Top Potential Trade Packages, Scenarios for Cleveland Cavs No. 1 2014 Draft Pick
Going into the lottery, the Cavs were saddled with the No. 9 pick and a 1.7 percent chance of moving all the way up to the top of the board. That limited their options, as they were presumably going to be left drafting a second-tier prospect or trading the pick for a solid player without much star potential.
But shooting up from No. 9 to No. 1 changes everything.
All of a sudden, players like Kevin Love may be on the table. Trade packages just became a heck of a lot more appealing, as did the prospects Cleveland is in position to draft without any wheeling and dealing.
The top of the draft board becomes a real possibility, not just a pipe dream. Guys like Nik Stauskas, Doug McDermott and Dario Saric just turned into Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker.
There are now a whole bunch of options.
Draft Joel Embiid
This is reportedly the Cavaliers' No. 1 choice, and it's hard to blame them.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have 7-footer Joel Embiid at the top of their draft board, but it's still early in the process and the team needs to obtain medical information on the Cameroon native's back injury, sources told ESPN.com on Wednesday.
The Kansas big man is a game-changing prospect at center, which is a big deal for a franchise that desperately needs one moving forward.
Anderson Varejao is a quality option, but he's quite prone to injury and only under contract through the end of the 2014-15 campaign. Spencer Hawes is a free agent, and Tyler Zeller is not going to be anything more than a backup center on a competitive team.
Embiid, though, is a franchise centerpiece, assuming that his back is healthy and poses no long-term concerns.
"100 percent; no pain, nothing. I been working out, just to get back in the shape," the big man said on Sirius XM Radio when asked about the much-discussed injury, as relayed by A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com.
That's a good sign, but the Cavaliers aren't done doing their due diligence. There will be plenty more research, as this franchise can't afford to waste a No. 1 pick on someone who will spend a significant amount of his career receiving "DNP-Back injury" on his box scores.
Still, injury concerns or not, this is the No. 1 option with the top pick.
Embiid is the player in this class with the highest upside, as his combination of floor-running ability, knack for protecting the rim and footwork on offense leaves his ceiling lofty enough to reach the level of Hakeem Olajuwon. It'll take everything breaking right for him to get there, but that comparison—at least in terms of upside—isn't even a bit hyperbolic for this 20-year-old.
Draft Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker
Just as center is a need, so too is small forward.
Ever since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, this has been a problematic position for Cleveland. Luol Deng was supposed to be the answer this past season, but he struggled mightily after leaving the Chicago Bulls and is set to hit free agency this offseason. So it appears as though the Cavs are back to looking at Alonzo Gee, Sergey Karasev and a bit of Anthony Bennett.
If Dan Gilbert, David Griffin and the rest of the Cleveland front office is looking for immediate improvement and a playoff berth in 2015, small forward is the pick, and that leaves either Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker as the option.
You can't go wrong with either one, and choosing between the two is largely a matter of personal preference.
Andrew Wiggins is the pick for me, but there's nothing wrong with holding the opposite opinion. After all, while Wiggins is the player with a higher ceiling and more two-way potential, Parker is more of an immediate contributor on offense and possesses a similar level of upside.
"Though Parker lacks the upside of Kansas' Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, it's not by much," writes Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman. "And given his refined offensive game and NBA-ready physical tools, he's probably a safer option than both."
It's hard to complain with either of this class' elite forward options.
Trade No. 1 Pick, Thompson and Waiters for Kevin Love
If the Cavs aren't drafting one of the three previously featured players, they won't be picking at No. 1.
Though Dante Exum might squeeze into that truly elite group of prospects, he doesn't fit a need for a team that already boasts the services of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Jarrett Jack and Matthew Dellavedova. Cleveland isn't a strong enough squad to build upon strengths at the expense of addressing weaknesses.
Essentially, the options are twofold: draft one of the elite three or trade the pick. And now we're moving into the latter option.
As Mary Schmitt Boyer reports for The Plain Dealer, Griffin has already revealed that he's open to trading the pick. Who better to swing a deal for than the top player on the market?
And Boyer has more:
After winning the lottery a year ago, the Cavs offered the No. 1 pick, plus Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson, to the Minnesota Timberwolves in an effort to get All-Star forward Kevin Love. The Wolves declined, but the Cavs remain as interested as ever, especially with Monday's news that Love reportedly has informed the Wolves he's not interested in signing an extension.
This is the exact same package, but there's one big difference.
While the 2013 draft class was historically weak, the 2014 class falls on the opposite end of the spectrum. That top pick holds so much more appeal because there are three prospects who seem almost guaranteed to change the fortunes of a franchise, as opposed to the perceived zero last year.
Kevin Love is the type of superstar that the Cavs would be hoping a No. 1 pick could develop into. But he comes with a guarantee, as opposed to the young guns who might not ever fully realize their potential.
And even though Love has never made the playoffs, it's hard to hold that against him.
After all—and this is an argument I've used many times—what power forward could replace Love and get Minnesota into the postseason, given the inherent flaws and weaknesses of that roster? LaMarcus Aldridge couldn't. Blake Griffin couldn't. Dirk Nowitzki couldn't.
Love on the Cavaliers would be terrifying, though.
Sure, the defense would struggle, especially without any sort of rim protection. But the combination of Kyrie Irving and Love would make for both an unstoppable offense and an attractive free-agency destination for many premier wing players.
The only hesitation here (from either side, really) would be Cleveland worrying that Love might opt out of his contract and leave after spending only one season with the Cavs. It's a legitimate concern, one that can't be put aside completely.
But if Griffin is confident in his team-building skills, he'll be able to put together a playoff-caliber roster and hope that one taste of success is enough to leave Love wanting plenty more.
A similar option here is trading Thompson and the No. 1 pick to the Atlanta Hawks for Paul Millsap, the No. 15 selection and a future first-rounder, though that's obviously not quite as appealing.
No. 1 to Orlando Magic for No. 4 and No. 12
What's better than one pick in a stacked draft class? Two picks!
By moving down from No. 1, the Cavaliers would be throwing away their chance to draft either Embiid, Parker or Wiggins, barring a miracle. However, they'd be picking up two more lottery selections, which makes sense for a team with multiple needs.
The Orlando Magic have been stockpiling young talent, and now they're looking for that one transcendent player who can push them over the top. A lineup of Jameer Nelson, Victor Oladipo, Wiggins/Parker, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic is a deadly one, much more so than what they'd be looking at by taking two second-tier players.
Difficult as it might be for the Cavs to part with a potential franchise cornerstone, they can afford to do that because of Kyrie's presence. Taking two players allows them to move further along in their rebuilding process, potentially addressing the need both for a big man and a wing player.
Just imagine the Cavs drafting a duo like Noah Vonleh and James Young. Rodney Hood would be an intriguing option at No. 12 as well.
It's all about which Cleveland values more, and there aren't any bad options. Do they want the one game-changing player or two shots at identifying a star in one of the deepest classes in recent memory?
Send No. 1 and Thompson to Celtics for Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger and No. 6
Let's go ahead and address everything in one fell swoop.
By shipping Tristan Thompson and the No. 1 pick to the Boston Celtics, who could draft Embiid and immediately establish their frontcourt of the future, the Cavs would be in position to fix all of their problems.
Jared Sullinger, fresh off a season in which he proved himself a capable and versatile scorer who could play at either the 4 or the 5, would immediately step in at power forward, replacing Thompson and arguably becoming an instant upgrade—unless Thompson suddenly learns how to shoot, of course.
And while Jeff Green's stock declined while serving as the featured option for the C's, he'd be back in the perfect position to thrive, just as he did when he was a tertiary option to Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. By conceding touches to Irving and Waiters, Green could take the offense that comes to him while re-establishing himself as one of the better wing defenders in basketball.
Already sounds good, right?
Well, the Cavs also get the No. 6 pick in the draft, which allows them to spring for Vonleh, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon or anyone else their heart desires. But let's assume it's Vonleh, simply because he could eventually replace Varejao at the 5.
A lineup of Irving, Waiters, Green, Sullinger and Vonleh is a dangerous one, especially because it's bubbling over with potential at each and every spot in the lineup. Giving up the No. 1 pick without getting a guaranteed star in return is tough, but it may still be in Cleveland's best interest.
Hey, we already know that Boston general manager Danny Ainge would consider a move like this. "I do think that’s a possibility, moving up," he told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.
Perhaps the ball is already in Cleveland's court. With the No. 1 pick in hand, it may as well be.