Redrafting the 2014 NBA Draft: Nikola Jokic rises from 2nd round, battles Joel Embiid for 1st pick

2014 NBA Redraft
(The Sporting News Illustration)

There's under the radar and then there's Nikola Jokic in the 2014 NBA Draft.

He wasn't in the green room. He didn't shake hands with Adam Silver. He wasn't snapping pictures while wearing a Nuggets hat. In fact, when it was the Nuggets' turn to make their second-round selection with the 41st pick, ESPN's broadcast was in a break showing a Taco Bell commercial

Hindsight is 20-20 and if any of the teams knew then what we know now — that Jokic would win multiple MVP awards and evolve into the best passing center in NBA history — they'd be tripping over themselves to trade up and draft the Serbian giant.

Nine years later, the 2014 NBA Draft remains confounding in ways that go beyond Jokic becoming the best second-round pick ever. Jabari Parker over Joel Embiid remains a fascinating, if not excruciatingly painful, decision for Bucks fans. No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins was traded for Kevin Love, earned the dreaded "bust" label and then eventually shed the "bust" label to become an All-Star starter and NBA champion.

With Jokic now taking on a pair of former No. 1 picks in LeBron James (2003) and Anthony Davis (2012) in the Western Conference Finals, two of our writers — Scott Rafferty and Micah Adams — put on their GM hats and redrafted the 2014 lottery. Rafferty won the very official coin toss for first pick honors.

The debate begins with the very first pick...

MORE: The NBA's 30 best players right now

Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid
(Getty Images)

Redrafting the 2014 NBA Draft

1. Nikola Jokic, Cavaliers

  • Original pick: Andrew Wiggins
  • Jokic's original draft position: 41st (Nuggets)

Jokic is the choice here. Incredible as Embiid also is, Jokic is a two-time MVP who has a history of taking his game to another level in the playoffs. There's a strong case to be made that Jokic would go No. 1 in a redraft of the entire league right now. Imagine the Cavaliers taking Jokic and then deciding NOT to trade him for Kevin Love. Imagine the basketball brains of Jokic and LeBron James sharing the floor. — Rafferty

2. Joel Embiid, Bucks

  • Original pick: Jabari Parker
  • Embiid's original draft position: 3rd (76ers)

Not only does this redraft provide the chance for Jokic and James to team up, but it also offers up the fun hypothetical pairing of Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo. At the time, the Jabari Parker selection made a lot of sense as he was projected as a 20-point scorer for a team desperately in need of buckets. Nobody had any clue Giannis would turn into a generational star but looking back, it's hard not to wonder "what if?" — Adams

MORE: Why Joel Embiid won SN's Player of the Year in 2023

3. Zach LaVine, 76ers

  • Original pick: Joel Embiid
  • LaVine's original draft position: 13th (Timberwolves)

LaVine's development from a ridiculous athlete to one of the NBA's premier scorers has been quite impressive. Even after a slow start this season, he ended up averaging 24.8 points per game. It's hard to turn down his scoring and 3-point shooting in today's NBA. — Rafferty

4. Andrew Wiggins, Magic

  • Original pick: Aaron Gordon
  • Wiggins's original draft position: 1st (Cavaliers)

Incredibly, it appears that Wiggins reached his potential as a versatile and athletic wing. Although the playmaking never really happened, Wiggins blossomed in Golden State and is now someone who does far more than simply wrack up empty calorie point totals as he did in Minnesota. — Adams

Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine
(Getty Images)

5. Marcus Smart, Jazz

  • Original pick: Dante Exum
  • Smart's original draft position: 6th (Celtics)

I know there's still an All-Star left on the board, but as a long-time member of the Marcus Smart fan club, I can't pass on him. He's the only guard to win Defensive Player of the Year in over two decades and he's become a legitimately good point guard. Every team could use Smart. — Rafferty

6. Aaron Gordon, Celtics

  • Original pick: Marcus Smart
  • Gordon's original draft position: 4th (Magic)

Like Scott, I will also pass on the All-Star still on the board in favor of Gordon who provides two-way significant value in the playoffs. Gordon was largely miscast in Orlando as a primary option but is perfect as a defensive ace, off-ball cutter and high-flying lob threat. I have confidence that Brad Stevens would have been able to mold Gordon into a winning Celtic. — Adams

MORE: Redrafting 2016 with Jaylen Brown, Jamal Murray and more

7. Julius Randle, Lakers

  • Original pick: Julius Randle
  • Randle's original draft position: 7th (Lakers)

In our redraft, Randle lands exactly in the same spot. Realistically, he can't fall lower than this. He has his flaws, but he's a two-time All-Star who has been good for 23-10-5 over the last three seasons. It would just be nice to see him not be a shell of himself in the playoffs. — Rafferty

Kobe Bryant and Julius Randle
(Getty Images)

8. Jerami Grant, Kings

  • Original pick: Nik Stauskas
  • Grant's original draft position: 39th (76ers)

For the record, I would have let Randle drop a few more spots. That said, sign me up for Jerami Grant all day with the eighth pick. Grant excelled in his first season in Portland, averaging 20 points and shooting a career-high 40.1 percent from the 3-point line. He's a tough one to peg: probably underqualified as a second option but over-qualified as a non-scoring 3-and-D role player. — Adams

9. Clint Capela, Hornets

  • Original pick: Noah Vonleh
  • Capela's original draft position: 25th (Rockets)

A lot of teams would benefit from having a center like Capela who doesn't need the ball and is happy doing all of the little things. He's developed into a solid anchor and one of the league's best rebounders. — Rafferty

10. Bogdan Bogdanovic, 76ers

  • Original pick: Elfrid Payton
  • Bogdanovic's original draft position: 27th (Suns)

Bogdanovic didn't come over to the NBA until the 2017-18 season and his situation playing in Turkey is largely why he didn't get drafted until late in the first round. Like Grant, I'm still waiting for Bogdanovic to land in the right situation as he keeps landing in crowded backcourts, first in Sacramento and now in Atlanta. — Adams

11. Spencer Dinwiddie, Nuggets 

  • Original pick: Doug McDermott
  • Dinwiddie's original draft position: 38th (Pistons)

Dinwiddie's efficiency comes and goes, but he's proven himself to be a quality starter who can share a backcourt with a star. He probably doesn't fall as far as he did in 2014 had he not torn his ACL in college. — Rafferty

12. Jordan Clarkson, Magic

  • Original pick: Dario Saric
  • Clarkson's original draft position: 46th (Wizards)

Clarkson has emerged as one of the NBA's elite bench spark plugs. The 2021 Sixth Man of the Year, he's coming off the best statistical season of his career in which he averaged career-highs in points (20.8) and assists (4.4) per game. — Adams

13. Kyle Anderson, Timberwolves

  • Original pick: Zach LaVine
  • Anderson's original draft position: 30th (Spurs)

The ultimate connector. Funky as his game is, Slow Mo's size, defensive versatility and passing chops make him a fit on almost any team in the league. — Rafferty

14. Joe Harris, Suns

  • Original pick: T.J. Warren
  • Harris's original draft position: 33rd (Cavaliers)

The best shooter in the draft. Sure, Harris has struggled to stay on the floor of late, but he's twice led the league in 3-point percentage. Unless I can draft the bubble version of T.J. Warren, give me Harris. — Adams

Best players still available: T.J. Warren, Dario Saric, Elfrid Payton, Jusuf Nurkic, Doug McDermott, Dwight Powell, Rodney Hood, Gary Harris, Jabari Parker

Author(s)
Author Photo
Micah Adams is an Assistant Managing Editor at The Sporting News
Author Photo
Scott Rafferty is a Senior NBA Editor for The Sporting News
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