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New Fantasy Hoops Insider Blog: 2014 NBA Mock Draft 2.0

by Matt Smith @SmanSports

‘It’s better to be lucky than good’

I couldn’t think of a more accurate statement to describe the past week surrounding the NBA Draft and more specifically Joel Embiid. Embiid already had question marks regarding a stress fracture in his back and has now sent NBA teams, scouts and the draft order into chaos with news that he will require surgery on a stress fracture in his right foot. All because of bad luck Embiid has gone from being the expected first pick in the draft to tumbling down the draft order as his next 4-6 months will be spent in the gym rehabilitating his foot. Without any setbacks this would see Embiid back on the court around Christmas, if he’s lucky.

With only days remaining until the 2014 NBA Draft here’s my final mock of how I see the top 10 picks:

 

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Wiggins (Kansas, 6’8, Small Forward)

The Cavs now only have one decision to make…Do they trade the number 1 pick or do they select Andrew Wiggins? Those that follow me on twitter know I think if Cleveland can send this pick and pieces for Kevin Love they should.  If not, then Andrew Wiggins is their only option. Wiggins is athletically gifted and highly touted to be the best player of this draft class. He will take a few years to develop and mature as an NBA player but he’ll be worth the wait.

  1. Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker (Duke, 6’8, Small Forward)

I had Parker going to the Bucks prior to Embiid’s injury and nothing changes now. Parker is a great fit for Milwaukee at small forward and should be a starter from opening night. He could easily average 14-18 points per game and will be the early favorite for Rookie of the Year.

  1. Philadelphia 76er’s: Dante Exum (AIS – Australia, 6’6, Point Guard)

Philly could be the most inconvenienced with Embiid’s injury. All signs pointed to them landing Wiggins at pick 3, the player they coveted most and a perfect positional fit. I can’t see them taking Embiid with Nerlens Noel already occupying an injury-prone defensive big-man roster spot. The 76er’s are now seemingly forced to take the next best player, Dante Exum. Unluckily, Exum profiles to be a Michael Carter-Williams clone - a long, athletic guard who likes to attack the rim and has a questionable jump shot. Drafting Exum would mean Philly play him at the off guard spot next to Carter-Williams next season, hoping the two can co-exist. The other alternative is they swiftly trade Carter-Williams for another lottery draft pick.

  1. Orlando Magic: Noah Vonleh (Indiana, 6’9, Power Forward)

While Embiid is an enticing option here for the Magic, I think they take the ‘safe’ option with Vonleh. Vonleh is a very good young player in his own right and fills a need for Orlando at power forward next to Nikola Vucevic. Offensively, Vonleh can score both inside posting up and outside with his smooth jump shot. His ability to stretch the floor would allow Vucevic to work inside and give more room for Oladipo to attack the basket. Vonleh is also an excellent defensive rebounder, using his massive hands (he has the 2nd largest hand width ever measure at the draft combine at 11.75 inches) to his advantage.

  1. Utah Jazz: Joel Embiid (Kansas, 7’0, Center)

Taking Embiid here works for a number of reasons for the Jazz. Utah won’t make the playoffs next season in the deep Western Conference therefore providing Embiid all the time he needs to recover from foot surgery and physically preparing himself for a gruelling NBA lifestyle. Another season at the bottom of the standings would give Utah a subsequent lottery pick in the 2015 draft – adding more young talent to join Embiid, Favors and Burke. In the interim, Utah has Enes Kanter with one season left on his contract meaning if Embiid still isn’t NBA ready, the Jazz could re-sign Kanter short term. If Embiid shows why he was the number 1 pick post injury the Jazz can let Kanter walk for nothing and have a formidable Embiid/Favors frontcourt for years to come.

  1. Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart(Oklahoma State, 6’3, Point Guard)

Boston would love Embiid to fall to them here but if he’s off the board they’ll go back to plan A which is Marcus Smart. Smart is a quality point guard – quick, tough and a great defender. Boston can groom Smart behind Rondo before trading him while he still has some value.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle (Kentucky, 6’9, Power Forward)

Unluckily, Randle has slipped out of top 5 contention due to concerns surrounding surgery on his right foot which may or may not of healed properly (Randle maintains he is fine). This could be great news for the Lakers who will surely thank the 6 teams above them for letting him fall this far. Randle is a strong power forward, a relentless rebounder and can score around the basket. Randle was a Lakers fan growing up, the feeling will very soon be mutual.

 

Sacramento Kings: Aaron Gordon (Arizona, 6’9, Power Forward)

Gordon is an athletic power forward with explosiveness and great leaping ability in the mould of Kenneth Faried or Blake Griffin. Sacramento has a hole to fill next to DeMarcus Cousins and with Gordon the best player available here it seems a logical choice.

  1. Charlotte Bobcats: Doug McDermott (Creighton, 6’8, Small Forward)

McDermott is one of the best shooters available in the draft. In the NCAA last season he made 2.7 threes per game at 45%. He is also a smart defender and has a high Basketball IQ. For a team that needs scoring, three point shooting and a wing player, McDermott will fit in perfectly as a Bobcat.

       10. Philadelphia 76er’s: Nik Stauskas (Michigan, 6’6, Shooting Guard)

Stauskas gives Philly added guard depth behind Carter-Williams & Exum. If Carter-Williams is traded then Stauskas would step into a starter’s role. Either way he is a great three point shooter and gives the 76er’s a much needed offensive perimeter threat.

As the days and hours quickly pass until the start of the 2014 NBA Draft, there’s only one thing to say to the young men hoping their basketball dreams come true…good luck.

 

As always you can find me on Twitter @SmanSports for NBA Fantasy/Reality questions or comments.

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New Fantasy Hoops Insider Blog: Potential Landing Spots for Kevin Love

by Josh Hayes @Fantasyhoopspod

Kevin Love’s recent trade demand has the entire NBA in a frenzy with teams trying to acquire three-time NBA All-Star. It’s always rough to see any team, much less a smaller market team in Minnesota on the verge of losing the face of the franchise, but if they play their cards right, the Timberwolves may be back in the playoff picture sooner than you think.

 

Listed below are my top five potential trades for Love, ranked in order of overall trade value for Minnesota. ESPN’s NBA trade machine was used to assist in trade composition and cap feasibility. As for trade criteria, Minnesota should be targeting these five things to maximize value for their franchise. They are in order:

-       Acquire young talent with upside

-       Receive top draft pick(s)

-       Acquire player(s) with expiring contracts

-       Get veteran talent are both good team fits and work within the cap

-       Trade Love out of the Western Conference (or at least out of the division).

 

1)    Houston Rockets

Sending Terrence Jones, Chandler Parsons, and Jeremy Lin for Kevin Love.

After a brutal 1st round playoff exit, the Rockets may still be questioning whether they have enough firepower in the loaded Western Conference to get to the Finals. Houston makes a lot of sense as a trade partner, possessing a great deal of young talent and depth to trade from. Parsons and Jones possess a fairly significant ceiling that could be unleashed as they become the focal point offensively in Minnesota. Lin’s contract is pricey at nearly $14.9 million, but does come off the books after next season and would provide much-needed cap relief. The ability for Minnesota to insert three new starters who have had success playing together should give them the foundation to compete sooner than later and avoid a prolonged rebuilding process. The only negative here is not being able to get Kevin Love out of the Western Conference. For Houston, the D12/Harden/Love trio would rival Miami’s big three and could be the combo they need to earn the best record in the West.

2)    Chicago Bulls

Sending Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, and Mike Dunleavy for Kevin Love.

This deal works well for both sides in many facets. For Minnesota, they acquire a quality big man in Gibson and a young wing player with upside in Jimmy Butler who is also an elite defender. Dunleavy is a decent role player with an expiring contract. Sending Love to Chi-town also gets him out of the Western Conference and would help lessen the blow of trading a potential HOFer. For the Bulls, Love fills a giant void in the offense, instantly improving a team that was 24th in 3PT percentage last season (34.8%).  Paired with Noah and a hopefully healthy Rose, the Bulls get themselves back into the title contender conversation with this deal.

3)    Cleveland Cavaliers

Sending Dion Waiters, Anderson Varejao, Anthony Bennett, and 2014 #1 overall pick for Kevin Love and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

Cleveland becomes the X-factor in the mix as they hold the trump card in this year’s #1 pick.  I’ve seen rumors that Tristan Thompson could be thrown into the trade discussions, but if I’m Minnesota, I’d much rather have Varejao. He’s definitely more versatile and is a borderline All-Star big man when healthy.  Minnesota can win big here if they take the package, draft Wiggins, and it turns out that he exceeds the Vince Carter comparisons. The main negative here is the willingness for Love to sign an extension in Cleveland, which is exasperated by the amount of talent leaving the Cavs. It would be hard for Love to honestly see Cleveland as a realistic contender.

4)    Golden State Warriors

Sending David Lee, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green for Kevin Love

From a strictly NBA talent standpoint, this 3-for-1 offer is the best deal out of the five teams listed here. I have them fourth on this list because of the rumored Warriors management’s reluctance to trade Klay Thompson. Golden state doesn’t have a draft pick in 2014 to offer Minnesota, so if they are serious about getting this deal done, they’ll likely have to break up the Splash Brothers. The Warriors seem to fit Love’s extension criteria as a playoff contender that would also land him back in California where he was born and went to college. The upside for Minnesota is that the Lee/Klay/Green threesome may already make them a playoff team in the East next season.  My guess is that the likelihood of Golden State caving and sending Thompson to Minnesota is somewhere around 50%.

5)     Sacramento Kings

Sending the 2014 #8 overall pick, Ben McLemore, Jason Thompson, Ray McCallum and Reggie Evans for Kevin Love and Alexey Shved

Granted, the Kings are definitely the long-shot of the group, but give Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro and owner Vivek Ranadive credit for being riverboat gamblers. The Kings are the only team on record stating they’d be willing to trade for Love without a contract extension in hand. The main issue for Minnesota is the overall lack of talent the Kings have to send back in the deal. I’d consider the Kings unlikely to include Cousins, Gay or Thomas in a deal to get Love. Sacramento could increase its’ chances by grabbing a third trade partner to sweeten the package for the T-Wolves. The Kings would be rolling the dice that a Cousins and Love combo along with Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas are enough to get the Kings to the playoffs and entice Love to sign an extension.  In the end, the Kings are probably only a fallback option in case Love plays hardball in choosing which team he’s willing sign an extension with.

You can follow Josh on Twitter @Fantasyhoopspod

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