After a comparatively weak class made the 2013 NBA Draft something of a snoozer, there was little doubt that 2014’s crop of future NBA talent would make for a more entertaining affair. But even with all of the star power included in this year’s class, from Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker on down, there was still plenty of room for bad news as well — and certainly some teams found it. So without further ado, here’s a recap of the winners and losers at this year’s NBA Draft:
Getty ImagesMike Stobe
Winner: Cleveland Cavaliers
For the second year in a row, the Cleveland Cavaliers had the No. 1 overall pick, and this time, with the wounds of the Anthony Bennett debacle still fresh, they didn’t screw it up. New GM David Griffin had his eyes on Wiggins from the start, and after reportedly entertaining trade offers for the top selection, he went with his gut and picked the former Kansas standout. It’s easy to forget that the Cavs nearly made the Eastern Conference playoffs last season, and with a phenom like Wiggins on board, there should be plenty of brighter days ahead.
NBAE/Getty ImagesJeyhoun Allebaugh
Winner: Isaiah Austin
Perhaps the most emotional moment of the draft came between the 15th and 16th picks, when commissioner Adam Silver took a moment to honor Austin, the former Baylor star who announced earlier this week that he had been diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a career-ending genetic disorder. In an ideal world, Austin would have been able to be drafted and continue to fight in the NBA, but given the circumstances, this was an ideal moment and a nice gesture by Silver and the league.
Getty ImagesMike Stobe
The Great White North usually isn’t generally considered to be a basketball power, but Canada had a great night at the draft, with three Canadian-born players going in the first round for the first time ever. It started with Wiggins at No. 1, then Sacramento took former Michigan sharpshooter Nik Stauskas at No. 8. Later on in the first round, former Syracuse guard Tyler Ennis went to the Suns at No. 18.
NBAE/Getty ImagesNBA Photos
Winner: Denver Nuggets
It was a good day all around for Denver, which fleeced the Orlando Magic before the draft, trading for Arron Afflalo in exchange for Evan Fournier and the 56th pick, then went ahead and did a number on the Chicago, getting the 16th and 19th picks from Chicago in exchange for No. 11 pick Doug McDermott and Anthony Randolph. Denver went on to select Bosnian big man Jusuf Nurkic at 16 and former Michigan State guard Gary Harris at 19, two moves that, when combined with the Afflalo haul, stand to tremendously improve the Nuggets roster going forward.
NBAE/Getty ImagesAndrew D. Bernstein
Winner: Miami Heat
The main objective for the Heat this summer is obviously re-signing LeBron James, and Miami took the first step toward securing the rights to the face of their franchise Thursday when it traded for former UConn guard Shabazz Napier. During the NCAA Tournament, LeBron tweeted that Napier was the best point guard in college basketball, and was believed to be a big fan of the 2014 Final Four most outstanding player. It’s not a lock that Napier will be enough to keep LeBron in South Florida, but it shows that they’re trying, and that’s a good place to start.
NBAE/Getty ImagesDavid Dow
Loser: Zach LaVine
Throughout the course of any draft, there are undoubtedly several players who would have rather been picked by a team other than the one that called their name. But perhaps no player Thursday appeared less enthused by his future place of business than UCLA’s Zach LaVine, who looked like he’d just watched his dog get hit by a car — and appeared to say a dirty word or two — after being taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the 13th pick.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsBrad Penner
Loser: Noah Vonleh
The slide of the night came from the Indiana product Vonleh, who was believed by many to be a top-five pick heading into the draft, and instead settled for the No. 9 overall selection from Charlotte. It wasn’t a Rashard Lewis-style freefall, but it was still a disappointment for the ex-Hoosiers big man, who certainly expected better coming into Thursday night. Runner-up for worst slide goes to Rodney Hood, who is a much better player than the No. 23 pick would have you believe.
NBAE/Getty ImagesNathaniel S. Butler
Loser: Philadelphia 76ers
This designation of the 76ers as “losers” isn’t for drafting Joel Embiid at No. 3 — though that, too, could end up being a bad call. Instead, Philly should be disappointed in its failure to pull the wool over Orlando's eyes. The Sixers took Elfrid Payton at 10, then traded him to the Magic in exchange for No. 12 pick Dario Saric, a 2015 second-rounder and a 2017 first-rounder. Philly seemed to think it could coax the Magic into giving up more for Payton but instead ended up essentially dealing him straight up for a guy picked two spots later.
NBAE/Getty ImagesJesse D. Garrabrant
Loser: Toronto Raptors
There are reaches, and then there is what the Raptors did when they picked Bruno Caboclo 20th overall. Who is Bruno Caboclo, you ask? Good question, because no one seems to know. He’s the biggest of projects — one that ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla described as being “two years away from two years away” from playing on an NBA court — and given the mysterious Brazilian teenager’s complete obscurity, it’s a wonder why Toronto didn’t wait until the second round (or maybe a year from now) to call his number.
NBAE/Getty ImagesNBA Photos
OK, hear me out. Thursday was a bad night for shoulders because there were so many lottery picks claiming to have chips on their own after going later than expected. The first was Marcus Smart, who said he had something to prove after falling to No. 6 with Boston. We also heard similar sentiments from Julius Randle (No. 7, Lakers), Gary Harris (No. 19, Bulls), Rodney Hood (No. 23, Jazz) and Shabazz Napier (No. 24, Miami via Charlotte), among others. Not everyone can be a top-five pick, but don’t tell these guys that. They’d rather their shoulders paid the price.