If the Cleveland Cavaliers use the first selection in the NBA draft on Georgetown forward Otto Porter, they won't be getting the most out of their good fortune. The Washington Post's Michael Lee reports the Cavs may indeed be considering making Porter the draft's top pick:
But there is a possibility that Porter, arguably the most NBA-ready player among the top prospects, might not be around when the Wizards pick third. A source with knowledge of the Cavaliers’ thinking said Porter is under consideration to go No. 1.
For the second time in three years, the Cavs won the NBA lottery. They hit the jackpot with their selection of Kyrie Irving in 2011. They now have the opportunity to make something out of their most recent ping pong-ball winnings.
If you've been following the events leading up to the draft, then you know this class isn't being held in the highest regard.
Some of the negative assessments of this draft class is a bit extreme, but I do agree there is no superstar whom every team will be salivating to draft.
What's Wrong With Porter?
Instead, this class is made up of players likely be strong rotation contributors and/or secondary options in solid starting fives.
Otto Porter epitomizes this evaluation as much as any player in the draft. While he is efficient (shooting 48 percent overall and 42 percent from three-point range), Porter isn't spectacular in any category.
He has great length for the small forward position (6'8" and over a 7'1" wingspan), but he's only an average athlete (36.5" vertical). Porter does possess solid intangibles, and he has the look of a natural leader.
Draft Express breaks down his game here.
This is in no way a negative scouting report. I firmly believe Porter will be a good player.
When you read the NBA comparisons to Porter, you see names like Memphis' Tayshaun Prince. The Grizzlies' small forward has had a very solid career, but who would draft him with the No. 1 pick?
The worst thing the Cavs can do is to invest the No. 1 pick in a guy who doesn't have the talent to live up to the distinction.
The only players in the class who have the potential to be justify a top overall pick are Kentucky's Nerlens Noel and Kansas' Ben McLemore. It is hard for me to rationalize selecting any other player with the top pick.
Noel's length, athleticism, defensive instincts and youth (19 years old) give him perhaps the most upside. McLemore's smooth jump shot and All-Star-Weekend hops could allow him to blossom into a 2-guard who averages 18-22 points per game for five or six straight years.
Of the two, McLemore makes the most sense for Cleveland.
Irving needs shooters to spread the floor. Today's NBA is based on spacing the floor for dribble penetration. Irving has the latter covered, but the Cavs don't have dependable shooters to balance their offense and open up driving lanes for their All-Star point guard.
This is primarily why the team was 19th in the NBA in scoring and 23rd in three-point shooting.
Cleveland did draft Dion Waiters with the fourth pick in 2012, but Waiters is better suited as a sixth man. That was the role he excelled in at Syracuse. He's a pure scorer, who would give the Cavs' second unit an explosive scoring weapon off the bench.
At the end of games, a three-guard offense that features Irving, McLemore and Waiters would be difficult to deal with.
Cleveland wouldn't be hurting on defense if the trio were backed by Anderson Varejao and Tyler Zeller to protect the rim.
Plan B or C
In the event the Cavs brass don't believe in McLemore or Noel enough to take either with the top pick, they would be better off trading down.
The team could probably stay in the lottery and have a shot at either McLemore or Porter—depending on how far they traded down.
If the Cavs really want Porter bad enough, it seems like swinging a deal with the Orlando Magic is an option. Orlando would almost certainly take Noel if given the chance; even if the Magic took another player, it is unlikely that—withTobias Harris playing well at the small forward spot after being acquired from Milwaukee—they would target Porter.
Cleveland's primary competition for Porter would come from the Washington Wizards. Washington has the third pick, and Porter might fit nicely with John Wall and Bradley Beal.
By getting the same player lower in the draft, the team would save a few dollars by not paying for the No. 1 selection. In addition to that, that player will have less pressure as a lower lottery pick to succeed than if he were the first overall pick.
Though they may not be able to acquire additional major assets for moving just two or three spots down the draft board, the Cavs could take something of value back and still get their top choice.
The foil to this approach is if the Cavs fancy Noel most of all. It seems a good bet that trading out of the top two spots would mean missing out on him.
In any case, taking Porter No. 1 is not the answer. It just seems foolish to reach for a prospect when the Cavs are the team in control of the board.
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