NBA Draft: Night full of surprises, from the outset

2013-06-28T00:00:00Z NBA Draft: Night full of surprises, from the outsetThe Associated Press The Associated Press
June 28, 2013 12:00 am  • 

NEW YORK - Anthony Bennett was stunned at the start. David Stern had a big surprise at the finish.

In between, Nerlens Noel and a number of others experienced wild rides to start their careers in an unsettled first round of the NBA draft.

Bennett became the first Canadian No. 1 overall pick, and Noel tumbled out of the top five and right into a trade.

"There was a lot of activity," Nets general manager Billy King said. "As you guys will find out, there will be a lot of trades that are announced."

As for the draft, it was as unpredictable as expected, capped by Hakeem Olajuwon coming on stage at the end of the first round to greet Stern, dressed in the same tuxedo style he wore when Stern called Olajuwon's name to start the soon-to-be-retired commissioner's first draft in 1984.

One of the favorites to be taken first Thursday night, Noel fell to No. 6, where the New Orleans Pelicans took him and then dealt his rights to the Philadelphia 76ers for a package headlined by All-Star guard Jrue Holiday.

The Cleveland Cavaliers started things by passing on centers Noel and Alex Len, who went to Phoenix at No. 5, in favor Bennett, the UNLV freshman forward who starred for Canada's junior national teams and was the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year. Bennett led a record 12 international players who were taken in the first round.

"I'm just as surprised as anyone else," Bennett said.

There was suspense right until the start, either because the Cavs were unsure who they wanted or were trying to trade the pick. Most predictions had them taking one of the big men, with Noel largely considered the favorite for the No. 1 choice even after a torn ACL that ended his lone season at Kentucky in February.

"I thought everything was in the air, so I wasn't thinking I was the No. 1 pick," Noel said.

Stern, booed heavily in his final draft, added to the surprise of the moment by pausing slightly before announcing the Cavs' pick, their first at No. 1 since taking All-Star Kyrie Irving in 2011.

Orlando passed on both of the big men, too, going with Indiana swingman Victor Oladipo with the No. 2 pick. Washington took Otto Porter Jr. with the third pick, keeping the Georgetown star in town.

Ten years after the Cavaliers selected LeBron James to start a draft that included future NBA championship teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the top five, this one lacked star power and perhaps even the promise of stardom.

Bennett, Noel and Len are all coming off injuries and couldn't work out for teams, but the Cavs decided Bennett's shoulder surgery wasn't enough cause for concern.

Len walked up to meet Stern and collect his orange Suns hat, then sat down near the stage to put on the walking boot he needs for the stress fracture of his left ankle that was discovered after Maryland's season.

Noel finally went to New Orleans with the next pick. He didn't seem upset at his fall down the draft board, hugging his mother and shaking hands with Kentucky coach John Calipari.

It was a good start to the night for the Hoosiers, with Cody Zeller going to the Charlotte Bobcats two places after Oladipo.

Kansas guard Ben McLemore, another player who was considered a potential top-three pick, went seventh to Sacramento.

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