Almost two years of hype have boiled down to a two-hour telecast, starting at 7 p.m. Eastern Time on ESPN. The 2014 NBA draft class, who have been heralded as the deepest group to declare for the NBA since 2003 and as early as last year’s draft — when Marcus Smart returned to Oklahoma and everyone was lamenting the lack of a real star — or, as Jay Bilas put it during the broadcast that, “If any of [the players going in the top three] were the sixth or seventh pick everyone would be raving about how deep it was.” The unsung coda was “wait for 2014.”
Well, we’ve waited and we’ve mocked and we’ve watched players get hyped, become overrated, and become underrated again. One of the best prospects before the college hoops season started ended up only being the best player on his team half the time (that’d be Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, respectively) and the other best prospect (Jabari Parker) wound up putting so little effort into his defense that he was in danger of being benched in any given game — even during March Madness.
Then there’s the Kevin Love thing, the LeBron James thing, and the Carmelo Anthony thing. There are prospective superstars and other super-roleplayers available because a) this draft projects to be above average and so high draft picks are desirable, and b) because there are some asset rich teams that want to return to contention as soon as possible, and can leverage some serious pressure against the teams that are looking to get over the hump. Here are five teams we’ve identified as the most likely to make some serious noise on draft night.