NBA Draft 2012: 5 Lottery Players Who Would Best Fit with Cleveland Cavaliers
The college basketball season is officially over, so it's full draft talk mode now.
This list requires some explanation on my part. These are not my top five players in the draft; they are the top five players in lottery (in descending order) that the Cavs should take if the player(s) ahead of them on this list are already off the board.
5. Perry Jones III
Because the Cleveland Browns missed out on Robert Griffin III, selecting Perry Jones III is a back door omen waiting to happen. I’m just not sure if it’s a good or bad one.
I am a lot higher on Perry Jones than most. Jones seems like a terrible pick for the Cavs who already have Tristan Thompson, but I have no doubts whatsoever that Jones would have a bigger immediate impact next season than Thompson will next year in his second season. Also, I like Thompson at center more than I do power forward. That’s mainly because you typically don’t want a guy as offensively challenged as he is playing the power forward.
Jones is an enigmatic top five talent who, for whatever reason, never quite lived up to his potential at Baylor. He’s not a bad kid or anything, he just had stretches of games where he would disappear. That’s really the only reason his stock has taken a hit. A good coach at the next level could do wonders for him. Perhaps that coach is Byron Scott.
A front court of Perry Jones, Tristan Thompson (center) and Anderson Varejao doesn’t make sense, but there is nothing wrong with having Varejao come off the bench. That’s what he has done for most of his career, and by now it’s apparent that he doesn’t care where, when or for what duration he is playing, he just brings it when he’s on the court.
If the Cavs end up drafting somewhere in the 7-12 range and Jones is available, they’d be getting one heck of a value pick if they were to take him. That is unless one of the next four guys is still on the board.
4. Jared Sullinger
Much like Perry Jones III—a player who also stayed in school for another year—Jared Sullinger’s draft stock has taken a huge hit.
Last year I was always of the belief that Sullinger was an overrated talent. Now, a lot of people are on that same bandwagon. For the record, I believe Perry Jones III has more talent and more potential; however, that doesn’t mean he’s a better fit for the Cavs.
Sullinger does one thing really well, and that is he rebounds the ball. That’s what everyone forgets to recognize when they’re picking his game apart. You’ve heard of “pure scorers” before, but have you heard of “pure rebounders?” Neither have I. But if I were to label Sullinger anything that is what it would be.
He only averaged nine rebounds per game at Ohio State, but that can be a bit misleading. He was almost asked to do too much for the Buckeyes and, honestly, it’s why he stormed onto the national scene as a freshman in the first place.
Sullinger improved his jump shot from last season to this, but the fact of the matter is that Sullinger probably isn’t all that cut out to be a scorer on the offensive end. He is a below-the-rim player whose bread and butter is rebounding, shot blocking and put backs.
That isn’t a bad thing, though. That’s because we all know Sullinger is a big, big kid. He will be hard to move off his spot even for players at the next level. The problem again, though, is that Sullinger plays the four. The Cavs already have Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao.
(Here’s my thought: Keep Tristan Thompson at center (I see a future Ben Wallace/Serge Ibaka), start Sullinger at the four, sign Eric Gordon or O.J. Mayo, re-sign Antawn Jamison, and have Alonzo Gee and Anderson Varejao come off the bench. I’d say that looks like a pretty decent seven-man rotation for a team.)
With the addition of Sullinger, suddenly the Cavs have a backcourt of pure scorers (assuming they get a shooting guard) and a front court with a nice mix of above average rebounders and shot blockers. This is essentially the type of team Oklahoma City is, and it has proven to work very well for them.
The Thunder have basically taken full grasp of the “there is only one ball” concept and perfected it. That’s basically what the Cavs would be doing by drafting Sullinger and signing a scorer like Mayo or Gordon. And yes, Mayo or Gordon is a realistic possibility because the Cavs will have a ton of cap room this summer.
Sullinger’s rebounding prowess actually makes him one of the safer bets for a team like the Cavs. That’s because the Cavs already know what they have in Kyrie Irving and are not as hard pressed to go out and find “their star.” That’s the reason Sullinger’s stock has taken such a hit, because we’ve pretty much determined he won’t be that franchise changing star that every lottery team is trying to covet. Rarely do you ever find a power forward that is.
Plus, he is a born and raised Ohioan.
If I’m the Cavs and I’m sitting somewhere in the 5-8 range, I’m taking Sullinger. Again, unless one of the next three guys is still on the board.
3. Bradley Beal
Finally, we get to a player that plays a position the Cavs need. The knock on Beal is that he’s a bit undersized (6’4") for a shooting guard. Personally, I think he’s the perfect size. Just by looking at the way he moves on the court, you can quickly see that he has that prototypical look of an NBA player.
That’s the No. 1 thing scouts look for, and it’s the reason the freshman's average mock projection has skyrocketed. I’m sure his ability to consistently shoot the three, as well as his knack for hitting 32-foot three-pointers has a little bit to do with it also.
I’ve never been high on the Cavs taking a shooting guard with their first pick, but Beal is the exception. I’m always weary of potential draft busts when I’m watching specific players play, and of all the top prospects projected to come out of this class, Beal, in my opinion, is the least likely to disappoint. I’m to the point where I’ve fallen in love with him.
Some have gone as far as to say he’ll be as good as Ray Allen. I’m not going to go that far just yet. I’m sure he’ll be a great shooter for his career, but right now I’m more infatuated with his penetration ability than I am his shot.
Beal has this low center of gravity thing going for him that allows him to change direction in a very quick and fluent manner. His acceleration and change of direction actually reminds me a little of Derrick Rose...only a Derrick Rose that can flat out shoot the ball.
But I probably just went a little too far with that Derrick Rose comparison.
2. Harrison Barnes
Barnes’ stock took a substantial drop after Carolina was eliminated from the NCAA tournament.
The injury to Kendall Marshal really hurt him. He’s a better spot up shooter than he is at shooting the ball off the dribble, and with Marshal sidelined, he was forced into a somewhat uncomfortable position where he had to create his own shot and play a different type of game.
This isn’t to say he can’t create his own shot (he can) or improve his off the dribble jumper (most likely will), just that Marshall’s injury threw a big wrench at Barnes (and the entire UNC team) at the most inconvenient of times. We can forgive Harrison Barnes can’t we? I have.
With that said, insert Kyrie Irving for Kendal Marshall, and you have my reasoning behind putting Barnes second on this list.
I would have Beal above him, but because the crop of SG’s is plentiful in free agency and later in the draft, I have to go with Barnes here.
If there were one player in this draft whose game best complemented Kyrie Irving’s, that player is Harrison Barnes. I see Barnes as a very close comparison to Memphis Grizzlies’ Rudy Gay.
It’s of note to mention how Barnes was surrounded by a really good team at North Carolina. Just know that every starter on UNC’s team has a shot at being drafted in the top 40. If Barnes were to have gone somewhere like, let's say Texas, he probably would have been a scoring machine. I might even be comparing him to Kevin Durant over Rudy Gay.
Instead, Barnes’ career at Carolina was a roller coaster ride. He was the first ever freshman Preseason First Team all American, he got off to a terrible start and he became a national punching bag. He looked so bad in the early going that it looked as if he might never be able to recover. But he did, and that says a lot.
There was a reason he would have probably went No. 1 or No. 2 overall last year if he had entered the draft. But instead, he stayed. He was considered one of the top two or three prospects all season until just recently when the bottom got pulled out from under him.
He’s projected going as late as No. 9 in some mocks, but most have him in the the 5-6 range. I still can’t see that happening though. Just know that for a guy who will play at the three, he has the whole package.
I hate to revert two years back in time, but there really was a reason Barnes was the first ever freshman to be named to the preseason All-American team.
If I’m the Cavs and I have the second overall pick, I’m taking Barnes. Unless...
1. Anthony Davis
By now you have probably heard how great Anthony Davis is. For the purposes of conserving your time, I’ll just say this: He’s the closest player we’ve ever seen to Dwight Howard. Remember, Howard wasn’t that big his rookie season, he was a super lanky teen who still had braces.
That’s all that Davis is right now, a super lanky kid. A super lanky kid who is already extremely good. People feel a lot more comfortable comparing him Tim Duncan than they do Howard though.
I don’t know why everyone is automatically assuming the Bobcats land the No. 1 overall pick. The worst team doesn’t get the No. 1 pick as much as people are inclined to believe.
The Cavs landed the No. 1 pick last year with their pick from the Clippers, which had the eighth worst odds. The same goes for the Bulls when they got Derrick Rose in 2008. The Cavs have as good of a shot at Anthony Davis as anyone.