Analyzing Cleveland Cavaliers' Biggest Draft Needs

Greg SwartzCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterMay 9, 2013

Nov 29, 2012; South Bend, IN, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Nerlens Noel (3) dribbles in the first half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at the Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame won 64-50. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 NBA draft is set for June 27, and perhaps no team is in better shape to improve themselves than the Cleveland Cavaliers.

With four total picks, including two in the first 19 overall, the Cavs have a great chance to significantly upgrade their roster this offseason.

At 24-58, boy, could it use an upgrade or two.

To be fair, the Cavs and general manager Chris Grant have done some great things in the draft the past two years, coming away with three proven starters in Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters.  Tyler Zeller played in 77 games last season, starting 55, but shouldn't be considered a reliable starter just yet.

The Cavs have four total picks, but will likely try to package their second first rounder (19th overall) along with their 31st and 33rd overall picks in an attempt to move up in the draft like they did last year.

With the two quality first-round picks they'd be left with, it's critical that they address both the small forward and center positions.

To look at what kind of players they would need at these positions, let's take a look back at some key stats from last season.


First off, the overall team defense was just on this side of atrocious.  The Cavs ranked 25th in points allowed per game at 101.2.  They were a league-worst in defensive field-goal percentage, allowing opponents to convert 47.6 percent of shots inside the arc.

Part of the defensive problem is that the Cavs have no big men that can protect the rim.  Rookie Tyler Zeller led the team with a measly 0.9 blocked shots per game.

Lucky for Cleveland, the draft does feature a few big men that could help them instantly when it comes to instilling fear into opponents who drive the lane.

Here are some of the top shot-blockers that the Cavs could eye in the 2013 draft, per

Player School Blocks Per Game NCAA Rank
Nerlens Noel Kentucky 4.42 1st
Jeff Withey Kansas 3.79 3rd
Tony Mitchell North Texas 2.72 15th
Gorgui Dieng Louisville 2.52 23rd
Steven Adams Pittsburgh 2.03 55th


Of these five, Noel is the only one worthy of being the Cavaliers' first selection.  The others are likely to fall in the mid-to-late first round, and could be had with the Cavs' second pick.

While all are defensive standouts, as is the case, most are still projects on offense.  The Cavs should have their choice of a more polished, upperclassman like Withey or Dieng, or could opt for a younger, higher-ceiling player like Mitchell or Adams.

Whichever player the Cavs decide on, they need to come away from this draft with a shot-blocking center.


Another big problem the Cavs had was an inability to move the ball on offense.

Kyrie Irving led the team with just 5.9 assists per game.  Sadly, reserve guard Shaun Livingston was third in total assists on the team, despite not even playing a game for the Cavs until Jan. 2.

While the team will be better moving the ball if they re-sign Livingston to play the whole season, some of the other players just haven't cut it.

When focusing on upgrading the small forward position as previously mentioned, it's important that the Cavs target someone in the draft who is an adept passer.  Alonzo Gee (1.6 assists per game) and C.J. Miles (1.0 assist per game) were black holes when the ball came to them last season.

Here are some of the top-ranked small forwards and their assist-per-game numbers from last season.

Player School Assists Per Game
Otto Porter Georgetown 2.7
Anthony Bennett UNLV 1.0
Shabazz Muhammad UCLA 0.8
Tony Mitchell North Texas 0.8
Deshaun Thomas Ohio State 1.3


If going off of this list alone, it's clear which player should be first on the Cavs' radar.

Porter did his fair share of ball-handling with the Hoyas, especially when matched up against Syracuse's zone defense.  He's smart with the ball and averaged just 1.5 turnovers a game.

The video below demonstrates some of these abilities, as he can find the open man in half-court sets as well as on fast-breaks.

Players like Bennett or Muhammad will likely be taken before the Cavs' second pick, and are shoot-first players who wouldn't solve the Cavs' problems when it comes to moving the ball.


When analyzing the Cavaliers' draft needs, defense and passing are two of the first things that should come to mind.  Cleveland is also the weakest at the small forward and center positions, so ideally the Cavs could find players at these spots who can help fill these voids.

When combining the positional needs with the on-court weaknesses, two players immediately stick out.

Nerlens Noel of Kentucky and Otto Porter of Georgetown would be the best two players for the Cavaliers to draft.  Unfortunately, Cleveland will likely have to choose between the two, as both are projected as top-five picks. 

The draft is deep in defensive centers, but very limited in passing small forwards.  For this reason, it may be best for the Cavs to take Porter if he's available and spring for a player like Adams, Withey or Dieng later in the first round.

The Cavs know their issues and what they need to fix.

Draft No. 3 in the rebuilding era needs to be a home run, and could very well be should the Cavs make the right selections.