There’s a reason they put five minutes on the clock.
Seemingly every draft expert thought they had narrowed down the top pick in the 2013 NBA Draft to two players: Alex Len and Nerlens Noel.
But the Cleveland Cavaliers and owner Dan Gilbert had other ideas.
The Cavaliers shocked the basketball world on Thursday night when they selected the Canadian-born Anthony Bennett out of UNLV, who becomes the first Canadian-born player to go first off the board.
Although Canadian athletes are known more for missing teeth than making jump shots, the 6-foot-8, 240-pound Bennett isn’t the only Canada native to make draft history in recent years.
Just two years ago it was the same Cavs squad that selected another Canadian-born player, Tristan Thompson, with the No. 4 overall pick.
Bennett will most likely join Thompson in the post for a Cleveland team looking to make a postseason push in 2014.
Andrew Wiggins, a Canada native and soon-to-be Kansas Jayhawk, is also projected to be one of the top players off the board in 2014, according to NBADraft.net.
“This shows that basketball is on the come-up in Canada,” Bennett said. “We have a lot of young talent, players in college right now, so the next couple of years should be good for us.”
Another team on the rebuild – the Orlando Magic – drafted Indiana’s Victor Oladipo with the second pick. Oladipo going to Orlando ramps up the current trade rumors that the Magic are trying to ship Arron Afflalo to the Clippers for Eric Bledsoe.
Georgetown’s Otto Porter was the only pick in the top three that wasn’t a surprise for most draft analysts and basketball junkies. Porter was the third man off the board on Thursday night and will join a Washington Wizards team that selected John Wall and Bradley Beal in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Porter could fit in nicely at small forward alongside the backcourt of Wall and Beal and give Washington fans some hope for a potential playoff run in the coming years.
The craziness continued when NBA commissioner David Stern announced the Charlotte Bobcats’ selection of Cody Zeller (Indiana) with the fourth pick.
All week Zeller was projected to go after fellow centers Alex Len (Maryland) and Nerlens Noel (Kentucky), but health appeared to be the main factor for Michael Jordan and Charlotte’s front office.
Len, whom many had projected as a dark horse to go to Cleveland with the top pick, was forced to wait 30 minutes before he was finally selected No. 5 overall by the Phoenix Suns. The New Orleans Pelicans drew cheers from the Barclays Center crowd when they took Noel with the sixth pick.