2011 NBA Draft Grades: Cleveland Cavaliers Drop Ball Drafting Tristan Thompson

Ethan Norof@ethan_norofCorrespondent IJune 24, 2011

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 23:  Tristan Thompson from the University of Texas greets NBA Commissioner David Stern after he was drafted #4 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round during the 2011 NBA Draft at the Prudential Center on June 23, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers had two of the top five selections in the 2011 NBA draft on Thursday night.

The club seemed content in selecting Duke point guard Kyrie Irving first overall, and despite some overtures that they should have taken Derrick Williams, Irving was the favorite in the top slot for quite some time.

The Cavs were widely expected to choose between either Enes Kanter or Jonas Valanciunas with the fourth selection, but instead they reached for potential and drafted Tristan Thompson.

Thompson was a surprise to be invited to the green room when invitations were originally announced, and his selection ahead of some much more talented prospects raised major eyebrows across the league.

Personally, I feel that the team would have been much better off taking Williams at No. 1 and then Brandon Knight three picks later, but there was admittedly too much risk in that scenario since the Jazz were a legitimate threat to take Knight with the third pick.

If the Cavs plan to keep J.J. Hickson in the fold, Thompson's selection is an absolutely puzzling one.

I believe that they reached far too high to nab the Texas product, but in a draft that had no "slam dunk," Cleveland didn't express hesitancy in grabbing their man early.

Since LeBron James' infamous departure, the team has a gaping hole at the small forward spot that they've yet to address. Christian Eyenga is an intriguing athlete, but he's simply not a starting 3 on a team that's going to compete any time soon.

If the team didn't want to wait for Jonas Valanciunas for an entire year, they really should have considered Jan Vesely and his extraordinary athleticism with the pick.

Vesely has range from all over the court, can leap right out of the gym and isn't afraid to assert himself around the rim and challenge any defender in his way.

The product of the Czech Republic not only has more upside than Thompson, but he's also produced at a much higher level up to this point in his young career.

A youthful pairing of Irving and Vesely would have been really fun to watch on the fast break, but instead, Cleveland felt that Thompson's potential was too promising to pass up. He must have really impressed the club with his workouts, because there weren't many people expecting the power forward to go in the top four.

For a team that needs as much help as they can get on the offensive end, Thompson isn't going to help whatsoever. He is incredibly raw and will take time to develop, but it's not a sure thing that he'll ever become a productive scoring threat.

At 6'8" and 230 lbs, Thompson is incredibly undersized for the 4 spot and is going to have a ton of trouble banging around with the big bodies he's going to face at the NBA level underneath the hoop.

The long-term picture of the Cavaliers team is an uncertain one at this point, but if Thompson busts at the professional level, it's going to be a giant swing and miss for a team that really needed to swing for the fences and knock this draft right out of the park.