Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers 2013 in Review: Anthony Bennett goes No. 1

With the turn of our calendars quickly approaching, now is as good a time as ever to review what was the Cleveland Cavaliers 2013 year before 2014 brings a fresh new start for everyone. Starting on December 27th, Right Down Euclid will be counting down some of the biggest moments that occurred both on and off the court in 2013 overall. That means we’ll be looking at the latter half of the 2012-13 campaign, this past offseason and what has happened thus far in the 2013-14 season. After every post, you, the fans, will be able to vote on which moment you deem as the most impactful in 2013 (or decide if we missed one of your favorite 2013 memories). Enjoy the final days of the year, and make sure to let us know what you think of our choices by voting at the end of every post.

June 27th, 2013 was a big night for Cavaliers fans. This was the night of the 2013 NBA Draft, potentially one of the worst drafts of the last 25 years, but one where the Cavs could make an impact. Coming off a 24-58 record in the 2012-2013 season, the Cavs owned four picks throughout the night: The 1st pick, the 19th pick, the 31st pick, and the 33rd pick. The 1st pick was the second time in three years that the Cavs had won the draft lottery, and the team got a big gift in the 19th pick, earned when the Los Angeles Lakers made the playoffs via the Ramon Sessions trade. No one really had much of an idea what the Cavs were going to do with any of the picks, but things turned out that night in a way no one expected.

Prior to the draft, the Cavs’ gameplan was well shrouded in mystery. Part of this was due to a solid depth in the draft, and a lack of a true “sure thing” among the top picks. The Cavs were linked to three options at the top of the draft: Indiana shooting guard Victor Oladipo, Kentucky center Nerlens Noel, and Maryland center Alex Len. Most predicted Noel, who was considered the best prospect in the draft despite his torn ACL, to be the Cavs’ top option, including many at Right Down Euclid and Draft Express. Oladipo had a small pocket of fans in Cleveland, though many didn’t want to pair Oladipo and Dion Waiters on the same squad. Len continually got media backing, most famously from the one and only Sam Amico, even though he was coming off two stress fracture surgeries, never once looked dominant in college, and most rational fans were wondering if he’d even crack the top five. (Sorry for that; I had and still have a huge anti-Alex Len bias. He was my least favorite prospect in the draft). The 19th pick had an even bigger range of prospects the Cavs could consider, depending on their plan at number one. However, most agreed that if the Cavs took a center 1st, they should go for Russian guard Sergey Karasev, and Reggie Bullock if Karasev wasn’t there. If they went with Oladipo or another player at number one, guys like Louisville center Gorgui Dieng or Duke post Mason Plumlee were options. Picks 31 and 33 didn’t really have a focus, although it was believed that the Cavs would probably take an international guy with one of those picks, or look to package a trade.

On draft night, the noise was that it was down to Len or Noel. However, right before the draft began, rumors started swirling that there was another option: UNLV forward Anthony Bennett. Bennett was among the top prospects, but wasn’t considered as a real possibility for the Cavs, due to Tristan Thompson’s presence at the four, and a shoulder surgery that had forced Bennett to gain a lot of weight. However, for the third straight year, Chris Grant shocked everyone by taking a high-upside guy who needed time to develop. Bennett’s name was called first, and the Cavs shocked everyone. To put in perspective just how nutty this pick was, here’s some excerpts from the RDE Twitter account, which every site member was operating that night:

Bennett’s selection set off a chain of events so chaotic not even Adrian Wojnarowski could keep up:

Notable chaos included:

-Nerlens Noel falling to sixth for the Pelicans

-The Pelicans trading Noel to Philadelphia for Jrue Holiday

-The Timberwolves drafting Trey Burke and trading him to the Jazz for their two first-rounders

-Allen Crabbe, Jeff Withey, and Jamaal Franklin, all thought to be first-rounders, free-falling into the second round

At pick number 19, the Cavs nabbed Sergey Karasev, considered to be a big win for the team. Karasev was thought to be a lock for Milwaukee at the 15th pick, but we forgot about Bucks GM John Hammond’s love affair with length and athleticism, and he took Greek forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (Many misspellings followed). The Cavs walked away with two picks that needed a lot of time to develop, but had potential to be deadly offensive weapons for the future.

When picks 31 and 33 came up, there were still a ton of players available that the Cavs might like, including Franklin, Bucknell center Mike Muscala, and Virginia Tech guard Erick Green. However, the Cavs decided to pick a Mike Brown favorite in Carrick Felix of Arizona State 31st. The Spurs had selected French forward Livio Jean-Charles in the first round, and that was the last international prospect the Cavs had targeted. So, the Cavs traded the 33rd pick to the Blazers for two future second-rounders.

The Cavs’ draft night has been a key moment in each of the last three seasons, as the team continues to build for the future. Bennett, Karasev, and Felix each figure to be cogs in the team’s plans, even though Bennett and Karasev have both struggled mightily and Felix has barely touched the floor. It will be very interesting to see how this night affects the long term future, but when we think back on the 2013 draft, we will always remember the Len/Noel arguments, the Cavs creating chaos, and randomly, Lucas Nogueira’s hair.

Cleveland Cavaliers 2013 Year in Review Poll:

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