Kane's 2014 NBA mock draft 2.0

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Kane's 2014 NBA mock draft 2.0

It's been two weeks since my first mock draft. Here is how I see the first round will shape up with my latest mock (you can compare my latest with John Gonzalez's and Amy Fadool's.):

1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Andrew Wiggins, SF, 6-8/200, Kansas
Despite the on-going exodus from the Andrew Wiggins Fan Club, I'm holding strong. Mounting speculation suggests Cleveland is sold on Wiggins' college teammate Joel Embiid, but I'm not buying it. After gambling on Anthony Bennett with the top pick last year, the Cavs will go the safer route this time around. Wiggins is a freak athlete and lockdown defender who will develop into a perennial All-Star. Pick apart his weaknesses all you'd like, I'll focus on his strengths. And there are plenty of them. 

2. Milwaukee Bucks - Joel Embiid, C, 7-0/250, Kansas
The Bucks will gladly take Embiid, who has the highest upside of any prospect in this draft. Health concerns are a legitimate issue, but Embiid has all the tools to become a dominant force on both ends of the floor. He's just starting to scratch the surface of his abilities -- a scary thought considering how much he's developed in the last two years.

3. Philadelphia 76ers - Jabari Parker, SF, 6-8/235, Duke
Nabbing Parker with the third pick would represent tremendous value for the Sixers. He is the most polished offensive player among the elite prospects in this draft and should have little difficulty transitioning into a 20-point scorer at the pro level. His defensive instincts were below average during his one collegiate season, but Parker's offensive game is too good to pass up.

4. Orlando Magic - Dante Exum, PG, 6-6/195, Australia
The Magic happily take Exum here and pair him in the backcourt with Victor Oladipo for years to come. Exum is a long, lanky point guard in the mold of Michael Carter-Williams. His shooting stroke is suspect but his playmaking skills and disruptive defensive tendencies are NBA-ready.

5. Utah Jazz - Julius Randle, PF, 6-9/250, Kentucky
Randle is a Zach Randolph clone who will be a force immediately on Utah's frontline. He was a double-double machine at Kentucky. Randle is tenacious attacking the glass on both ends of the floor, and will develop into a consistent shooter from 15 to 18 feet.

6. Boston Celtics - Aaron Gordon, SF, 6-9/225, Arizona
Gordon is as athletic as any prospect in the draft. His offensive game needs a great deal of polish, but he will be an impact defender the moment he steps onto the floor as a rookie.

7. Los Angeles Lakers - Marcus Smart, PG, 6-4/220, Oklahoma St.
The Lakers need an infusion of youth in the backcourt, and Smart fits that role nicely. His athleticism and floor game are outstanding, but his jump shot is a work in progress. Character issues won't negatively affect his draft stock.

8. Sacramento Kings - Noah Vonleh, PF, 6-10/240, Indiana
Vonleh's numbers were solid if not spectacular as a freshman at Indiana, but his measurables and athleticism stood out at the combine. The Kings will take him here based on his potential rather than his production at the college level.

9. Charlotte Hornets - Doug McDermott, SF, 6-8/225, Creighton
McDermott has the most well-rounded offensive skill set of any prospect in the draft. He is an elite shooter, can score on either low block and is terrific without the ball. He's also a willing defender with underrated athleticism and an unmatched understanding of the game.

10. Philadelphia 76ers - Nik Stauskas, SG, 6-6/205, Michigan
Brett Brown stresses the importance of surrounding Michael Carter-Williams with shooters. Nobody in this draft shoots the ball better than Stauskas, who was a 44-percent three-point shooter in two seasons at Michigan. He improved his all-around game significantly as a sophomore, attacking the rim more frequently and displaying tremendous passing skills.

11. Denver Nuggets - Gary Harris, SG, 6-4/210, Michigan St.
Harris' production increased during his sophomore season at Michigan State but his shooting numbers dipped. He should find his niche as a combo guard in the NBA, but I'm not sold on his ability to succeed as a long-term starter.

12. Orlando Magic - Dario Saric, SF, 6-10/215, Croatia
After taking Exum with the fourth pick, the Magic continue the international theme by grabbing Saric here. Saric is billed as a young Toni Kukoc, a creative player in transition who can play the point forward role in halfcourt sets.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves - James Young, SG, 6-6/215, Kentucky
Consistency was a problem for Young at Kentucky but athleticism and fearlessness were not. Young is a good outside shooter capable of attacking the rim. He could end up being a steal with the 13th pick.

14. Phoenix Suns - Rodney Hood, SF, 6-8/215, Duke
Hood has a lot of Thaddeus Young in his game -- from his size to his left-handed jump shot. Hood is a better shooter than Young was coming out of college, but he has work to do before he can match the other aspects of Young's game.

15. Atlanta Hawks - Adreian Payne, PF, 6-10/245, Michigan St.
The Hawks immediately improve their frontcourt with the selection of Payne, who can also step out and knock down the perimeter jumper. Payne is an experienced player who should crack Atlanta's rotation from Day 1.

16. Chicago Bulls - Zach LaVine, SG, 6-5/180, UCLA
LaVine didn't always stand out at UCLA, but his potential makes him an enticing mid-first-round pick. In a draft loaded with shooting guards, LaVine is viewed more as a project.

17. Boston Celtics - Elfrid Payton, PG, 6-3/190, Louisiana-Lafayette
Payton might be the most overlooked prospect in this draft. Don't put much stock into his mid-major background, he can play. He's a scoring point guard with tremendous athleticism. He was the only player in the country to average 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals last season. Payton calls to mind Damian Lillard, the former Weber State star who went the mid-major to NBA All-Star route.

18. Phoenix Suns - T.J. Warren, SF, 6-8/215, N.C. State
Warren is a great fit for how the Suns like to play under Jeff Hornacek. The ACC Player of the Year last season at N.C. State, Warren has little trouble getting to the basket.

19. Chicago Bulls - Shabazz Napier, PG, 6-0/180, Connecticut
No player helped his stock more in the NCAA tournament than Napier, who led Connecticut to a surprising National Championship. He has the makings of an explosive backcourt scorer and might be better suited in the Sixth Man role in the NBA.

20. Toronto Raptors - Cleanthony Early, SF, 6-7/210, Wichita St.
The Raptors made significant progress in the Eastern Conference this season and Early is the type of polished player who should help them immediately. He's a versatile player capable of scoring in the paint and on the perimeter.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder - Jerami Grant, SF, 6-8/215, Syracuse
Grant is a risky pick but one the Thunder can afford. His upside is tremendous -- he's a great athlete with NBA bloodlines. Time will tell whether he can become a consistent performer at the pro level.

22. Memphis Grizzlies - Kyle Anderson, PG/SF, 6-9/230, UCLA
Anderson is a diverse offensive player with offensive skills that call to mind Jalen Rose. He is a big perimeter player who controls the game without the benefit of explosive athleticism. He can play three different positions for the Grizzlies, who will benefit from his versatility.

23. Utah Jazz - Glenn Robinson III, SF, 6-7/210, Michigan
Another prospect with pro bloodlines, Robinson often took a backseat to Stauskas, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. during his time at Michigan. But Robinson has the size and athleticism to contribute at the NBA level.

24. Charlotte Hornets - P.J. Hairston, SG, 6-5/230, NBDL
Hairston is a forgotten man in this draft. He was dismissed from North Carolina at the beginning of last season and eventually landed in the NBDL. Talent isn't the question, it's whether Hairston is able to avoid trouble off the court. But he's a great value pick this low in the first round.

25. Houston Rockets - Tyler Ennis, PG, 6-2/180, Syracuse
This would be a steep fall for Ennis, who was once viewed as a lottery pick. He was terrific as a freshman at Syracuse, an old school point guard who controls the flow of the game and always makes the right decisions.

26. Miami Heat - Mitch McGary, PF, 6-10/260, Michigan
McGary's sophomore season at Michigan was derailed because of a back injury, but he showed enough promise as a freshman to warrant consideration here. He is a gifted post player with a reliable 15-foot jump shot. McGary's back is a significant red flag, but if he's healthy he could be a steal for Miami.

27. Phoenix Suns - C.J. Wilcox, SG, 6-5/205, Washington
Wilcox is one of the top outside shooters in the draft and was a proven scorer at the collegiate level. He could be a nice rotation piece to help the Suns make the leap to the Western Conference playoffs next season.

28. Los Angeles Clippers - Semaj Christon, PG, 6-3/190, Xavier
Christon is a dynamic scoring guard capable of getting his own shot in the NBA. Whether he can be a consistent performer is the question. At the very least he gives the Clippers backcourt depth and learns under Chris Paul.

29. Oklahoma City Thunder - Jarnell Stokes, PF, 6-9/260, Tennessee
With Kendrick Perkins on the decline and Serge Ibaka coming off an injury, the Thunder could use some size inside. Stokes is that and then some. But he's more than a bruising presence in the paint, he has underrated ball skills on the offensive end.

30. San Antonio Spurs - Nick Johnson, SG, 6-3/200, Arizona
Johnson was a first team All-American last season at Arizona, and he provides the Spurs with a much-needed shot of youth in the backcourt. He's a savvy scorer who will benefit from being around San Antonio's veteran cast.

Joel Embiid says he's '100 percent' back from foot injury, excited to play with Ben Simmons

Joel Embiid says he's '100 percent' back from foot injury, excited to play with Ben Simmons

AVALON, N.J. -- Joel Embiid has been waiting since 2014 to make his NBA debut. Two years later, the former third overall pick is nearing that day.

“I feel a hundred percent,” Embiid said Saturday at the Sixers Beach Bash. “I’m ready to get started. My summer has been great. We’ve been working out a lot this past summer, just getting some runs in. I’ve gotten a chance to play a little bit against the guys.” 

Embiid’s pro career has been sidelined by injuries, undergoing two foot surgeries in as many years. The first was to repair a stress fracture in his right navicular bone. The second, a bone-graft operation on the same bone. 

The 7-foot-2 big man has been rehabbing since then, traveling as far as Qatar in the process. This offseason Embiid was cleared for monitored, five-on-five drills. He joined the Sixers during the Las Vegas Summer League to continue his recovery away from game competition.

“It’s been really tough,” Embiid said. “The main thing is, I haven’t gotten a chance to get on the court and play, or help my teammates, or play in front of Sixers fans. I look forward to it and I can’t wait.”

Embiid said he “definitely” plans to be a go for training camp. He expects there will be a transition period once cleared to play given the length of his rehab, but notes he is a quick learner. Embiid also anticipates having restrictions, but has not discussed the specifics with the Sixers. 

“Probably,” he said. “But I think the restrictions would probably be about the fact that I haven’t played in two years. It’s not going to be about because people are worried that I’m going to re-injure myself, which I don’t think is going to happen.”

One player who is eager for Embiid’s return is rookie first overall pick Ben Simmons. The two have been friends since high school. They easily gel off the court, and plan to do the same in games. 

“He has great footwork, he has great touch, so I’m looking forward to playing with him,” Simmons said, continuing, “Off the court, we’re like brothers. We have fun.” 

Embiid has been present with the Sixers for games and practices. He has had numerous conversations with head coach Brett Brown about his days on the San Antonio Spurs coaching staff and how the organization achieved success with fellow big Tim Duncan, one of Embiid’s basketball role models. 

With an abundance of bigs, the Sixers will have to determine how they share the floor. For Embiid, who can also knock down long-range shots, he plans to fill whatever role the coaches outline for him.

“I think I’ll take a couple threes, but I’ll do what’s best for the team and whatever I’ll feel comfortable doing,” he said. “Obviously they’re going to need my presence inside and that’s what I’m going to do. But when I’m open, I might fire some threes.”

After a series of setbacks, Embiid is enthusiastic about the thought of making his NBA debut. 

“It feels great,” he said. “Especially after the past two years, I haven’t been able to do what I love. It just feels great.”  

Sixers trade Kendall Marshall to Jazz for center Tibor Pleiss, draft picks

Sixers trade Kendall Marshall to Jazz for center Tibor Pleiss, draft picks

The Sixers on Friday traded point guard Kendall Marshall to the Utah Jazz for center Tibor Pleiss, two future second-round picks and cash. 

Both second-round picks are in the 2017 NBA draft. The Jazz have four second-rounders — their own, as well as the ones belonging to the Warriors, Knicks and Pistons. The Sixers will receive the highest and lowest of those four picks.

The Sixers are likely to waive Pleiss. The team made a similar move in July, waiving center Sasha Kaun two days after acquiring him in a trade with the Cavaliers.

Marshall, who was later waived by the Jazz after the deal, was likely to be cut by the Sixers. The team signed guards Gerald Henderson, Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez this offseason. The deal gives the Sixers future assets and cash while unloading a player signed by the previous front office.

Marshall was one of the few free agents Sam Hinkie added, signing a deal for the 2015-16 season and options for the next three seasons.

It looked initially like Marshall would be the starting point guard last season. However, Marshall, was hurt to begin the season and struggled when he got on the court. He played just 30 games and started six, averaging 3.7 points per game in 13.3 minutes. His field goal, three-point and free throw percentages all regressed from his 2014-15 season with the Bucks.

Pleiss was originally a second-round pick by the Nets in the 2010 NBA draft. The German center's rights were dealt in three separate deals, eventually ending up with the Jazz last offseason. He signed a multi-year deal and spent the 2015-16 season bouncing between the Jazz and their D-League affiliate. He averaged 2.0 points per game in 6.8 minutes. 

NBA Notes: City officials declare Kobe Bryant Day in Los Angeles

NBA Notes: City officials declare Kobe Bryant Day in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES -- Lakers fans packed Los Angeles City Hall chambers to witness the mayor and other officials declare Kobe Bryant Day in honor of the retired NBA superstar.

Councilman Jose Huizar said Wednesday's declaration is the city's way of thanking Bryant for his excellence on the court and philanthropic efforts across Los Angeles.

Bryant attended with his pregnant wife and their two daughters. He called the experience "surreal" and jokingly said someone would have to explain to his unborn daughter why "daddy has a day named for him."

Fans cheered and chanted Bryant's name as he was presented a framed proclamation by Mayor Eric Garcetti and council President Herb Wesson.

Bryant played his entire 20-season career with the Lakers, leading them to five NBA championships.

Lakers: No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram, vet Yi Jianlian signed
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers have signed top draft pick Brandon Ingram and Chinese NBA veteran Yi Jianlian and re-signed center Tarik Black.

Ingram was the No. 2 overall pick in this summer's draft. The Duke product's rookie contract is expected to be worth more than $23 million over four years.

The 28-year-old Yi hasn't played in the NBA since 2011-12 with Dallas. The former No. 6 overall draft pick by Milwaukee spent five seasons in the NBA, averaging a career-best 12.0 points and 7.2 rebounds for New Jersey in 2009-10.

Yi spent the past four seasons with the Chinese Basketball Association's Guangdong Southern Tigers. He is an eight-time MVP of the CBA, winning four championships.

The 6-foot-11 Yi averaged 20.4 points per game for China at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Black has averaged 5.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in two seasons with the Lakers.

Timberwolves: Towns chosen as face of 2K mobile app
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns has been tabbed to be the face of 2K's mobile companion application to NBA 2K17 video game, which is set to launch on Sept. 8.

The reigning rookie of the year will be the icon cover athlete for MyNBA2K17, the latest in a series of high-profile endorsements for Towns. The NBA 2K franchise has been the No. 1 selling NBA video game for the last eight years.

"I've been a dedicated NBA 2K fan since I was young, and being selected as the face of MyNBA2K17 is an incredible milestone this early in my career," Towns said on Wednesday. "Playing MyNBA2K and NBA2K is an essential part of my offseason and keeps me grounded during the season with all my travel. I love that I will have the opportunity to connect further with my fans through MyNBA2K17."

The free app connects players to the NBA 2K17 console game and includes facial scanning technology. That allows fans to design players for the game on Xbox One or PlayStation 4 using their own facial features. The app also allows users to watch 2KTV on their mobile devices and play quick games and season tournaments against users around the world.

Towns also has deals with Nike and Samsung among others and made a guest appearance on the Disney television show "Gamer's Guide to Pretty Much Everything" this summer.

On the court, he is teaming with Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Ricky Rubio and Kris Dunn to try to end the Timberwolves' 12-year playoff drought.