It’s no secret that the model NBA blueprint for small market teams to follow is that of the Oklahoma City Thunder. If you are a Cavs fan, I have good news for you: The Cleveland Cavs are one draft away from successfully completing that blueprint down to a (near) science. That is if, in fact, they are able to land North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes.
By no means am I rooting for the Cavs to lose this year, but let’s just say I don’t mind these losing skids (like the one they are currently in).
I’ve got my eyes set on Barnes and no one else. He’s not the best college player that will be coming out of this draft, but from the viewpoint of the Cavs, he is (or at least he should be). He is one of the more polished forwards in the college game. With his size (6'8") and his continually improving shot (particularly from three-point range), he is just what the Cavs need. I appreciate everything Alonzo Gee is doing right now as the Cavs three-man, but as long as a guy like Gee is playing SF for this team, the Cavs will never be in any kind of legitimate contention.
If the Cavs were able to land Barnes in this year's draft, they would essentially be set for the next five years, only having to fill out the rest of the roster with role-like players. With Barnes, the Cavs would have a core group of himself (Durant), Irving (Westbrook), Varejao and Thompson (Ibaka/Perkins). I don’t know about you, but that looks and sounds really good to me.
The combination of both Irving and Barnes’ jump shots would make up for the lack of offense that comes with having Tristan Thompson on the roster. As for Anderson Varejao, he might be one of the most valuable role players in the entire NBA, just a perfect all around player to have playing next to two stars. After that, all the Cavs would really need to focus on would be a two-guard, which there are plenty of options, as noted by Michael Keefe in a recently written B/R Cavs article.
As of right now, Barnes is projected as a top-five pick. (If the draft were today he would probably go to No.3.) Like I mentioned, I’m not going to root for the Cavs to lose. Having said that, I will be rooting for Barnes and the Tar Heels to falter mightily (as they have been) through the remainder of their season.