Giannis Antetokounmpo has made the Anthony Bennett pick look so much worse.
The year was 2013, the Cavs had landed the first pick in the NBA Draft for yet another time in the franchise’s history. With no obvious number one talent having made a name for themselves, the Cavs were in a position where they didn’t know who to take. Of all the names that were vying for the top spot, Alex Len, Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, Victor Oladipo, Otto Porter, Jr., and Anthony Bennett were all rumored to be part of the conversation. So was Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Just not at number one, but at pick No. 19. Yup, the Cavs were linked to Antetokounmpo.
For those who don’t remember, the 2013 NBA Draft might be the worst draft in Cavaliers’ history. They didn’t just miss on Antetokounmpo but missed four, yes four draft picks. Bennett, Sergey Karasev, Allen Crabbe, and Carrick Felix were the team’s four picks that year. Every single one of them was a miss.
After Antetokounmpo lead the Bucks to the 2020-2021 NBA Championship, the selection of Bennett looks even worse in hindsight. It was already really bad-looking a few years later. Don’t get that twisted. We thought the pick was already as poorly received as it could be.
Yet it got worse. If only that’s where the trauma of the 2013 NBA Draft ended.
Cavs messed up the 2013 NBA Draft besides not drafting Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Cavs not drafting Antetokounmpo was bad enough. They also missed out on Tim Hardaway Jr., Rudy Gobert, Trey Burke, C.J. McCollum, and Steven Adams as well. It’s unbelievable how badly the team muffed this draft.
While Hardaway and Burke wouldn’t have been great number one picks, Gobert, McCollum, and Adams all would’ve been better than every single player the Cavs were rumored to be taken. Len? Oladipo? Noel? There isn’t an NBA exec who would take Oladipo over McCollum right now. Gobert and Adams are arguably the two best defensive centers in the NBA and heck even Hardaway is better than McLemore. So yeah, even Hardaway would’ve been a better option.
Antetokounmpo was considered the 11th best prospect by SBNation at the time (with the Nigerian spelling*) but considering McCollum was ranked as the 19th best prospect and went 10th overall to the Trailblazers shows you that no one had a clue in this draft. Not even the Cavs, who went in without a clear idea who they were taking. In fact, as the story goes, the Cavaliers had not decided who they were taking with three minutes left on the clock for their pick.
The near skullduggery that this franchise has committed is astonishing.
(*Updated the article to reflect SBNation’s accuracy of Giannis’ name as it’s spelled in Nigeria)