It's one of my favorite nights of the year: The NBA Draft!
I love everything about this event: the anticipation, the hope, the wingspan discussion, the awkward tension in the green room...and THE CLOTHES! Lots of upside potential in the building tonight.
For the first time in 30 years, first-round draftees will be strolling across the stage to shake Commissioner Adam Silver's hand. (The draft was first televised in 1980, David Stern was named NBA Commissioner in 1984.) Will the Barclays Center fans boo him like they did to Stern?
Prospective #1 pick Joel Embiid (Center, Kansas) threw GMs a curve ball this week, by heading into surgery to repair a broken right foot. So we're all waiting to see what the Cleveland Cavs do with the top pick. Roll the dice with Embiid? Switch to Embiid's college teammate Andrew Wiggins (Guard, Kansas)? Or maybe take Jabari Parker (Forward, Duke) even though he allegedly tanked his tryout and doesn't seem to want to play in Cleveland? Owner Dan Gilbert tried to squash the rumors on Wednesday that they are arguing internally about which player to pick, but no one really knows what they will do.
It is T-minus 30 minutes before the show starts--are you ready??
(For those of you who enjoy the "wingspan" drinking game...Bilas is ready!)
Jay Bilas @JayBilas
Let's kick this Draft Night LiveBlog off with some sage advice from a draft day veteran, Jalen Rose:
YouTube: Jalen Rose's Draftee Draft Night Kit
DA is the truth, people--don't mess with him. Especially on Draft Night
Just making my annual pre-Draft announcement: when I know the picks, I'm Tweeting them. Period. Don't bother arguing w/me.
In the spirit of upside potential--let's just admire Wiggins's draft day suit. Hat tip to SB Nation for securing a Vine to capture the shoes and glasses (See Jalen's tip in the YouTube clip above)
Wizards beat writer Michael Lee agrees:
Andrew Wiggins should go No. 1 overall based on his suit selection. Any kid with the confidence to pull that off will be a star in the NBA
The stage is set--the board is ready--LET'S DO THIS!
We're just minutes away from names starting to appear next to team logos on this board.
Mostly cheers and a smattering of boos for Silver as he kicks off the draft. (They like him! Or at least they like him better than Stern, who relished the role of the villain on draft night.) Definitely boos as Silver acknowledges the Championship Spurs.
Adam Silver gets a standing ovation as he opens the 2014 #NBADraft
Silver's brief speech at the open is a nice touch. He's helping to craft the narrative for the evening by naming "hidden gems" from past drafts. Like Kawhi Leonard: a bargain at #15 (drafted in 2011 by the Spurs...they do an amazing job with player development: Robinson, Duncan, Ginobili Leonard). MVP, MVP!
Cavs on the clock--this is the third time they've had the #1 pick in the last 4 years
Jalen calls back to his infamous 1994 red draft day suit with the bright red tie and lapel rose tonight in the ESPN analyst chair.
Already running late on the first pick---is there a trade brewing, or did Adam Silver's watch stop working?
Cavs take Wiggins--another #1 Canadian! (Anthony Bennett, also picked #1 by the Cavs in 2013 hails from Toronto).
Plus, more prime airtime for THAT SUIT!!!
Wiggins should feel at home--they have Canadian-like weather in Cleveland
Dr. Naismith is smiling in heaven (He's a Canadian too...)
I love that we've progressed to "Who are you wearing?" at the NBA Draft
UPDATE: Fun fact from Elias Sports Bureau:
Sidebar on the fun fact: The Dannys were both drafted by the LA Clippers.
Danny Manning was drafted after winning the 1988 NCAA Championship with Kansas (defeating Ferry's Duke Blue Devils in the Final Four.) He played six seasons with the Clippers and 16 total in the NBA. Manning is now the head coach of Wake Forest, the college of current Clips All-Star PG Chris Paul.
Danny Ferry spurned the Clippers after they drafted him at #2 and spent his first pro season playing for Il Messaggero in Rome, Italy. He never suited up for the Clips, but there's still a photo in the NBA archives with him in the Clips hat, and a very disappointed look on his face. Ferry is now GM of the Atlanta Hawks, and is making decisions about the #15 and #43 picks tonight.
New Milwaukee Bucks owners Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens got the guy they wanted at #2: Jabari Parker. This is Duke's 8th top three draft pick since 1985.
Remember the buzz about Edens's daughter Mallory on lottery day?
Now the Draft begins for real.
The post-surgery pain-killers seem to be working on Embiid...he could not be more nonplussed about being selected #3 by the Philadelphia 76ers as he sits in his recovery room (H/T to SB Nation for the excellent Vine).
Joel, you’re a Philadelphia 76er! Joel! Joel? JOEL?!?!?!?!?!
OK, so it was a DELAYED REACTION, not the drugs...(gotta love the SB Nation GIFs to capture EVERYTHING!)
SB Nation GIF @SBNationGIF
Wait nevermind, Joel is happy.
Aaron Gordon (PF from Arizona) to the Orlando Magic at #4--that's a surprise.
They were making maneuvers earlier today....this might not stick.
But, if Orlando does keep him, they likely won't be disappointed--this kid had more than 300 rebounds as a freshman!
WE HAVE OUR FIRST "WINGSPAN" MENTION FROM BILAS!!
Followed by an "upside potential" by Jalen....it took these guys 30 minutes to settle in.
Drink up, fans.
The Utah Jazz take Australian prep school guard Dante Exum to round out the top five. We now have another Aussie in the Western Conference to join the Spurs Patty Mills. He may be an ex-pat, but he's no stranger to the NBA. Exum's dad played college basketball at North Carolina in the 80s with Michael Jordan, then in the NBA and finally as a pro in Australia, where the Exum family settled.
Also of note--Exum's pre-draft Foot Locker commercials are really clever. Crafty work by the NBA and his agent to get pre-draft marketing deals going before the guy even has a contract.
Wiggins's jacket must come with an extra dose of confidence. He had some interesting comments in his press conference:
Wiggins asked for his pitch to free agent LeBron: "I want to win. If he wants to win, we'd be good together."
Sounds like Parker wants to be the next Tim Duncan, based on his press conference comments, courtesy of Wizards beat writer Michael Lee:
Jabari Parker, very emotional about going to MIL. “I’m trying to be a throwback player & stick with one team.” #NBAdraft
Marcus Smart flashes his bespoke jacket lining with a flourish to celebrate being picked #6 by the Boston Celtics. The Sporting News got the backstory about the special design, which calls back to his hometown and high school:
Lakers work on their re-build by picking a strong offensive rebounder (with a seven-foot wingspan!) at the seventh spot. They draft PF Julius Randle out of Kentucky.
"Its not where you start, its where you finish."
Randle, coming out strong in the post-pick interview with ESPN's Jay Williams, right after he shakes hands with Commissioner Silver. Kobe is either going to love this kid or hate him...
Kentucky Wildcat legend (and former NBA GM) Rex Champan likes this pick!
More Canadians!! The Sacramento Kings take Michigan guard Nik Stauskas with the eighth pick. And we get to enjoy another excellent suit selection.
The @NStauskas11 Green Room party including family & @umichbball coach Beilein! @NBADraft on @ESPN
C-Webb endorses the pick (the Michigan-Sacto connections are strong in these two)
Yeah- ok! Welcome to Sac Town!!!!!
OK, so Kobe is on board with the Randle pick--that's good for Randle and Laker Nation
Everyone loves Draft Night...and more importantly, everyone loves COMMENTING about Draft Night. Like this from Golden State Warriors forward Andre Igoudala:
Is Adam Silver really dappin' dudes up on stage?
Noah Vonleh, a PF from Indiana was drafted at #9 and dons the Charlotte HORNETS hat. Glad Charlotte has their mascot back. I never got used to Charlotte Bobcats and New Orleans Hornets.
Speaking of the Hornets, did you see the new honeycomb court in the hive??
Silver flubs the name "Sixers." Is he getting tired already??? We have HOURS to go...
Oh, and the Sixers get PG Elfrid Payton from Louisiana-Lafayette at #10, and his "profound" hairdo (according to Bilas). That hat is not working for Payton...and it's covering his fab hair!
Payton is more than great hair...he was the Sun Belt Conference defensive player of the year and averaged 19.2 points per game and 5.9 assist per game last season.
Payton may need to swap out that Sixers hat for anther team's...hopefully it fits better.
Elfrid Payton could be on the move, sources tell Yahoo Sports.
Creighton's Doug McDermott shouldn't get comfortable with that Denver hat either, after being selected at #11 by the Nuggets
I'm told Doug McDermott will head to Chicago via trade with Denver. Getting more details now
McDermott lands in Chicago for the #16 and #19 pick in the Bulls-Nuggets trade.
And now the trading frenzy begins...hold on to your hats people!
The Magic will take Dario Saric at 12, but are likely to trade him to the Sixers for the rights to Elfrid Payton, per league source.
Dario Saric, from Croatia, is technically drafted by the Magic at #12, but will not even be able to enjoy it, since he's heading to the Sixers. Will be interesting to see if Saric stays in Croatia until the SIxers improve. He currently has a three-year deal in the EuroLeague.
Between Embiid who's laid up in recovery for months and Saric who's under contract in another league...are Philly fans patient enough for a long-term rebuild?
UPDATE: Based on this post-presser photo, Saric looks excited to play in Philly--hopefully this will make the Sixers fans keep hope alive for the future...
Welcome to the NBA! #NBADraft with Dario Saric.
Fun fact about Croatia basketball: Former Duke and Trailblazers guard Nolan Smith played against Saric on Cibona Zagreb in Croatia last season. Smith is playing on the OKC Thunder summer league team in Orlando. Summer League play starts on July 5th.
And the Saric trade is official, according to ESPN's Andy Katz. He needs to switch hats with Payton and they both should re-take their hand-shake photos with Silver now.
Here is the trade: Orlando sends rights to Dario Saric and will return Sixers pick in '15 and a 2nd in '15 for rights for Elfrid Payton.
These draft night trades always make great trivia questions. Like in the 1993 draft--Chris Webber was drafted #1 by the Orlando Magic, and then was traded shortly thereafter to the Golden State Warriors. Most people believe that he was drafted by the Warriors, but he only walked away from that deal with a hat.
Zach LaVine, a PG from UCLA, is selected by the Timberwolves at #13. The drawback to having all of these cameras in your face to catch your reaction is they catch any disappointing looks you give (see: Danny Ferry, 1989 draft) and expletives you blurt out. The Twitter-verse seems convinced that this statement ended in "me" even if SB Nation isn't:
Hey, maybe no one has a real clue what Zach LaVine said in this Vine. http://sbn.to/1izKOX7 https://vine.co/v/Mt9XBmjAhnO
According to NBA insider DA, LaVine should forget about the SoCal sun and stock up on wool socks and down jackets. I bet Kevin Love has some good advice for him...
Despite Zach LaVine's seeming unhappiness at being drafted by Minnesota, the Wolves will keep him, per league source.
For the final lottery pick the Phoenix Suns take NC State forward TJ Warren at the 14th spot. Warren was ACC Player of the Year last season, averaging 24.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. This isn't a complete surprise, as Yahoo! reported earlier today that Warren sat in the green room tonight because the Suns promised they would pick him.
We're ending this NBA LiveBlog on a high note and the feel-good moment of the night.
Last week, Baylor center Isaiah Austin was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue, and had to withdraw from the draft. Some abnormalities were discovered during his physical at pre-draft camp in Chicago last month, which led to further tests and the decision to end his playing career. He was expected to be a late first round pick.
Austin was in the Barclays Center tonight, and following the 15th pick (Adreian Payne, a PF from Michigan State to the Atlanta Hawks), Adam Silver announced that the NBA drafts Austin.
He walked to the stage, accepted an NBA-logo hat and a hug from Commissioner Silver while the crowd at Barclays gave him a standing ovation. It was a dream come true for Austin, and an emotional moment for everyone watching.
Houston Rockets beat writer Jenny Dial Creech reports that Austin has jobs waiting for him at Baylor and the NBA once he graduates:
Baylor has offered Isaiah Austin a coaching job and Adam Silver has offered him a job with the NBA after he earns his degree.
NBA MVP Kevin Durant loved it too:
Adam silver is such a classy man! That's love right there. I'm emotional for him. Damn I love that
Between his handling of the Donald Sterling debacle and this classy move, Silver is swiftly becoming the "players commissioner."