NBA Draft 2012: Top 5 Rookie Pairings for Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving
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The Cavs suffered through another difficult season in 2011-12, but last year's No. 1 overall pick Irving proved he was worth the investment.
Fellow second-year player Tristan Thompson looks to make a big leap this coming season, and has flashed his defensive ability and magnificent offensive rebounding.
What the Cavs sorely lack is another legitimate scoring threat outside of Irving, with the likely departure of pending free agent Antawn Jamison.
Thompson is still too raw to contribute offensively, and the Cavs are losing nearly all sources of offense from last season's team.
The defense was not much better, so with two picks in the first and second rounds, the Cavs should have a new look roster this coming season.
Here are the top five rookie pairings in the first round that would give Irving and Co. a huge lift and help the Cavs compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Bradley Beal and Royce White
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This is the most athletic and explosive pairing, but it hinges on Beal still being there at No. 4.
Florida's Beal has an outstanding jump shot and offensive versatility, and has been described by ESPN's Chad Ford as "Ray Allen meets Eric Gordon."
That's really high praise considering the ability of those two players, and he also has the perimeter defensive skills the Cavs could sorely use.
White is the type of player who could serve as a point forward and spell Irving at times in bringing the ball up the court with his exceptional ball-handling skills. He is also a great passer.
Although White had some legal troubles before arriving at Iowa State, the size and potential he brings to the table would be worth the risk in the latter part of the first round at No. 24.
He would be a matchup nightmare. Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson are not offensively polished, and White would give the Cavs the legitimate scoring threat in the post that they truly need.
Having Irving do a little more work off the ball would be possible with this tandem, and Beal would get plenty of open looks off of Irving's penetration into the paint.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeffery Taylor
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Any team can respect Kidd-Gilchrist's all-around game and leadership ability.
He has a winner's mentality, a great work ethic, and was not shy of being the emotional epicenter of Kentucky's national championship team this past year.
While Kidd-Gilchrist still has plenty of room to improve offensively, he is one of the best and most versatile defenders in the draft, and well worth the fourth overall pick.
Taylor is another smart basketball player who plays stellar defense, but can also shoot the heck out of the basketball.
At 6'6", he is an exceptional athlete with good size. He can rebound well, especially on the offensive end, and would be a bargain at No. 24.
He was considered the best wing defender in the SEC according to the NBADraft.net's scouting report, although Kidd-Gilchrist got the most publicity and recognition.
With this tandem, the Cavs would drastically improve their defense right away while also adding a little more punch offensively.
Kyrie Irving would benefit from much more athletic wing players and free up Taylor for a lot of open looks from three-point range, and also get help on defensive rotations that he simply did not have this season.
Harrison Barnes and Doron Lamb
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UNC's Barnes did not quite live up to the immense hype he generated coming into college, but he still had an exceptional two-year college career and will be a top-five pick in all likelihood.
The Cavs definitely need a small forward, and if Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is already off the board or they simply want more help on offense, Barnes will be the best option.
Barnes probably has the most upside on offense out of anyone in the lottery, and still has plenty of room to improve on defense, making him a solid prospect at No. 4.
Kentucky's Lamb is a magnificent jump shooter, as he shot nearly 47 percent from beyond the arc this past season. He might be slightly undersized for a shooting guard at 6'4", 200 lbs.
If Anthony Parker and Alonzo Gee leave in free agency, the next best option at the 2 is Daniel Gibson. He stands at 6'2" and has declined since his breakout performance in the Cavs' 2007 NBA Finals run.
Lamb would start immediately and fit in with Irving in the backcourt because he does not press too much, but also knows how to get to the rim and create space for mid-range jump shots, according to NBADraft.net's scouting report.
This duo would free up Irving immensely on the offensive end, and would provide three players who can get to the rim and create their own shots.
If GM Chris Grant loads up on some knockdown shooters in the second round, it could suddenly be a very dangerous offensive team.
The only potential concern is the defense would still depend on player development and Anderson Varejao's return providing a major impact.
Andre Drummond and Khris Middleton
UConn's Drummond is a freak, standing at seven feet tall and weighing nearly 280 lbs.
It is rumored that the Cavs are coveting him, and it is difficult not to give him a hard look considering his massive potential.
Far be it from me to question a player's drive, mental toughness, or whatever, but that's the knock on Drummond according to multiple scouting reports.
I feel this is a great comparison, because both were so raw entering the league, but both have limitless potential.
Bynum is arguably the best center in the NBA, so if Drummond is able to capitalize on his similar talents, he could also be an elite center in the league and worth the fourth overall pick.
Most importantly perhaps, Drummond would allow Anderson Varejao to slide over to the 4, which is his natural position.
Middleton had a down, injury-riddled season at Texas A&M after a promising sophomore campaign.
He would be a bit of a project player, but has the versatility to play the 2 and the 3 with his 6'8" frame. Although he only weighs 216 lbs, Middleton has room to fill out.
Drummond, Varejao, and Thompson would form a wonderful defensive rotation up front for the Cavs, while Middleton has the offensive skills and shooting ability to contribute right away.
Meyers Leonard and Draymond Green
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Another raw center prospect who would provide more interior offense than Andre Drummond would be Leonard.
The sophomore out of Illinois has exceptional athleticism and a better developed offensive skill set than Drummond, but is also an exceptional defender.
Leonard may be perceived as a bit of a reach at No. 4, but the Cavs also have the option of trading down to get Leonard and potentially turn one of their second-round picks into another late first-round selection.
Green is projected to be taken by the Cavs in the second round of NBADraft.net's latest mock, but he could rise due to his versatility and intangibles.
Although there is nothing too eye-popping about Green's game, he is a stellar all-around player and could play point-forward on offense at the 3, giving Irving more chances to work off the ball.
The high basketball IQ Green has should also make up for any lack of athleticism he has at the NBA level. He is rare in that he played all four years in college, and at Michigan State for one of the country's best coaches in Tom Izzo.
With that type of polish, Green could step into a starting role right away and be comfortable, and he also has experience in pressure situations playing for a big time basketball school in college.
Thankfully, pressure should be off in Cleveland, as expectations cannot be too high. However, both of these players would be promising prospects in building for the future, and would give Irving immediate help.