1. THE SURPRISE – Between a more aggressive mainstream media and the advent of social media, I never dreamt I’d be surprised by a number one overall draft pick ever again. The Cavs’ selection of Anthony Bennett floored me. I hadn’t heard anyone suggest he was even a consideration (though I guess ESPN’s Tim Legler predicted it). The pleasant surprise set the tone for what turned out to be an entertaining draft.
2. SIXERS WIN DRAFT GOING AWAY – You know how we sports analysts always hand out letter grades after a draft, though we’re never held to our assessment because the value of a draft can’t be determined for years? Well, write this one down so you can hold me to it: The Sixers won this year’s NBA draft in a landslide. A healthy Nerlens Noel would have been the hands-down #1 pick. Philadelphia not only moved up to get him but they kept their first-round selection and added a 1st round pick from New Orleans for next year.
3. SHANE BATTER IS MARK WAHLBERG – Shane Battier is a basketball player. Considering his lack of experience as a reporter, he did a solid job Thursday night interviewing players. However, did anyone else notice that his fallback question (and he only asked two questions per player) for every athlete was “what has your dad (or coach) meant to you?” It was the NBA draft’s version of the SNL skit, “Say hello to your mother for me.”
4. MONSTER TRADE – The picks are the meat of draft coverage, but trades provide the flavor, and last night’s Celtics-Nets blockbuster was an all-night marinade. The Boston Celtics officially pressed the rebuild button by trading Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn. It was a head-spinner. And what enhanced the trade coverage was that a diehard Celtics fan was on the ESPN set watching and commenting live as the wrecking ball was finishing the demolition of his team.
5. BILL SIMMONS – I’m not sure Bill Simmons ever came off as being comfortable during his first season as an NBA television analyst…until last night. Simmons provided the most refreshingly truthful analysis to any draft I’ve ever watched. He called out the Celtics. He didn’t claim that every pick was a good pick like past draft analysts have been known to do. He made fun of Jay Bilas all night for his need to list a player’s “wingspan,” and without coming off as mean-spirited. Simmons finally found his comfort zone Thursday night. He was the star of the show.
6. SUNS CAN’T LOSE – It was undoubtedly disappointing for Suns fans to have not only endured this past season, but to have also had their rare terrible season prior to a draft featuring a lackluster class of talent. But once the Suns were on the clock, fans had to be shocked to know that the three players that had been discussed as the #1 overall pick were all still on the board. Of course, the Suns took the third best of the three prospects, but hey, glass half full and all that.
7. DAVID STERN OVATION – I was pleased to see that, following a night of booing a man all night during his last night on the job, Brooklyn fans gave commissioner David Stern a standing ovation to commemorate the last draft pick he’d ever announce. Then, and with perfect comedic timing I might add, the crowd went from cheering to booing the instant Adam Silver was introduced to them as the next league commissioner.
1. BOBCATS – There are reasons the Bobcats have the worst team in the NBA, and Thursday’s top pick put a spotlight on one of those reasons. They can’t assess talent. I could certainly be dead wrong about this, but I think the robotic Cody Zeller has “bust” written all over him. I was worried the Suns were going to take him at five. The Bobcats eliminated that scary possibly when they grabbed Zeller at four.
2. TRADES – The NBA has to do something about draft night trades. The confusion of who’s picking for who, the fact that draft picks know they’ve been traded but still have to wear the hat of the team that dealt them, and the fact that there are so many trades each year means the system is crying out for tweaks. Not to mention, draftniks love when the board changes.
3. PELICANS – The Block Party was over before it started. I loved the idea of teaming Nerlens Noel with Anthony Davis, but New Orleans traded Noel away before a single invite to the Block Party could be sent out.
4. STERN EGGING ON CROWD – Every pick David Stern was booed. And nearly every time he was booed, he gestured for the crowd to keep it coming. A joke isn’t nearly as funny the second time it’s told. So how worn out is the joke by the 40th time it’s been told?
5. OKC – Bill Simmons nailed it. The Thunder should have never traded James Harden. They must have thought they were getting one of the top picks in the draft. Instead, they landed a 7-footer who couldn’t star for Pitt in exchange for a 24-year-old budding NBA superstar.
6. HORRIBLE HATS – Those weren’t hats. They were billboards. Maybe I don’t understand fashion, but if the NBA sells one of those monogrammed fruit baskets to fans I’ll be stunned. Even the Pope tweeted that the draftees’ hats were too big.
7. A FALLEN STAR – I was entertained last night, I truly was. But there’s no getting around my sadness for having watched the NBA Draft reduced to an event I’ll watch if nothing else is going on. Once upon a time, I preferred the NBA Draft to the NFL Draft. You knew nearly all the players because you’d watched them for three to fours in college. Now, the draft is a crapshoot from pick one on.