Posted by Royce Young
The build-up to this year's draft had a pretty wild feel to it. With the chance of a lockout ahead, teams appeared to be frantically positioning for a crazy night of trading and movement. A lot went according to plan. Kyrie Irving went No. 1 overall to Cleveland. Derrick Williams was taken right after by Minnesota. Enes Kanter went to Utah third.
There were some surprises though. Some players that dropped a bit farther than expected or climbed up the ladder to get taken four or five spots ahead of expectation. For instance, Josh Selby fell all the way down to 49 to Memphis, which is pretty remarkable. But the 49th overall pick is pretty unremarkable. So here are my biggest five draft night surprises:
1. Tristan Thompson, PF, Cleveland Cavaliers (4): Some prognosticators saw the Cavs going either with Jonas Valanciunas or Thompson here, especially with Kanter coming off the board to Utah at No. 3. But Thompson was mostly slated on big boards somewhere in the 7-10 region. The Cavs didn't necessarily reach on him, as they need more front court depth, but Thompson might've been available a couple slots lower as well.
I imagine the Cavs wanted Kanter and took their second choice with Thompson, but passing over Valanciunas is a bit surprising. The buyout issue for Valanciunas probably had a lot to do with it.
2. Iman Shumpert, PG, New York Knicks (17): The Knicks were hoping homegrown point guard Kemba Walker would somehow free fall to them at 17, but instead, New York picked up Shumpert, a junior guard out of Georgia Tech. The Knicks contingent in the building promptly said, "Who?" and commenced booing.
It's not a bad pick by any means, as the Knicks need a player to groom behind Chauncey Billups, plus, he does offer a little size and athleticism. Shumpert is 6-6 and already a terrific defender, something the Knicks need more than a good scorer. But 17 is a bit high for Shumpert since most saw him as a late first-round guy. Chris Singleton, Kenneth Faried and Marshon Brooks were still on the board at 17, so some are curious why New York passed them over for Shumpert.
3. Markieff Morris, F, Phoenix Suns (13): Sort of a minor surprise here, but most figured younger brother Marcus was the higher ranked prospect of the two. Naturally, I had to wonder if maybe Lon Babby and the Suns just mixed the two up here. (Twin joke!) It is relatively interesting that Markieff, born seven minutes ahead of Marcus, was picked one spot ahead, almost exactly seven minutes earlier. Some things are just meant to be.
4. Jordan Hamilton, SF, Denver Nuggets (26): Hamilton was taken by the Mavericks and, after mass confusion, ended up being part of a three-way trade that sent him to Denver. But most had the Texas swingman pegged in the 15-20 range. And when he dropped past Houston at 23, it looked like almost a certainty that Oklahoma City would snatch him up at 24.
Yet, he was passed over. There was word that Texas coach Rick Barnes warned teams that Hamilton is uncoachable and that's the reason he slipped. A couple weeks ago he was a borderline lottery pick, but on draft night he barely survived the first round.
5. Corey Joseph, PG, San Antonio Spurs (29): Once the Spurs pushed the button on a trade to send George Hill to Indiana for Kawhi Leonard, you knew San Antonio was going to look to restock its depth. Just not many saw them targeting Joseph.
Joseph played one year at Texas and was a nice, highly-recruited defender, but didn't really impress many. He was pegged as a middle second round guy, so when David Stern called his name with the 29th pick, some were a bit shocked. He has the same frame as George Hill and might be able to settle into that exact some role. Plus, with the Spurs, everything they do seems brilliant. They're sort of like a new Radiohead album in that way. They escape the critics even when something doesn't quite add up because they've earned it with a glowing reputation.