Analyzing the results of the NBA Draft, there were picks that were expected and picks that were not. The first big surprise of the night came when the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Dion Waiters with the fourth overall pick, ahead of the higher rated players like Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, and Thomas Robinson. This is a huge gamble for a franchise trying to move on since the LeBron James departure and having to 'Witness' him winning a championship with the Miami Heat. Other surprises included seeing Baylor forward Perry Jones III slip all the way to the Thunder at No. 28 and the Rockets not completing a draft day trade for Dwight Howard.
After reviewing the results, here are the five winners of the night.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder - A classic example of the wealthy getting wealthier. The Thunder are coming off a Western Conference title and a rather disappointing Finals performance. The Thunder needed to find ways to improve their roster to get to that proverbial next level. Rumors were swirling about them possibly considering trading James Harden for the opportunity to select Bradley Beal. However, that did not happen. What did happen might have turned out to be a better move when Jones fell into their laps.
General Manager Sam Presti probably never imagined that Jones would be there at No. 28 but there he was. Jones has Top 10 value from a talent perspective but there were growing concerns of a possible meniscus issue. If he comes back healthy, the Thunder clearly got a major steal with this pick. Once again, Presti looks like a genius and grading them anything lower than an A for this pick is criminal.
2. Portland Trailblazers - The Blazers had two picks within the first 12 of this draft (thanks to the Brooklyn Nets). Simply put, they had a great draft. On paper, it seems that they drafted three players who are capable of making major contributions. First, they selected Damian Lillard with the sixth overall pick who is expected to be their new starting point guard. Lillard was widely regarded as the top point guard of this class; anytime you can draft the best player at a position of need, things are great. They followed up this selection by drafting center Meyers Leonard. Drafting Leonard filled a major need at center, however, he is still athletically raw and will need time to develop. In the second round, they were able to snag a first round type talent in Will Barton. At the 40th pick, why not take a flier on this talented perimeter player.
3. Golden State Warriors - They came into this draft wanting to address their small forward position. Rumors had been circulating that they were interested in trying to move the seventh overall pick for Rudy Gay or Andre Iguodala. Unfortunately, this did not come to fruition. Instead they selected North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes with that pick. Barnes is a Top 5 caliber talent but was pushed down the board when the Cavs decided to select Waiters. This opened the door for the possibility of Warriors being able to draft Barnes. Getting Draymond Green in the second round is also another fantastic pick.
4. Jared Sullinger - Sullinger goes to an annual playoff visitor with the desire, need and possibly the talent to win now. This is the type of situation that will allow Sullinger to thrive in. He is capable of becoming a very solid rotation guy, especially if the Celtics are able to re-sign Kevin Garnett. The opportunity to be a student of Garnett will only enhance Sullinger's development. While there had been concerns from many teams about Sullinger's back, if he is able to stay healthy, head coach Doc Rivers will provide the necessary guidance for Sullinger to become a productive player for many years.
5. Bernard James - His unbelievable story is already widely known as served in the Marines before becoming a star forward at Florida State. James has a NBA ready body and goes to a team that is always looking to compete for a title. I believe the Mavericks have found their own version of DeJuan Blair--a tough, rugged workhorse inside.