Returning to the Lottery: Who Should Cleveland Cavaliers Pick in 2014 NBA Draft?

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Returning to the Lottery: Who Should Cleveland Cavaliers Pick in 2014 NBA Draft?
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers are heading back to a familiar place, whether they're ready to admit it or not.

Currently sitting six and a half games back of the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, it's safe to say Cleveland's goal of making the postseason has come to an end.

The good news for Cavaliers' fans is this appears to be a great draft to own a lottery pick.

With three potential franchise players and a plethora of talent behind them, the Cavs have a chance to make up for what has been a disappointing haul at the 2013 draft.

Peeking ahead, where will the Cavaliers finish the season? What draft pick will they get and who are the most likely players to be on their way to Cleveland?

 

Final Standing/Draft Pick

As of Mar. 22, the Cavs were 26-44 and tied for ninth place in the East.

According to ESPN, Cleveland currently holds the ninth best odds of winning the lottery at 1.7 percent. The Milwaukee Bucks, owners of an NBA-worst 13-56 record, are the lottery favorites as of now.

So, where will the Cavaliers end the season?

Cleveland has lost four straight games and is just 2-8 in their last 10. All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving has missed the last three games with a strained biceps tendon and could very well be out for the remainder of the season (seriously, why rush him back?).

Rocky Widner/Getty Images

No Irving likely means a greater fall down the standings, but how far?

It's safe to say there are only three teams in the NBA that the Cavs can't catch in the loss column. The Bucks (13-56), Philadelphia 76ers (15-55, 24 straight losses) and Orlando Magic (19-50) are tanking so well not even the Cavs can pass them.

That being said, Cleveland could finish with the fourth-worst record in the NBA.

The Utah Jazz currently hold that distinction, but are only three and a half games worse than the Cavs at 22-47. With 12 games left to be played, all likely without Irving, it's not unreasonable to think Cleveland could finish tied or below Utah.

It would be tough to see the Cavaliers climb any higher in the standings, as they're three and a half games behind the New Orleans Pelicans for the 10th-worst record.

Expect Cleveland to finish anywhere from fourth to ninth in the final lottery standings, with the eighth overall spot (between the Sacramento Kings and Detroit Pistons) being the most likely destination.

 

Team Needs

The Cavs should be at the point where they start drafting on what the team needs instead of overall talent. No point guard or power forward should be considered with what will likely be a top-10 pick.

Small forward should be the main area to target, as Luol Deng will likely leave via free agency. Center and shooting guard are two positions the Cavs could stand to upgrade as well, with C.J. Miles and Spencer Hawes also entering free agency.

 

Players Available

When looking over what prospects should be available around the eighth pick who fill a need on the Cavs, three names stand out.

 

Kyle Anderson, PG/SF, UCLA Bruins

Talk about a unique player.

At 6'9" and 230 pounds, Anderson can play three or four different positions. He handles the ball like a point guard, despite standing as tall as your average power forward.

Putting a player like Anderson at small forward for the Cavs would give them another playmaker and someone who could help run the offense.

Just a sophomore, Anderson has put up 14.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game for the Bruins.

 

Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State

A solid spot-up shooter and slasher, Harris could take over Miles' and now Jarrett Jack's job as Cleveland's starter at the two.

Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman likes Harris with the Cavs in his latest mock draft, saying:

He's become a more complete player this season, particularly off the dribble, where he's now a threat to put it on the floor and create. Harris has nearly doubled his assist rate this year while raising his scoring average up to 17.1 points per game. He'd be an excellent fit in Cleveland with his ability to score within an offense, something that Dion Waiters has struggled to do since entering the league.

For the season, Harris is averaging 16.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.9 steals per contest.

 

Doug McDermott, F, Creighton

Even though he's already 22 and a senior, McDermott makes a lot of sense in Cleveland.

After years spent drafting freshman and sophomore projects, it would be a refreshing change to have a player step in and be ready to contribute right away. While he may not have the upside of some prospects being drafted before him, McDermott could be one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft.

At 6'8" and 225 pounds, McDermott can play either forward position. He could probably start right away for the Cavs at small forward, where they've desperately needed an outside shooter.

Shooting is something the two-time All-American knows how to do. In his four seasons, McDermott has averaged 21.8 points while knocking down 46.1 percent of his three-pointers.

He may give up his share of points on the defensive end, but adding a smart, experienced offensive player would be a good pick for the Cavs.

 

Conclusion

For all their work trying to make the playoffs this season, landing in the lottery isn't such a terrible thing for Cleveland.

Who would be best for Cavaliers?

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Talent in this draft appears to be the deepest since possibly the 2003 class, with depth at several different positions.

The Cavs still have plenty of holes to fill, even after collecting six first-round picks in the past three years. Drafting a small forward for the future should be at the top of their list, with shooting guard and center also getting consideration.

While this isn't where anyone in the Cavaliers organization wanted to be, they need to just treat it as an opportunity to improve and try again for the playoffs next season.

Adding a player like Anderson, Harris or McDermott would certainly help the cause.

 

-GS

 

All stats provided by sports-reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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