The Cleveland Cavaliers hit it big last season, landing the #1 pick and eventual Rookie of the Year, Kyrie Irving, along with the #4 pick and the raw, but athletic, Tristan Thompson. This year, Cleveland is again at #4, but with the beginnings of a foundation in place, the team can look for the right pieces to fit with what they already have. Add to that a late first round and 2 early second round picks, and the talent level in Cleveland could be much higher at this time next year. Let’s take a look at some of their options:
2011-2012 Record – 21-45 (5th in Central Division, Eastern Conference)
Head Coach – Byron Scott
2-year Draft History
2011 – Kyrie Irving (1st Round, 1st); Tristan Thompson (1st Round – 4th), Justin Harper (2nd Round – 32nd – Traded to Orlando for 2nd round picks in 2013 and 2014), Milan Macvan (2nd Round – 54th)
2010 – None
Returning Players- Anderson Varejao (C), Luke Walton (SF), Kyrie Irving (PG), Daniel Gibson (PG – Team Option), Tristan Thompson (PF), Omri Casspi (SF)
Team Needs- Perimeter shooting, Frontcourt scoring, Depth at all positions
Position Needs – SG, SF, PF, C
Picks – #4 (1st Round, Pick 3)
#24 (1st Round, Pick 24)
#33 (2nd Round, Pick 3)
#34 (2nd Round, Pick 4)
NBA Draft Blog Analysis
After hitting big with Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson last year, the Cavaliers have 4 of the first 34 picks in which to fill both areas of need and add depth to the pieces they have. At #4, while a lot is dependent on the Bobcats and Wizards at #’s 2 and 3, Cleveland still has a shot at players who can contribute immediately. The early rumor mill has Harrison Barnes being the choice if available. Aside from his friendship with Irving, Barnes makes sense in a lot of ways. While the knock on Barnes is that he has trouble getting to the basket, the spacing of the NBA game will be a great help, as well as Irving’s ability to draw defenders to him. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would not bring the skill that Barnes does to the position, but he brings a physical player who will play tough defense, rebound, and run the court well. Of course, if Thomas Robinson or Bradley Beal somehow make it to the 4th pick, it will be tough for the Cavs to pass on either one. And don’t forget Andre Drummond, who is still a few years away from developing into a semblance of a NBA big man, but Cleveland as a team may still be a few years away from competing as a playoff team, so Drummond may be a good possibility, risk aside.
The 24th pick also provides a lot of opportunity to add a player who can help immediately, especially adding versatile frontcourt players. Andrew Nicholson has the ability to play inside and out, can guard multiple positions and can fit in most systems. For the Cavs, he would be a great addition to the frontcourt rotation and can provide a consistent scoring punch that some others can’t. The other very good option would be Jeffrey Taylor. Taylor is a fantastic perimeter defender, can hit the long jumper, and provides some help on the boards.
Having 2 picks at the top of the second round gives the Cavs more options, whether they keep them or decide to trade them. As has been noted in other reports, if you want shooters, you have some good options in John Jenkins and Doron Lamb, you have great role players who can provide help and leadership like Draymond Green, Darius Miller, or Kevin Jones. If they do keep the picks, also watch for the possibility of the Cavs looking at Festus Ezeli, giving them a physical post player in a more traditional sense, and Will Barton, a raw slasher/scorer who has great size and runs the floor very well.
Guest Analysis: Conrad Kaczmarek (Fear The Sword)
The Cavaliers had a 13.8% chance of getting the number one overall pick and the right to draft Anthony Davis. Unfortunately, the NBA Lottery didn’t go exactly as Cleveland would have hoped and they ended up with the fourth pick in the draft. The fourth pick presents an interesting conundrum for the Cavs. While there are plenty of good players after Davis, some would argue that the two best fits are Bradley Beal and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. With the fourth pick, there is not guaranteeing that either of those guys will be available when the Cavaliers pick. Of course, there is the chance that Andre Drummond or Thomas Robinson hops into the top three, thus allowing the Cavs to grab MKG or Beal. However, I figure Cleveland must approach this draft as if both of those guys are unavailable. That way, if either falls to them at #4 — great. If not, they’re prepared.
In the event that the Cavs have to look elsewhere, there are still some pretty nice options. Harrison Barnes has been on Cleveland’s radar for a while and has been linked to the Cavs in numerous reports recently. Jeremy Lamb is another guy that would fill a major hole on the Cavs roster. If the Cavaliers want to go with size, they’d have their choice of Robinson or Drummond. Robinson plays the same position as Cleveland’s #4 pick last year, Tristan Thompson. That selection would create its own issues with regards to playing time and development. Drummond is a pretty big risk and the Cavs may not want to bring in another project big man when they already have to develop Thompson. If you didn’t gather this by now — I have no idea. The Cavs have plenty of options, but it’s hard to figure out which way is the right way to go. Barnes may be the safe pick, but they could be missing out on some big time talent in Drummond or Lamb. Ultimately, it will come down to who Charlotte and Washington go with and who is available for the Cavaliers to snatch up.
It’s worth noting that the Cavaliers also have three other picks in this draft. They own the Lakers’ first round pick (24th overall) and two early second-rounders (33rd and 34th overall). With those, the Cavs should be looking to grab guys who can contribute right away. Guys who can defend or guys who can shoot should be taken with some of those picks. Better yet, Cleveland could grab a guy who can do both, like Jeff Taylor out of Vanderbilt. Furthermore, at least one of those picks should probably be used on a big man who can be a rotation guy. Festus Ezeli or Fab Melo may fit that description. Keep in mind, this is a team that played Semih Erden and Ryan Hollins some major minutes last year. It’s hard to think that the Cavs would bring four rookies into training camp, but on a team so desperate for viable NBA players, it could be what it takes.