The 2014 NBA draftees all have long and promising careers ahead of them. Some of them may be future All-Stars or even Hall of Famers. But for now, these guys are just getting used to being in the spotlight.
Let’s meet some of the first round draft picks you might not know much about!
Dante Exum (No. 5, Utah Jazz)
From the land down under, Dante Exum, the “international man of mystery” as John Rothstein appropriately coined him, went No. 5 overall to the Utah Jazz. This 18-year-old guard from the Australian Institute of Sport joins Kyrie Irving, Andrew Bogut, and Luc Longley as only the fourth player from Australia to be selected as a lottery pick.
“It’s an unbelievable experience. Words can’t explain. It’s just great,” Exum said.
When the Jazz selected Exum, many were left wondering how Trey Burke and Exum would fit together.
“I think I already spoke to him, and he’s excited to have me, and I’m excited to be there. I know we’re both going to give up something a little so everyone’s happy,” said Exum. Who is giving up what? Will Burke relinquish his starting position? Time will tell.
Fun fact: Exum’s father was a North Carolina Tar Heel in the early 1980s.
Nik Stauskas (No. 8, Sacramento Kings)
Stauskas proudly represents a community of players that is slowly rising through the ranks of the NBA: Canadians.
“I always try to represent Canada to my best, and always try to let people know that’s where I’m from,” he said. Stauskas was the second-highest pick from North of the Border and said he has always looked up to Steve Nash.
“Steve kind of just gave a lot of us hope. There’s a 6’2” white guy, point guard, not athletic, and he’s arguably the best player in the world,” Stauskas said.
He also mentioned that he had been texting Nash on Wednesday before the Draft. No big deal. The Sacramento Kings are lucky that Stauskas never picked up hockey, because they’re getting a kid who can shoot from anywhere on the court. Check out this video of the former Michigan guard making 70 of 76 threes in his backyard:
Doug McDermott (No. 11, Denver Nuggets, traded to Chicago Bulls)
The Bulls gained an incredible three-point shooter (he shot 45 percent from beyond the arc his senior year and 49 percent the year before) via trade, but McDermott is out to prove that he can do more than shoot. “I don’t think a lot of people thought I could dunk the ball,” McDermott said.
Well he can, as proven by his almost-360 dunk featured in the video below of him playing HORSE against 99 competitors. McDermott joked that it was his toughest pre-draft workout. “My arm was kind of sore the next day from all those trick shots.” Some of them were pretty unbelievable, but McDermott admitted that a lot didn’t actually happen on the first try. “Some of them took a lot longer than maybe the video showed,” he said. “Sometimes I would just get so frustrated because I couldn’t make one.”
Hopefully he won’t have that problem next season when he suits up for Chicago.
Adreian Payne (No. 15, Atlanta Hawks)
Just barely missing the lottery, Adreian Payne is heading to ATL.
“I’m just excited about getting out there and getting in the city and playing with the guys,” said Payne. “Just getting out there really and see what the city has to offer.”
The Dayton, Ohio, native, Payne played out all four years of his collegiate career at Michigan State. While playing for the Spartans, Payne’s relationship with an 8-year-old cancer patient, Lacey Holsworth became a huge part of his life. On draft night, he even wore a suit inspired by “Adorable Lacey.” So while this 6’10” big man proved he could make a difference on the court, he has character that makes a difference off the court as well. Just previous to the draft, new Atlanta Hawk acquired another surprising friend: Nik Stauskas. While the two had been rivals in college, after rooming together per their agent’s recommendation, Payne and Stauskas found themselves to be good friends.
Payne averaged 16.4 points and 7.3 rebounds during his senior year. He participated in the State Farm College Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships during the 2014 Final Four weekend.
Photos: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images