What will happen on draft night?
The 2014 NBA draft class is about to graduate. How will this play out Thursday night (ESPN, WatchESPN.com, 7 p.m. ET), and what does the future hold for some topflight candidates? Our panel weighs in.
1. Which prospect should go first in the 2014 draft?
Jeff Goodman, ESPN Insider: It's not an easy decision, but I'm going with Jabari Parker. He is the safer pick and would fill more needs for Cleveland than Andrew Wiggins. Parker will be the better shooter of the duo; he possesses a higher basketball IQ, is tougher and has a chance to be a quality leader. Wiggins would give the Cavs a very good perimeter defender, but he struggles in those other areas.
D.J. Foster, ClipperBlog: Wiggins. The narrative of Parker being more NBA-ready than Wiggins has gotten out of control. Yes, Parker is a more versatile scorer right now, but Wiggins is a far superior defensive prospect. Besides, hasn't Cleveland hit its quota for stretch big men with effort and conditioning concerns after taking Anthony Bennett last year?
Danny Nowell, TrueHoop Network: Wiggins. The Cavaliers would do best not to overthink this. By drafting Wiggins, they would get -- at minimum -- an incredible infusion of athleticism and defense in the long term. A young team such the Cavs has time, and even if Wiggins isn't the draft's best prospect (I still think he is), his skill set is a nice complement to Kyrie Irving.
Kevin Pelton, ESPN Insider: Dante Exum. We know less about Exum than any of the other top prospects, which works to his advantage because what we do know about the others has lowered their ceilings by comparison. Exum is a question mark, but at this point I think he has the best shot at being a superstar in this class.
Ethan Sherwood Strauss, ESPN.com: Joel Embiid. I'll err on taking the most talented player until I see definitive medical proof that he's a lost cause. Such proof might exist, but it hasn't been made public, so I'm sticking with the most coordinated big man I've seen in some time.
2. Who's the most overhyped prospect in the 2014 draft?
Goodman: Wiggins. The hype, in all fairness, was insane. I'm still not buying that he's going to be one of the top players in the NBA. I worry about his ballhandling and his inconsistent shooting -- and his lack of a killer instinct. I think he's going to be closer to Corey Brewer than Tracy McGrady or Vince Carter.
Foster: Julius Randle. If you acknowledge that power forwards who stretch the floor, beat defenses with their passing and make an impact defensively are the new prototype, you probably shouldn't rate a prospect who hasn't shown the ability to do any of those things as a top pick in a pretty deep draft.
Nowell: Doug McDermott. I'm not sure I need to say too much about a 6-foot-6 power forward, but I think McDermott's ability to get his shot off in the pros is being greatly overstated. He played on a shooting-laden team in a weak conference, and his lack of size is combined with a lack of quickness. His lottery status baffles me.
Pelton: Wiggins. I guess I have to answer Wiggins after writing about this topic Wednesday. Overhyped is not the same as bad, of course, and Wiggins likely will have a fine NBA career -- just not the superstar one people might expect based on the hype.
Strauss: Wiggins. Only one of these guys was once billed as the best prospect since LeBron. It's not Wiggins' fault he received so much hype, but the only thing he did at an elite level is get fouled. He has a lot of defensive potential, but the current hyping of his defense smacks of face-saving after he didn't live up to expectations.
3. Who's the biggest sleeper in the 2014 draft?
Goodman: Jordan Clarkson. He'll likely go in the 20s, and he could really help a contender with his length, athleticism and ability to defend. He's the new-age NBA point guard -- quick and fast, and he can really push the ball and get into the lane and finish. I think a team such as Miami or Houston could really benefit if it picks him in the mid-20s.
Foster: Bogdan Bogdanovic. The Serbian swingman has NBA 3-point range, NBA length (6-foot-11 wingspan) and NBA pick-and-roll skills. The question: Is Bogdanovic willing to play for a smaller NBA contract? He's a draft-and-stash candidate, but he should be well worth the wait.
Nowell: This draft is so loaded with players talented enough to be starters at some point that "sleeper" is a tough designation. I'll stretch my Tar Heels homer muscles and say that I think P.J. Hairston is a non-lottery pick who will be lottery-productive. He is more complete than most designated marksmen and is physically ready to step into the NBA game.
Pelton: Clint Capela. Again, I'm obligated. Capela, who likely will go in the 20s, is ranked second in my WARP projections because of his effective play in the French Pro A league and Eurocup this season.
Strauss: Kyle Anderson, though Boris Diaw's Finals performance might have helped the UCLA "point forward" get some attention. Anderson is slow, smooth and smart with the ball. Many scouts are worried about whether Anderson has the requisite athleticism, but he seems to make a lot of plays at that snail's pace.
4. Which will be the most intriguing team on draft day?
Goodman: Philadelphia. GM San Hinkie pulled off the Jrue Holiday-for-Nerlens Noel deal a year ago, and don't be surprised if he does something shocking this year. A week ago, he was in the ideal spot -- grabbing whoever fell out of Parker, Wiggins or Embiid. Now Embiid has injury concerns and is far from a no-brainer at No. 3. Exum is intriguing, but he may not complement Michael Carter-Williams. Whom does Hinkie take -- if he even keeps the pick?
Foster: Philadelphia 76ers. Two of the best options left for them at No. 3 (Exum and Embiid) could be awfully similar in position and production to the 76ers' franchise building blocks, Carter-Williams and Noel. Because the Sixers have another selection at No. 10, we should learn a lot about Hinkie's thought process on talent versus need.
Nowell: The Cavaliers. There's too much going on in Cleveland for me to pick anyone else. The (unlikely) prospect of LeBron, the purported indecision between Parker and Wiggins, the potential for a trade and the general zaniness and instability Cleveland brings to the top of the draft are drama nonpareil.
Pelton: Cleveland Cavaliers. Start with the obvious -- they control the proceedings with the No. 1 pick. Add in the urgency to win now and the hope, remote as it is, that they can sign LeBron James, and you have a recipe for intrigue for how they'll use the No. 1 pick (or whether they'll trade it).
Strauss: Cleveland. Give me the Cavs with a tough No. 1 pick decision over all other forms of entertainment. Sure, it'll be fun to see the Sixers try to wheel and deal with their two lottery picks, but the drama of Cleveland possibly screwing up another draft can't be resisted.
5. Who will be the biggest-name NBA player to move teams on draft day?
Goodman: I'm going with Rajon Rondo over Kevin Love. Celtics GM Danny Ainge is fearless when it comes to trades. Rondo can walk a year from now, and now may be the best time to make a move -- especially if the Celtics draft a point guard (i.e., Marcus Smart). That would enable Ainge to make a deal and not have to receive a point guard in return.
Foster: Jeremy Lin. You have to think Lin started to pack his bags once he caught wind of Omer Asik being dealt to New Orleans, as Houston will almost certainly want to clear more cap space in order to recruit max free agents. Whether it happens on draft day is tough to say, but it seems that Lin being dealt soon is a safe bet.
Nowell: Arron Afflalo. I'm cheating -- at the time of this writing, he'd already moved to Denver. But I think most of the potential superstar movement will wait on the draft to shake out. I'd be happy to be wrong, but I'll bet July is a busier time for marquee players.
Pelton: Carter-Williams. I don't anticipate the Timberwolves will finalize a Love trade until next month. If the Sixers draft Exum, which I expect, I think the rookie of the year could be on the move later in the night in exchange for another lottery pick.
Strauss: Love. The Warriors keep saying that such a move is unlikely, which in NBA parlance might well mean, "It's imminent." A major factor in moving this forward is knowing what pick Minnesota gets. I'm guessing Love gets dealt either on draft night or shortly after the new NBA year on July 1.