The Cleveland Cavaliers selection of UNLV power forward Anthony Bennett stunned everyone at the NBA Draft and kicked off a night full of surprises.
The Orlando Magic followed with Victor Oladipo, the so called “safest pick in the draft”, followed by Washington taking hometown boy Otto Porter Jr. It seemed like we had a surprise pick, then things were calming down, but things were just getting started. Trades, non-sense decisions and David Stern’s final draft completed, let’s take a look at a few of the moves that grabbed the most headlines.
The Cavs got what they wanted I guess, but like many others I didn’t really understand the selection of Bennett at No. 1. While it is said Bennett would have been the obvious No. 1 pick had he been an inch or two taller, the Cavs didn’t really need size the way they needed a wing man. They have 6-foot-9 inch Tristan Thompson, not to mention Anderson Varejao, Tyler Zeller and had the No. 19 pick to go with a big man, so common sense says take the best wing available at No.1 and that is Otto Porter Jr., but it didn’t happen.
As it turns out, the Cavs seem to have known what they were doing. While they now have a plethora of front court players, they also picked up underrated Russian swingman Sergey Karasev with the No. 19 pick to upgrade at small forward. So, the Cavs now have a duo of good young power forwards, a solid small forward and one of the most talented back courts in the league with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Oh, and did we mention they only have $32 million committed to salary next season? Expect the Cavs to at least attempt filling that out roster with a good free agent signing and to compete for at least a No.8 seed in the Eastern Conference next year.
With the sixth pick it seemed like New Orleans had incredible luck and was on the verge of building one of the best front courts of the future with Anthony Davis and their selection of Nerlens Noel. But the draft excitement didn’t last long before the trade madness kicked in.
The Hornets traded Noel to Philadelphia for the 42nd pick, a future top 5 protected first rounder and All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. It’s a move that signals Philadelphia’s intentions to rebuild and gives New Orleans a whole new future to figure out. With Greivis Vasquez and Eric Gordon currently occupying the Pelicans back court, the team has to figure out what they’re going to do to give Holiday the starting job. Don’t expect for a second that New Orleans is done dealing for the summer as they have put themselves in a position of power as to how they’re going to build for the future around Davis by making Vasquez trade material.
As for Philly, they get the best big man in the draft so they don’t feel as much pressure to re-sign Andrew Bynum and have put themselves in a prime position to be in the lottery next year for a shot at Andrew Wiggins.
MINNESOTA AND UTAH DEAL
Trey Burke and Shabazz Muhammed were two big names coming into this draft, but as the first round progressed, you began to wonder where they were going to end up. When Burke got drafted No. 9 overall by Minnesota, he seemed less than excited but relieved to know he’d made it into the NBA. It was while he was on air with ESPN that Burke found he’d been traded to Utah, a move that ensures he’ll see significant minutes next season instead of backing up Ricky Rubio.
Minnesota picked up Muhammed and Senegalese shot blocking center Gorgui Dieng with Utah’s No. 14 and 21 picks. This gives the T-Wolves an athletic and versatile player to put at the three and a center that can come to the rescue should Nikola Pekovic take a significant paycheck from another team. Both teams come out of the deal with what they wanted, but the Jazz are the real winners getting a top 10 pick at point guard, the position they so desperately need help at.