Before Adam Silver won over the world with his harsh and swift punishment of Clippers owner Donald Sterling, the issue the new NBA commissioner chose to define his early tenure was the age minimum. In 2005, the league put an end to high school players entering the draft by adopting a rule that mandated all players must be at least 19 years old during the draft's calendar year, and at least one year removed from high school. If Silver had it his way, players would have to wait until they are 20 years old and two years removed from high school to become draft eligible.
A new age limit isn't imminent because it has to be collectively bargained with the players union. But it does feel inevitable. With that in mind, we decided to take a look at the landscape of the 2014 NBA draft if Silver's wishes went into effect immediately. No Andrew Wiggins, no Joel Embiid, no Jabari Parker. Suddenly, the Cavs aren't feeling so lucky.
If you'd rather see a real, full mock draft, check out our post-lottery projection. Not much has changed since then.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia
This comes down to Nurkic vs. Dario Saric vs. Adreian Payne. The Michigan State big man is interesting because we know the Cavs want to win right away and the 23-year-old should be able to start from day one. Saric's playmaking ability and versatility to switch between either forward spot is intriguing, too. Still, we'll go with Nurkic because he's the only player on the board who projects as a starting-caliber center. Payne simply doesn't have the height or mass to hold down the five full-time, and the Cavs already have a 23-year-old in Tristan Thompson in the power forward spot. Nurkic gets the edge over Saric because it's easier to find a small forward than a center.
In case you're wondering, Nurkic went No. 9 in our real mock draft.
2. Milwaukee Bucks: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State
Brandon Knight quietly had a strong age-22 season for the Bucks this past year, but the opportunity to add Smart under these draft conditions would be too much to pass up. Smart would be big enough to play alongside Knight and heady enough to run point himself. All told, this isn't that terrible an outcome for Milwaukee.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Dario Saric, F, Croatia
Saric isn't a great shooter or a high-level athlete, but his size (6'10) and floor vision helps separate him from the rest of this class. His scouting report reads similar to Kyle Anderson's, but Saric has been more successful against a higher level of competition.
4. Orlando Magic: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State
The 6'10 Payne turns 24 years old in February, but he has a massive wingspan (7'4) and a sweet stroke from three-point range that could make him a lottery pick this year. In a draft without freshman, he's as good as any player available.
5. Utah Jazz: Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton
The Jazz need shooting, and Doug McDermott can shoot. McDermott would either fit in nicely next to Gordon Hayward, or as a potential replacement should he field an offer too rich for the Jazz's taste in restricted free agency this summer.
6. Boston Celtics: Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan
Incumbent shooting guard Avery Bradley is also about to become a restricted free agent, but adding Stauskas would be a good idea whether he's re-signed or not. Stauskas is one of the two best shooters in the draft along with McDermott, and would complement a terrific perimeter defender in the backcourt like Bradley.
7. Los Angeles Lakers: Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA
This is probably not the consolation prize Lakers fans were looking forward to after the worst season in franchise history, but Anderson does have game. His size (6'10) and feel for the game would be a big help for a Lakers team with a hole at small forward.
8. Sacramento Kings: Rodney Hood, SF, Duke
Sacramento made the third fewest number of three-pointers per game while shooting the fourth worst percentage in the league from deep last season. Hood shot 42 percent on nearly five attempts from three-point range per game at Duke.
9. Charlotte Hornets: T.J. Warren, SF, N.C. State
The Hornets are a tough team to gauge in the real draft, and it's no different under these conditions. A team that finished No. 24 in offense last season could use a cold-blooded scorer, and the hometown product would pay immediate dividends.
10. Philadelphia 76ers: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
The Sixers started James Anderson at shooting guard last season, and he finished with a PER of 10.92. A two-way player like Harris would be an immediate upgrade.
11. Denver Nuggets: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisanna-Lafayette
The Nuggets have one of the better point guards in the league in Ty Lawson, but adding a big lead guard like Payton to the mix might be too tempting to pass up at this point. Look no further than Phoenix and Oklahoma City to see the damage two point guard attacks have been doing lately.
12. Orlando Magic: Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn
The Magic constantly seem to be searching for an heir to Jameer Nelson's throne. They tried to use Victor Oladipo there last year with mixed results. Napier is one of the more accomplished college players to enter the draft in a long time, and could play from day one.
13. T-Wolves: Cleanthony Early, SF, Wichita State
The Wolves need to start thinking about life without Kevin Love, but there isn't an NBA-ready power forward available here who could help. Early would be a good choice as a 6'8 forward who can play above the rim and shoot threes. Not bad for someone who played community college ball two years ago.
14. Suns: K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson
Think of McDaniels as a bigger, better version of P.J. Tucker.
15. Hawks: P.J. Hairston, SG, Texas Legends (D-League)
The Hawks found a nice bargain in DeMarre Carroll last year, but they can still use depth on the wing. Hairston is a big guard with a nice three-point stroke. That can help just about any team.
16. Bulls: Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA
Adams is not a particularly good athlete, but he's as crafty a scorer as anyone in the draft this side of Jabari Parker and Doug McDermott. He'd help a Bulls team that was hopeless on offense last season, whether he's taken in the real draft or this make believe one.
17. Celtics: Clint Capela, C, Switzerland
Capela has the talent to go much higher than this under these circumstances, and may very well be selected in the lottery of the real draft. He's long (7'4 wingspan) and athletic, but when will he be able to contribute at the NBA level?
18. Suns: Mitch McGary, C, Michigan
At No. 18, we have our first player who was not selected in our real mock draft. McGary barely played because of a back injury last season, but he's a big body who can hit a face-up jump shot.
19. Bulls: DeAndre Daniels, F, UConn
Daniels is a long, springy athlete who can shoot, but he doesn't even weigh 200 lbs. Maybe he'll hit the weight room if Tom Thibodeau yells at him enough.
20. Raptors: C.J. Wilcox, SG, Washington
Wilcox turns 24 in December, but he's got good size and can shoot the hell out of the ball. That would help the Raptors, just as it would help most teams.
21. Thunder: Spencer Dinwiddie, G, Colorado
Dinwiddie could be the steal of the real draft as a tall point guard recovering from ACL surgery, but with these rules? It would be another major draft day coup for Sam Presti.
22. Grizzlies: Jabari Brown, G, Missouri
The Grizzlies can always use another perimeter shooter, and Brown is just that. The 6'4 guard hit 41 percent of his 5.6 attempts from three-point range last year.
23. Jazz: Jerami Grant, F, Syracuse
Grant is a monster athlete and projects as a great defender going forward. At the moment, he just can't shoot at all. Under these rules, he's a great value pick at this spot.
24. Hornets: LaQuinton Ross, SF, Ohio State
Ross has good size to go with a nice all-around game. He could be a second-round steal in the real draft.
25. Rockets: James McAdoo, F, North Carolina
McAdoo could have been a lottery pick had he come out after his freshman season. Instead, he's barely a first rounder under these make-believe guidelines. The lesson, as always: staying in school is for suckers.
26. Heat: Isaiah Austin, PF, Baylor
We had the Heat taking Austin in our real mock draft, too. It just sort of worked out that way.
27. Suns: Glenn Robinson III, F, Michigan
"Little Dog" is one of the draft's best athletes, but he was an inconsistent scorer in college with a raw jump shot. If the Suns can turn Gerald Green into a productive wing, they might be able to do the same to Robinson.
28. Clippers: Cory Jefferson, PF, Baylor
Hey, we had this in our original mock, too. These playoffs should have filled the world's Big Baby Davis quota for the rest of eternity.
29. Thunder: Patric Young, PF/C, Florida
Young is a big, strong bruiser who will be able to compete in the NBA physically from day one. That's about all you can ask from a big man at this point in the draft under these rules.
30. Spurs: Joe Harris, SF, Virginia
Harris is a 6'6 wing who can shoot the lights out. The Spurs have a way of getting the best out of players like that.