NBA draft. While Rodney Hood may not be the best pure shooter, he is in that conversation and brings other factors to the table. He has good size and reach, as well as a bit more athleticism than the likes of McDermott or Stauskas. He should also step in and contribute right away at the NBA level.


10. Philadelphia 76ers - Dario Saric (8)

For two years now, Dario Saric has been in the draft lottery conversation, but no one knows his future. Last year, almost guaranteed of being a top ten pick, Saric opted out and returned to player in Europe. Rumor has it, the same possibility exists this season with a big payday waiting for the Croatian overseas. Philadelphia drafted Nerlens Noel last year, knowing they would have to wait a year for him to contribute. They may be inclined to do the same with Saric this season, knowing his future is so bright.


11. Denver Nuggets - Doug McDermott (12)

Scouts were split on Doug McDermott after the college season ended. He was a prolific shooter and scorer who lacked the measurables for the next level. However, the NBA combine proved to be a boon for McDermott. He tested out much better than teams expected, proving his athleticism may not be as big of a concern as previously thought. If it was NO concern at all, he'd be a top eight pick, but with him showing he can jump around a bit, he should be squarely inside the lottery at this point.


12. Orlando Magic - Adreian Payne (NR)

Orlando finds itself in a tough spot at 12. They already filled out their backcourt with the fourth overall selection, and the best players available here are guards. Harris, Stauskas, LaVine, Ennis and others may all be more talented and have more potential than Adreian Payne, but they won't have a spot in Orlando's starting five. With that said, Payne is no slouch. He is an experienced power forward who can contribute day one and also step out and hit three point shots.


13. Minnesota Timberwolves - Gary Harris (7)

Minnesota doesn't know where its future lies. Kevin Love may be dealt before this pick is even made. The franchise is on the precipice of a complete overhaul. Unfortunately, at 13, there is no organization saver. There are just good pieces. Gary Harris is one of those. He may be the best two-way shooting guard in the draft. His ability to both score and defend makes him a future 35+ minute player in the pros.


14. Phoenix Suns - Nik Stauskas (NR)

Phoenix had a tremendous 2013-14 season. If the Suns were in the eastern conference, a playoff berth would have been clinched weeks before the season ended. Instead, out west, they missed the playoffs entirely but return a fun and deep roster for this coming year. Adding Nik Stauskas gives them a knockdown shooter and depth at the guard position behind Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe.