NBA Draft: Expectations trampled as Cavaliers choose Anthony Bennett at No. 1 (with video)
It wasn't a typical NBA Draft.
It was a demolition derby.
On a Thursday night when the three players most often mentioned as the possible No. 1 pick fell out of the top four, Cleveland surprisingly made UNLV forward Anthony Bennett the top choice in a chaotic draft.
"I'm just as surprised as anyone," said Bennett, who was expected to go somewhere between fourth and 10th, partly because he's coming off shoulder surgery.
Apparently, the Cavaliers aren't worried.
They grabbed Bennett, who averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds last season, when UNLV won 25 games under coach Dave Rice, a former assistant at BYU.
Standing 6-foot-7 and weighing 240 pounds, Bennett is a little undersized for the power forward position in the NBA. But his athleticism and physical style of play endeared him to the Cavaliers.
In Cleveland, Bennett will team with Kyrie Irving, a emerging star at point guard who was the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft.
"I feel anywhere I go, I'm going to help my team," Bennett told reporters at the draft. "I'm versatile. I can shoot, post up, I run the floor, rebound, get my teammates open. I'm unselfish. I feel like I'm a nice character and I don't have my own agenda."
With the second pick, Orlando selected Indiana guard Victor Oladipo. He averaged 13.6 points, 6.3 rebounds last season and is considered one of the draft's top athletes.
NBA scouts also loved the improvement he made during his three years with the Hoosiers, which he promised will continue.
"I'm going to bring a work ethic nobody's ever seen," said Oladipo, who will play for ex-Jazz point guard Jacque Vaughn, the Magic's head coach.
Washington owned the No. 3 pick and took Georgetown forward Otto Porter, which was as close to being an expected pick as any in the top 10. He averaged 16.2 points and 7.5 rebounds with the Hoyas last season.
At No. 4, Charlotte had a shot at Kentucky center Nerlins Noel, Maryland center Alex Len and Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore.
Noel was considered the consensus top pick in the draft, with Len and McLemore mentioned as the players most likely to unseat him.
All kept sliding, however, when the Bobcats grabbed Indiana forward Cody Zeller with the fourth pick.
Projected to go in the 10-12 range, Zeller became the second Indiana player to be picked among the top four joining Oladipo. He averaged 16.5 points and 8.1 rebounds as a sophomore last season.
With the No. 5 pick, Phoenix finally took one of the pre-draft's most highly regarded players when it selected Len. He averaged 11.9 points and 7.8 points last season, when he was bothered by a stress fracture in his ankle that required surgery in May.
"I'm so excited," Len said. "Dreams come true. I'm so honored to be here and so blessed to be going to Phoenix. I just can't explain it. It's beyond words."
At No. 6, New Orleans finally selected Noel, whose eventful night was not finished. He was quickly traded to Philadelphia for star point guard Jrue Holiday and a protected first-round draft pick in 2014.
McLemore's slide ended at No. 7, where he was taken by Sacramento.
Rounding out the top 10, Detroit took Georgia shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Minnesota drafted Michigan point guard Trent Burke for Utah and Portland grabbed Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum.