The 2014 NBA Draft has come and gone. There were cheers, tears, surprises and more flashy suits than you can count on one hand. Most importantly, however, Thursday night served as a key stepping stone for the league’s 30 teams as they attempted to improve their rosters and take the next step up in the NBA’s hierarchy. It was also an opportunity to showcase where this future talent comes from and share origin stories that can only warm the heart.
We take a look at the five winners from the 2014 NBA Draft:
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5. NBA Developmental League
Two under-the-radar players made history on Thursday night. P.J. Hairston became the first-ever player with experience in the D-League to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, while Thanasis Antetokounmpo is now the first international player who used the D-League in order to get to the NBA.
Hairston, 21, was drafted by the Miami Heat with the No. 26 overall pick, but was then traded to the Charlotte Hornets. The guard played with the Texas Legends this past season, averaging 21.5 points and 1.5 steals in 26 games. Hairston is talented on both ends of the floor, but attitude issues have surrounded him and it will certainly be interesting to see whether or not he can remain calm and positive in Charlotte.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo – the older brother of Bucks’ budding star Giannis – appeared in 50 games with the Delaware 87ers and averaged 12 points and 4.5 rebounds. The 21-year-old is still extremely raw, and must develop a consistent outside jumper, but is undoubtedly worthy of New York’s second-round selection last night.
The D-League continues to make its impact known and it is only a matter of time before all of the league’s thirty teams not only have single affiliation, but also take the “minor-league” system seriously.
4. Boston Celtics
The Celtics selected Marcus Smart with the No. 6 overall pick, acquiring a tough, strong point guard who may be able to replace Rajon Rondo. Yes, his shot needs work, but his defense is already at the NBA level, and he’s a competitor who won’t shy away from the challenges the NBA presents.
Along with Smart, Boston snagged James Young with the No. 17 slot. The former Kentucky star can shoot and plays with a lot of energy. We all know he can throw down a solid dunk from time to time, too:
3. Knicks Fans
They deserve this. After all of the suffering of late, New York has something to be excited about. With no draft picks just a few days ago, Phil Jackson maneuvered his way into the second round and picked up two talented players in Cleanthony Early (No. 34) and Antetokounmpo (51) who may end up being steals for the Knicks in the second round.