Gonzalez's 2014 NBA mock draft 1.0

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Gonzalez's 2014 NBA mock draft 1.0

This is not a ranking of players. You can find my latest list of top prospects here. This is also not the order I would necessarily select players in, but rather the order I believe they might go according to various team needs and tendencies in a parallel draft universe without trades. No trades here. Dream those up on your own.

(And if you'd like to compare, here are Amy Fadool's mock and Sean Kane's.)

1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Joel Embiid, C, 7-0/250, Kansas
Putting aside the Cavs’ uncanny luck and the fact that they don’t deserve this pick, Embiid would fit nicely. His back (he suffered a stress fracture that caused him to miss the back end of the college season) is supposedly healthy, and he reportedly looked good in recent workouts. The Cavs could use a wing, so Andrew Wiggins is a possibility here, but they also need a paint presence. Anderson Varejao will be 32 next season, and Tristan Thompson remains inconsistent. Tough to pass on a center with Embiid’s size and mobility. Not even the Cavs can screw this up. Probably.

2. Milwaukee Bucks  Andrew Wiggins, SF, 6-8/200, Kansas
And the city of Philadelphia weeps. I’d like to believe that Embiid or Wiggins fall to the 76ers, but I don’t see it happening. The Bucks' roster is a mess. Giannis Antetokounmpo is a potential star. John Henson is only 23, and he’s emerging as a terrific rim protector. Larry Sanders can be a top-tier defender, but he’s a crazy person who can’t be counted on. Beyond that, the Bucks don’t have much (depending on how you feel about Brandon Knight, who’s still only 22). Wiggins is the easy pick for Milwaukee. The right pick, too. Curses.

3. Philadelphia 76ers  Jabari Parker, SF, 6-8/241, Duke
If Embiid and Wiggins are already off the board, I’d take Dante Exum and worry about the fit with MCW later. Alas, I won’t be making the selection. And I’m still not sure that the Sixers are all that enamored with Parker. Yes, he’s regarded as the most polished scorer among this tier of players, but I have questions. Can he guard wings in the NBA? Or power forwards? And can he stay in shape for a coach that talks about skinfold as often as pace? This is the safe pick. Here’s hoping Sam Hinkie pulls off another spectacular and unexpected draft night move and goes a different way.

4. Orlando Magic  Dante Exum, PG, 6-6/196, Australia
Victor Oladipo and Exum in the same backcourt. Orlando is happy. I am less happy.

5. Utah Jazz  Noah Vonleh, PF, 6-10/247, Indiana
This is a bad spot for the Jazz. They have Trey Burke at point and Gordon Hayward at shooting guard (assuming the restricted free agent re-signs, which me might not). Power forward Derrick Favors and center Enes Kanter are only 22. The Jazz could really use a wing here, or even another shooting guard. There just aren’t any to be had. Maybe they trade out of the pick. If not, they grab Vonleh, who might have the best chance to stretch the floor among this tier of forwards (even though he wasn’t really used that way at Indiana). He had great measureables at the combine. Still a disappointment for the Jazz, who would probably like to get Parker. (Ring, ring. Hello, Sam Hinkie? Utah Jazz hereLet’s talk shop.)

6. Boston Celtics  Julius Randle, PF, 6-9/234, Kentucky
Lots of trade rumors out there for the Celtics. Entirely possible they move this pick in their quest for Kevin Love or someone more suitable than whoever’s available at No. 6. If they stick, they could use a power forward. Their current crop includes Brandon Bass and … yeah, pretty much just Brandon Bass. That’s awful. Randle would be a huge upgrade. Instant double-double machine with Rajon Rondo getting him looks. If they keep Rondo. Which they might not. The Celtics are a chose-your-own adventure story at this point. Countless paths with countless potential endings.

7. Los Angeles Lakers  Aaron Gordon, SF, 6-9/220, Arizona
Kobe Bryant will be 36 in August and he’s coming off two serious injuries. The Lakers want to win now because of Kobe, and because the Lakers always want to win now. Wouldn’t be surprised if they unload this pick. Perhaps they’d be interested in moving it for some combination of Thaddeus Young and the No. 10? (Ring, ring. Hello, Sam Hinkie? L.A. Lakers hereLet’s talk shop.) If not, Gordon is the consolation prize. Super athletic. 

8. Sacramento Kings  Marcus Smart, PG, 6-3/227, Oklahoma St.
For a team that won just 28 games, the Kings’ roster isn’t bad. DeMarcus Cousins is a double-double monster. Rudy Gay makes entirely too much money, but he played well for them after getting traded from Toronto. They drafted Ben McLemore last year. Honestly don’t know which way they go here. Isaiah Thomas was really solid for them once he got the starting job. I like Thomas a lot (especially in fantasy; hello fellow nerds). But he’s a restricted free agent this summer and might get an offer the Kings don’t want to match. It wouldn’t surprise me if they move on. Putting Smart here because he’s considerably bigger than Thomas (5-9, 185) and because I think he’s the best player left. There’s a big drop off to the next tier.

9. Charlotte Hornets  Doug McDermott, SF, 6-8/218, Creighton
The Hornets are back in Charlotte. Somewhere, Grandmama smiles, but maybe not because of the pick. Everyone loves McBuckets. I’m not as sold. He can shoot, but can he defend wings or power forwards in the NBA? Eh. The Hornets can have him.

10. Philadelphia 76ers  Dario Saric, SF/PF, 6-10/223, Croatia
Big. Can run the floor. Good passer. Still working on his perimeter shooting. But a pretty efficient scorer. Had a 58 true shooting percentage this year in the Adriatic League. As I’ve written, a forward with that kind of skill set makes me giddy. There are questions about whether he wants to stay in Europe for another year (he just turned 20 in April). And Amy Fadool mentioned reports that he might want to play for only the Lakers or Celtics. Because Amy Fadool wants to wound me. Ignoring the negativity, I love the idea of grabbing a frontcourt player who would complement Noel rather than overlap with him. Yes, please. I even asked nicely.

11. Denver Nuggets  Nik Stauskas, SG, 6-7, 207/Michigan
Randy Foye just had his best season as a pro, but he’s 30. (Randy Foye is 30? Kill me.) Evan Fournier is the backup and he’s only 21, but he’s not blocking anyone’s path. The Nuggets could use a wing, actually. Maybe they go for James Young. But Stauskas is the higher rated player. And he can shoot (44 percent from three on 5.8 attempts per game). The question is whether he can do anything else.

12. Orlando Magic  James Young, SF, 6-8, 213/Kentucky
If Saric is still on the board, could see the Magic grabbing him and pairing him with Nik Vucevic, who has a decidedly different skill set. Hopefully Saric is already on his way to the states to further Philly-Croatian basketball diplomacy. If not, the Magic could use a talented wing. (I don’t think Mo Harkless is it, and Tobias Harris remains inconsistent.) Young has huge upside.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves – Gary Harris, SG, 6-4/205, Michigan St.
The Wolves are in a tough spot. The Wolves are always in a tough spot. Even with Kevin Martin, they still need more perimeter shooting. But they’re going to lose Love. He’s not staying in Minnesota, which means they have to move him between now and next offseason. I’d take Adreian Payne here. Another big guy who can stretch the floor and shoot from the perimeter. (Have I mentioned how much I like those guys?). But the Wolves are the Wolves, so I’m sure they’ll botch it somehow. Harris is a good way to do that. He’s billed as a shooter, but he hit a not-so-impressive 35.2 percent of his threes last year on a 6.6 attempts per game. Ho-hum.

14. Phoenix Suns  Rodney Hood, SF, 6-8/215, Duke
The Suns run two point guards who are excellent: Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. They have the Morris twins and Channing Frye (another stretch) at forward. They have Miles Plumlee (who played surprisingly well last year) and Alex Len (who is raw, suffered through injuries and appeared in just 42 games) at center. They could use a wing. P.J. Tucker is the closest they have to one, which means that spot needs an upgrade.

15. Atlanta Hawks  Zach LaVine, PG/SG, 6-6/181, UCLA
He’s probably more of a one than a two. The Hawks already have Jeff Teague at the point, and they need a wing more than anything (who doesn’t?). But if LaVine lasts this long, the Hawks should grab him. He’s super athletic and had an excellent showing at the combine. He could spell Teague at the point, or perhaps the Hawks will experiment with both in the backcourt. LaVine had a streaky shooting season for the Bruins but still hit 37.5 percent from three and 44 percent from the floor.

16. Chicago Bulls  Adreian Payne, PF, 6-10/239, Michigan St.
Finally. Boy do I love me some Adreian Payne. Big. Can rebound, shoot from the outside (42.3 percent on 3.4 attempts per game), and he makes free throws (79 percent). Carlos Boozer has a massive contract (one more year remaining at $16.8 million) that the Bulls would like to unload. Either way, he’s gone soon enough. Yes, they still have Taj Gibson, but he’s not exactly a stretch four. And, besides, they found ways to get minutes for Boozer and Gibson. Now they can find minutes for Payne and Gibson.

17. Boston Celtics  P.J. Hairston, SG, 6-5/230, NBDL
Everyone forgets about Hairston, who left North Carolina because of some drama. Perhaps the Celtics won’t. Boston needs perimeter scoring, which Hairston can provide. Plus, he’s a big boy.

18. Phoenix Suns  Jerami Grant, SF, 6-8/215, Syracuse
The Suns have an embarrassment of picks. What a fun organization they’ve become. I think they double up on small forwards here and let them battle it out for playing time. Perhaps they’ll hold auditions the way the Joker did in The Dark Knight, though that could get messy. And they’d need a pool stick. Anyway, Grant isn’t a perimeter shooter (he took just five threes last year), but he’s athletic and he’ll be able to run with the Suns. Besides, the Suns already have plenty of three-ball shooting.

19. Chicago Bulls  Tyler Ennis, PG, 6-3/182, Syracuse
D.J. Augustin had a surprisingly good season for them, but he’s a free agent. Derrick Rose is one of the best players in the league -- provided he’s healthy, which he hasn’t been in quite a while. At the least, the Bulls need a backup point guard. Ennis would be a good one. Had an outstanding assist-to-turnover ratio (5.5 apg, 1.7 tpg) last season.

20. Toronto Raptors – Kyle Anderson, SF, 6-9/230, UCLA
He has a really interesting game. Big body with a wide skill set. Hard to tell where he’ll play in the NBA, but at this point in the draft, he’d be a nice fit for an up-and-coming Raptors team. They’d better re-sign Kyle Lowry (he’s a free agent), though, otherwise the whole thing falls apart.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder  T.J. Warren, SF, 6-8/215, N.C. State
Value pick. Not a lead of needs for the Thunder. They could certainly use more outside shooting. Maybe C.J. Wilcox here, though it feels a touch early for him. So, yeah, Warren. He can score -- mainly by slashing to the basket. Good enough.

22. Memphis Grizzlies  Cleanthony Early, SF, 6-7/210, Wichita St.
Shooting up the mocks. Before the NCAA tournament, it was hard to find a draft projection that had him in the first round. Now quite a few do. I like him better than the two guys who went ahead of him here. Had a good combine, he can get to the basket and shoot the three (37.6 percent on 4.9 attempts per game), and he rebounds well. He’ll fit right in with Mike Conley and the Grizzlies.

23. Utah Jazz  K.J. McDaniels, SF, 6-6/195, Clemson
They need a wing. They get a wing. He’s not super big, but he’s a capable rebounder and sneaky shot blocker. Needs to develop an outside shot. He hit just 30.4 percent from three last year (3.8 attempts per game).

24. Charlotte Hornets  Kristaps Porzingis, PF, 7-0/220, Latvia
He’s 6-11, 220? Someone needs to feed this kid a sandwich. A good shot blocker who needs to polish his offensive game. He’s only 18. He’s a project with potential.

25. Houston Rockets  Jusuf Nurkic, C, 6-11/280, Bosnia
Bigs are always valuable. Maybe the Rockets finally figure out a way to move Omer Asik. Or maybe not.

26. Miami Heat  Elfrid Payton, PG, 6-4/185, Louisiana Lafayette
Good handle and explosive in transition. And he’s a solid defender. Good spot for him. The Heat might need help at the point. Mario Chalmers is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

27. Phoenix Suns  Mitch McGary, PF, 6-10/250, Michigan
The Suns will have to get special dispensation from the league to double their roster size and accommodate all these picks. So, so many picks. McGary hurt his back in the fall, but he’s reportedly healthy. He left for the NBA earlier than expected after getting into a wee bit of trouble. Totally should have said it was medicinal. Back pain, dude.

28. Los Angeles Clippers – C.J. Wilcox, SG, 6-5/200, Washington
They’re locked into J.J. Redick through 2017. Beyond that, the shooting guard situation needs help. Jamal Crawford is on a non-guaranteed deal for next year, and he’s 34. Willie Green is 32, and he’s somehow still in the league. No one is afraid of Reggie Bullock. Wilcox would help. He’s an excellent shooter (39.1 percent from three on 7.2 attempts per game last year). The Clips have a veteran cast. They shouldn’t mind that he’s already 23 and will turn 24 before the year is out. 

29. Oklahoma City Thunder  Clint Capela, PF, 6-11/222, Switzerland
What do you mean Clint Capela lasted this long? The Swiss will be up in arms. For once. But probably not. Just turned 20. The Thunder can afford to let him develop for a while in Europe.

30. San Antonio Spurs  Shabazz Napier, PG, 6-1/175, Connecticut
The Spurs' backup point guard situation is suspect: Patty Mills and Cory Joseph. Napier slides from one championship team to an organization that has plenty of its own titles.

Bryan Colangelo: 'Never a period of discomfort' with Sixers' bigs

Bryan Colangelo: 'Never a period of discomfort' with Sixers' bigs

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers on Friday unveiled their brand new, state-of-the-art practice facility in Camden, New Jersey (see story).

Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo, while speaking to media members at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, touched on a variety of topics. That included the team's surplus of big men, an issue that has been years in the making.  

One of the major questions surrounding the Sixers this offseason is how the team plans to utilize all three of its talented young big men in Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid. With Embiid finally healthy and on track to play this season, the Sixers have some tough decisions when it comes to balancing playing time as well as maximizing each player's potential.  

There have been rumors throughout the summer that Colangelo has been actively trying to shop either Noel or Okafor because of his discomfort with having three big men on the roster. His comments on Friday cleared up the situation. 

"We're excited for the season. We’re excited to have three, talented young players that can play that position," Colangelo said. "I said something this summer that was somewhat tongue and cheek that was taken so seriously and everybody hung on that one word that I would be uncomfortable going into the season or absolutely uncomfortable, it was literally overstated so many different times. It was never a period of discomfort, in fact, it's actually comfortable knowing we have that much talent there.

"The discomfort comes in trying to manage and maintain the happiness of three talented young players and that’s something that I think will work itself out."

This offseason has been one of transition for the Sixers. The days of "The Process" are long gone, and the Sixers seem poised to finally become a competitive franchise again after years of tanking.

During their summer overhaul, the Sixers brought in nine new players in hopes of forming a roster that features actual NBA-caliber players that could compete on a nightly basis. 

The team now not only features a surplus of bigs, but for the first time in a long time, a healthy balance of talent at each position. 

"The availability of those players is going to be an experiment all season long, not just with the bigs but with this entire team," Colangelo said. "We’ve got a good mix of talent and there's going to be a lot of competition at every position."

Colagelo expressed that under the former regime ran by Sam Hinkie, the Sixers lacked any sort of competitive drive and identity, something that he emphasized greatly when first put in charge. 

"We really have brought some things to this team that I think was sorely lacking," Colangelo said. "One was veteran leadership, whether it's Gerald Henderson, Jerryd Bayless or bringing Elton Brand back. Playmaking ability between Jerryd Bayless, Sergio Rodriquez, Dario Saric coming into the mix, Ben Simmons — these are playmakers as much as they are good basketball players and scorers.

"So we’ve got a good mix of talent, but what we actually have will play itself out on the court in the coming months."

Sixers unveil new state-of-the-art practice facility in Camden

Sixers unveil new state-of-the-art practice facility in Camden

CAMDEN, N.J. — The doors to the Sixers' new training complex are officially opened, welcoming players into the 125,000-square-foot facility designed to be a one-stop basketball shop.
 
On Friday, the Sixers held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil the sprawling building on South Front Street. After years of sharing space at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) on City Avenue, the organization now has its own dedicated facility. 
 
The complex was built with the intention of becoming a “year-round destination." The team has taken each aspect of daily life into consideration to provide players and staff with the resources they need on-hand in Camden.
 
“We’re trying to create a culture of not only excellence, but of maximum performance and trying to give them as many things that can help enhance that and get us there quicker,” president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said, also noting, “We’re not trying to trap them, but we’ve literally given them so many things that they may not want to leave.”
 
Players arrived at the complex ahead of the official opening, and many were there on Friday as tour groups circled through. Ben Simmons and Dario Saric were among those taking shots on the expansive courts, which account for 20,480 square feet. There are two full-size NBA courts and six additional baskets, comprised of over 16,000 pieces of maple wood athletic flooring.
 
With an extra emphasis on health and fitness, the weight room and training room are located next to each other right off the court. Their proximity fosters communication between the training staff with strength and conditioning coaches to easily discuss medical situations, whereas they were separated on different floors at the previous facility.
 
“It makes for a great place of what we call ‘continuity of care,’” head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson said on a tour of the building.
 
The Sixers now have increased medical resources available, including a dedicated physician’s room. They are implementing a videolink system which allows them to videoconference with players offsite and with other medical professionals. The team is also moving into ultrasound diagnostics to assess tendon health.
 
Right off the weight room are four hydrotherapy pools — cold water immersion, hot tub, warm lap pool/plunge pool and underwater treadmill that can go eight feet deep. The team took the height of the players into consideration when installing the pools. The jets on the hot tub, for example, were placed strategically for their wingspans. A video system in room allows the team to monitor pool work.
 
Following the goal of keeping resources in one place, a video room includes a dual-sided projection screen that enables players to review film directly from the court through glass walls.
 
The Sixers are honing in on nutrition and diet this season. They installed a full-service kitchen with customizable options based on the players’ needs versus a buffet meal. The organization found its head chef in an unconventional way — impressed by the food at the popular Philadelphia restaurant Parc, Colangelo inquired about its chefs and hired Jae Hee Cho.
 
And if the Sixers want to get some rest after a full day’s work, the team also may look into sleeping pods.
 
“I learned years ago they come here and it’s sort of the field of dreams. If you build it, they will come,” Brett Brown said. “You learn that they spend more time here because it’s convenient and they feel like they’re getting better. It’s a chance to bring families together. It’s a chance to bump into a teammate and go up and have lunch … get some shots together. The opportunity to have and form greater relationships exists here. I saw that in 2002 [with the Spurs] and I believe we’re going to see it again in 2016.”
 
The Sixers believe the new complex will set them apart from other teams around the NBA. Players consider more than just wins and losses when choosing teams in free agency, and this facility could give the Sixers an edge.
 
“In the business today, there’s so many things that you’re competing with with other franchises,” Colangelo said. “It’s become a little bit of an arm’s race, if you will, with respect to what player amenities you have, how you travel, what the practice facility is, what kind of creature comforts you give them. ... We’re doing everything possible to maximize performance not only of the players and the athletes, but also of the organization.”
 
The team incorporated aspects of its history in the complex. The reception desks at the main and player entrances are made of the wood from the basketball court of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game.
 
The Sixers will hold training camp in Stockton University next week and then will begin practicing at the complex for the rest of the season.
 
“Part of building a winning team, an elite team is culture,” managing general partner Josh Harris said. “Certainly you need talent, but how everyone works together and how people enjoy themselves, that’s one element. The second element is having them available to experience all of the capabilities we can bring, whether it be training, massage, health, wellness, diet, sleep, there’s a lot of things we can put in their hands.”