There was massive wheeling and dealing, and some head-scratching selections. Apparently, Canada has become the new basketball Mecca and 18-year-olds from Greece, who never left the country until three weeks ago, are valued over 7-foot centers from Duke.
The tone of the draft’s unpredictable nature was set immediately when Cleveland shocked the world and picked UNLV freshman Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 pick, making him the first Canadian to floss those kind of props. The ESPN announcing crew let out the kind of shrieks of shock you hear when someone witnesses a motorcycle collide with a bus. Projected top-pick Nerlens Noel just sat there slumped over, looking like someone cement-glued his face still.
They should really call this the “grasping for straws” draft because it seems like everyone was looking for a miracle — a far cry from the gun-shy, predictable approach of past drafts. The NBA became the Wild Wild West, and the players were disposable bullets flying in all directions. It was a telling sign that scouts and NBA owners don’t project this draft crop to amount to much more than crap on an ice cream cone.
You’d be lying if you claimed to know any “expert” who had Bennett, a 6´7 center in college, as the top pick on their Big Board. In the pros, he will have to move to the forward position, but he’s the classic “tweener” — not big enough to check power forwards and not fleet-footed enough to handle small forwards. He can stroke it, though, and will probably get busy in a stretch-4 capacity because he shoots 37.5 percent from trey-territory. Kyrie Irving and Mike Brown are drawing up pick-and-pops as we speak.
Who knows if the Cavs will even keep Bennett, though, because they have Tristan Thompson holding down power forward, and he was the No. 4 pick in the 2011 draft (although it’s been reported Bennett is there to stay). They could be setting up some sort of deal. Or they probably figured they’d choose a young, talented player that they think highly of and pray that he hits the “high end” of his potential; which, in Bennett’s case, would be living up to the fact that some compare him to UNLV-legend Larry Johnson. LJ was one of the coldest to do it when he was healthy, though, so we won’t blaspheme here at TSL.
Can we even remember a time when the selection of a No. 1 pick was this random and unexpected?
When it’s all said and done, Bennett and Cleveland’s greatest accomplishment may be bringing down the value of future No. 1 picks and sparking an onslaught of first-round maneuvers that are shocking at times.
Indiana center Cody Zeller (4th) and Maryland’s Ukrainian baller Alex Len (5th) leap-frogged Noel, too. Wild. Zeller entered the college season as a possible top pick, then reportedly played himself out of the top 10 on some boards. Michael Jordan entertained us for 15 years in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but him bringing Zeller to Charlotte with fourth pick was the kind of WTF-loop thrown that is testing his legacy’s Teflon.
And just when Noel finally left the green room, we got more bombs. Shortly after promising a “shot-blocking” party in New Orleans, the kid was traded for Sixers All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. Sixers Nation was heating up the basketball-suicide hotlines after that one. Just as the 23-year-old guard blossoms, the Sixers dump him so they can enjoy two high-priced, paper-studs with bum knees. Some teams just enjoy self-inflicted torture. Trey Burke, the dopest kid in college ball this year, almost tumbled out of the top 10, but hit a safety net in No. 9 for Minnesota, who then flipped him to Utah for two first-round picks, one being Shabazz Muhammad. Muhammad, projected as Top 5 pick early in his career, dropped, as expected, to 14.
Golden State, who didn’t even have a first-round pick got into the act buying Minnesota’s 26th pick, only to flip it for the 29th pick.
It was hard to tell if this was the NBA Draft or an old episode of “The Wire.”
Of all the trades that went down in the first round of the draft, the move that may have the biggest impact on next season is Dallas drafting Kelly Olynyk and then bouncing him to the Boston Kilts to clear cap space for its pursuit of free agent Dwight Howard.
If Howard somehow regains his basketball will and makes the Mavs a force again — despite the abundance of moves — that might be the only resonating memory from the ’13 NBA Draft. Except for the Sixers fans that face-plant every year for the next six to eight years when Holiday is putting up 20-8-4-2, winning playoff series with Anthony Davis in NOLA.
It was crazy, alright. Like three minutes of ill sex and then it's roll over and go to bed. Your partner, like most NBA fans after Thursday’s draft, is sitting there asking themselves, “what the heck just happened.”