The 2013 NBA Draft proved to be one of the league's most unpredictable drafts in recent years. With surprising selections, league-altering trades, and a bevy of head-turners and head-scratchers, Thursday's night of fun certainly didn't fail to disappoint. Let's take a look at five of the most unexpected moves to have occurred.
1) The Cleveland Cavaliers Select Anthony Bennett Out of UNLV First Overall
We've been saying for weeks (perhaps even months) now that this year's draft has never really had a clear cut candidate to be selected at number one.
Still, as the days, hours, and minutes drew nearer, Nerlens Noel perhaps emerged as the prospect with the most promising potential, though he wouldn't be able to make an immediate impact for a team. With Noel set to be sidelined to open up next season, Alex Len was also talked about as a big man who could be selected early on.
Instead, the Cavaliers shocked everyone at number one when selecting Anthony Bennett. The UNLV product certainly has a more versatile offensive game than a player like Noel. That said, he's a forward rather than a center, which perhaps makes his skill set a bit more common. Cleveland must have more confidence that a guy like Anderson Varejao will stay healthy next season once and for all.
2) Nerlens Noel Drafted Late, Then Shipped Out To The City of Brotherly Love
If it wasn't surprising enough that expected top pick Nerlens Noel fell all the way to the New Orleans Hornets at number six, it was even more shocking when they opted to trade him.
For a moment, it was intriguing to ponder what a front court featuring Noel and Anthony Davis could go on to accomplish, but such a dream was short-lived for NBA fans.
Instead, Noel was packaged to the Philadelphia 76ers in a trade centered around himself and all-star guard Jrue Holiday.
The fact that the Hornets were able to essentially turn the sixth overall draft selection (whether it turned out to be Noel or not) into a player of Holiday's caliber is pretty impressive. He and Davis (with the injury-ridden Eric Gordon perhaps trailing along as a third wheel) will now spearhead a hopeful playoff push in New Orleans.
On the other hand, Noel's swag-filled persona (high-top and all) will likely prove to be a perfect fit in Philadelphia. How such a positive will translate on the hardwood, however, remains to be seen.
For a team trying to figure things out, it's a bit puzzling that the 76ers would ship off Holiday in such a manner. Perhaps a simple explaination would be the fact that Philly brass didn't have faith in the guard's ability to help them ultimately turn things around and change the culture to a winning one. If that's the case, why pay him? Better to get cheaper pieces with more upside.
3) The Trade That Overshadowed Everything Else
During a night that was supposed to feature a bevy of young guns embracing new opportunities, a couple of old fogies seemingly moved up and on to greener pastures as well.
Doc Rivers isn't the only legend leaving Beantown. NBA champions and future Hall of Famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce (along with Jason Terry) are headed to Brooklyn and will don Nets uniforms next season.
Nets' ownership's promise of an NBA title in the very near future just got some much needed positive reinforcement. Clearly in "win-now" mode, Brooklyn sent back the Celtics a package that included a few role players and three future first round draft picks. How much time is really left on the basketball clocks of KG and Pierce remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure. As a new era begins in Brooklyn, another one ends in Boston.
4) The Knicks Draft Tim Hardaway....Jr.
For anyone who watched the Knicks closely last season, it'd be surprising to see the team consider adding anyone under the age of thirty not named Iman Shumpert to their squad.
Still, as the postseason proved, some fresh legs (and/or ones that could have held up through June) could have ultimately benefited New York in the long run.
Recognizing this, a good place to start would be adding a promising player who could make an impact right away via the draft. With that in mind, the Knicks selected Tim Hardaway Jr.
No, he isn't the team's arch-nemesis from the Knicks-Heat rivalries in the 90's, rather just his son. After watching and rooting for his father on one side of the rivalry, Hardaway Jr. will now instead don orange and blue himself.
Not quite the equivalent of bringing in Reggie Miller's son or something, I think there's something positive to be said about a player like Hardaway Jr.'s knowledge of the history of the Knicks. He understands the type of basketball the team wants to get back to playing as they look to recapture some of that old school success.
5) Allen Crabbe Leads A Bevy of Second-Round Steals
Widely expected to be a mid to late first round draft choice, Allen Crabbe is certainly the type of player who can contribute right now to an NBA team. Though his overall game may need some time and development, his ability to pull up and knock down shots from long range makes him an instant candidate to help a team spread the floor on a nightly basis.
As evidenced with Noel, all the speculation in the world can prove to be just that and nothing else. Crabbe highlighted a handful of promising players who slipped to the second round and became eye-popping steals for NBA teams.
Selected 31st overall, Crabbe will undoubtedly look to hit the ground running with the Blazers.