NBA Draft 2014: Very Early Mock Lottery

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NBALottery-ping pongMid-October is not synonymous with the NBA draft. Basketball fans are usually starting to notice the NBA preseason and getting ready for the start of college ball.

But unlike past years, there has been a greater focus on the 2014 NBA draft and the overwhelming star power it has. That is why “Tankapalooza” is already part of basketball lexicon.

For a long time, this next draft has been called the Andrew Wiggins Lottery, and one year prior to the 2014 draft, the tanking began when the Philadelphia 76ers unloaded Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans for the draft rights to Nerlens Noel and the Pelicans’ first-round pick, which is top-five protected.

While the Sixers were the first team to be accused of tanking this season, they will not be the last.

For anyone in denial about NBA teams tanking, just think back to the 2002-2003 season, when the Cleveland Cavaliers were doing everything they could to land LeBron James. Coincidentally, some compare Wiggins to James in his ability and potential franchise-altering impact.

Ultimately, there will be 14 teams whose fate will be decided by ping-pong balls. Here, as we sit in late October, is how I see the lottery going:

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Early Entry Draft Candidates Announced — Who is Missing?

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NEW YORK – The National Basketball Association announced today that 77 players, including 46 players from U.S. colleges and 31 international players, have filed as early entry candidates for the 2013 NBA Draft.

Players wishing to enter the 2013 NBA Draft were required to submit a letter to the NBA to be received no later than Sunday, April 28. Players who have applied for early entry have the right to withdraw their names by notifying the NBA of their decision in writing no later than 5 p.m. EDT on Monday, June 17.

So, who is missing?

These are the five that stand out:

Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State

Marcus smartoklahoma-state-cowboysSmart was in the running to be the first pick in the draft but opted to return for his sophomore season almost immediately after his freshman campaign concluded.

While Smart is determined to improve his game, he was not pleased with the way the season ended for the Cowboys.

While Smart is an impressive prospect and likely to be in the mix for the top-5 next season there is no chance he goes as high as he would have this year.

Isaiah Austin, C, Baylor

IsaiahAustinbaylorNBA General Managers and scouts are always looking for athletic bigs, and there might not be a more athletic or explosive 7-footer than Austin. Running the floor like a gazelle and creating mismatches on the perimeter for opposing centers, there is no question Austin would have risen up draft boards during the pre-draft workouts.

Next year is not as deep from a center standpoint, so Austin returning might not cost him much in terms of money. But there is no doubt he would have been an intriguing prospect to watch coming out of draft night had he entered this year.

Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky

Willie CauleyKentuckyThe Wildcats may be the most stacked team in the country next year and have uber-prospect Julius Randle, who will be penciled into the starting lineup along with Dakari Johnson and others who will get minutes. After Nerlens Noel went down with a torn ACL the Wildcats began to rely on Cauley-Stein to man the post.

As a prospect Cauley-Stein is long, explosive and the type of prospect that will make scouts salivate. Sticking around for his sophomore season, Cauley-Stein might find a logjam in Lexington that could hamper his production.

Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan

MichiganWolverinesGlenn Robinson iiiRobinson III had an outstanding freshman year as the Wolverines fell short of winning a title. With Trey Burke gone, Robinson will have a chance to be the man for the Wolverines but will not have someone like Burke putting him in easy position to score.

Also, Robinson’s decision to return is somewhat surprising considering how thin the small forward position is in this draft. No question Robinson could have been a lottery pick and the second player at his position drafted, but a return to Ann Arbor could vault him into the top-10 next year.

Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State

GaryHarrisMichiganstateHarris was never a serious threat to bolt from East Lansing after one season, but with the way he played in March and his natural ability, NBA teams were disappointed he opted to return.

Harris will be expected to lead the Spartans next season and could be a very dangerous perimeter scorer in the Big 10. While the 2013 NBA Draft became weaker with Harris’ decision, the 2014 draft got even deeper.

After the jump is the full list of those who have applied for early entry into the 2013 NBA Draft, which will be held Thursday, June 27, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.:

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Kotoch: Withdrawals Strengthen 2014 NBA Draft

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draftlogoThe deadline to enter the 2013 NBA Draft was Sunday, and we now know this much — the 2013 draft will be OK at best.

The 2014 draft? It’ll be one for the ages.

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Kotoch: Top 20 NBA Draft Prospects, Pre-March Madness

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March Madness is right around the corner, so it’s time to circle the wagons and look ahead to the NBA draft after breaking down each position the past five Saturdays.

Since the last Big Board, draft stocks have soared or tanked based on performances, injuries, and inconsistencies. As the NCAA Tournament approaches, the lives of NBA scouts will be consumed by the names on this list as they dissect every wrinkle or wart of each prospect.

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2013 NBA Draft: Top Centers

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Just four days ago, the 2013 NBA draft was turned upside down when Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel suffered a devastating knee injury.

Over the past month, Noel has separated himself from the pack to be projected as the top pick in June’s draft. Instantly, Twitter blew up with reaction from fans and journalists ranging from the injury to the gruesome images to his draft stock.

In the days following it was revealed that Noel suffered a torn ACL and is expected to have surgery in the next few weeks. He should be recovered in six to eight months.

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