For more than a year, the basketball world has been impatiently waiting for the 2014 NBA draft to unfold, because it's long been clear that this is a truly special class of prospects.
And that's not only due to the level of promise demonstrated by the eventual top-three picks of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid, but it's also because of how many elite talents were selected just behind them.
Julius Randle, Dante Exum, Marcus Smart and Aaron Gordon could each have challenged to be No. 1 overall picks in other years, so for general managers in need of a franchise player, this was a golden opportunity to put a building block in place.
In the end, as many as 10 teams may look back on the 2014 draft as a turning point in their organization's development, and here's a look at how each of the NBA's 30 teams' choices at the Barclays Center stack up:
|6||Celtics||Marcus Smart||PG||Oklahoma State||B-|
|10||Magic||Elfrid Payton||PG||UL Lafayette||B|
|14||Suns||T.J. Warren||SF||N.C. State||B+|
|15||Hawks||Adreian Payne||PF||Michigan State||C|
|19||Nuggets||Gary Harris||SG||Michigan State||B|
|26||Hornets||P.J. Hairston||SG||UNC/NBA D-League||A-|
|34||Knicks||Cleanthony Early||SF||Wichita State||B+|
|36||Bucks||Johnny O'Bryant III||PF||LSU||B|
|40||Timberwolves||Glenn Robinson III||SF||Michigan||A|
|43||Hawks||Walter Tavares||C||Cape Verde||A-|
|44||Nets||Markel Brown||SG||Oklahoma State||B|
|49||Bulls||Cameron Bairstow||PF||New Mexico||B+|
|50||Suns||Alec Brown||C||Green Bay||B|
|56||Nuggets||Roy Devyn Marble||SG||Iowa||B|
|59||Raptors||Xavier Thames||PG||San Diego State||B-|
Los Angeles Lakers
Having a player as gifted and dynamic as Julius Randle drop to No. 7 is about as well as things could have fallen into place for the Lakers, and at least as of now, he's the unquestioned steal of this class.
After posting 15 points and 10 boards a night for John Calipari during his only season at Kentucky, Randle was once considered a potential candidate to go No. 1, but to L.A.'s delight, he tumbled straight into Mitch Kupchak's grasps.
While the Lakers still likely would have been able to pluck a future starter at this spot anyway, if Randle hadn't been dealing with the possibility of requiring surgery to adjust a pin in his right foot, there's no way he would have slipped down the board so far.
Randle said he also received a congratulatory text from Bryant, who is currently vacationing in Greece.
'I grew up a huge fan of Kobe,' said Randle. 'He was always my idol, my favorite player growing up, and now I have a chance to pick his brain and learn a lot from him.'
And, the Lakers picked up Jordan Clarkson Round 2, which would be a nice defensive addition on its own, but as USA Today's Adi Joseph discussed, it's even sweeter because all the team had to give up to take him was cash.
Like the Lakers, Charlotte benefited immensely from the depth of this class, as a player with Noah Vonleh's potential would be a surefire top-five pick in virtually any other year.
As we saw during his time at Indiana, Vonleh's got the frame, length and rebounding ability to make a difference, and while his offensive game needs some work, the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year brings a lot of value at No. 9.
In addition to Vonleh, as reported by CBS Sports' James Herbert, the Hornets managed to get former UNC star P.J. Hairston at No. 26 after dealing Shabazz Napier to Miami.
Hairston clearly dropped in the eyes of many around the league due to his premature departure from North Carolina, and the Hornets may well get rewarded for this measured gamble.
After such an encouraging season for Canada's only NBA franchise, the Raptors made a puzzling decision at No. 20, taking Bruno Caboclo of Brazil.
There are a number of reasons this was a stunningly poor choice for Toronto, but as CBS' Jon Rothstein points out, there's a clear void in the team's roster that should have been addressed first:
So instead of taking a point guard who lead his Huskies to a national title just a few months back to at least soften the blow of potentially losing Kyle Lowry, the Raptors took a shooting forward from South America that will likely end up being a long-term project?
It's inexplicable, even if Lowry returns.
Another team coming off a surprisingly successful season, the Wizards fall into this category for one reason: Washington didn't draft a single player.
As Brandon Parker of the Washington Post reported, after dealing their first-rounder to Phoenix in the Marcin Gortat deal in 2013, the Wizards sold the pick that gave the Lakers Jordan Clarkson.
With some difficult decisions on the horizon in D.C. this summer—both Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza are scheduled to hit free agency—adding a prospect that could have materialized into a serviceable backup would have benefited this roster, especially given the injury histories of both John Wall and Bradley Beal.
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