UNLV forwards Khem Birch and Roscoe Smith, who bypassed their senior seasons to make themselves available for Thursday night’s NBA Draft, were both not chosen among the 60 picks.
The 6-foot-9, 220-pound Birch, a two-time Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, averaged a double-double last season, scoring 11.5 points while grabbing 10.2 rebounds per game. He had been projected as a possible late second round pick in several mock drafts.
Smith, who averaged 11.1 points and 10.9 rebounds per game last season for the Runnin’ Rebels, was also a victim of one of the deepest drafts in recent NBA history. Among the other notable west coast names to go unpicked were Arizona State point guard Jahii Carson, Nevada point guard Deonte Burton and Oregon forward Mike Moser.
The Cleveland Cavaliers selected 6-foot-8 Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins with the first overall pick at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Duke small forward Jabari Parker went second to the Milwaukee Bucks while the Philadelphia 76ers used the No. 3 pick to pick 7-foot Joel Embiid of Kansas.
Embiid was considered by many as the best player in the draft after averaging 11.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game as a freshman at Kansas. But the Cameroon native, who didn’t play organized basketball until he was 16, dropped in the draft after suffering two injuries – a stress fracture in his lower back and a foot injury that required surgery — in the last four months.
The Orlando Magic pulled a mild surprise by selecting Arizona power forward Aaron Gordon – expected to be picked in the back end of the top 10 – with the fourth pick. The Utah Jazz followed by selecting Australian guard Dante Exum with the fifth pick, the Boston Celtics then chose Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart and the Los Angeles Lakers picked Kentucky power forward Julius Randle at No. 7.
Former Findlay Prep star Nick Johnson of Arizona was picked in the second round with the 42nd pick by the Houston Rockets.
Two Mountain West players were selected in the second round. New Mexico forward Cameron Bairstow went 49th to the Chicago Bulls while San Diego State point guard Xavier Thames was picked 59th by Toronto and later dealt to Brooklyn.