Let’s have some fun for a moment.
Imagine, if you will, the Boston Celtics win the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft lottery. We’re sure you already have. Even though four other teams have better odds than the Celtics of landing the top pick, Boston’s 1-in-10 chance is good enough for fans to dream.
So, the Celtics win the draft lottery. Then what?
Unlike some past years, there is no clear-cut overall No. 1 player. There is no LeBron James or Derrick Rose, or even Anthony Davis. Any one of a number of players could turn out to be really, really good. There just isn’t a whole lot of consensus regarding which player it will be.
Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins has received the most sustained hype, gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated in the preseason and sparking the unofficial slogan, “Riggin’ for Wiggins,” among fans of non-playoff teams. But he disappeared in arguably his biggest moment, scoring four points on 1-for-6 shooting in the Jayhawks’ NCAA tournament loss to Stanford.
Jabari Parker had the luxury of the added in-season exposure that comes with playing for Duke. The natural scorer was an SI coverboy himself, way back as a high schooler in Chicago. Yet his aversion to defense and conditioning are red flags for NBA teams preparing to dedicate millions of dollars to his talent.
Joel Embiid might be this year’s version of the sure-fire No. 1 pick, if Wiggins’ Kansas teammate was not saddled with serious health concerns. A bad back probably is not enough to push the 7-footer out of the top three, but it could cost him the opportunity to be the first player off the board.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has never easily followed the crowd, though. Don’t put it past Ainge to surprise everyone by taking Australian guard Dante Exum, Indiana big man Noah Vonleh, Kentucky bruiser Julius Randle or Arizona sparkplug Aaron Gordon. (He also might trade the pick, but that opens up an entirely different debate.)
For a complete rundown of each major players’ weaknesses, check out our top 10 2014 NBA draft questions.