Cleveland Cavaliers Win NBA Lottery, What Should They Do Now?
Well, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a choice to make. A few of them, actually.
The Cavs jumped up two spots in Tuesday night's NBA draft lottery to snag the No. 1 pick. The surprising good luck—thanks, Nick Gilbert!—has Cleveland in a fortuitous position: they have their choice of young players to add to their already young core, or they could look to move the pick for an established All-Star type player.
Let's say Cleveland keeps its pick, which is probably the likeliest scenario.
Nerlens Noel is the obvious pick, and while Chris Grant will do his due diligence, there's a couple of factors pointing strongly toward the freshman from Kentucky, chief among them Mike Brown.
Brown is, above everything, a defensive coach. He is fully aware of just how awful Cleveland was on that end of the court a year ago, and I would imagine his first priority would be improving one of the league's most porous defenses.
Their guards struggled to make consistent rotations and keep the ball in front of them, but the major problem was protecting the paint. Opposing teams shot 62.5 percent from within five feet against Cleveland, the third-worst mark in the league. Cleveland doesn't have a single player on its roster that can challenge a shot at the rim.
Enter Nerlens, a shot-blocking maven. If he's going to contribute anything at all during his rookie season, it will be on defense, primarily blocking and altering shots. Brown has to be giddy that he can plug in a rookie who will help to solve his defense's most glaring issue almost immediately.
Beyond that, it's not unreasonable that he can live on putbacks and pick-and-roll dunks, and if he puts on a few more pounds, he could possibly be a healthier and more offensive Tyson Chandler. There's more to like right off the bat than you think.
There's an argument to be made for drafting Otto Porter, who's the ideal 3 for Cleveland's roster, but effective swingmen are much more plentiful in the draft (maybe even with the 19th pick) than a 6'11" shot-blocking pogo stick.
But Grant has made it clear that drafting Noel, or even keeping the pick, is not a lock. Cleveland will explore all its options, and that includes trading the No. 1 overall pick.
If they were to pull the trigger on a deal of that caliber, what would be a fair, or more importantly, a smart return? Cleveland was recently linked to LaMarcus Aldridge, according to Yahoo! Sports, so perhaps they'd revisit that deal. DeMarcus Cousins is available, but he's pretty much confirmed any and all headcase suspicions. Al Horford could also be acquired if Atlanta whiffs on the D12/CP3 dream signing.
Those are three talented bigs, but they're also expensive. Is it worth tying up all future cap flexibility for one of them? I don't think so. There's only one name that really intrigues me: Kevin Love.
If Minnesota were to make him available, Cleveland has to pull the trigger. There's no question marks with Love. He's a legit All-Star, a relentless rebounder who has three-point range and proven chemistry with Uncle Drew. Could you imagine pairing him with Anderson Varejao? How many rebounds would they get? All the rebounds, that's how many.
As things stand right now, there's really only two options: Noel or Love.
Whatever he does, this quote will help me sleep easier at night, courtesy of Cleveland.com:
"We certainly think about that. And it is important," Grant said of veteran help. "But at the same time, when you have the ability to add very good young talent to your roster that can grow and flourish, and you add that to the other guys you have, it gives you an opportunity to build something that's sustainable long-term."
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