2011 NBA Draft Grades: The Cavaliers and 5 Teams That Still Have Work to Do
The 2011 NBA Draft has now been over for a few days. Fans have calmed down from either a euphoric or distressed state following their teams' selections. The draft has been critiqued at every conceivable level imaginable.
Drafts in general force teams to make a choice as to whether they should draft for need, or for value. Drafting for need fills weaknesses on teams even though the player selected may not be the most talented available while drafting for value brings in the best player, though he probably isn't the best fit.
In a perfect world, the best player available fills a glaring need, but it rarely happens.
Here are five teams who, while they didn't have bad drafts, still have huge needs that they will need to address in free agency or via trade if they hope to further improve themselves for the upcoming season, whenever it begins. I'll also give them a quick grade on their draft based solely as to whether they filled their needs.
It is important to note that with the impending NBA lockout and the uncertainty as to how it will affect free agents, I'm going to assume that nothing major changes regarding potential free agents and cap space.
In the second round, the Kings selected former UCLA Bruin Tyler Honeycutt and fellow Pac-10 player Isaiah Thomas.
The Kings certainly brought in talent. Jimmer can fill it up as well as anyone in this class and could be a point guard if given adequate time to learn.
Honeycutt could have been selected in the first round and fills a need at small forward, while Thomas is a wild card as an undersized guard.
By bringing in Jimmer, the Kings now have a boat load of players who demand the ball. Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, Salmons, and Marcus Thornton are all players who need shots to be effective. There's some serious question as to whether these guys will be able to co-exist.
What the Kings should look for in free agency or trade is a pure point guard who doesn't need to score to be effective. A guy like Carlos Arroyo or Anthony Carter would be a nice piece to add.
The Phoenix Suns selected Markieff Morris, the older, more defensive oriented brother of the Morris Twins. He doesn't really fill a need, as the Suns have Channing Frye and Hakim Warrick at the power forward, but Morris does bring in a defensive presence that will be valuable as Steve Nash begins to slow down and the team starts to slow the pace.
The Suns biggest issue this off-season is what to do with their older veterans, namely Nash, Grant Hill, and Vince Carter.
For Carter, there's rumors that he may be waived, which would open up a slot on the wing that would need to be filled. Bringing in a scorer like Jordan Crawford would be ideal, but I doubt the Suns will be willing to spend the money necessary to bring him in.
Hill on the other hand, is a free agent, and would probably come back for another season or two for a low price, so he may end up coming back. Regardless, they need to find an eventual replacement as he's up there in age (38). Michael Pietrus is a possibility, but I think he's better coming off the bench.
Nash is the biggest question mark. His contract runs up at the end of next season, and there's been many rumors that the Suns may try to deal him if the price is right. Aaron Brooks is a restricted free agent for the Suns, and if they feel he's the long term answer, they'll bring him back.
Regardless, the Suns front office has been putting off finding Nash's replacement for too long. It's time to find it.
New York Knicks
The New York Knicks made one of the more surprising picks of the first round when they drafted Iman Shumpert, a guy who was ineffective at Georgia Tech, but has the ability to play both guard positions.
In the second round, the Knicks bought a pick and used it to select Kentucky center Josh Harrellson. Harrellson was a complete unknown at this time a year ago, but came on as the only presence John Calipari had this season with the Wildcats.
Iman Shumpert won't be a starter. Chauncey Billups and Landry Fields are both better players, and it isn't close. Shumpert will probably be the second unit guard paired with Toney Douglas. Considering Shumpert's defensive prowess, he'll be able to complement Douglas' scoring ability, but lack of defense.
I'll be honest, I don't think Harrellson has enough ability to make it in the NBA. He's not athletic, and in Mike D'Antoni's system, that's a virtual pre-requisite. Sure, he's a second round pick, but why not just keep the money?
The Knicks are a good team, so their needs are minimal, but their most glaring is finding a defensive-oriented center to pair with Amar'e Stoudemire. If I recall, they don't have much cap space, so they'll have to hope that a player will take the minimum for a chance to play on a contender. Guys like Etan Thomas, Aaron Gray, and Theo Ratliff would be good fits.
Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors reportedly fell in love with Klay Thompson, and selected him with the 11th pick. Thompson is one of the best outside shooters in the draft, and has the size (6'6") to play shooting guard.
In the second round, the Warriors chose another guard in Charles Jenkins, who played at Hofstra. Jenkins is a tough combo guard who I believe is one of the most underrated players in the draft.
It's hard to address whether Thompson will be a starter or not because of the uncertainty regarding Monta Ellis. I've heard that Ellis would like to stay if the Warriors new front office is committed to winning, but otherwise would like to go somewhere in which he has a chance to win a championship.
If Ellis does get dealt, Thompson starts immediately. If not, Klay is probably their sixth man.
Charles Jenkins will be the backup to Stephen Curry and fits the up-and-down style the Warriors have been playing so there won't be too big of a drop-off at that position when Curry sits.
The need that has been most glaring for years has been their defense, or lack thereof. With new coach Mark Jackson, there will hopefully be a greater demand for defending than in the past few seasons. If Ellis is dealt, I'd expect the Warriors to get a post player who excels defensively in exchange.
As for the free agent market, Tyson Chandler is the clear option if the Warriors have the money and Chandler wants to go there, as he'll be getting plenty of offers. If that fails, they could settle on a guy like Nazr Mohammed assuming the Thunder don't bring him back.
The Cavaliers were a team that clearly drafted for pure value, as well they should considering how terrible they were last season. They selected Kyrie Irving at No. 1 overall and then made a somewhat surprising move and grabbed Tristan Thompson at No. 4. Both are young players with plenty of talent and potential.
In the second round, the Cavs traded away Justin Harper to Orlando, and selected Milan Macvan, a guy who probably will never play in the NBA as he's currently playing in Serbia.
Based solely on need, the Cavs did not address their most glaring ones. Irving will probably start, but that's only assuming they deal Baron Davis, as Davis is one of the better point guards in the league when he's motivated.
Thompson is a power forward, and the Cavs best young player, J.J. Hickson, plays that position. My guess is they're hoping they'll be able to play them together because of the lack of top notch centers in the league, or they'll be dealing Hickson in the near future.
What the Cavs really needed was a wing player. They started guys like Anthony Parker, Alonzo Gee, Jamario Moon, Christian Eyenga, and Manny Harris at those spots. Not exactly guys who strike fear in NBA players, probably not even high schoolers.
Granted, aside from Derrick Williams (who I think is more of a power forward than small forward), there weren't any wing players deserving of being a top four pick. Still, the Cavs could've probably traded down and grabbed a guy like Klay Thompson, Alec Burks, or Kawhi Leonard. Didn't happen.
They could've also used a center, but Enes Kanter was gone, and apparently the Cavs weren't willing to wait a year for Jonas Valanciunas, which is understandable. I actually think it would be a decent idea to see if Hickson and Thompson could play together. They're both crazy athletic and Thompson is a solid defender and great rebounder.
Now, do I think the Cavs should go out and grab free agents? Absolutely not. They shouldn't rush the rebuilding process, especially considering the draft class that will be coming in 2012.
They do need to deal Davis and Antawn Jamison ASAP, hope to grab future picks or a decent, young, wing player, and then stand pat.
In terms of talent, the Cavs did just fine, but not in terms of filling needs. Though if there was any team that needed to draft for talent, it was the Cleveland Cavaliers.