With the results for the NBA Draft Lottery being learned tomorrow, it reminds us how critical this off-season is for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who had the third worst record in the league this season.
While many basketball fans in the area are anxious to hear if the wine and gold indeed move up in the selection process, the reality is what do they win if they do get the first overall pick?
Most experts believe this is a very weak draft, meaning no one selected next month can be expected to make an immediate impact on their new team.
Which is the worst case scenario for the Cavs.
GM Chris Grant needs to bring in someone who can help this team contend for a playoff spot in the 2013-14 season. He brought in Mike Brown to coach the squad, but no matter who great a job Brown does next season, the fact remains that he has to improve the Cavaliers’ record by 14 games, the amount Cleveland was behind the 8th playoff seed in the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks.
Yes, several of the Cavs’ young players will improve, mostly meaning the four picks in the last two drafts: Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, and Tyler Zeller. And the new emphasis on defense will help as well, but the fact remains that Grant needs to add a quality veteran to the mix for the wine and gold to take a quantum leap, record-wise, in ’13-’14.
The best post player available in Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, who is 6’11” weighs 225 pounds, and is coming off a knee injury. At his weight, he is unlikely to be ready to play meaningful, productive minutes against experienced NBA big men. Keep in mind, Noel is 25 pounds lighter than Zeller, who was pushed around a lot last season.
The best wing player is Kansas’ Ben McLemore, who played well in one NCAA tournament game, and disappeared in the rest. While he may wind up to be a good NBA player, it wouldn’t be a good bet to say that will happen next season.
Why not take a project like these guys if given the opportunity?
First, once again, the Cavaliers need to start winning right away because it is important for the young players not to start developing a losing mentality. That’s why many teams that inhabit the lottery every year remain there. The continued losing permeates the organization.
The second reason is that by the time the project starts becoming a legitimate player, his rookie contract has expired. Therefore, the team has to make the decision to tie a non-proven player up to a long-term contract.
The key word for most of the players who will be picked during the draft is “potential”, and Grant can’t afford to wait for these guys to develop. He needs someone who can step in to the small forward spot, thus rendering Alonzo Gee to the bench.
They need someone who can play in the post and can score as well.
They have assets to trade. Grant has four picks in the draft at his disposal and also the wild card could be Anderson Varejao, a very good big man who has had a problem playing at the same time as Thompson.
No matter what happens tomorrow night in the lottery selection or after the actual draft itself, the Cleveland Cavaliers have to be a much improved team. The pressure is on Chris Grant to make that happen.