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2014 NBA Draft Awards and Undrafted Players to Look Out For

by Photo of Sam Cohen

We give out draft awards and take a look at a few undrafted players who can help your team

2014 NBA Draft Awards and Undrafted Players to Look Out For

The 2014 NBA Draft could go down as one for the ages. There were players taken that can make a noticeable impact in the NBA well into the mid-second round. From the Cavs selecting Andrew Wiggins to the Bulls trading for Doug McDermott to the Heat moving up to get a Lebron favorite in Shabazz Napier, this was a draft full of headlines from start to finish.

There were, of course, some good picks and some bad picks, some good overall drafts and some bad overall drafts, and a few great undrafted free agents who can't be forgotten. With that being said, here are my 2014 NBA Draft awards.

Best Pick: Joel Embiid, Round 1 Pick 3, Philadelphia 76ers

This may be one of the riskier picks, but it was a great selection nonetheless. Embiid has a broken foot and dealt with back troubles this past season, so there are some obvious concerns. That, paired with the fact that Philly already has a very injury-prone center on their roster who also hasn’t played a game in the NBA in Nerlens Noel, should definitely be a cause for concern.

But when you get a chance to take a player with the massive upside and talent that Embiid has, you take him. Embiid was projected to go number one overall before his foot injury and it was widely agreed that he had the most potential out of all the prospects in this year’s class, so the 76ers did the right thing in taking him. Sure, he’s a big risk, but the 76ers aren’t looking to win immediately. Embiid has time to heal and work on his game. When he comes back healthy, he could very well make the Cavs and Bucks regret not drafting him.

Worst Pick: Bruno Caboclo, Round 1 Pick 20, Toronto Raptors

Before I criticize this pick like everyone else is doing, I should say that this kid is an athletic freak. He is 6’9”, has the speed of a guard and jumping ability that is rarely found. Because of these attributes, he’s received Kevin Durant comparisons.

But in no way is this a good pick. Caboclo is as big of a question mark as it gets. First of all, there isn’t much tape of him playing. He played very limited minutes in a relatively mediocre league in Brazil. He also didn’t work out for any teams, so there really isn’t much known about him.

Secondly, he weighs 200 pounds. For a forward that is 6’9, he will need to add about 30 pounds to his frame and learn how to play against stronger players. And last but certainly not least, he is extremely raw. He has all the tools to become a great player, but he doesn’t have a single idea of how to play NBA-style basketball. The type of basketball he is used to playing is nowhere near the type that he will need to learn how to play. He has a lot of work to do on every single area of his game, defensively and offensively. As ESPN NBA analyst Fran Fraschilla put it, Bruno is “two years away from being two years away.”

This was such an odd choice for Toronto. They had so many great players to choose from and all of those players were much safer picks than Bruno. Bruno wasn’t expected to go until at least the mid-second round and the Raptors probably could’ve gotten him with their 37th pick. Instead, they reached for this pick and they have to be at least a little bit worried that we may never hear Bruno’s name again.

Best Fit: Kyle Anderson, Round 1 Pick 30, San Antonio Spurs

Kyle Anderson is the perfect fit for the Spurs. Anderson is a big boy at 6'9" and 235 pounds, but he has the passing ability of a point guard and the rebounding ability of a power forward. In fact, he played both of those positions during his time at UCLA. The Spurs covet players who pass the ball around and work to find open shots, and that is exactly what Anderson's game is, as seen in this GIF:

He averaged 6.5 assists per game last year while showing exceptional ability to see the floor and move the ball around. He also averaged 8.8 rebounds per game, which is another area the Spurs heavily emphasize.

Anderson's versatility, unselfish play, and smarts are exactly what the Spurs look for and this fit couldn't be better. He reminds me a lot of Boris Diaw, who was an integral part of the Spurs' championship run this past season. The two players are very similar in that they are very smart big men that can rebound and move the ball really well. Diaw thrived in San Antonio's system last year and Anderson should as well. He may not have a true position right now, but Gregg Popovich will surely figure out a way to get Anderson on the floor.

Worst Fit: Nik Stauskas, Round 1 Pick 8, Sacramento Kings

As someone who has been a big University of Michigan basketball fan for years, I've seen Nik Stauskas quite a bit. He is a deadly shooter (shot 44.2% from three-point territory) who became a very good playmaker this past season. He is also really good at driving the ball to the basket, handling the ball, and using his great length to his advantage. Needless to say, the purest shooter in this year's draft is a great player who deserved to go in the top ten. That's not the issue.

The issue is that the Kings ranked in the bottom ten in defensive efficiency and could have really used a player who can play good defense and rebound the ball. Instead, they took yet another shooter who doesn't play very good defense. The team also addressed their scoring issues last year when they took Ben Mclemore with the seventh overall pick last year. McLemore's game is very similar to Stauskas's, in that both are very athletic players that are pure scorers. Did the Kings really need another shooter? Having too many guys that can score the ball is a good thing. But when none of them can play good defense, it becomes an issue. This was a very odd pick that left me scratching my head.

Biggest Steal: Noah Vonleh, Round 1 Pick 9, Charlotte Hornets

There were a lot of great value picks in this year's draft. Gary Harris falling to the Nuggets at 19th overall was definitely one of them. Kyle Anderson at 30 and Cleanthony Early at 34 to the Knicks are others. But Noah Vonleh, who was projected to go either fourth or fifth overall, has to be the steal of the draft.

Vonleh, who doesn't even turn 19 until the end of this summer, was tough to stop in his only season at Indiana. In only 26.5 minutes per game, he averaged 11.3 points, 9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. These numbers led him to become the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. But Vonleh really came onto the scene during the combine, when his 6'10" and 247 pound frame made scouts drool. He had the second-biggest hands in NBA combine history, a 7'4" wingspan that turned out to be the second-longest at this year's combine, and the potential to become a dominant big man in the NBA. He can also shoot three-pointers, as he was 16 for 33 last season. The scariest thing is that he is still growing. Take a look at him use his freakish size and skills here:

I don't have much of an explanation as to why he fell to nine, besides the fact that he isn't very experienced and doesn't always use his athleticism to his advantage. [Editor's Note: There were some character issues that appear to have been the reason for the slip. - Ross] But what I do know is that this was a total steal. Vonleh has a good chance to be a household name in two or three years, especially with Kemba Walker feeding him the ball.

Best Draft Overall: Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics may not have gotten any can't-miss prospects like Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, but they had the best draft based on what they did with their picks. They had two draft picks, 6th overall and 17th overall, and took two players with enormous upside and both are great fits for the team.

Marcus Smart, who was taken 6th overall, is a bigger point guard at 6'4", 220 pounds. He averaged 16.6 points, 4.5 assists, and 2.9 steals per game during his two years at Oklahoma State, proving to be a very well-rounded player. Smart was one of the fiercest competitors in college basketball and will continue to play with an extremely high motor at the next level. This was such a good pick because Smart does everything the Celtics like: he can push the tempo, get to the basket, score, and pass, all while playing really solid defense. Taking Smart with this pick also gives the Celtics the ability to trade either Avery Bradley or Rajon Rondo, who are also point guards.

The Celtics then took James Young out of Kentucky with the 17th pick. At only 18, Young is a big time scorer who averaged 14.3 points last season with the Wildcats. Since Kentucky was filled with great scoring threats last year, Young didn't score as much as he could have at another school. In any case, he has a lot of room to grow and has the potential to become a really good player at the next level. The Celtics needed a perimeter shooter since Rondo and Smart aren't great from outside, and Young is perfect for them. The Celtics did an amazing job of satisfying their needs while getting two outstanding players.

Worst Draft Overall: Toronto Raptors

I already discussed how bad of a pick Bruno Caboclo was at 20, but the Raptors did themselves no favors when they took another long-term project in the second round. While DeAndre Daniels has nice length at 6'8", he is 195 pounds. He is way too thin to even attempt to compete with NBA players. Not only does he have very little size and strength, but he also doesn't play great defense, doesn't create for his teammates (0.4 assists per game last season), and doesn't really stand out in any area. He was a much better pick than Bruno was, but the Raptors could have taken a player that could help out this year or next year and it seems like they didn't.

Best Undrafted Free Agent Signings

Every year, there are a few players who had great college basketball careers but don't get drafted. This might be because their games don't translate to the NBA, they have off-court issues, they are too small, or they had a terrible last season in college. But this doesn't mean they should be ignored. John Starks, Ben Wallace, Bruce Bowen, and Avery Johnson all went on to have great careers even though they didn't hear their names called on draft night.

With such a deep draft this year, it was no surprise that a few big names went undrafted. Here are three players who weren't drafted but can still make an NBA roster as soon as next season. I believe all three of these players will end up carving out solid NBA careers.

Patric Young

Patric Young will never be a star. He's not going to score many points per game and won't heavily involved in many offensive gameplans. All that being said, there is a lot to like about Young.

Young has the ability to out-muscle just about anyone in the NBA and he uses that ability very well on the defensive end of the floor. Young led a Florida Gators team ranked number one in the nation for much of last year by playing amazing defense, as he used his 6'9", 247 pound frame to make life very difficult for opposing big men last year. While he isn't extremely athletic or explosive, his size, energy, and high basketball IQ make him a valuable defender and rebounder.

The reason Young wasn't drafted is because he is undersized for  a center and Young doesn't have much of an offensive game. He makes defenders work very hard because of his size, but can't shoot from really anywhere and doesn't have a go-to move in the post. But what he lacks in offense he makes up for in every other aspect of the game. He has a relentless motor and he's smart, tough, and an NBA-ready defender. Hopefully the Pelicans like what they see from Young this summer.

DeAndre Kane

DeAndre Kane was one of the more interesting players in this year's class. He turned 25 in June, making him almost three years older than an established star in Kyrie Irving. Teams passed on him due to the fact that he was a 24-year-old playing against kids who were four or five years younger than him and haven't fully developed. He also doesn't have much potential anymore and is much closer to his peak than every other rookie, making his ceiling pretty low.

Teams that want to win now, however, could very well regret passing on the talented point guard. At 6'4", he has the size that teams look for in point guards these days and he uses that size to his advantage. At Iowa State last season, he averaged 17.1 points and almost seven rebounds a game and continually went at opponents, attacking the rim and fighting through contact. He has great court vision, as he averaged about six assists per game, and made huge strides last year in limiting his turnovers. He is also a very solid defender, though it remains to be seen if he's fast enough to keep up with NBA guards.

While being 25 as a rookie isn't ideal, it does mean that he has a lot of experience and knowledge, as he was an integral part of every offense he played for in college. He is very good at running an up-tempo offense and proved to be a good leader last year, as he does everything on the court and plays through injuries. Kane has a great chance of making a Lakers team that doesn't have many players on its roster and he can truly make a huge difference.

Deonte Burton

Deonte Burton may not have been drafted, but the kid can ball. While he is only 6'1", the point guard who played four years at Nevada is an exceptional athlete. He is strong, tough, and aggressive and seemed to always find a way to get to the rim, often finishing with unbelievable dunks like this one:

His 6'6" wingspan makes him a very good defender and actually allows him to play much bigger than he is. Offensively, he averaged more than 20 points to go along with 4.3 rebounds each game while playing with very average players. His assist total was low for a point guard, but he should fair much better with greater talent around him. He handles the ball very well, draws a lot of fouls, and is very good at creating shots. While he needs to work on his outside shooting (he shot 31% from outside last season), Burton has a very good chance to become a solid backup point guard who gives a team a lot of energy and explosion. The Wizards are hoping he can prove himself this summer.

Now that the NBA Draft is over, there is a lot to look forward to this coming season. It will be exciting to watch so many good young players and how they can help their teams, whether they were drafted or not. NBA fans, there is a lot to look forward to this season and beyond!

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