Let's just say last night's NBA draft was, in a nutshell, the most interesting four hours in the NBA season; and that includes game 7 of the NBA Finals.
All in all, sixty men were fortunate enough to hear their names called by either commissioner David Stern or deputy commissioner Adam Silver; and although all sixty will not make an immediate impact for a myriad of reasons, the order in which they were selected provided an entertaining backdrop to what will go down as a monumental offseason, which will be highlighted on Thursday when an elite class of free agents hits the open market. Some teams now have the space to go after a LeBron James or Chris Bosh, while others opted instead for the old-fashioned way of rebuilding. Here's a look at the winners, losers, steals, and surprises of last night's theatrics at Madison Square Garden.
Washington Wizards - Even without John Wall, Washington had a solid draft, going with Marquette's Lazar Hayward at the end of the first round and trading for Hamady Ndiaye of Rutgers in the second. Both demonstrated they can be solid backups in the near future, and both are products of the Big East.
New Jersey Nets - The pick of Derrick Favors would have surprised me if it weren't announced some six hours prior to the draft, but New Jersey is really in this column because of the trade they made with Atlanta to acquire Texas forward Damion James, who will give the Nets a decided edge in rebounding along with Brook Lopez.
Memphis Grizzlies - They only kept two picks, but Xavier Henry and Greivis Vasquez will pay immediate dividends for the Grizz, and Memphis fans will love both.
Dallas Mavericks - Mark Cuban purchased the rights to Dominique Jones after he was drafted by Memphis and was lucky to get Solomon Alabi in the second round to fill two needs.
Big East Conference - Eleven Big East players were selected last night, starting with Syracuse forward Wesley Johnson, (taken 4th overall by Minnesota) and ending with Stanley Robinson of UConn. (taken 59th by the Magic)
Boston Celtics - The reigning Eastern Conference champs made a questionable first-round pick in Texas guard Avery Bradley when they had better options available when they came on the clock at No. 19. Luke Harangody is a solid player, but has yet to prove that his game will translate to the professional level.
Toronto Raptors - Expected to lose Chris Bosh to free agency, the Raptors didn't do themselves any favors with the selection of North Carolina forward Ed Davis, whose ability was compromised by injuries during his two years in college, leading many to predict him among the potential busts in this year's draft class.
Lance Stephenson - "Born Ready" was anything but after just one year at Cincinnati, and fell all the way to 40th overall, where he was taken by the Indiana Pacers, where he will try to make Midwest fans forget about Reggie Miller.
James Anderson - Drafted 20th overall by the Spurs, Anderson has been anointed by yours truly as the next breakout star in the NBA, and would have gone to Chicago if they didn't make the Kirk Hinrich deal last night. The Spurs, much like the Pittsburgh Steelers, continue to show why they are unlike any other club when it comes to the draft, always taking the best player available (DeJuan Blair a year ago) and plugging him into their system.
Dominique Jones - He should get a chance to play early and often in Dallas in a rotation that includes Jason Kidd, Caron Butler, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki; and will be able to show off his skills against the Western Conference's elite on a regular basis.
Greivis Vasquez - With Mike Conley being shaky at the point in Memphis, Vasquez could be a starter sometime during his rookie year, and provides an ability to score from the point as well as pass.
Andy Rautins - Drafted 38th by the Knicks when most thought he wouldn't even hear his name called, Rautins gives the Knicks scoring ability and an outside shot in the backcourt.
Devin Ebanks - Projected as a fringe first-rounder, Ebanks fell to the Lakers at 43, and should be a solid player on the bench over the next few years.
Da'Sean Butler - Ebanks' teammate went right before him, going to Miami at 42, ending his freefall that was caused by his torn ACL in the Final Four against Duke.
Gordon Hayward - Probably the biggest surprise of all came when the Butler product went to the Jazz with the No. 9 pick, as Utah was rumored to be considering Luke Babbitt (who went 16th) and Ed Davis. (selected 13th)