NBA Draft: Why Cleveland Cavaliers Should Draft Ben McLemore Over Nerlens Noel
While Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel is the closest thing to a consensus number one overall pick in a relatively weak draft, he may not be the best selection for a Cleveland Cavaliers team that is looking to win now. While other names such as Otto Porter of Georgetown have been thrown around, the player who may fit best for the Cleveland Cavaliers is Kansas guard Ben McLemore.
First off, there is no doubt that Noel earned his reputation as a potential top overall pick. Before he tore his ACL, Noel was averaging nearly a double-double (10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds) and an astounding 4.4 blocks per game.
He measured 6'11 3/4" at the NBA draft combine—taller than last year's number one pick, Anthony Davis, another former Kentucky big man.
Still, there are concerns that come with taking Noel number on overall. First, he weighed in at the combine at only 206 pounds, which is incredibly thin for an NBA big man, let alone someone expected to play center. For the sake of comparison, New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler, to whom Noel has been compared, weighs 240 pounds. Noel was listed at 220 pounds while he played at Kentucky, so it's entirely possible he has just lost weight while rehabbing his injury. But it's still a concern.
Another concern is Noel's questionable offensive game. Seen as defensive centerpiece, Noel wouldn't be expected to score much in the NBA, but a problem arises for the Cavs should they pair him up in the frontcourt with Tristan Thompson, another big who isn't known for his scoring. Thompson did evolve a lot as a player this year, averaging 11.7 points per game, but that production, coupled with what is expected from Noel, doesn't foreshadow much scoring up front.
Ben McLemore, on the other hand, is a great fit for the Cavaliers for a number of reasons. McLemore averaged 15.9 points per game as a freshman at Kansas this year, while shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point range. For a Cavaliers team that desperately needs shooting, there is little doubt that McLemore would provide that.
McLemore also fits in very well with the Cavs's current personnel.
One of the biggest knocks on McLemore has been his lack of assertiveness and willingness to take over games. Luckily for him the Cavaliers have Kyrie Irving, who is already the definitive star of the team. McLemore had to carry his Kansas team as a freshman, and he did a very good job of doing so, but on the Cavaliers he would be able to let Irving shoulder the load of being the team's go-to guy.
What Should the Cavs Do with the No. 1 Overall Pick?
One other reason people have discounted McLemore going to Cleveland is the presence of last year's No. 4 overall draft pick, Dion Waiters.
However, McLemore joining the Cavaliers would give Waiters the ability to come off the bench, a situation in which he could certainly excel. Waiters actually never started a game during his years at Syracuse, and would help to carry a Cavaliers second unit that was very weak in terms of scoring last year.
Considering his ability to handle the ball, Waiters could come off the bench and play either shooting guard or point guard, giving McLemore and Irving rest when they need it, while providing the majority of the scoring for the second unit. It isn't out of line to think that Waiters could become a Jamal Crawford or Jason Terry-type of player in this position, which would benefit both himself and the Cavaliers.
There is no doubt that the Cavaliers have a great task ahead of them in deciding whom to take with the top pick in June. While many assume Noel is the best selection, picking McLemore would provide the shooting and scoring that this Cavaliers team desperately needs, while also netting them a potential all-star.
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