With a month left until the 2014 NBA Draft, a lot of projecting where players will be picked at this point is speculative. Teams will trade, needs will change, and players will slide up and down boards all the way up until draft day.
Most hesitate to speak with certainty regarding player placement for a draft that is a month away, and everything that is heard must be taken with a grain of salt. Still, some clear trends can be tracked as player workouts get underway and individual skill sets come into focus.
A few weeks back, I looked at some potential players that the Sixers could select with their pick from the Pelicans. At that point it was not even guaranteed that the Sixers would be receiving a pick from the Pelicans this year. Since then however, the order of the draft has been determined. The SIxers secured a pair of picks in the lottery, and as the draft continues to creep closer tiers of talent have begun to emerge.
It is becoming increasingly clear that Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker are the top talents in the draft and will likely be taken with the top three picks, in some order. Also grouped in with these top talents is Australian guard Dante Exum, who is in the mix for a top selection, according to ESPN’s NBA Insider Chad Ford.
Dante Exum is in the mix for No. 1 w/ the Bucks, Magic & Lakers. But he’s gonna have to prove it in workouts
— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 20, 2014
Ford also says that a second tier has emerged behind the draft’s four top targets. Indiana’s Noah Vonleh, Kentucky’s Julius Randle, Arizona’s Aaron Gordon and Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart comprise that tier as the players likely to go after Wiggins, Parker, Embiid and Exum.
After Wiggins, Embiid, Parker & Exum — next tier is Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon & Marcus Smart in some order
— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 20, 2014
Many current mock drafts (including ours) agree with the talent tiers and see Wiggins, Parker, Embiid, Exum, Vonleh, Randle, Smart and Gordon serving as the draft’s first eight selections, in some order. The order remains unknown, but the relative consensus regarding the top selections gives us a decent idea of who might be available come the Sixers’ second selection, also known as the pick from the Pelicans.
Let's take a look at some potential targets:
Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton: Many mocks have the sharp-shooter from Creighton off the board prior to the tenth pick, but if he is available, McDermott would be an intriguing option. McDermott was one of the best scorers in the history of college basketball, and his ability to put the ball in the basket is valuable at any level. He would automatically bring floor spacing and a reliable deep threat to a team desperately in need of both, and he could be a nice addition offensively.
Offense aside however, there are major concerns about McDermott’s speed and defense, and if his style of play can last in this league. He may be best suited for a bench role where he is relied upon to come in and provide some instant offense, and at tenth overall, you have to think that the Sixers might be searching for a potential starting-caliber player. Considering his speed (or lack thereof), and seemingly one-dimensional style of play, McDermott may not be the best fit for the franchise, but he could be a nice addition to insert offensively, if the Sixers wanted to go that way.
Gary Harris, SG, Michigan St: Harris is a nice two-way player that could help the Sixers on both ends of the floor. Harris is a knockdown shooter, and could provide the Sixers with a legitimate option from the outside. Harris is a solid spot-up shooter, and could work well alongside Michael Carter-Williams, whose penetration opens up opportunities for shooters; the team just happened to be lacking consistent solid shooters last season. In addition to having a sweet stroke, Harris can put the ball on the ground and score in transition, which should be appealing to Brett Brown.
Also appealing to Brown should be Harris’ defensive ability. Harris was one of the best defensive guards in the country last season, continuously locking down the opponent’s top guard. His size may be a bit of a concern in the league however, as he measured only 6’2.5’’ without shoes at the recent combine. As an off-guard he will often be giving up several inches on an assignment. Size aside though, Harris has the potential to develop into a very solid two-way player.
Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan: Like McDermott, Stauskas’ value is in his shooting. He is a dead-eye shooter who can spot-up and knock down from almost anywhere. Stauskas has range and would provide solid spacing for the Sixers. Also like McDermott, however, there are concerns about his speed and about how of his skills, outside of shooting, will translate to the NBA game. If Stauskas is unable to make improvements, he runs the risk of being a one-dimensional pro, used strictly for shooting. With that being said however, Brown is a fan of the three-point shot (the Sixers shot 22.5 per game last season), and could be interested in re-stocking some shooters.
James Young, SG, Kentucky: Young could be a great fit for Philadelphia. Young is a long lefty who can score in a multitude of ways. He can knock down shots off of the dribble or off of a spot-up, and he has great range. His shot is smooth, quick, and effortless, and can occasionally catch people who aren’t ready for the left release off guard. At 6’6’’, Young has great size for the shooting guard spot, and has the foundation to develop into a really solid scorer. He is already decent defensively, and has a lot of time/room to grow in that area.
Young would fit well in the backcourt alongside Carter-Williams, who would get him open opportunities through his penetration. Both are similar in size, which would allow them to make switches easily, and would give them solid size at both starting guard spots.
Dario Saric, F, Croatia: Saric has been one of the more scrutinized international players in recent memory as he has worked himself into the lottery conversation. Saric is an extremely skilled stretch four, who can pass, shoot, and put the ball on the floor. He displays an amazing level of skill for his size, and he can score from virtually anywhere on the court. He can play with his back to the basket, face up a defender, or take it out past the three-point line. An offense could easily be run through him thanks to his abilities as a facilitator, scorer, and ball-handler. His size in the frontcourt would provide excellent floor spacing, as he pulls the opposing big out of the paint.
Quickness and athleticism are the main concerns when it comes to Saric, as some wonder if his game will lose some luster in the ultra-athletic NBA. He will also likely need to add some strength to consistently bang with the other bigs from the four-spot on a nightly basis. Overall, Saric has a unique skillset unlike any other 2014 draft prospect, and he could potentially be a very effective NBA player, but it may take some time.