The NBA draft looked to be going the way everyone had predicted, with Kyrie Irving gong number one to the Cleveland Cavaliers, swiftly followed by Derrick Williams at number two to Minnesota and Enes Kanter at three to Utah. The David Stern walked out to announce the number four pick, Cleveland’s second, and the first shock occurred as Tristan Thompson’s name was called… and that was were the surprises started on a eventful NBA draft night:
The Cavaliers drafting Tristan Thompson with the Number 4 pick
After selecting Kyrie Irving number 1 and putting the debate to rest over whether they should go with Derrick Williams first and a point guard such as Brandon Knight at four. Cleveland surprised everyone by taking Tristan Thompson when the likes of Jonus Valanciunas and Jan Vesely were still on the board. Thompson averaged 13.1ppg and 7.8 rebounds at Texas, but iis an undersized Power Forward at 6’8” who was predicted to go at 10 or 11. So, will they trade Thompson or will he step right in to the Cavs starting lineup, meaning the Cavs have plans to trade current incumbent JJ Hickson?
If they don’t plan to trade him, surely the Cavs would have been better off with Valanciunas or Vesely. Although they would have to wait a year for Valanciunas, the Cavs are certainly not going to make the playoffs next year. Also, with a lockout shortened season on the horizon, wouldn’t it have paid to wait for the ‘big Lithuanian’ as Jeff van Gundy so eloquently put it when he couldn’t pronounce his name!
Bismack Biyombo goes at number seven
No one knew much about Bismack BIyombo until the Nike Hoops summit game, but since then speculation has been rife about how old he is and how much of a defensive presence he’ll be in the NBA.
We speculated on how high he would go in our recent article ’Biyombo – boom or bust’ and we thought he would end up in Detroit with their need for a big man who could protect the paint. Well the man with coolest name in the draft did go surprisingly high to Charlotte at number 7, one pick before Detroit at number 8. Detroit would have taken him at eight, but minutes before the draft started, Charlotte traded up to the number seven pick in order to get him from under Detroit’s noses. It looks like a good pick as Biyombo will protect the rim and grab rebounds for Michael Jordan’s team, and the Bobcats will need defense and size having played Boris Diaw last season in stretches at the five.
Brandon Knight goes low to Detroit
After being left Biyombo-less after Charlotte snuck in to grab the Congolese big man at number seven, Detroit went with Brandon Knight who was surprisingly still available after being predicted to go as high as number 3. Knight averaged 17.3ppg and 4.1 apg at Kentucky, hitting some pretty clutch shots in the NCAA tournament. The Pistons have a collection of guards, and they really wanted to go with a big man, so they took the best player still available as Knight should have gone earlier. This raises another question tough, could this be the end of Rodney Stuckey’s days in Detroit?
Jimmer goes high to Sacramento
The two most hyped and talked about players in this draft have been Fredette and Biyombo – Jimmer for his lack of defense and Biyombo for his lack of offence. It was rumoured, speculated even predicted that the BYU star was going to Utah at 12. However, as soon as the trade involving the Bobcats, Bucks and Kings was announced, with the Bobcats moving up to take Biyombo at number 7, Sacramento were odds on to take Jimmer at 10 with Milwaukee’s pick. The Kings were interested in Fredette from the get go, as they need someone to sell tickets to save the franchise from moving to Anaheim. Trading down to get the most popular player in the draft, plus some veteran defensive help in John Salmons, whilst getting rid of Beno Udrich was a wise move. With Jimmer joining forces with Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and Marcus Thornton, things are going to be exciting in Sac-Town!
Tony Parker doesn’t get traded (yet) and the Spurs sneak the sliding Leonard
San Antonio usually drafts well and have a history of drafting well and late – Parker at 28 , Ginobili in the second round, both now perennial All-Stars. Lest we also forget DeJuan Blair, taken in the second round also. So, with Tony Parker being shopped around as trade bait for a potentially high pick, it was a surprise that another San Antonio guard, George Hill, was shipped to the Pacers for their number 15 pick. With that pick, the Spurs took Kawhi Leonard, who was rumoured to go as high as seven, but whose stock has been on the slide to end up at number 15. Leonard was a double-double machine at San Diego state, putting up double digits in points and boards in 40 of his 70 games, so to see him slide so drastically was a surprise. Maybe San Antonio knew something? With a history of drafting late and well, or even picking up players whose stock is on the decline, such as Blair two years ago, they usually do…