A draft with no clear superstars means plenty of surprises, as Anthony Bennett ended up being the number one pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers, dropping Nerlens Noel to six (eventually landing with the Philadelphia 76ers), while Victor Oladipo (Orlando Magic), Otto Porter (Washington Wizards), Cody Zeller (Charlotte Bobcats) and Alex Len (Phoenix Suns) completed the top 5.
Two Indiana players were taken in the top 4, a first for the school, while 7 players who haven’t played basketball in the United States were taken in the first round, including the very intriguing Nemanja Nedovic of Serbia by the Phoenix Suns, hoping to see something special from him in the summer leagues.
1 – Anthony Bennett (UNLV), PF, Cleveland Cavaliers
Bennett was going to be an early pick, but this early? The Cleveland Cavaliers want to win now, and Bennett, who can play at both the 3 and 4 and can score from anywhere on the floor, will bring them immediate production. He averaged 16.1 points last season, but he’s a strong rebounder as well. His upside doesn’t seem to be out of this world, but he’s not a pick that will need too much time to adjust to NBA life.
2 – Victor Oladipo (Indiana), SG, Orlando Magic
The surprising first pick didn’t change what the Orlando Magic were planning to do, and they went ahead with who they (and many others) think is the safest pick in the draft. Not a great scorer, yet, but a motor that won’t quick, excellent defense and a guy who immediately upgrades the team just by the effort he’s going to bring to the floor every night.
3 – Otto Porter (Georgetown), SF, Washington Wizards
Another pick that was seen a long time coming. Porter remains in DC, and gives the Wizards an excellent 1-2-3 in the starting lineup, which should help them contend for a playoff spot, and without Porter being the kind of player who demands the ball too much to make a serious impact.
4 – Cody Zeller (Indiana), PF, Charlotte Bobcats
Another surprising pick, which seems to be a bit of a reach for the Bobcats, who once again didn’t take a guy who is going to change the franchise. Zeller can contribute right away with his athleticism and scoring ability, but he isn’t likely to become an NBA superstar.
5 – Alex Len (Maryland), C, Phoenix Suns
Another surprising pick, as Len looked like either a number one or someone who’ll go way way later. He can score and doesn’t have injury concerns, while his arrival probably means that Marcin Gortat will be traded very soon.
6 – Nerlens Noel (Kentucky), C, Philadelphia 76ers (after the New Orleans Pelicans picked him)
Noel was traded by the Pelicans along with a protected 2014 first round pick to the 76ers and what eventually turned out to be Pierre Jackson. Noel’s knee was too much of a concern, and he dropped like a rock five spots beneath where everyone thought he’d end up. His potential is great, but the Sixers are going to need some time to get him to become an efficient offensive player, without too much production in the early goings.
7 – Ben McLemore (Kansas), SG, Sacramento Kings
McLemore fell a little bit off the mock draft projections, but the Kings didn’t mind landing the guy most think will end up reaching the All-Star game quicker than anyone else from this class to give them a much needed scoring and shooting presence in the backrout, averaging 15.9 points last season while shooting 42% from beyond the arc.
8 – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia), SG, Detroit Pistons
A lot of people thought the Pistons will be going after a combo guard or point guard, but ended up taking one of the best shooters in this class, Caldwell-Pope, who himself was quite sure he’ll end up in the top 10, but either with the Blazers or the Timberwolves.
9 – Trey Burke (Michigan), PG, Utah Jazz (After being picked by the Minnesota Timberwolves)
The Jazz needed a point guard, so they reached and traded two first round picks (Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng) for the Michigan man, who was arguably the best player in college basketball last season, averaging 18.6 points and 6.7 assists per game. Burke is likely to be an immediate starter, and is probably the best pure point guard in this class.
10 – C.J. McCollum (Lehigh), PG, Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers have the dream backcourt they waited for, with McCollum hoping to be more than a poor man’s Damian Lillard, being another point guard who can play the two, handle the ball and be a very potent scorer in the NBA from day 1.
Rest of the Picks
11 – Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse), PG, Philadelphia 76ers
12 – Steven Adams (Pittsburgh), C, Oklahoma City Thunder
13 – Kelly Olynyk (Gonzaga), PF, Boston Celtics (after being picked by the Dallas Mavericks)
14 – Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA), SF, Minnesota Timberwolves (after being picked by the Utah Jazz)
15 – Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece), SF, Milwaukee Bucks
16 – Lucas Nogueira (Brazil), C, Atlanta Hawks (picked by Boston, traded to Dallas, and then Atlanta)
17 – Dennis Schroeder (Germany), PG, Atlanta Hawks
18 – Shane Larkin (Miami), PG, Dallas Mavericks (picked by the Hawks and then traded to Dallas)
19 – Sergey Karasev (Russia), SF, Cleveland Cavaliers
20 – Tony Snell (New Mexico), SF, Chicago Bulls
21 – Gorgui Dieng (Louisville), C, Minnesota Timberwolves (picked by the Jazz, traded to the Wolves)
22 – Mason Plumlee (Duke), C, Brooklyn Nets
23 – Solomon Hill (Arizona), SF, Indiana Pacers
24 – Tim Hardaway Jr. (Michigan), SG, New York Knicks
25 – Reggie Bullock (North Carolina), SG, Los Angeles Clippers
26 – Andre Roberson (Colorado), SF, Oklahoma City Thunder (Taken by the Wolves, shipped to Golden State and from there to the Thunder)
27 – Rudy Gobert (France), C, Utah Jazz (traded to them from Denver
28 – Livio Jean-Charles (France), PF, San Antonio Spurs
29 – Archie Goodwin (Kentucky), SG, Phoenix Suns (originally picked by the Golden State Warriors)
30 – Nemanja Nedovic (Serbia), SG, Golden State Warriors (traded to them from the Phoenix Suns)