Getting a haircut is one of the most important things in a young man's life. Choosing the right barber who has the right skill level is key, and establishing a level of comfort to allow that barber to touch your prized hair is a nerve-wracking, dreaded process. Most barbers cut downwards with the clippers facing the ground; but when done properly, cutting upwards, or against the grain, can yield some of the finest-looking hair at the end.
In the case of the Cleveland Cavaliers, general manager Chris Grant and owner Dan Gilbert are a duo of barbers. The customer? The Cavs roster, and the clippers, or the tool used to cut hair, would be none other than their first-overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
Conventional wisdom says to pick up the best available prospect in the draft to fit the team's. And for Cleveland, said wisdom would yield center Nerlens Noel, a 19-year-old, 6-10 shot blocker who played 24 games for the Kentucky Wildcats before tearing his ACL back in February.
Noel averaged 4.4 blocks and 2.1 steals to accompany his 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. His primal instincts on defense would immediately give the Cavaliers, a team that ranks in the bottom 11 of points allowed in the paint, a desperately-needed rim protector.
On offense, however, it's a totally different story. The Kentucky big man has virtually no post game, and relies grabbing offensive boards (2.7 per game at UK) and pick-and-roll situations to generate points. DraftExpress points out that Noel converted merely 45 percent of his three back-to-the-basket possessions per game and only used 18 percent of the Wildcats' possessions with his time on the floor.
So far, you've got an offensively limited big man who, by the way, weighs 206 pounds—a hairline shy of a health hazard for a seven-footer—and is also out for the next few months rehabbing from a torn ACL.
There's also the interesting idea of drafting guard Ben McLemore, Kansas; forward Otto Porter, Georgetown; or one of the many other top-ranked prospects in the draft. Cleveland's back court is pretty much solidified. Kyrie Irving has turned into a gem at point guard, and Dion Waiters really came into his own in March and April.
Otto Porter would be an interesting pick up and fit for Cleveland (they do need to replace Alonzo Gee at the three if they want to make a serious run at the eighth seed), but is he worthy of being picked up No. 1?
In the long-term scenario, an Irving-Waiters-Porter trio could develop into something lethal down the line, and, with a few timely free-agent pick ups, could turn the Cavaliers into the next Oklahoma City Thunder.
The former Hoya averaged 16.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals in his sophomore year at Georgetown. He also shot 42.2 percent from three, but made his biggest impact on defense, where he guarded a variety of positions.
Porter would fit in beautifully with Cleveland because he does not need the ball in his hands to make plays. According to DraftExpress, only 11.4 percent of his offense came from isolation or pick-and-roll situations. That means while Irving and Waiters can do all the shot creating, Porter can float around, get himself open and not worry about having to shoulder the load on offense.
That kind of trio can make the Cavaliers deadly in the years to come, but if Cleveland wants to win, and win now (say, to prove to their star point guard that they're serious about turning the franchise around), they could yield bigger and better gains by cutting against the grain and doing something no team has ever done before—trade the No. 1 pick before the draft.
The Orlando Magic drafted Chris Webber with the first pick in the 1993 NBA Draft. They then turned around and immediately dealt him to the Golden State Warriors for Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway and three future first-round draft picks, which turned into Mike Miller, Todd Fuller and Vince Carter.
Cleveland needs four things: a small and power forward, a center and bench depth. It's also worth mentioning that they also hold the Lakers' 19th overall pick from last season's Ramon Sessions deal,as well as the 31st and 33rd picks in the draft. Couple that with the $20 million in cap room they have, and you've got one crucial summer that could send the franchise on an upward trajectory.
So what kind of trade rumors are flirting around in the blog-o-sphere?
According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Cavaliers have held conversations with the Portland Trail Blazers about combining picks and young pieces in a trade for power forward LaMarcus Aldridge—conversations that have likely gotten more interesting now that the Cavs have landed the No. 1 overall pick.
Cleveland could also make a run at (Lord, please forgive me) Dwight Howard, and use up their $20 million cap space in a sign-and-trade deal to the Lakers, but that's a laughable, far-from-realistic situation that I would only do in NBA 2K13.
There's also the idea of trading down, and since there aren't projected to be any franchise-changing picks in the draft, stockpiling a few pieces to go along with a lottery pick—the Phoenix Suns and their fifth-overall pick, and the Sacramento Kings at seven look especially interesting in this regard.
There are many different avenues the Cleveland Cavaliers can and will explore before the June 27th 2013 NBA Draft. Some are dark alleyways with dead ends, and other are huge intersections that lead to big buildings, bright lights and shiny billboards.
No matter what, expect Chris Grant and Dan Gilbert to go up the river on this one, cutting against the grain in search of the best possible result this summer.
Just remember if done wrong, it could lead to one huge catastrophe and an extremely angry client.
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