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2014 NBA Mock Draft: DraftExpress Has Celtics Taking Zach LaVine And…Dante Exum?

As far as we can tell, the first four picks in the NBA draft are pretty well set in stone. The Cavaliers (or perhaps the Timberwolves, if Cleveland gets desperate enough to trade Kevin Love without assurances he’ll re-sign) will take Joel Embiid or Andrew Wiggins. The Bucks will take either Jabari Parker or whichever of the Embiid/Wiggins combo remains. The Sixers will take whichever of the Embiid/Wiggins/Parker combo is still in play. Orlando will take Dante Exum. Then the real intrigue can begin (until Adrian Wojnarowski ruins everything for everyone by tweeting the picks five minutes before they happen).

But HOLD UP. DraftExpress, the premier site for prospect info and rankings, posted a new mock draft today and things look a little strange.

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 11.18.52 AM


Yep, DraftExpress has Orlando taking Marcus Smart. This makes some sense. The Magic already have Victor Oladipo in the role of shooting-guard-who-can’t-quite-play-point-guard, while Smart may be a reach at four, he is also a pure point guard who might match their needs a little more closely. Then Utah takes Vonleh, since the Jazz have a pair of young guards — Trey Burke and Alec Burks — which I guess precludes them from taking a talented prospect that has been compared to Penny Hardaway and Derrick Rose? I don’t know.

Regardless, this would be a massive steal for the Celtics. Exum is not quite NBA-ready, so he would be a bit of a project, but a week ago, nobody thought he would still be available at #6. Exum has the body and athleticism to become an elite wing defender, and he’s fantastic at scoring around the rim. His body control and soft touch allow him to convert in difficult situations, and he can draw fouls extremely well.  His jumpshot is currently suspect (Hi Ron Adams!), and some scouts question whether he is good enough at distributing the ball to be a true point guard, but if he became a secondary PG to Rondo, he has the size to defend shooting guards in the NBA (think, perhaps, Eric Bledsoe’s role in Phoenix this season only with a taller and longer player).

We’ll talk more about this possibility at some point, but for now, feel free to familiarize yourself with Exum’s strengths and weaknesses with his entry in DraftExpress’ indispensable breakdown video series.

Meanwhile, at 17, DraftExpress has the Celtics taking UCLA guard Zach LaVine. As Ryan Hebert and I discussed on our recent podcast, I love this idea. Lavine is exactly the type of incredibly high-risk/high-reward candidate that makes sense at number 17. He’s incredibly athletic and would be able to splash 3-pointers at the TD Garden from Rhode Island, but his basketball IQ has been questioned and he will need to put on weight, as he has been described by scouts as “frail.”

That being said, Zach LaVine can LEAP.



Dunks on dunks on dunks. I’m all in.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.

  • hax

    Exum and Lavine are both better off at SG, where their 6’6 height makes sense.
    Both have high ceilings currently and would probably be upgrades over Avery Bradley.

    I don’t see Exum being available at 6 and Lavine is projected top 10 in a lot of mocks so I don’t expect him at 17.

    But whatever. Let things fall our way 😉 Only gives us more assets to wow the Wolves.

  • planethunter

    Is Zach Levine Kedrick Brown 2.0?

  • dasein

    Orl taking Smart wouldn’t be that shocking, but Utah passing on Exam because they have Alec Burks? I love draftexpress as much as the next guy, but they’re over thinking this one.

    Exum falling to 6 goes in the ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’ box.

    LaVine is intriguing, but he seems to be another one of those guys who is an athelete but not a baller and I’m wary of those. There should still be solid rotation players available at 17. A swing for the fences there isn’t necessarily the smartest move.

    • Tom Westerholm

      That’s fair, but keep in mind that LaVine can shoot from long range. If you can shoot 3s in today’s NBA, you probably have a rotation spot, even if you are just Gary Neal or something.

  • skeeds

    There’s a lot of ups and downs in the draft projections lately which for us is a great thing. It’s not a stretch to expect (as has happened time after time) lottery teams to screw up for arbitrary reasons. Let’s not forget these are the worst GM’s of the worst front offices picking before us. I can most definitely see Exum dropping to #6.
    That’s irrelevant though in my opinion. I expect Ainge to either move up or down in this draft. He has a bunch of tools to utilize, and pretty much nothing to gain from drafting whoever he might get at #6. If there was any hesitation on whether we should be trying to built through the draft or looking for a combination of strong trades, our lottery luck cleared that up.
    Here’s to hoping Ainge once again goes nuclear. PP’s massive trade exception that expires soon pretty much ensures that something’s gonna go down.

  • Dionis Jahjaga

    Literally no way Exum falls to 6. I would be ecstatic if he ended up in green.