Cleveland Cavaliers select Anthony Bennett first overall in 2013 NBA draft
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Wasn't such an easy decision this time around, huh, Cleveland?
There wasn't a no-brainer available like LeBron James, whom the Cavaliers took first overall in 2003. There wasn't even a safe bet like Kyrie Irving, whom they took first overall in 2011.
This was a "he's good, but . . ." type of draft class.
The original presumed first pick, Nerlens Noel? He's good at blocking shots but limited offensively and is recovering from a torn ACL.
The more recently presumed first pick, Alex Len? He's good with his back to the basket but might not provide the inside presence expected of a 7-footer.
They're both good, but neither ended up being the first pick.
The Cavs surprised many by selecting Anthony Bennett, a 6-7 power forward out of UNLV, with the first pick in the 2013 NBA draft Thursday night at Barclays Center.
"I'm just as surprised as everybody else," he said. "I heard everything was up for grabs. But I'm just real happy, glad that I have this opportunity."
Bennett, who is recovering from a torn rotator cuff, averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds in his lone season at UNLV. He is the first Canadian to be selected first overall.
With the second pick, Orlando selected Victor Oladipo to join its rebuilding process. A shooting guard and lockdown perimeter defender, he spent three years at Indiana. "I'm just glad they chose me so I could be a part of that," he said.
Otto Porter Jr., the Big East Player of the Year out of Georgetown, went third to Washington. Oladipo's Hoosiers teammate, Cody Zeller, was picked fourth by Charlotte.
Nothing better exemplified the volatility of a draft clouded by uncertainty than the drop of Noel and Len.
Len, a 7-1 center out of Maryland whose stock rose recently despite a stress fracture in an ankle, ended up going fifth to Phoenix. Noel, a 6-11 power forward out of Kentucky who had his freshman season cut short when he tore the ACL in his left knee in February, was selected next by New Orleans.
A reported trade was in the works sending Noel and a protected 2014 draft pick to Philadelphia for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. The 76ers drafted Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams with the 11th pick.
"It shows how much confidence they have in me," Noel said of the potential trade. "I'm really just staying positive through this and looking to get down there and work hard."
Ben McLemore, considered a potential top-two pick, dropped to Sacramento at seven. Michigan's Trey Burke, the national player of the year, was picked ninth by Minnesota and traded to Utah for Shabazz Muhammad (14th pick) and Gorgui Dieng (21st pick). Lehigh's C.J. McCollum was taken 10th by Portland.
In an unpredictable draft, Bennett's perceived NBA readiness might have made him the first pick. "I would say I'm pro-ready," he said. "But at the same time, there's a lot of things I need to work on."
He's good, but . . .
Surprise for Stern. Commissioner David Stern received a standing ovation while announcing the final pick of his final draft. He then was joined at the podium by Hakeem Olajuwon, the first pick Stern ever announced -- wearing a red bow tie just as he did on draft night in 1984.