Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

Cavaliers take Andrew Wiggins No. 1 in NBA draft

NEW YORK — With Andrew Wiggins at No. 1, it was a big night for Canada and Kansas. And it better be the right one for the Cavaliers.

Cleveland went north of the border to open the NBA draft for the second straight year Thursday, hoping Wiggins works out better than Anthony Bennett.

Thrilled to go first and even happier when Kansas teammate Joel Embiid went two picks later, Wiggins beamed in his black tuxedo jacket with a white floral pattern.

"A thousand thoughts are going through my head right now," Wiggins said. "It's a dream come true."

Bennett was injured last summer, came into the season out of shape and made no impact, one of the reasons the Cavs were back in the same spot again.

Wiggins seems a much more ready product after averaging a KU freshman-record 17.1 points. He might have ended up as the top pick anyway, but he became the best option for the Cavs when Embiid suffered a stress fracture in his right foot shortly before the draft.

After making Canada the only country besides the United States to have consecutive No. 1 picks, Wiggins slipped on a maroon Cleveland hat, hugged his supporters and went on stage to shake hands with commissioner Adam Silver.

The Bucks followed with another freshman, Duke forward Jabari Parker, who on Wednesday disputed he was out of shape for his workout with Cleveland and performed poorly. Some consider him the more NBA-ready player after an All-America season for the Blue Devils.

Embiid went third to the 76ers, who had two top-10 picks and could afford to take a chance on Embiid, the big man who might have ended up the top prize despite his lone season at Kansas ending early because of a bad back.

Arizona forward Aaron Gordon went fourth to Orlando, followed by Australian guard Dante Exum to Utah.

Then came two teams not used to picking so high: The Celtics took Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart, with the rival Lakers following at No. 7 with Kentucky forward Julius Randle.

The 76ers took point guard Elfrid Payton of Louisiana-Lafayette at No. 10 with their second pick — they went into the draft with seven overall in the two rounds — and the Magic grabbed Croatian forward Dario Saric with its other lottery pick at No. 12. In between, the Nuggets took Creighton's Doug McDermott, but the scoring star was soon traded to the Bulls.

The 76ers and Magic followed suit, Philadelphia dealing the rights to No. 10 Payton to Orlando for the rights to No. 12 Saric. Philadelphia also got Orlando's 2015 second-round pick and its 2017 first-round pick.

In one of the night's more eye-catching trades, the Hornets sent point guard Shabazz Napier, the No. 24 pick who led UConn to the national title last season, to the Heat for the rights to former North Carolina guard P.J. Hairston, the No. 26 pick. Napier arrives in Miami with the blessing of free agent LeBron James, who tweeted: "My favorite player in the draft! (hashtag) Napier."

Between the 15th and 16th picks, Silver announced that the NBA would let Isaiah Austin fulfill the dream of every young player, making him a ceremonial pick. The sophomore center from Baylor was recently diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the heart. It ended his career. The illness was discovered during a physical for the draft. "It's really been a tough week for me," Austin said, "and it's been really rough. I've just had a tremendous amount of support from everybody around the world, telling me they're praying for me and everything. I can't thank everybody enough."

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