The NBA Draft can be a noteworthy event to watch, at least, to hardcore fans of the league. One thing that they often do not offer are surprises.
The talking heads in the national media have months to discuss the draft and iron out who will go when. Sure, the pundits are never right, but few — if any — saw what was coming on Thursday night.
With commissioner David Stern announcing the incoming class for one final time, cheers erupted when he read off the name of the No. 1 pick — and it wasn’t Kentucky product Nerlens Noel, like most people had expected.
Here is a rundown on the top draft picks from Thursday night, in case you missed it.
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: ANTHONY BENNETT
Yes, the Canadian-born, UNLV product stole the show by going as the top draft pick in the 2013 draft. Bennett stands at 6-8 and weighs 240 pounds, which proved to be size that the Cleveland Cavaliers simply could not pass up. Bennett pairs speed and explosiveness with his side, along with the ability to shoot from the perimeter. While he certainly won’t have the size advantage he enjoyed during his college years, Bennett could emerge as a strong small forward.
ORLANDO MAGIC: VICTOR OLADIPO
The former Indiana Hoosier with a blue-collared attitude is heading to Orlando to see if he can help turn the struggling franchise around. There are two things that stuck out about Oladipo — his unmatched level of athleticism along with his character and work ethic. You will find athleticism in the NBA, but strong character is more of an elusive trait. Perhaps that is what powered him so high up on the draft board.
WASHINGTON WIZARDS: OTTO PORTER
At 6-8, Porter was arguably the strongest small forward on the draft board. That reflected in the fact that the Wizards scooped him up at No. 3 already. After carrying Georgetown this season to a solid campaign, Porter has a penchant for making excellent decisions with the basketball. While his speed and strength might leave a little something to be desired, taking care of the ball is key in the NBA.
CHARLOTTE BOBCATS: CODY ZELLER
Zeller might have been the second Hoosier to go in the draft, but he was the first big man. Charlotte pulled the trigger on the big man, who was highly sought after for his ability to run the floor and shoot the midrange jumper. Now, the Bobcats must focus on putting a little meat on his bones so he can hold his own in the paint with the NBA’s big boys.
PHOENIX SUNS: ALEX LEN
The 7-foot-1 Len was right behind Zeller. The Ukrainian big man had the potential to be the top pick this year, but inconsistency got the best of him this season. Make no mistake, though, there were times that Len looked like the most dominant college basketball player in the country this year.
NEW ORLEANS PELICANS: NERLENS NOEL
There he is — the injury-plagued Noel, who fell to No. 6. Not only that, but he was then dealt to the Philadelphia 76ers for a deal that include Jrue Holiday. Noel was expected to go early for a reason. While his offense isn’t always up to snuff, he is an incredible defender and can block shots all day long.