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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Monday, January 30, 2023
Jim Dayton

Column: Thoughts, tidbits and musings from the 2014 NBA Draft

If you’re like me, you’ve been enthralled with the 2014 NBA Draft ever since the media’s talking heads proclaimed last fall that this would be the most talented draft in years. Not only would there be potential all-stars and franchise players at the top, there would also be many quality role players to be found in the middle and later parts of the draft.

From there, the attention to this year’s draft began. Nerdy circles of hoops fandom debated which of the many highly touted freshman collegiate players would be the most successful. Trade rumors swirled. Injuries derailed mock draft boards and caused mass hysteria.

To capture all the crazy action in the moment, I recorded a few stream-of-consciousness thoughts during the draft and then organized those thoughts into the column you see here.

• It was amusing to watch the clock tick down while the Cleveland Cavaliers were making the first overall selection. Joel Embiid was expected to go here until he broke his foot a week prior to the draft. Afterwards, the Cavs were involved in some absurd trade rumors and made a last-second effort to work out Dante Exum. It seemed like they had absolutely no idea what they were doing but kudos to them for eventually keeping the pick and taking Andrew Wiggins, the best fit for their team.

• I watched part of the first round at a Buffalo Wild Wings with a group of friends. Our waitress took the time to explain that separate checks meant we would pay individually. That was really helpful.

• In the final few days before draft night, Jabari Parker made no secret that he wanted to be picked by the Milwaukee Bucks. If you aren’t one of the 17 remaining Bucks fans then you don’t understand how significant this is. Nobody wants to play in Milwaukee. Obviously the Bucks shouldn’t make roster moves solely based on who wants to play for them. I would gladly play for the Bucks if they wanted me (they don’t want me). Regardless, Parker makes total basketball sense. It’s a win-win.

• When Embiid went third to the 76ers, ESPN put up a graphic comparing him to Greg Oden. That’s unfair. While they both have injury histories and play the same position, don’t equate Embiid to one of the biggest draft busts in league history before he’s even stepped foot on the court.

• Wiggins’ black floral print jacket was the early favorite for best suit but Adreian Payne’s light blue coat and magenta pants combo quickly supplanted him. Later on I found out Payne wore those colors as a tribute to Princess Lacey, the eight-year-old Michigan State fan who passed away in March. It was a touching act by one of the classiest guys in the draft.

• Immediately after Payne’s selection, commissioner Adam Silver made another heartwarming gesture by “drafting” Isaiah Austin into the NBA and letting him walk onstage. Last week Austin was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome during a routine physical, ending his NBA career before it even got started. Great job, Commissioner Silver.

• I was shocked that Gary Harris fell all the way to No. 19, where he was taken by the Bulls and promptly traded to Denver. Getting a player with Harris’ talent at such a low spot could end up being this year’s most valuable pick.

• I made it all the way to the 20th pick before somebody that I had previously never heard of was drafted, when Bruno Caboclo went to the Raptors. Last year I didn’t even recognize the first overall pick, Anthony Bennett. But then again, neither did anyone else.

• If you did a drinking game where you drank for every time one of the T.V. analysts used the words “upside,” “potential” or “athleticism,” you’d be passed out by the time the second round began.

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• LeBron James called Shabazz Napier his favorite player in the draft and the Heat acquired Napier in a trade with Charlotte. This is an intriguing storyline as Miami tries to keep LeBron from signing elsewhere.

• Bogdan Bogdanovic was selected by Phoenix at No. 27 and instantly won best name in the draft. The only other person I know with the name Bogdan was Walter White’s old car wash boss on “Breaking Bad.” You know, the guy with the eyebrows.

• My draft loser is Orlando. The Magic started the day by trading one of its best assets, Arron Afflalo, for unproven third-year guard Evan Fournier and a second round pick. Then Orlando took Aaron Gordon with the fourth overall pick, an athletic tweener forward who can’t shoot. With its other first round pick, the Magic drafted Dario Saric and traded him to Philadelphia for Elfrid Payton. That’s fine but Orlando also gave up a future first round pick and future second round pick in the deal. It seemed excessive.

• My draft winner is the aforementioned Sixers. Embiid was considered the top talent in the draft. Even with his injuries, Philly was smart to take a chance on him with the third pick. Then the Sixers made that deal with Orlando that netted them the rights to Saric and two extra picks. They also drafted K.J. McDaniels in the second round, my sleeper player. Embiid will probably miss some time next year and Saric signed a two-year contract in Turkey, so Philadelphia should be back in the draft lottery next year to secure more young talent.

The draft was just the beginning to the NBA offseason. The free agency period will begin in a few days and a number of big names could be on the move. Where does Carmelo go? Does LeBron return? Does Minnesota trade Kevin Love? Fasten your seatbelts as the roster chaos continues.

Which players from this draft will turn out to be the best? Are you happy with your favorite team's moves? Email jim.dayton@dailycardinal.com and share your thoughts.

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