This Thursday night is the first day in the rebuilding of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ franchise.
They will officially turn the page on the LeBron James era by having the first and fourth overall picks in the NBA draft. Right now, they have those picks, that is. They also possess the #32 and #54 overall choices, so a nice infusion of talent is coming the way of a team that won just 19 games last season.
Although there is debate on who Cleveland will choose with the first pick, there is no question they will take Duke PG Kyrie Irving. Irving is regarded as the best player available, and if you have the first overall choice, you have to take the best player. That’s how drafts work. They are designed for poor teams to get talent, so you have to take the most talented player.
That is not to say Arizona F Derrick Williams is not a gifted athlete, he most certainly is. However, the question on Williams is what position he will play in the NBA, the #3 spot or the #4 spot. It is said Williams doesn’t have the ball skills to play small forward, and it is questionable he has the size to guard power forwards on the NBA level.
Despite these questions, there is no question Williams is second best player available.
The next debate for the wine and gold is who to take at #4. It seems to be a choice between C Enes Kanter and PF Jonas Valanciunas. Kanter, from Turkey, is considered the more finished prospect. He is strong and considered to be a player who can step right in and be a starter, or at least a rotation player right away.
Valanciunas is viewed as a player with more upside, with plenty of room for improvement. He also has contract issue with his European team and may not be able to play in the NBA this season. Picking him would mean another choice in the lottery next season, which is considered by many a deeper draft with many of the guys who didn’t come out this year being included.
Of course, there is the possibility of a trade because GM Chris Grant has to use the trade exemption acquired when James went to Miami last season by the middle of July. There has been talk of using that bargaining chip along with a player, perhaps Ramon Sessions, who would be superfluous with the Irving choice, to move up to the second overall pick, thus netting the Cavs, Irving and Williams.
And don’t forget the expiring contract of Antawn Jamison which will be a valuable thing as well, although not until the trading deadline in February.
Another thing, you know that Dan Gilbert is willing to absorb a bad contract to make a deal work in the long run. That’s how his basketball team is sitting with the first pick, he was able to take Baron Davis’ contract which the Clippers wanted to dump in, and they received an unprotected lottery pick in return.
As for people questioning Grant credentials, it says here he is a better talent evaluator than his predecessor. Remember, Grant signed Kyle Lowry to an offer sheet last summer, which Houston matched. Lowry had a very good year with the Rockets.
He also found street free agents Manny Harris and Samardo Samuels, who were contributors in their rookie seasons. They may never be stars, but they weren’t drafted and Grant found them.
Also, he picked up Sessions in a deal for Delonte West. Sessions is a solid NBA player, and certainly helped Cleveland last season.
All in all, Thursday night will be a big night for the future of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kind of a re-birth of the franchise.