Tankapalooza Frontrunners


With the 2013 draft behind us and free agency slowing down, it is time take a very early look ahead to the 2014 draft, a draft so good that it is causing quite a few teams to "unintentionally" tank next season.

The 2014 draft will feature at least 4 players that would have gone #1 overall this year in Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon, and Jabari Parker. Players like Marcus Smart, Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Mitch McGary, and Willie Cauley-Stein also have the potential to develop into stars and solid role players in the NBA.

Without further ado, here are the frontrunners to land the prized #1 pick:

1. Philadelphia 76ers.

The 76ers seem to want Andrew Wiggins the most. They made it quite obvious when they traded a franchise player in Jrue Holiday for a long-term project in Nerlens Noel.

The Sixers will also be starting a rookie at point guard in Michael Carter-Williams and their #1 option on offense, Evan Turner, would likely be the third or fourth option on most other teams.

It would really surprise me if the Sixers didn't finish with one of the 3 worst records in the NBA.

Projected lineup: PG Michael Carter-Williams, SG Jason Richardson, SF Evan Turner, PF Thaddeus Young, C Spencer Hawes/Nerlens Noel.

2. Phoenix Suns.

The Suns may have made the most underrated move of the off-season when they traded for Eric Bledsoe, a super-athletic point guard that has unlimited potential. But while the Suns do have some young talent in Bledsoe and Alex Len, they are a long way from contention.

The Suns should be a lock to get a top 5 pick next season.

Projected lineup: PG Goran Dragic, SG Eric Bledsoe/Shannon Brown, SF Caron Butler/Michael Beasley, PF Luis Scola, C Marcin Gortat.

3. Milwaukee Bucks.

It seems like every time the Bucks make a move people are saying "What the heck are they doing?". Collecting 2nd round pick and signing veterans like Zaza Pachulia, Carlos Delfino, and O.J. Mayo are all moves that suggest that the only goal is to get the 8th seed and get swept by the Heat. Owner Herb Kohl seems to think that if his team wins 38 games now he will somehow get a new arena.

While there likely is no logical explanation for what the Bucks are doing, I will try to give one: I believe that the Bucks are undergoing an "accidental" tank.

In order for this "accidental" tank to happen, the Bucks will have to let disgruntled point guard Brandon Jennings go. The possibility of the Bucks paying him $10+ million is keeping every Bucks fan up at night.

Tanking would mean drafting a possible franchise player to go along with young talent such as Larry Sanders, John Henson, and the Greek Freak (I won't even try to spell his name).

Projected lineup: PG Luke Ridnour, SG O.J. Mayo, SF Carlos Delfino, PF Ersan Ilyasova/John Henson, C Larry Sanders.

4. Orlando Magic.

A year ago the Magic went into total rebuild mode when they traded Dwight Howard for a bunch of young players. While the rebuilding is far from over, the Magic do have a lot of talent on their roster.

Forward Tobias Harris, whom the Magic acquired in trade with the Bucks, showed potential super-star talent when he averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds in 27 games with Orlando last year. Nikola Vucevic, a double-double machine who the Magic acquired in the Dwight Howard trade, also looks like he will be a star for many year to come.

Harris and Vucevic are not the only young talent on this Magic roster as they also have Moe Harkless, who has drawn comparisons to Andre Iguodala, Andrew Nicholson, and 2013 2nd overall pick Victor Oladipo.

The Magic also have some solid veteran players in Jameer Nelson, Aaron Afflalo, and Glen Davis.

If Tobias Harris can perform like he did last year with Orlando and Jameer Nelson can stay healthy for most of the season, this Magic team might be able to win 30+ games next season.

Projected lineup: PG Jameer Nelson, SG Aaron Afflalo/Victor Oladipo, SF Tobias Harris/Moe Harkless, PF Glen "Big Baby" Davis, C Nikola Vucevic.

5. Charlotte Bobcats.

While Michael Jordan is without a doubt the greatest player of all time, he might be the worst executive of all time. Since Jordan became part owner in 2006 the Bobcats have been either mediocre or really, really bad. While the Charlotte has had some bad luck in the draft lottery, Jordan has made some very questionable picks in recent years.

While the Bobcats are just a year removed from the worst winning percentage in NBA history, it seems like Jordan has chosen this year as the one where his team wins 30 or more games.

Picking NBA-ready Cody Zeller over higher upside centers Nerlens Noel and Alex Len, to go along with the signing of big Al Jefferson, likely ensures that the Bobcats will miss out on the #1 pick once again.

Projected lineup: PG Kemba Walker, SG Ben Gordon/Gerald Henderson (unsigned), SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, PF Al Jefferson, C Cody Zeller.

6. Boston Celtics.

The Celtics lineup will probably look more different then any other lineup in the NBA with the departure of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry. Boston also traded head coach Doc Rivers to the Clippers and replaced him with 36-year old Brad Stevens.

The Celtics are undergoing a major rebuild, but as long as Rajon Rondo is in the lineup they will not be bad enough to get a top 3 pick.

Projected lineup: PG Rajon Rondo, SG Avery Bradley, SF Jeff Green/Gerald Wallace, PF Jared Sullinger/Kris Humphries, C Brandon Bass.

7. Utah Jazz.

Much like the Celtics, the Jazz lineup will also look very different next season. Both of their leading scorers, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, are gone.

The Jazz seemed to say "tank" why they took on the salaries of Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson, and Brandon Rush from the Warriors.

Although the Jazz might be trying to tank, they still have a very talented young roster lead by Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Gordon Hayward. It seems like a top 3 pick might be out of reach here.

Projected lineup: PG Trey Burke, SG Alec Burks, SF Gordon Hayward, PF Derrick Favors, C Enes Kanter.

8. Sacramento Kings.

The Kings might have lost Tyreke Evans, but they upgraded at the guard position with Greivis Vasquez and Ben McLemore. Sacramento also upgraded defensively when they traded with the Bucks for SF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.

It seems like the Kings want to win this year especially after a long battle to keep them in Sacramento, and with the talent they have it is unlikely that they get a top 3 pick.

Projected lineup: PG Greivis Vasquez, SG Ben McLemore, SF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, PF Jason Thompaon/Carl Landry, C DeMarcus Cousins.

9. Toronto Raptors.

The Raptors FINALLY managed to get rid of former #1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani in a trade with the Knicks. The move will allow them to start Amir Johnson at the power forward position.

After trading for Rudy Gay by the trade deadline last year, Toronto has a lineup that will likely keep them competitive enough to perhaps get the 8th seed in the east. Even though Andrew Wiggins would like to play for his home town Raptors, it will likely take a couple injuries for that to happen.

Projected lineup: PG Kyle Lowry, SG DeMar DeRozan, SF Rudy Gay, PF Amir Johnson, C Jonas Valanciunas.

10. Washington Wizards.

Talent-wise the Wizards seem like they are ready to compete for a playoff spot in the east. They have a super-athletic backcourt in John Wall and Bradley Beal to go along with a veteran frontcourt in Nene, Okafor, and Trevor Ariza.

If 3rd overall pick Otto Porter can contribute even a little and the backcourt stays healthy, this team might very well be headed for the playoffs this season.

Projected lineup: PG John Wall, SG Bradley Beal, SF Trevor Ariza/Otto Porter, PF Emeka Okafor, C Nene.

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