NEW YORK — The Cleveland Cavaliers selected UNLV freshman Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 pick Thursday night, a surprising start to the NBA draft.
The Cavaliers passed on big men Nerlens Noel and Alex Len in favor of the forward who has starred for Canada’s junior national teams and was the Mountain West Conference player of the year.
There was suspense right until the end, either because the Cavs were unsure who they wanted or were trying to trade the pick. Most predictions had them taking one of the big men.
Orlando passed on both of them, too, going with Indiana swingman Victor Oladipo with the No. 2 pick. Washington took Otto Porter Jr. of Georgetown with the third pick.
Ten years after the Cavaliers selected LeBron James to start a draft that would include his future NBA championship teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the top five, this one lacked the star power and perhaps the promise of stardom.
Bennett, Noel and Len are all coming off injuries and couldn’t even work out for teams, but the Cavs decided Bennett’s shoulder injury wasn’t enough cause for concern.