NBA Rumors: Cleveland Cavaliers Would Be Wise to Select Harrison Barnes

Ryan PhillipsContributor IIIJune 6, 2012

CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 29:  Harrison Barnes #40 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at the Dean Smith Center on January 29, 2012 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers possess the No. 4 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and they have a clear need for an athletic wing player who can score. According to Fox Sports' Sam Amico, they currently have North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes high on their list. Barnes would be an ideal fit for the Cavs and if he's still on the board at No. 4, they have to take him.

During his two seasons at Chapel Hill, Barnes didn't live up to the immense hype he generated coming out of high school. But that doesn't mean he won't develop and become an outstanding pro. He was pretty one-dimensional at North Carolina and settled for jump shots too often.

Barnes' performance in college reminds me of Rudy Gay's time at Connecticut. He simply didn't live up to the hype, but Gay has managed to improve in the NBA and is now an All-Star caliber player. Barnes could turn out the same way.

At 6'8" and 210 pounds, Barnes has an ideal frame for a small forward in the NBA. He has a great feel for the game. He's smooth, long and can be an outstanding defender. He needs to add strength and improve as a ball-handler all the while developing the killer instinct as a scorer that all the great ones have. 

As far as raw tools go, Barnes has what it takes to be an outstanding player in the NBA, and he is also a good kid off the court who is incredibly smart. 

The Cavs already have two very solid building blocks in reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving and power forward Tristan Thompson. With Irving at the point, Thompson in the paint and Barnes on the wing, Cleveland would have a very young, athletic and exciting core to build around.

The team also only has $41.2 million in contracts on the books for 2012-13, which means it can add players this offseason.

Adding an explosive wing scorer like Barnes would make the Cavs a whole lot better immediately. He is the ideal fit for Cleveland on draft night.