Analyzing Cleveland Cavaliers' Best Options in 2013 NBA Draft
The Cleveland Cavaliers own all the cards in the 2013 NBA draft. With the No. 1 pick, an abundance of cap room, three other draft picks this year and a future lottery pick they acquired from the Memphis Grizzlies, Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant has a lot of flexibility. This year's draft is crucial for the long-term future of the organization, and there are several intriguing directions the Cavs can go.
The Cavaliers have an exciting, young core in Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller. If they pick the right guy(s) and/or make the right trades, all of a sudden the Cavs could be legitimate championship contenders in the next couple of years.
Here are five realistic scenarios the Cavs will be facing as the 2013 NBA draft approaches:
Stay at No. 1 and Select Nerlens Noel
Noel is a risk, but is his potential worth it?
Nerlens Noel has tremendous upside and could be a dominant force in the paint.
He needs to add on weight as according to Kentucky head coach John Calipari, Noel played at around 222 pounds during the season. He weighed in at the combine at 206 pounds, but Calipari explained he needed to shed the weight for rehab purposes. He would need to add on at least 20 pounds which he could easily do with his frame.
Besides his weight, his defensive game will translate immediately to the NBA, as he averaged 4.4 blocks and 9.5 rebounds a game at Kentucky.
According to Hoopsworld (subscription required), Noel has by far the highest Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP) rating of 4.0 and tied at first in the draft class with Otto Porter in efficiency rating (27.3).
According to waitingfornextyear.com, Noel became the first ever collegiate player to play 600 minutes in a season and to post a 9.3 percent or higher block percentage (his was 13.2 percent) and 3.2 percent or higher steal percentage (his was 3.9 percent).
Noel will likely be the Cavs pick if they feel comfortable with his ACL injury.
If Noel is the pick, then the Cavs will have to look via trade or free agency for veteran scoring contributors as they can't expect to make the playoffs next year (assuming no additional moves) with how raw Noel is on offense.
Critics of Noel like Bill Livingston of The Plain Dealer find it hard to believe that he will ever develop into an offensive threat. Tristan Thompson also had no offensive game when he was drafted, and he has made tremendous strides in just two seasons. There isn't any reason Noel can't improve like Thompson has.
Stay at No. 1 and Select Otto Porter
Otto Porter will be a very nice player in the NBA.
But will he be game-changer?
Porter is the most NBA ready player in this draft, but when you have the first overall pick in the draft, the guy must be a consistent playmaker.
His former head coach at Georgetown, John Thompson III, told 92.3 The Fan that Porter would be a perfect fit for the Cavs and even said how similar he thought Porter was to the Indiana Pacers' Paul George. He also went on to say that Porter was, "the most prepared freshman I've ever coached."
Porter would no doubt be an instant starter and put up respectable numbers his rookie year as Kyrie Irving will put him in position to get good shot opportunities.
The knock on Porter is that he has trouble creating his own shots off the dribble and is best as a spot-up shooter like he was the majority of the time at Georgetown.
He is a very good passer, rebounder and has excellent length to be an above-average defender.
Porter is a safe pick as he likely won't crash and burn as an NBA player. But, will he be a consistent 20-point scorer which is what you need at arguably the most important position in the current NBA?
Stay at No. 1 and Select Ben McLemore
Do the Cavs need another shooting guard?
Even though the Cavs have a starting caliber two-guard in Dion Waiters, Ben McLemore is the kind of dynamic player that could make the Cavs an electrifying team.
McLemore is a pure shooter who many compare his release to that of Ray Allen's. He isn't a knockdown shooter at this stage in his career, but according to draftexpress.com, most scouts feel he is capable of being one with his excellent mechanics. He is also a good at cutting and finishing transition. Like Porter, he struggles creating his own shot.
He has a very pedestrian wingspan of 6'8'' but has quick feet and a chiseled frame to be a good defender which is a must under new head coach Mike Brown.
If the Cavs draft McLemore, Waiters would become the sixth man. Waiters can get to the rim at will and can be capable of being a distributor and leading the offense when Irving is on the bench.
Cavs GM Chris Grant told 92.3 The Fan, that while big men are obviously important, they will not hesitate taking another guard if they feel he is the best player. He states that guards control the game and talks about how you see successful teams play three guards at once frequently.
Trade the No. 1 Pick for an Established Player Then Trade Up into Lower Lottery
Is Batum an emerging all-star?
The Cavs definitely want to add a quality, young veteran. Mike Brown even came out and said so in this 92.3 The Fan interview.
Several names have been thrown around in the media like Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMarcus Cousins and Danny Granger.
Love, Cousins and Aldridge are pipe dreams. Granger is more realistic because of the emergence of Paul George, and the Pacers want to save their financial resources to keep David West, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops recently brought up an interesting name: small forward Nicolas Batum of the Portland Trailblazers. While the Cavs should not give up the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft just for Batum, he fits the bill of a young veteran at 24 years old who has shown flashes he can be a 20-point scorer and good rebounder.
Trading for an established, young all-star player might be a little difficult since you know teams just love to give away those type of players, especially when there is no unanimous guy in the draft every scout is drooling over. But, every so often the right situation comes along where those players do become available for a multitude of reasons.
Let's say the Cavs do end up getting what they want in exchange for the No. 1 pick without giving up any of their other picks this year. The Cavs will most likely package the rest of their picks to move up to the lower half of the lottery.
Some prospects that could be available include:
- Center Steven Adams, Pittsburgh
- Center Alex Len, Maryland
- Center Cody Zeller, Indiana
- Small forward Sergei Karasev, Russia
- Center Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga
- Center Rudy Gobert, France
- Shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
Do the Cavs fall for Len?
Trading down is the least likely of scenarios for the Cavs.
If they traded down, it would only be a few spots and they would most likely acquire a veteran in return.
Alex Len or Victor Oladipo are possibilities with the No. 1 pick because GM Chris Grant has shown he doesn't listen to the media or fans. According to Probasketballdraft, Len was third on the Cavs' board at the time of the lottery.
More likely though if they want someone like Len, they will look to trade down because Noel, McLemore and Porter will likely be the first three picks.
Len certainly has confidence in himself telling the Washington Post, "I think maybe 10 years from now, I'll be the best player out of this draft."
Len does have loads of potential, and it is certainly possible he could end up being the best player. He posted a 23-point and 12-rebound game going head to head with Nerlens Noel.
If the Cavs picked Len and added a very good, maybe not all-star caliber veteran to the mix, it might not have fans scrambling for season tickets, but could end up being the best move for the short- and long-term future.