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Monday, July 1, 2013

SDH Reviews the 2013 NBA Draft: a Night of Surprises

Last night, the 2013 NBA Draft will certainly be one to remember as it was the last time that David Stern would be announcing the first overall pick of the draft as he will be stepping down as league commissioner after 30 years of devoted service.  It was because was Stern who oversaw the league's greatest rise in popularity along with expanding the game of basketball into a truly international sport.  Although many have booed and bashed him over the years, no one can argue that the league would not be where it is today if it were not for the guidance and leadership of David Stern.  Stern will probably go down as one of the greatest commissioners in not only the NBA, but also in all of professional sports as he virtual elevated not only the NBA as a worldwide phenomenon, but also the game of basketball, into second most popular sport in the world next to soccer.  David Stern will certainly be missed by fans, if not for his contributions to expand and elevate the NBA and the game, but for the simple reason in that they will no longer be able to boo him upon stepping on the podium to open the draft.

Although this draft will be given a solemn remembrance as it would be Stern's last, it will also prove to be the most surprising as the Cleveland Cavaliers threw everyone watching in a loop selecting someone that no one saw in any of the mock draft boards going number one.  When Anthony Bennett's name was called jaws dropped, hearts stopped, and a nation of nearly 30 million people north of the 48 degree parallel shouted for joy.  It was a shock for even the announcers as can be seen by the look upon their faces as all but a forgone conclusion that Cleveland would have chosen a much more recognized name such as Nerlens Noel from the University of Kentucky; however in retrospect, one can see why the Cavs took this surprising route.  One only needs to see highlight footage of Bennett's sole season in UNLV to see how this guy was an obvious choice--at 6'9" and 260 he showed that he was versatile enough to score in the paint attack the rim off the dribble and stroke it from outside as well.  One can even go as far to say that his game actually resembles another former UNLV star who was also selected first overall in the NBA Draft and that is none other than "Grandmama" himself, Mr. Larry Johnson.

In his ten year career Johnson proved to be quite the force in the NBA earning rookie of the year honors (1992), along with two NBA All Star selections in 1993 and 1995, and being named All NBA first team in 1993; however, judging from what he has shown in his sole season playing in the NCAA, Bennett may possibly to possess even more talent and upside than Larry Johnson ever had in his entire career thus making his selection an even more logical pick for Cleveland.  Paired with Kyrie Irving, the number one overall pick from two years ago, Cavs potentially will have a potential offensive one-two punch that has never been seen in the league since since Stockton and Malone.  With the arrival of Bennett, the question on\ what the Cavaliers will do with their other power forward who ironically comes from the same home town as Bennett--Toronto, Ontario--and had been the previous highest Canadian pick in the NBA draft.  Last season, Tristan Thompson showed signs of improvement and looked to be a key building block in the Cavs' future playing solid minutes as a starter; however with Bennett in the fold and the most likely scenario that he will most likely be starting alongside Irving come opening tip off, where does this leave Thompson?

Regardless of all the speculation of what might or might not happen, on thing for certain, and that is the future of Cleveland Cavaliers has certainly become much brighter as they not only possess one, but two of the number one overall picks in the NBA Draft selected in the past three years which is monumental in itself.  As for the rest of the draft, the night's surprises did not only end there as it saw the projected number one overall pick, Nerlens Noel's name would not be called until number six by ironically, the New Orleans Pelicans, who had selected another UK Wildcat previously drafting Anthony Davis, who was selected first overall in last year's draft.  Everyone frothed at the mouth with the idea of these two titans, who could have possibly played together in Kentucky, would join forces in the Big Easy giving the team one of the greatest big man tandems since both NBA Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson banded together in Houston during the 1980s.  Unfortunately NBA hoop fans would not be treated by the second coming of the "twin towers" as it would soon be reported that Noel's rights were then immediately sent to the Philadelphia 76ers for all star point guard Jrue Holiday sending even more shock waves throughout the league. Holiday had been previously tabbed by most analysts and speculators as the centerpiece of Philly's rebuilding efforts for the future; however now the future is now up in the air as Jrue will headed to the Dirty South be joining an already talented group of young players thus changing the landscape of the Western Conference for years to come.

However, the biggest news of the night would be reserved for the Boston Celtics as they pulled off what can be considered the biggest move of the off-season and would change the entire balance of power of the NBA's Eastern Conference.  In a deal that was announced during the draft, the Celtics agreed to part with two of the players responsible for the team's short taste of championship glory--aging superstar Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce--along with Jason Terry sending them to the Brooklyn Nets.  Although the details coming out were sketchy at best, but supposedly Boston would be receiving Gerald Wallace, the expiring contracts of Kris Humphries, Keith Bogans, and Kris Joseph along with Marshon Brooks, consecutive first round picks from the Nets in return.  Such a move like this would have the New York Knicks quaking in their high top sneakers as they will be dealing with this newly revamped Brooklyn team and may even lose their hold on the Atlantic Division.  As for the Celtics, it is obvious that their goal is to tear down the old and start over from scratch with expiring contracts and a slew of draft picks signaling the start of a long rebuilding period the Mean Green Bean Team.

Overall, the 2013 NBA Draft proved to be both bittersweet and a mind boggling event as it saw the end of two eras and the shocking number one pick by Cleveland.  It certainly turned the people who witnessed it for quite a loop with all the questionable picks and draft day trades that could leave any head spinning.  Now everyone will have to wait until July 10th when the moratorium on free agency has ended to see what will happen next as basketball fans everywhere need to take some time to digest what had transpired on draft night.  Nonetheless, there still will be plenty of chatter and action as all 30 teams will be getting ready for next November when the NBA season will start back again.  It will certainly be very interesting to see what will happen next as one chapter closes and another one opens.