Now that the ping-pong balls have dropped and the conspiracy theorists have spoken, the Cleveland Cavaliers now have the fourth pick in this year’s NBA Draft, which coincidentally, they had last year.
Now we can start the speculation as to who the Cavaliers will take with the selection, as well as the other three picks they will have in the top 34 choices.
Here’s what they won’t do. They will not trade F Tristan Thompson to move up to the second pick in the draft. If you have watched NBA basketball over the years, you know the biggest leap a player takes is from his first year to the second season.
Players learn what the NBA is all about, how to condition their bodies for an 82 game schedule, and have a full summer to work on the things the coaching staff and front office want them to improve on.
It is probable that Thompson will come to training camp in October a much better player than he was at the end of the 2011-12 campaign. Think about how much he improved during his rookie year, particularly on the offensive end.
GM Chris Grant should look for someone who can put the ball in the basket, especially since the team lost second leading scorer Antawn Jamison after the season as his contract expired. Coach Byron Scott needs to make up for the 18 points per night Jamison contributed.
That’s why the choice should be between Florida G Bradley Beal, rated by most to be one of the top five players, or UConn guard Jeremy Lamb, a key contributor on the Huskies 2011 national championship team.
There is no question the top pick will be Kentucky C/F Anthony Davis and likely Kansas F Thomas Robinson will be picked in the top three, leaving them unavailable for the Cavs.
A couple of players we will hear plenty about are Connecticut C Andre Drummond, classified as a guy who could be Dwight Howard or Kwame Brown, and North Carolina F Harrison Barnes, who was hyped as a first team pre-season All-America choice before he played his first collegiate game.
Keep in mind, more mistakes are made in the NBA draft on big men than any other position. Yes, a good one is difficult to find, but Grant needs to get a guy who can play the game, not someone Scott will have to prod and cajole in order to get production, which may be the case with Drummond.
As for Barnes, it is difficult to think of any collegiate game that he was part of in which he was a dominant player.
F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist may be available at #4, but he’s more of a solid player, a guy who does a lot of things well. He has been compared to players like Gerald Wallace and Andre Iguodala, both very good players, but not scorers.
Beal may not be a great leaper or stunning athletically, but he’s a scorer. In watching Florida lose in the NCAA tournament to Louisville, you wondered why the Gators didn’t get the ball to Beal when they were struggling down the stretch.
Lamb is thin, but can shoot off the dribble, can handle the ball, and has a beautiful mid-range game, hitting 60% of his shots inside the three-point arc.
Either would be perfect fits for the Cavaliers and would team with rookie of the year Kyrie Irving to set up a very good backcourt for the future.
The Cavs still need size, but they still have three more picks (although they will likely trade one so they don’t bring four rookies into camp) to beef up the frontcourt.
Once again, Grant’s ability to judge talent will be the key to any progress made by the wine and gold, and also whether he will have an NBA GM position five years from now.