Way-Too-Early Game Plan for Cleveland Cavaliers at 2013 NBA Draft
This will be draft No. 3 in the rebuilding process, one that will hopefully mark the last time Cleveland will be picking in the high lottery for a while.
To prepare for the draft, one must have an understanding of what the Cavs are working with.
First, let's take a look at what draft picks they own and where they'll likely fall.
Draft Pick Status
The Cavs still hold the rights to both of their own first- and second-round picks. With a record of 16-35 as of February 9th, this would have the Cavs picking around No. 4 overall, which would also mean one of the first picks in the second round.
The Heat's pick will likely fall toward the end of the first round, with Orlando's being at the front end of the second round. Thanks to a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers at the trade deadline last year, Cleveland has the option to swap the Heat and Lakers' picks, as long as Los Angeles makes the playoffs this season.
Since the Lakers are struggling this year with a record of 24-27, it's possible they may miss the playoffs and the Cavs won't get the choice to switch picks. If they do manage to pull things together and sneak into the postseason, they certainly won't have a sparkling record, and therefore will have a pick somewhere between 15 and 20.
When all the dust has settled, a complete pick list for the Cavs could look like this:
Technically, the Cavs could also gain an additional first-round pick if the Sacramento Kings make the playoffs or are the first team out, and technically, Luke Walton could still make the Hall of Fame.
Since neither are going to happen, we can assume this is what the draft pick list will look like.
Draft Pick Usage
With an average player age of 24.5, the Cavs own the third-youngest roster in the NBA.
Who honestly thinks they'll want to add four new rookies to this mix?
Much like last year when they went into the draft with four picks, look for the Cavs to pull off a trade at some point involving their picks.
The Cavs used their late first-round pick and two second-rounders to move up to No. 17 overall to select Tyler Zeller in 2012. Zeller has started 24 of 46 games for the Cavs, posting averages of 9.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game as a starter.
Cleveland should once again look to move up in the draft if possible. If they can somehow work the two early second-rounders and mid first-rounder into another top-10 pick, the Cavs could have their best overall draft thus far in the rebuilding process.
Another option would be to trade draft picks for established talent. I'm hesitant to say "veteran" talent, as they should either be looking to add players in their prime or about to hit it. Plenty of teams would love to swap players and money for draft picks, and the Cavs should have four in the top 34 picks alone.
The only for sure thing when it comes to draft pick usage is that the Cavs will hold on to, and use, their own first-round pick to add another franchise centerpiece.
Top Draft Pick Candidates
Speaking of franchise centerpieces, this draft should hold at least a few of them.
Unlike last season, no one player has really separated themselves as a lock to go first overall. Here are some of my favorites for the Cavs to take with their first-round pick so far:
Shabazz Muhammad, SG/SF, UCLA
Great scorer who looks the part of a pro already. Long wingspan gives him incredible defensive potential as well. One of the best high school players in the nation last season; it's hard not seeing him turning into a star in the NBA.
Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
Another super freshman, Noel is a shot-blocking machine inside. He's nearly seven feet tall with a 7'4" wingspan and incredible athleticism.
He still has to develop his offensive skills and add some muscle, but there might be too much potential to pass up. Cleveland is dead last in the NBA with a measly 3.7 blocked shots per game. Noel blocks 4.6 shots by himself. This could be a good fit.
Alex Len, C, Maryland
Len is another true center that the Cavs could definitely use. He's a legit 7'1" with great length and hands. He runs the floor very well and has some solid post moves. It might take a year or two extra to develop since he's still fairly new to the American game, but the wait could very well be worth it.
The Cavs are once again loaded with picks thanks to general manager Chris Grant. While some of these could be moved during this month's trade deadline, it's likely the Cavs will still have all four come June.
Look for Cleveland to deal at least two of the picks in an effort to cut down on incoming rookies, and maximize the draft position or incoming talent with the picks that they do decide to keep.
Whatever they decide to do, it should be another successful draft for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
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