Who came out on top, and somewhere near the bottom, of Thursday’s NBA Draft:
1. Anthony Bennett
The forward from UNLV was selected first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Bennett didn’t even know it would happen until commissioner David Stern finished saying his name. Most mock drafts projected Bennett would go no higher than third. Many had him sliding out of the top five. Winning.
2. Alex Len
A lot of folks figured the center from Maryland would go No. 1 to the Cavs. He fell to the Phoenix Suns at fifth. So how did Len walk away a winner? Because he still was drafted ahead of Nerlens Noel (sixth) and Ben McLemore (seventh) — two other players who were supposedly in the running for the top spot.
3. Washington Wizards
Otto Porter Jr. grew up dreaming of playing in DC,
played his college ball in DC at Georgetown and is a classic small
forward who immediately fills a need. So it was a no-brainer for the
Wizards to select him third. Porter should fit right in alongside the
young backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal and help the suddenly
exciting Wizards make a playoff push.
4. Sacramento Kings
not often the Kings get to win at anything, but landing Ben McLemore
seventh overall may have been the steal of the night. Plenty of league
executives felt the shooting guard out of Kansas had the biggest upside,
offering the most star power and reasons for fans to fill the seats.
The Kings, bless their hearts, could use plenty of all of it.
5. David Stern
The NBA commissioner stood at the podium to conduct his final draft, as Stern is set to retire in February. He worked the room, egging on the crowd with smiles, hand gestures and a few attempts at jokes. He even pulled off a few. This wasn’t a huge transformation from most years, but there was a slight difference. This time, Stern actually seemed appreciated for all he’s done before turning over the microphone to incoming commish Adam Silver.
1. Nerlens Noel
The expression on Noel’s face after dropping to the New Orleans Pelicans at a disappointing sixth is one that likely will be plastered across NBA TV forever. The center from Kentucky was projected to go in the top two, and he wore the look of a man who had been standing in the rain for hours, only to be told he was at the wrong bus stop. Making matters worse, he was promptly shipped to the Philadelphia 76ers for their best player, point guard Jrue Holiday. Oh, and Noel is recovering from an ACL injury that will keep him sidelined until at least December.
2. Indiana Pacers
Solomon Hill is a small forward from Arizona who was projected by most to go in the middle or late second round. The Pacers took him late in the first (No. 23 overall). That makes two straight years of drafting guys higher considerably high than anyone rated — after taking center Miles Plumlee at No. 26 last summer. For a team that was one win away, and perhaps one player away, from the NBA Finals, major reaches probably shouldn’t be the name of the game.
3. Philadelphia 76ers
New general manager Sam Hinkie planned to make a splash, and it was more like an adventure of sink-and-swim in the Atlantic Ocean. Hinkie traded All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans, replacing him with Noel (he of the aforementioned ACL injury) and Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams (drafted No. 11). This is not how you win over that forever-unforgiving Philly fan base.
4. Mason Plumlee
The wide-bodied center out of Duke got drafted (No. 22) by a Brooklyn Nets team that traded for Boston Celtics players and one-time NBA champions Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry on the night of the draft. Good luck getting anyone to care about your introductory news conference, kid.