Sam Smith's 2014 mock draft

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By Sam Smith | 06.26.2014 | 9:30 a.m. CT | asksam@bulls.com | @SamSmithHoops

If only the Cleveland Cavaliers were more organized, we’d have a better idea about the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft. That would be too much to expect. But it should make the evening more fun. Even Anthony Bennett is interested. As of late Wednesday night, the rumors were the Cavs might take Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins, but were also having second thoughts on passing on Joel Embiid. So they were studying medical records once again. 

Meanwhile, it figures to be an interesting day as the Houston Rockets got it started Wednesday night with reports of a trade to still be finalized of former Bull Omer Asik to the New Orleans Pelicans for a future No. 1 draft pick. The trade would give the Pelicans a formidable lineup with Asik and Anthony Davis backed up by Ryan Anderson. They’re sure trading away a lot of No. 1 picks, so they better get Asik resigned. But the Pelicans were basically being told Davis would not resign if they continued to make him play center. 

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Though the big speculation was whether it was the start of salary cap space clearing by the Rockets to try to lure Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James. Or both. The theory is to create the salary cap room to sign James to join Anthony, the latter who supposedly would come via sign-and-trade for James Harden. That’s still a long way to go before persuading James to leave Miami for Houston and to play with wacky Dwight Howard. But strange things happen in the NBA. And even though it seems Anthony is headed to either Houston or to return to New York, some close to Anthony continue to insist Chicago remains a realistic alternative for him. No, really, they’re saying. Really. But that won’t be known until the first week of July after free agency begins July 1. 

The Knicks were involved in an earlier trade sending Tyson Chandler back to Dallas along with Ray Felton for Jose Calderon, Sam Dalembert, Wayne Ellington, Shane Larkin and second round picks. 

Cleveland also, as always, remains hopeful about LeBron James’ eventual return and continues to mull numerous trade offers, including from the Utah Jazz, of multiple players or draft picks for the No. 1 pick, presumably to select Parker. The Jazz desperately want Parker to pair with Gordon Hayward. So the Cavs are trying to figure out if any trade gets them closer to acquiring James. Yes, there are an awful lot of hopes and fantasies this time of year. 

There’s also been talk the Boston Celtics are prepared to trade Rajon Rondo, perhaps to the Sacramento Kings, who are looking for a point guard to replace Isaiah Thomas. The Celtics would get the Kings’ No. 8 draft pick and likely select Marcus Smart with one of their picks and perhaps Embiid if he drops because of his medical issues that could keep him out next season. 

Such a deal could be a blow to the Bulls, who have been rumored talking about trading up in the draft, presumably to select one of the top two shooters in this draft, Michigan’s Nik Stauskas or Creighton’s Doug McDermott. If the Bulls cannot do that, there’s some belief among league executives they’ll then make their picks for another team to either create salary cap space or use them for a potential sign-and-trade with the Knicks involving Anthony. The Knicks have been rumored to be getting into the middle of the first round, which could suggest the Bulls’ picks are in play for them. 

It seems almost every team in the top 10 has been trying to move up or make moves, including the Lakers at No. 7 (they’d take Kevin Love but everyone seems to believe Love is staying for now), the 76ers desperately trying to get Wiggins, the Magic also in search of No. 1 and Parker. Denver at No. 11 is expected to deal one of its guards and perhaps its pick as well. So it’s shaping up as a day and evening of the wild and the wacky. 

Here’s a mock draft for Thursday that should have at least the majority of the players being selected in the first round. 

  1. Cleveland: Jabari Parker, Duke forward. You can look awfully bad trading the No. 1 pick if you don’t get LeBron. It’s difficult to imagine them taking someone like Embiid, who could miss the season, after the Bennett No. 1 pick fiasco last season. You’d think unless someone makes an offer that would lead to LeBron they’ll go with Parker. How about Parker wanting to go to Milwaukee? Joakim Noah apparently was right about Cleveland.
  2. Milwaukee: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas guard/forward. Maybe he’ll want to go to Milwaukee, the land of mystery and enchantment, too. He’s the most hyped guy for a year, so someone to come see, finally.
  3. Philadelphia: Joel Embiid, Kansas center. Since they’re throwing another season and as Nerlens Noel should be back, what the heck. They figure if the fans bought that disaster last season they’re stupid enough to fall for another one.  Embiid could be a major star. That is their story as well. But he actually could be if healthy.
  4. Orlando: Aaron Gordon, Arizona forward. Everyone’s assumed Australian Dante Exum here as they need a point guard. But Exum’s that mystery of the draft as hardly anyone’s seen him play. They’ve got to be building up some help for Vucevic at center.
  5. Utah: Noah Vonleh, Indiana forward. They’re supposedly still trying to move Derrick Favors in a bid for the No. 1 pick. Vonleh is one of those high ceiling guys no one is sure about as he measures and tests better than he plays. You need to be careful with him. And tall men  need a high ceiling so as not to bang their heads.
  6. Boston: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State guard. Tough, physical guard as perhaps the successor to Rondo. They like his physical nature even if he’s not exactly a true point guard. But how many are in this era?
  7. Lakers: Julius Randle, Kentucky forward. There are some medical questions regarding a foot problem. But that could probably be dealt with in the summer if it’s an issue. He’s like Parker, more ready to step in with an NBA team, though it’s unclear how ready he is to be yelled at by Kobe.
  8. Sacramento: Dante Exum, Australia guard. Depends obviously if they can deal for Rondo, but they’ll probably still want a young point guard, anyway.
  9. Charlotte: Doug McDermott, Creighton forward. Probably the best shooter in the draft and he’s no Adam Morrison. Which would be good enough.
  10. Philadelphia: Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette guard. Not a great shooter, which isn’t exactly ideal with Michael Carter-Williams. But a high level defender already and good getting to the basket. And, yes, they don’t want to win now, anyway.
  11. Denver:  Nik Stauskas, Michigan guard. Looking to shake up their backcourt and get some youth in with Stauskas the top perimeter shooter in the draft.
  12. Orlando:  Gary Harris, Michigan State guard. Perhaps not the point guard they’ll eventually need. But Oladipo played some there last season and the looks of a nice two-guard front.
  13. Minnesota:  Adreian Payne, Michigan State forward. They’ll give it a try to persuade Love to stay, which likely won’t occur. So Payne should be the sort of shooting four that will give them a lot of what Love did.
  14. Phoenix: Rodney Hood, Duke forward.  You’ve got to be able to shoot with their style of game, so he should be a fit.
  15. Atlanta: Dario Saric, Croatia forward. Not that they don’t need players. And he’s overseas for two and likely three years. But a good future pick as they, like the Bulls, want cap room for free agents. It’s a plan, anyway.
  16. Bulls:  James Young, Kentucky guard. Again, this selection could be for another team. But the Bulls need a shooting guard. He is one, albeit young, with size and athletic ability. I’d probably go with more of a shooter, someone like C.J. Wilcox, but he’s generally not as highly regarded.
  17. Boston:  Jerami Grant, Syracuse forward. Perhaps a little high considering the general consensus and his difficulty shooting. But a good competitor and athlete and they like those kinds of players to begin building with.
  18. Phoenix: Zach LaVine, UCLA guard. Though young and not even a regular starter, he has intriguing abilities and they have enough draft picks to take chances on young players who have upside.
  19. Bulls: Shabazz Napier, Connecticut guard. If the pick is for the Bulls, he would be good insurance regarding resigning one of their point guards. A senior competitor, he’s one of the more ready NBA players. Plus, small guards have had reasonable success lately in the more open perimeter play.
  20. Toronto: Tyler Ennis, Syracuse guard. They don’t want to lose Kyle Lowry, but better to have some insurance with a point guard for down the road.
  21. Oklahoma City: Mitch McGary, Michigan center. Maybe they can get someone to take Kendrick Perkins. Even if they can’t he won’t be there long and as there are no point guards who’d make a difference for them they may as well try size. This is higher than most project for him, though.
  22. Memphis: C.J. Wilcox, Washington guard. One of the better shooters. Whether they bring back Zach Randolph or let him go and get Pau Gasol, they still need better floor spacing as Mike Conley isn’t a distance shooter.
  23. Utah: Kyle Anderson, UCLA forward. Considered on the slow side, but a player with point guard abilities who perhaps enables the guards to space the floor for shooting.
  24. Charlotte: T.J. Warren, North Carolina State forward. They always like the Carolina guys and he’s a scorer, if not a top shooter. Like the Bulls, they could use any scorers.
  25. Houston: P.J. Hairston, D-League guard. Some questions given he was booted from North Carolina. But a talented scorer. Plus, they take chances as they took one with Royce White.
  26. Miami: Jordan Clarkson, Missouri guard. Pretty good prospect who can shoot and play some point guard. They’ll have to ask LeBron first.
  27. Phoenix: Jusuf Nurkic, Bosnia center. With a third pick you figure they’ll take someone to play overseas for awhile. He’s a big man several teams have rated more highly.
  28. Clippers: Jordan Adams, UCLA guard. Not that they need to sell tickets for a local guy. But Jared Dudley hasn’t worked out and Doc Rivers likes shooters.
  29. Oklahoma City: Cleanthony Early, Wichita State forward. Kind of a three/four tweener, and those guys tend to have trouble in the NBA. But worth a chance for a hard playing guy.
  30. San Antonio:  Glenn Robinson III, Michigan forward. Well, dad was on the 2005 title team. Athletic forward who is active, and they’ll turn OK players into pretty good ones.

By the time of the draft Thursday night, the Bulls may not have the Nos. 16 and 19 selections. From those selections in the last 25 years, there was one multiple All-Star in Zach Randolph and two who made All-Star teams, Jamaal Magloire and Chris Gatling. If the Bulls do have those picks, here’s how the players have fared: 

2013: Lucas Nogueira and Sergey Karasev. Let’s just say it was a bad draft. 

2012: Royce White and Andrew Nicholson. White was the infamous Iowa State player afraid to fly with mental issues and dropped eventually. Nicholson is a nice potential scorer who hasn’t worked in yet with the Magic overloaded with young players. 

2011: Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris. Another reason why the Magic do not need more kids and draft picks. They have both with Vucevic already a top rebounder in the NBA and a heck of a draft pick. 

2010: Luke Babbitt and Avery Bradley. Babbitt has knocked around as a little used reserve while Bradley is a nice defensive guard, though more of a backup combo guard. 

2009. James Johnson and Jeff Teague. Johnson was one of the Bulls’ misses, though with some extra moves they were able to turn the pick they got for Johnson into the pick for Nikola Mirotic. Teague has become a top 15 starting point guard for the Hawks and potential All-Star. 

2008: Marreese Speights and J.J. Hickson. Both have become reasonably valuable power forwards, probably more inclined to be sixth man reserves though Hickson has been a starter. 

2007: Nick Young and Javaris Crittenton. Young, now the famous Swaggy P in L.A., is an offensive first sixth man. Crittenton was involved in the gun incident with Gilbert Arenas and out of the NBA facing criminal issues. 

2006: Rodney Carney and Quincy Douby. The Bulls officially selected Carney in the draft they traded up for Thabo Sefolosha. Neither had much NBA impact. 

2005: Joey Graham and Hakim Warrick. The Bulls had Warrick for a time in his travels. Neither made much impact in various stops. 

2004: Kirk Snyder and Dorell Wright. Wright should have gone to DePaul for awhile like he was supposed to. He’s stuck around as  a reserve shooter while Snyder didn’t last long and mostly played overseas. 

2003: Troy Bell and Sasha Pavlovic. It was one of the great drafts, but shows you have to be careful after the obvious choices. Pavlovic had a few decent seasons with LeBron in Cleveland as part of the posse and left for Europe. Bell also went overseas. 

2002: Jiri Welsch and Ryan Humphrey. Both did most of their playing overseas. 

2001: Kirk Haston and Zach Randolph. Haston never did much, but Randolph was the only No. 16 or 19 pick the last 13 years to become an All-Star. He’s still an All-Star level player for Memphis after serious behavioral issues marred his stay with Portland. 

2000: Hedo Turkoglu and Jamaal Magloire. Magloire had a season as an All-Star in New Orleans and Turkoglu was a productive player and with a good Orlando Finals team and a solid overall NBA career, though never an All-Star. 

1999: Ron Artest and Quincy Lewis. Artest was the Bulls pick the season they selected Elton Brand. But the team was awful and he was traded to Indiana, where he got into the notorious brawl in Detroit but resurrected his career and played for a title Lakers team. Lewis suffered the fate of many NBA Quincys and played overseas. 

1998: Bryce Drew and Pat Garrity. Both hung around a bit as shooter, but never hit the mark often enough. 

1997: Brevin Knight and Scott Pollard. Both had decent careers as NBA backups, though Knight did start some with seven teams as an undersized point guard. 

1996: Tony Delk and Walter McCarty. Delk become one of those trivia questions of unlikely NBA players to have a 50-point game. He was mostly a bench player in about 10 seasons and went overseas. McCarty was a reserve forward also for about a decade. 

1995: Alan Henderson and Randolph Childress. Henderson had a good run for a few years and won a Most Improved award, though was a role player. Childress played mostly overseas. 

1994: Cliff Rozier and Tony Dumas. Both played just a  few seasons as backups. 

1993: Rex Walters and Acie Earl. Earl played mostly overseas, but not before an amazing 40 and 12 game against the Celtics, who had drafted him. Walters played briefly at Northwestern and was a backup for seven seasons with three teams. 

1992: Randy Woods and Don MacLean. Woods played briefly for a few season while MacLean stuck around mostly off benches for a decade as a reserve. 

1991: Chris Gatling and LaBradford Smith. Gatling played about 12 seasons and made an All-Star team as a scoring reserve. Smith was the infamous Washington player who burned Michael Jordan one game, prompting Jordan to target him for a big game. 

1990: Terry Mills and Dee Brown. Mills was a productive reserve stretch four for the Pistons before the concept was popular. Brown was an undersized reserve guard who won a slam dunk contest. 

1989: Dana Barros and Kenny Payne. Kyle Korver just broke Barros’ record of most consecutive games with a three while Payne played mostly overseas.