NEW YORK – We need to wait for the Earth to stop spinning three times the speed of light for the official analysis. But for now, there is the detailed breakdown of the draft in technical terms:
Everyone knew going in the only predictable part about Thursday night at Barclays Center would be the unpredictability, and still it was a jolt. It was so swirling that the player the NBA previously referred to as Giannis Adetokunbo became Giannis Antetokounmpo by the time he, Giannis A., went to the Bucks at No. 15. It was so upside down that Hakeem Olajuwon, the first player announced by new commissioner David Stern in 1984, was back on stage — famous red bow tie and all — either as the full-circle sendoff to Stern’s final draft or because Olajuwon could still get backup minutes for about 60 percent of the teams.
There has never been a hectic draft like it. The line of possibilities for Cleveland, with the wide-open first pick, were long in a year with no obvious choice — which is a kind way of saying no one deserved it. Then, when his name was called, Anthony Bennett was taken aback anyway.
“I’m just as surprised as everyone else,” said the UNLV power forward with the versatile offensive game. “I didn’t really have any idea who’s going No. 1 or who was going No. 2. I heard everything was up for grabs. But I’m just real happy, glad that I have this opportunity, and I just got to thank God for everything.”
It was a surprise because most other front offices had it down to a race among Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore and Alex Len, but hardly a reach. Bennett was the third-best prospect on the board in the estimation of some teams, and the Cavaliers do have a history of making the bold move, as in Tristan Thompson at No. 4 in 2011. Now, Bennett and Thompson will be competing for at least a portion of the minutes.
There were the trades. Dallas, trying to shave as much money as possible to build the war chest for free agency, moved from 13 to 16 and then from 16 to 18 before keeping Shane Larkin. How very NFL draft of them. Golden State went from not having any picks to buying No. 26, trading back to 29 and then trading back to 30 and taking Nemanja Nedoovic.
Then there were the surprises. No one could have imagined the Bobcats spending No. 4 on Cody Zeller until word of the possibility leaked earlier in the day. Noel, arguably the best prospect of all, lasting until the Pelicans at No. 6. McLemore, ditto, lasting until the Kings at No. 7.
There was also the really big surprise. Noel to the 76ers for Jrue Holiday as the point-guard solution in New Orleans and a pick in the loaded 2014 draft that is only top-three protected. Nice work by the Pelicans.
Hectic? On what would have been one of the busiest nights for the league anyway, the seismic shift of the Celtics continued with reports of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry being traded to the Nets, who play in the arena where the draft was being held. Two future Hall of Famers and Brooklyn redoubling efforts to make a push in the Eastern Conference, that’s all.
Meanwhile, out on the main stage, Trey Burke had been taken ninth by the Timberwolves. Unexpected, number one. And traded to the Jazz? Unexpected part two.
“Well,” he said, “it was kind of a shocker that the Timberwolves selected me. So I was kind of thrown off a little bit. I was happy at the same time. I was excited. I got to walk across the stage that I’ve been watching since I was a little kid. Once I found out I was getting traded, it was kind of like, ‘What do I do?’ I had the hat on and everything. So I really didn’t know what to do. They told me to sit in the back room until it was confirmed. Now that it’s confirmed, I’m happy to be in Utah.”
Being settled is a good thing, too. Especially on this night.