I really have no idea what the Cavs are going to do Thursday night (and neither do Kyrie Irving or Derrick Williams).
I also have no idea what I even want the Cavs to do. Well, unless Terry Pluto’s dream scenario comes true and they somehow land both Irving and Williams. *fingers crossed*
(Also, part of the reason for all the intrigue is that this draft is short on SGs and SFs, which is what the Cavs really need. Well, unless you’re sold on Alonzo Gee’s longterm prospects).
Maybe it’s only a smokescreen, but word came out of Cleveland this past week that there is a split on whom the Cavs will take with the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s draft. GM Chris Grant wants Kyrie Irving, the Duke playmaker out of West Orange, N.J. But owner Dan Gilbert is said to favor Arizona forward Derrick Williams.
I swing back and forth between the two. I’ll be quite fine with Irving (Byron Scott’s offense needs a PG) but I like that fact that Derrick Williams thinks he’s the best player in the draft (of course, Enes Kanter thinks the same thing). But I like the confidence and swagger.
The problem with Williams is that he doesn’t have a position. He’s not fast enough to guard NBA small forwards and he’s just a tad undersized to be a four. Plus, the minute you draft Williams, J.J. Hickson’s trade value plummets (you’d almost certainly have to trade J.J., unless you want to have the first overall pick playing out of position).
If the Cavs take Williams first and stand pat at 4 (as they’ve said they will), I’d like that fourth pick to be Brandon Knight but apparently that’s not very likely. If this draft is deep in anything besides Euros, it’s point guards, so depending on how they view Knight, it’s possible they could pass on Irving and still end up with their Point Guard of the Future.
However, assuming Irving goes first, the obvious pick at 4 is one of the European big men, Enes Kanter or Jonas Valanciunas. Both guys come with significant risk. Kanter was recruited by Kentucky, but sat out last season due to NCAA violations (so if you draft him with Irving, you’re getting two would-be sophomores who played a combined 11 games their freshman year). Valanciunas is supposedly the better long-term prospect of the two, but has a tricky buyout with his European club.
When the Cavs got the 1st and 4th picks, I initially wanted Irving and Kanter (which still isn’t a bad way to go), but as we’ve moved along, I like the idea of stashing Valanciunas overseas for a year. I’m of the belief that the Cavs need to be drafting top 10 (if not top 5) next season and if you’re gonna suck, why not grab the long term prospect and let him develop? Who cares if Kanter is better next season if Valanciunas is better in three?
Most of the mocks I linked above had the Cavs selecting Valanciunas or Kanter but SI’s Sam Amick writes it could be Tristan Thompson:
I’m admittedly shocked to be dropping this early bombshell, but a source said there are strong indications this could be the pick as long as Kanter is off the board by No. 4. The Cavs need a player who can contribute now, and I think Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas gets passed up here because he doesn’t fit those parameters. Huge upside and all, his buyout with his Lietuvos Rytas team (which was first reported by DraftExpress.com) prohibits him from playing in the NBA next season, and that is a problem for Cleveland. If the Cavs don’t opt for Thompson, I’m told it will be a surprise if he gets out of the top 10.
Who is Tristan Thompson? This guy:
The 6-9 Thompson is a banger of a power forward, but he lacks anything resembling polish at this stage of his career. He made less than half of his free throws, his Points per possession on jump shots was the lowest in this year’s crop of big men, and his posts per possessions on post-ups was the second-lowest mark. (Data courtesy of Draftexpress.com.)
Awesome. They’d take a guy who wouldn’t otherwise be in the top ten because they don’t want to wait a year or two for Valanciunas? YAY FORWARD THINKING. (Now, if they trade down and take Valanciunas later, I’m cool).
Needless to say, this draft is odd and the Cavs have a lot of options (that’s not even counting their two second round selections).
At the end of the day, I think I’m leaning towards Irving and a Euro-big (I’ll be happy with either Kanter or Valanciunas), but I’m OK with them taking Williams first, especially if they nab Knight.
And if they somehow end up with both Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams, well, I’ll probably end up hurting myself and others during my massive celebration.