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NBA Draft 2013: The Biggest Surprises of the Night

Sean HojnackiFeatured ColumnistJune 28, 2013

NBA Draft 2013: The Biggest Surprises of the Night

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    On a night that saw tornado warnings in the New York City area, Brooklyn's Barclays Center delivered a wild NBA draft full of surprises. The event served as a fitting end to Commissioner David Stern's reign over draft night.

    As expected, Stern drew jeers from the crowd, but that's really just what people do in New York City on a Thursday night. The commish handled all animosity with aplomb, perhaps intending to audition for Jimmy Fallon's job as an affable emcee. 

    Stern's jolly mood wasn't the only unforeseen development, however. In fact, it was just the tip of the iceberg.

    As reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Boston Celtics agreed in principle to a trade with the Brooklyn Nets on draft night.

    Boston will ship off Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry in exchange for Gerald Wallace, the expiring deal of Kris Humphries and first-round picks in 2014, '16 and '18. KG waived his no-trade clause, but Brooklyn had to guarantee the final year of his contract. They now face a luxury-tax bill in the neighborhood of $80 million.

    This signals that the Celtics have shifted into full rebuilding mode, especially after sending Doc Rivers to the L.A. Clippers. With Rajon Rondo set to return from injury, he will now likely rely on a core of Jeff Green, Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger instead of Celtics franchise legends.

    Crazy trades aside, the draft itself featured a bevy of shockers, with numerous stars sliding down, some rising up, the appearance of a hallowed Hall of Famer, and the end of a 30-year stalwart. 

The Cleveland Cavaliers Are Great at Poker

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    The 2013 NBA draft featured an unpredictable top 10, but most prognosticators slated either Kentucky's Nerlens Noel or, less commonly, Maryland's Alex Len as the No. 1 overall pick. Either that, or a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love, as reported by ESPN's Andy Katz.

    None of those things happened despite all the ink devoted to them. 

    Instead, the Cleveland Cavaliers used the first pick to select UNLV's Anthony Bennett. While that was not a total coup (DraftExpress had him ranked as the sixth-best prospect), the selection came straight out of left field. 

    There will now be tremendous pressure on the 6'7", 239-pound man from Toronto.

Nerlens Noel Falls out of the Top 5

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    Kentucky's Nerlens Noel slipped to the New Orleans Pelicans at No. 6. Then those pesky Pelicans shopped Noel to the Philadelphia 76ers for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday, as reported by Adrian Wojnarowski.

    Despite concerns over his ACL injury and the fact that Noel will be sidelined for another six months, many projected the Wildcat as the first overall pick because of his athleticism and shot-blocking prowess.

    Instead of joining Kyrie Irving and the rising Cleveland Cavaliers, Noel could become this season's Andrew Bynum, as rabid Philly fans eagerly await, once more, the debut of a marquee acquisition who probably can't fully live up to expectations.

Alex Len Falls to No. 5

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    As Pro Basketball Talk's Brett Pollakoff wrote before the draft, numerous outlets envisioned Maryland center Alex Len would be selected with the first overall pick. 

    He stumbled to fifth and now joins the Phoenix Suns. 

    While it wasn't a precipitous drop for Len, it had to be somewhat disappointing to miss out on the glory (and payday) of going No. 1. The desert sun may also be a bit much for the Ukranian, but that's a worry for another time. He should fit in well on the Suns roster.

Ben McLemore Slips to No. 7

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    Kansas' Ben McLemore fell out of the top five picks as well, which turned out to be great news for the Sacramento Kings at No. 7.

    In McLemore, the beleaguered franchise lands a player that SI.com's Chris Mannix projected to go at No. 2. 

    In an odd story recently from Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears, the Kansas product admitted to being perplexed as to why he began sliding on some draft boards. 

    Seeing as he's very athletic and an excellent shooter, I'm not sure why he dropped, either, but Kings fans probably don't care either way.

David Stern Can't Let Go of the Limelight

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    In his final draft as commissioner of the NBA, David Stern had a little fun with the Barclays Center crowd.

    Never before has a man so eagerly lapped up booing from an audience. Stern savored each passing second of scorn heaped upon him by New York fans for a whole litany of reasons, with only some based in conspiracy.

    Stern also stated that he explained to foreign viewers that booing is a form of respect in America—that he appreciated the warm Brooklyn welcome and that he even senses the crowd's "enthusiasm" (read: Bronx cheers) to be waning.

    Clearly, Stern will miss sitting atop the throne.

Hakeem Olajuwon Bids David Stern Adieu

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    As the first round came to a close, David Stern passed the proverbial reins to incoming commissioner Adam Silver, who announced the second-round selections. 

    But before he could depart, Stern was greeted by Hall of Fame center and surprise guest Hakeem Olajuwon. 

    Sadly, he did not coach Stern into imitating the Dream Shake, but it did make for a nice moment and a fitting tribute to the 30-year commish. Olajuwon was the first ever draft pick announced by Stern in 1984, his inaugural season at the helm. That draft also saw Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and John Stockton join the league.

    Who knows what this draft will hold over the next decade, but Stern has to be proud of the product that he's passing on to his successor. 

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