2014 NBA mock draft: Cavaliers should go big at No. 1 with Joel Embiid

Ed Zurga

Now that the Cavaliers have their third No. 1 pick in four years, it's time to find Kyrie Irving a big man. That's why we have Kansas' Joel Embiid going No. 1 in our first mock draft.

SB Nation 2014 NBA Playoff Bracket

The Cleveland Cavaliers jumped up from the No. 9 position to earn the No. 1 pick for the third time in four years, an incredible feat and a shot in the arm for Kyrie Irving's club. Despite having just a 1.7 percent chance of winning the lottery, Cleveland overtook Milwaukee and Philadelphia to earn the top spot.

Now, it's time for SB Nation's first mock draft.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas

This will be the Cavaliers' seventh first-round draft pick since LeBron James left for Miami, but so far, Tyler Zeller is the only center they've selected. It's time to change that. With Spencer Hawes about to enter unrestricted free agency and Anderson Varejao turning 32 next season on an unguaranteed contract, Cleveland would be wise to try to lock down a big man for the future.

Fortunately, there's a great one available in Joel Embiid. Embiid has been playing basketball for three years, but he projects as a great two-way player in the middle. Embiid has long arms, soft hands and developing post moves that should make him a terror for years to come. He isn't the draft's most NBA-ready prospect, but he is the best.

2. Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker, F, Duke

The Bucks will have their choice between two stud small forwards, and they can't go wrong either way. Andrew Wiggins has the length and athleticism pro scouts rave about, and Jabari Parker has an NBA-ready offensive game that could make him a primary option as a rookie. For a Bucks team that finished No. 26 in offense and No. 29 in defense, either player is a great pick.

We'll go with Parker just because he's ready to carry the scoring load from day one. Parker is the master student and an offensive force with outside shooting ability, post moves and counters to his counters. His defensive ability will be a question, but with Larry Sanders and Giannis Antetokounmpo backing him up, the Bucks should be just fine relying on Parker for offense first and defense second.

3. Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Wiggins, F, Kansas

The 76ers and Andrew Wiggins are a perfect match. Philadelphia played the fastest pace in the NBA a year ago, which is a system Wiggins should thrive in. Additionally, he won't have be counted on to have his hands on the ball at all times thanks to the presence of Michael Carter-Williams. While Wiggins might need time to develop a complete offensive arsenal, he's ready immediately on defense. That will be a huge boost for a team that finished No. 27 in the league on defense a year ago.

4. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, G, Australia

The Magic tried to play last season's No. 2 pick Victor Oladipo at point guard out of necessity, but the rookie finished ninth in the league in turnovers per game (3.2) and only averaged 4.2 assists a night. The ideal backcourt complement to Oladipo has the ability to defend shooting guards, handle the playmaking duties offensively and stretch defenses. That sounds a lot like Dante Exum.

Exum swore he was a point guard at the NBA draft combine, but his size (6'6) gives him the ability to alternate between either guard position. With a 6'10 wingspan, Exum should join Oladipo in forming one of the league's most intimidating defensive backcourts for years to come. Few have seen Exum play very much, but if he's as good as scouts think he is, Orlando should be thrilled to get him at No. 4.

5. Utah Jazz: Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona

The Jazz have their frontcourt figured out with Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors. They drafted their point guard last year in Trey Burke, and Gordon Hayward is a great option on the wing. Utah just needs one more piece for its starting lineup, someone who can act as the glue for a talented but inexperienced unit. It seems like a great spot for Aaron Gordon.

The forward comes out of Arizona as a 44 percent shooter from the foul line, but he has incredible athleticism. He was the best defensive player on the best defensive team in the country last season, according to KenPom. That should help out a Jazz squad that finished No. 25 defensively a year ago. Gordon might not be the franchise savior Utah was hoping to add with this pick, but he's a great athlete and will be ready to contribute defensively from the day he's drafted.

6. Boston Celtics: Noah Vonleh, F, Indiana

The Celtics need size. Fortunately for them, Noah Vonleh is huge. With massive hands and a 7'4 wingspan, Vonleh has prototypical measurables for a power forward. He's shown a developing face-up game that has some likening him to Chris Bosh.

Boston is just getting started on its rebuilding project, so the club has time for Vonleh to develop. He doesn't turn 19 years old until August, but all of the tools are there. If Brad Stevens can teach him how to use them, the Celtics could get a steal at No. 6.

Scouting report video for Noah Vonleh

7. Los Angeles Lakers: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State

The Lakers were hoping to land higher than No. 7, but they'll benefit from a deep draft that has options at multiple positions of need. This pick will likely come down to either Vonleh, Smart or Randle. After a year of watching Kendall Marshall and Jordan Farmar run point, the Lakers would be wise to add a player as physically gifted as Smart.

Smart needs to improve his three-point shooting (he only shot 29.9 percent last season), but he has a good looking stroke and never stops driving to the rim. He could have gone higher in the weaker draft last season, but the opportunity to become a star in L.A. will be an even bigger boon to his career.

8. Sacramento Kings: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky

The Kings have one of the best centers in the league in DeMarcus Cousins, but they've never found a player to fit next to him. Randle might not be able to cover up Cousins defensively, but good luck finding a more physical front line.

Randle was a double-double machine at Kentucky and has flashed ball-handling skills that will help him out in a pro game with better spacing. No team will want to go up against Boogie and Randle, which is reason enough for Sacramento to end his slide in the draft at No. 8.

9. Charlotte Hornets (from Pistons): Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia

The Hornets used the No. 4 pick a year ago on Cody Zeller, but you can never have too much size. Zeller has the athleticism and the developing face-up game to slide to the four, where he'd be a great complement next to a physical bruiser like Nurkic.

Few people are familiar with Bosnian center Jusuf Nurkic yet, but he projects as the second-best center in the class behind Embiid. He has the size (6'11, 280 lbs.) to handle anyone in the NBA, and he's shown a soft touch around the rim. Think Nikola Pekovic with a little more ability to get off the ground.

Scouting report video for Jusuf Nurkic

10. Philadelphia 76ers: Nik Stauskas, G, Michigan

The 76ers will have options with their second top 10 pick. Do they want the upside of Zach LaVine? The NBA-ready defense of Gary Harris? There's a lot of ways Philadelphia can go, but adding arguably the draft's top shooter in Nik Stauskas would provide a big boost for an offense that ranked No. 30 this past season. Stauskas will be a below-average athlete as a starting shooting guard, but if there's one way to hide a limited defender, it's by putting Nerlens Noel behind him.

What Stauskas does as well as any player in this draft is shoot the rock. He hit 44 percent of his threes in each of his two years in college. The surprise of his sophomore season was that he could handle and pass the ball a bit, too. With Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway gone from Ann Arbor last season, Stausksas picked up playmaking duties and averaged 3.3 assists per game. He'd be a nice fit in Philly.

11. Denver Nuggets: Zach LaVine, G, UCLA

LaVine scored only 11 points in his last five college games, but the team who takes him won't be looking at his production. The 6'5 Washington native lost playing time to his coach's son with the Bruins, but has all the tools teams look for in a lead guard.

With a 41.5" vertical, a sweet three-point stroke and underrated ability as a ball handler and passer, LaVine has all the upside in the world. The Nuggets are desperately in need of a jolt in the backcourt after starting Randy Foye at shooting guard for 78 games last season. There might not be a speedier guard tandem in the league than Ty Lawson and LaVine once the 19-year-old gets a feel for the pro game.

12. Orlando Magic: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State

Harris isn't the biggest or most athletic shooting guard in this year's class, but he might be the most complete. He's the top defensive shooting guard in the draft after learning how to play on that end under Tom Izzo the last two seasons. He has an NBA-ready body and should be able to get to the rim and absorb contact at the next level, too.

If the Magic add Harris and Exum, they can cash in Arron Afflalo for a front court player and dramatically reshape their roster next season. Adding another guard might seem like a stretch, but the lack of big men available, combined with Harris all-around game, makes him a nice choice.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves: James Young, SG, Kentucky

Whether the Timberwolves decide to trade Kevin Love before the start of the season or wait to reexamine their options at the trade deadline, it's become clear it's time for Minnesota to start planning for life after the superstar power forward. You don't just replace a player like Love -- he's one of the best and most unique forwards in the NBA. Instead, the Wolves will have to address the problems that put them in this situation.

That starts with shooting and athleticism on the perimeter, two things Young can provide. Young might be a better shooter by reputation than production at this point (he shot 34.9 percent as a freshman), but it wasn't long ago people were saying the same thing about Bradley Beal. As for athleticism? We'll just leave this here.

14. Phoenix Suns: Rodney Hood, F, Duke

The Suns were the breakout team of last season behind Jeff Hornacek's up-tempo offense and the two point guard attack of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. The one hole in the starting lineup might be at small forward, where former NBA castoff P.J. Tucker found a niche as a defensive stopper and started 81 games for the Suns. While Tucker did his job last season, the 3 is a spot where Phoenix can easily upgrade. They'll be looking for a player who can fill Tucker's role as a defensive stopper and also hit three-pointers in Hornacek's pace-and-space offense.

The player who fits that description the best is Duke forward Rodney Hood. Hood might not be as talented offensively as N.C. State's T.J. Warren, but he projects as a better shooter and better defender. Hood made 42 percent of his nearly five attempts per game from three-point range for the Blue Devils last season. If he can maintain that type of efficiency, he'll fit in nicely in Phoenix.

15. Atlanta Hawks: Kyle Anderson, F, UCLA

The Hawks enter the offseason high on flexibility after a promising seven-game series against the Pacers in the first round. Atlanta has two good players on team-friendly contracts in the front court in Al Horford and Paul Millsap, and got a big-time effort from point guard Jeff Teague in the postseason. There's still a hole on the wing, though, after the Hawks used their two first rounders a year ago on a point guard (Dennis Schroder) and big man (Lucas Nogueira). UCLA's Kyle Anderson could give Atlanta the NBA-ready option at the 3 it needs.

Anderson is arguably the most unique player in the draft after starring at point guard for the Bruins last season. At 6'9, he has an advanced feel for the game but limited athleticism and range that doesn't yet extend out to the NBA three-point line. That's fine for the Hawks. With other dynamic options in the starting lineup, Anderson can use his height and court vision to pick out open teammates when facilitating from the elbow.

16. Chicago Bulls (from Hornets): Doug McDermott, F, Creighton

The Bulls seem to be constantly searching for more offensive weapons to augment a defense that is perennially one of the league's best. Specifically, Chicago needs shooters after finishing with the fifth-lowest amount of made three-pointers per game last season.

All Creighton's Doug McDermott did was finish his career as the NCAA's fifth all-time leading scorer. He's also arguably the best perimeter shooter in the draft, as he hit over 44 percent of his three-pointers during his last three seasons with the Bluejays. No one is sure how McDermott is going to defend NBA small forwards, but if anyone can figure that out, it's Tom Thibodeau.

17. Boston Celtics (from Nets): T.J. Warren, F, N.C. State

The Celtics enter the draft in the unique position of needing help on both sides of the ball after finishing No. 27 in offense and No. 20 in defense last season. When it comes to getting buckets, there might be no better pure scorer in the draft than N.C. State's T.J. Warren.

Warren finished last season third in the nation in scoring by shooting an absurd 62.2 percent from the field. He isn't a monster athlete and he possesses an ugly-looking three-point shot, but it really doesn't matter. Warren has a nasty floater and a great mid-range game that projects well to the next level. This is probably too low for him, but he's a perfect fit in Boston.

Scouting report video for T.J. Warren

18. Phoenix Suns: Clint Capela, C, Switzerland

After addressing wing depth with their first of three first-round picks in this draft, the Suns now have the opportunity to swing for the fences. We know Phoenix possesses the virtue of patience after selecting center Alex Len at No. 5 last season and playing him in only 42 games. Len is a big body with a nice back-to-the-basket game, but he doesn't project as a great defender.

That's why Phoenix can take a chance on Capela. Capela is a little known 20-year-old from Switzerland, but he has all the makings of an elite interior defender. Namely: long arms (7'4 wingspan) and great athleticism. He's raw, but the Suns are in a position to take a chance on him at this point in the draft.

Scouting report video for Clint Capela

19. Chicago Bulls: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State

We know Chicago isn't afraid to select older players after taking Taj Gibson, a player who started his NBA career as a 24-year-old, in 2009. That pick will go down as one of the Bulls' best moves in recent memory. After selecting one senior with their first pick in Doug McDermott, Chicago opts for a second in Adreian Payne.

Payne is actually four months older than Kawhi Leonard, but he's a good looking prospect in a draft low on big man depth. If he was 20 years old instead of 23, he'd be a shoo-in as a lottery pick. Payne is a very good three-pointer shooter and athletic enough to do this.

Scouting report video for Adreian Payne

20. Toronto Raptors: Dario Saric, F, Croatia

The Raptors have no issues with selecting international players in the draft, and if Saric is somehow still available at No. 20, Masai Ujiri would likely be happy continuing on recent franchise trends.

Saric is projected to go much earlier in most mocks, but he doesn't have great athleticism or shooting ability. He's essentially a Croatian version of Kyle Anderson with great height (6'10) and advanced passing skills. He'd fit in nicely on a Raptors team that finished No. 18 in assist ratio last season.

Scouting report video for Dario Saric

21. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Mavericks): Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn

Much as Scott Brooks might be dismayed, he can't keep giving Derek Fisher minutes forever. With Reggie Jackson set to enter a contract year, it would be wise for the Thunder to target a guard. If Oklahoma City is looking for an NBA-ready player with toughness, shooting ability and a natural feel for the game, Napier is a great pick.

Napier exits college as one of the more accomplished players in years after leading UConn to two national titles. Players of his caliber don't normally stay four years, but there's no questioning that the extra time in school helped Napier. He isn't the biggest or most athletic player, but he can fill it up as much as any guard in the draft. If Fisher's minutes go straight to Napier next season, that's a net win for the Thunder.

22. Memphis Grizzlies: P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends, NBA D-League

Memphis is always looking for more shooting, and the story won't be any different even with Courtney Lee in tow and Quincy Pondexter returning from injury. With Mike Miller set to become a free agent, Hairston seems like a logical selection. He could become a three-and-D wing with a certain amount of toughness the Grizzlies seem to love.

After jacking up nearly eight three-pointers per game in the D-League last season and making them at a 35.8 percent clip, there's no doubting Hairston's ability to fire from the perimeter.

23. Utah Jazz (from Warriors): Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA

The Jazz have quality young players throughout the roster, they're just waiting on results. Utah would probably love to add a big man here to provide depth behind Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors, but there really isn't one that makes sense at this spot.

That's why Utah could opt for another dynamic scorer in UCLA's Jordan Adams. The advanced stats love Adams, who comes to the NBA with a complete offensive skillset, a huge wingspan and limited athleticism. Adams' 29' vertical leap at the combine will concern teams, but he's crafty enough to find a way to get buckets.

24. Charlotte Hornets (from Trail Blazers): Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse

Ennis should go higher than this, but he enters the draft at a disadvantage because point guard is most stacked position in the league. If Ennis were to fall this far, the Charlotte Hornets would be happy to snag him.

The Hornets have a great young point guard in Kemba Walker, but he could easily be moved off the ball, where his shot-making might be put to better use. Ennis doesn't have top notch athleticism, but he's a terrific passer and playmaker who should find a niche in the NBA.

Scouting report video for Tyler Ennis

25. Houston Rockets: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette

Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley moonlighted in Houston as a two-headed threat at point guard, but at this point in the draft, Daryl Morey is likely aware Payton is too talented to pass on. Payton needs to develop a more consistent perimeter jumper, but it might be the only thing holding him back.

The 6'3 Louisiana-Lafayette product has great length and athleticism and projects as a defensive terror in the pros. With Lin a possible candidate to be moved this offseason, Payton could be a value in Houston as a willing perimeter defender.

Scouting report video for Elfrid Payton

26. Miami Heat: Isaiah Austin, PF, Baylor

What do you give the team that has it all? How about a player with the size, skill set and athleticism to go in the top five?

Austin wasn't as productive as he should have been at Baylor, but no one doubts his talent. Austin's sweet three-point stroke will fit in just fine in Miami's offense.

27. Phoenix Suns (from Pacers): Jerami Grant, F, Syracuse

If you're going to play an up-tempo style of offense, you might as well target prospects with big-time athleticism. That's Grant, a long (7'2 wingspan) and athletic forward who struggles to shoot. Grant was hidden in Jim Boeheim's zone defense at Syracuse, but he has all the tools of a monster defender. With a run-and-gun system like one the Suns use, he could be a terror.

28. Los Angeles Clippers: Cory Jefferson, F, Baylor

This might seem high for Jefferson, but it shouldn't. He's a 6'9 forward with a seven-foot wingspan and a nice face-up jumper. Jefferson wasn't as productive as his physical attributes suggest at Baylor, but he's hardly the first player to come out of that program with production issues. The Clippers have an obvious need for a third big man, and Jefferson's ability to man the power forward position or play as a small-ball center seems like a logical fit.

29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Cleanthony Early, F, Wichita State

The Thunder like long athletes who can shoot the ball, and Early is just that. The 23-year-old forward greatly improved his three-point stroke as a senior by knocking down 37.5 percent of his near five attempts per game. He gave himself a huge boost in the NCAA Tournament by scoring 31 points against Kentucky, and very well could be gone by this point in the draft.

30. San Antonio Spurs: Spencer Dinwiddie, G, Colorado

Dinwiddie tore his ACL in January, but it shouldn't scare off teams if he lasts until the end of the first round. The 6'6 Dinwiddie swore he was a point guard at the draft combine in Chicago, which means he'll be one of the tallest lead guards in the NBA from the moment he steps on the court. Dinwiddie averaged nearly four assists per game and shot 41.3 percent from three-point range before his injury. In other words, he's the type of productive player the Spurs always seem to grab from out of nowhere.

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