Without a clear-cut standout, the Cleveland
Cavaliers were looking for a diamond in the rough and selected power
forward Anthony Bennett from the University of Las Vegas on Thursday
night, as the top overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
Most pundits expected Kentucky's shot-blocking string bean centre Nerlens Noel to be the No. 1 pick.
Instead, league commissioner David Stern announced at Barclays Center, the Cavs had chosen Bennett, who became the highest Canadian ever drafted, after averaging a 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds as a freshman last season.
"I'm just as surprised as anyone else," Bennett said.
The pick shouldn't have come as such a shock, said the Cavaliers' brain trust.
"He was always in our group," Cavs general manager Chris Grant said. "He's one of the guys when you walked out of the gym after you saw him play you kind of went, 'Wow,' He just does things you don't see others do.
"We had some pretty awesome debates and last night we cut it down to a couple of guys and this morning we were pretty clear on what we were going to do."
Bennett is expected to fit in well with the young Cavs led by Kyrie Irving and newly-hired coach Mike Brown to replace fired Byron Scott following a dismal 24-58 record last season.
Cleveland had the 19th pick in the first-round and went with 19-year-old point guard Sergey Karasav, a member of the Russian National Team.
"The Cavaliers had a very good day, an exciting day," Grant added. "We were able to add a few young players to our team who are extremely talented. We're looking forward to getting started."
Noel watched as others pass him by until finally being taken by New Orleans at No. 7.
"Oh yeah, "I'm going to make them pay," said Noel of the teams that picked him over.
However, the Pelicans immediately sent his rights along with 2014 lottery pick to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday and their second-round selection.
The Sixers will be taking a risk with the 7-foot, 215-pound Noels, who is recovering from left knee surgery to a repair a torn ACL suffered in February and won't be ready to go until around December.
At No. 2, the Orlando Magic took Victor Oladipo, a versatile 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Indiana, in an effort to revive a team that finished with a league-worst 20-62 record last season after trading All-Star centre Dwight Howard.
The Washington Wizards chose small forward Otto Porter Jr. who averaged 16.2 points and 7.5 rebounds at nearby Georgetown at No. 3. Indiana centre forward Cody Zeller was taken fourth by the Charlotte Hornets after averaging 17.1 points and 8.2 rebounds on 53.6 per cent field goal shooting.
Picking at No. 5, the Phoenix Suns selected Ukrainian-born, shot-blocking centre Alex Len, who averaged 11.9 points and 7.8 rebounds at Maryland. Sharpshooting guard Ben McLemore went at No. 7 to the Sacramento Kings after averaging 15.9 points at Kansas last season.
With the eighth pick, the Detroit Pistons chose shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who averaged 18.5 points and 7.1 rebounds at Georgia.
At No. 9, the Minnesota Timberwolves took Michigan point guard Trey Burke, the national player of the year. His rights were sent to the Utah Jazz in exchange for No. 14 Shabazz Muhammad of UCLA along with the 21st pick. The T-Wolves used to take Senegal-native and Louisville centre Gorgui Dieng.
The Portland Trail Blazers tabbed Lehigh shooting guard C.J. McCollum at No. 10. McCollum missed most of last season after breaking his left foot in January but still averaged 23.9 points in 12 outings.
After Philadelphia selected Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams with the 11th pick, international players were the next to go, as Oklahoma City followed by taking New Zealand seven-footer centre Steve Adams, who played at Pittsburgh.
At No. 12, Dallas went with 7-foot Canadian Kelly Olynyk, who averaged 17.8 points at Gonzaga. The Mavericks, however, shipped his rights off to the Boston Celtics in exchange for the 16th pick and two future second-round selections.
The Milwaukee Bucks took Greek forward Giannis Adetokounbo at No. 15. The Celtics followed with Brazilian centre Lucas Noguiera, and the Atlanta Hawks tabbed German point guard Dennis Schroeder at 17.
At No. 27, the Denver Nuggets chose Rudy Gobert, who played for Cholet in the French league last season, and the San Antonio Spurs picked Livio Jean-Charles of French Guinea next.
When Serbian guard Nemanja Nedovic was picked at No. 30 by the Suns, it set a record of 12 players picked in the first-round that were born outside the U.S.
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