After trading to acquire Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor, the Wizards were desperately in need of a player who could stretch the floor, and Beal stood out as the one Top Five-worthy player with dependable three-point shooting. The other aspects of Beal's game may be merely solid or suspect, but he can do what so many other Wizards can't. For that reason alone, his selection in the Top Three seemed completely cemented.
The Cleveland Cavaliers—who also had an eye on Beal and had reportedly discussed hurdling the Wizards in order to select him with the Bobcats' No. 2 pick—decided to deviate a bit from the mock-draft script.
After being linked to Beal, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (who was selected by the Bobcats) and Harrison Barnes, Cleveland instead opted to draft this summer's high-rising Dion Waiters despite his strange fit with Kyrie Irving. Waiters certainly could be viewed as having potentially bloated stock as a result of the pre-draft tides and the fact that he did not work out for any NBA teams whatsoever.
That's a pretty remarkable risk for the Cavs to take, and although Waiters could pan out as a strong dribble-penetrator at the NBA level, their selection will long stand out for just how far it veered from the more predictable course.
Barnes was hardly an ideal selection, and position-wise, Thomas Robinson (who was also available) may not have made for the best frontcourt counterpart to Tristan Thompson.
Still, it's hard to blame anyone who sees the Cavs' grasp for Waiters as a flat-out reach; the mock-draft era of NBA coverage may be driven more by sourced hinting than logical fit, but regardless of which evaluative criteria we use to weigh Cleveland's selection, it seems to have come an entire act too early.