A night that was supposed to be one of excitement and optimism turning out to be disappointing for fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Yes, they picked the best player available in Kyrie Irving, the point guard of the future with the first overall selection. But after weeks of speculation regarding Enes Kanter and Jonas Valenciunas, GM Chris Grant selected F Tristan Thompson of Texas with the fourth overall pick.
So, the disappointment with Thompson is probably more because he wasn’t thought to be the guy the Cavaliers wanted. People will speculate they wanted Valenciunas, but didn’t want to wait, and Kanter was taken with the third pick, thus ending ideas that the Cavs could take him and deal him for more picks.
Thompson is considered a good defender and shot blocker at 6’9″ and 230 pounds, and well as having good hands, which translates into being a force on the boards. However, he is limited offensively. He does draw an inordinate amount of fouls, but isn’t a good free throw shooter at this time.
He is just 20 years old, and you can improve a shooting touch with a lot of work, and the rookie is said to have a good work ethic. You can’t teach defensive instincts or the desire to rebound as easily as you can help someone put the ball in the basket better. Thompson ranks high in quickness, rebounding, and intangibles.
The puzzling thing is that power forward is an area of strength for the wine and gold with J.J. Hickson and Anderson Varejao. That probably means a deal is imminent involving one of those players.
That depth makes Cleveland’s first pick in the second round strange as well. They selected Justin Harper, a 6’9″ forward out of Richmond, although they traded him to Orlando for two future second round picks.
With their second pick in round two, the Cavs took another power forward in 6’9″ Milan Macvan from Serbia. It is said Macvan will not play here this year, if at all, but he is a fundamentally sound player with strength, good post moves, and a good passer. Some say he is the Serbian Brian Cardinal, so he’s a solid player.
For those complaining about the draft, remember that the off-season is not over tonight. There is an entire summer in which moves can be made, and some could even be made before morning, You never know.
Grant has not used the trade exemption. He has a glut of power forwards, one of which could be moved for a shooting guard or a small forward. He has three quality point guards, including Ramon Sessions, who is reportedly getting interest from the Bucks, Lakers, and Knicks. He also has the potentially (depending on the new labor agreement) expiring contract of Antawn Jamison.
And it’s not as though Thompson is some sort of stiff either. He’s a very young player with just one year of college experience, who has a great deal of room for growth. The scouting report on him says he is a willing worker, and that’s a great attribute to have.
So relax, Cavalier fans. They didn’t get the guys who were talked about for several weeks, but they did get a player with talent. They also set themselves up to make a trade out of strength. Teams looking for a quality power forward should be calling Chris Grant soon. The Cavaliers have some available.