Ahh the Number One Draft Pick. Are there any sweeter words, any better prize for fans of a team that had a bad season? Outside of the obvious (that you have the chance to get the most talented player, who can have the biggest impact on your teams performance), being the first team to select in a draft has some other perks. Let’s take a look at those and go over the Cavs most likely options.
3. Trade the Pick
The Cavs front office has made it clear that they’re willing to hear offers to move up and snag that #1 overall pick. While the value in this draft probably isn’t terribly high, there are a couple of teams in the top ten who would probably feel better if they knew with certainty that they would get their guy. That said, its usually not worth the return on investment in the NBA to give away the top pick. The cut off in talent after the top 5 or so usually just doesn’t translate well, and there may only be one true star or even starter in any given draft year. This year, I feel like that’s probably the case. There are at least a dozen trade scenarios that I’ve read being floated, but none of them make sense to me, so I won’t go over them individually. The Cavs have been on the right track the past few seasons with building young and building by fit, so moving away from that strategy seems a little foolish to me.
2. Draft Nerlens Noel.
If this draft was ten years ago, I would be livid if the Cavs entertained any strategy other than drafting Noel. Injury aside, he has the potential to be a dominant interior force (once he bulks up a bit) in the league for years to come. A nice balance of size and athletism, Noel would beef up the front court for the Cavs. Even with the ACL injury, Noel has the best sports doctor and the best physical therapist in the country. I’m confident that he’ll recover, but I don’t think it matters. The NBA has become a wing league. Teams don’t run their offense through bigs and into the post anymore. You need a SF, you need someone who can facilitate/move the ball, and you need shooters. Which brings me to the best fit for the Cavs in my opinion…
1. Draft Otto Porter
Porter seems to make the most sense of anyone in the discussion to me. The Cavs have a solid set of bigs in Andy Varejao and Tristan Thompson, and a dynamic backcourt with Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving. The big piece we’re missing, as we’ve been missing since Lebron’s departure, is a SF to rack up points and play the wing. Porter is probably the most game one ready player in this years draft, and should develop into at minimum a consistent scorer and starter in this league. Pair him with Kyrie, who can effectively play the point, shoot and score, and the Cavs will have a nice one-two punch on offense. Also, given the Cavs draft strategy in recent years of character and fit, and drafting Porter makes more and more sense.
So, most of you who know me, and if you don’t know me that well you can read through a few of my posts here or my replies on the PoS Facebook page, and you’ll know that I don’t give much slack to losers. By that I mean, if you can’t produce results, I tend not to buy into the excuse that you’re “making progress”. I called for Pat Shurmur to be removed very early in his brief tenor as Browns Head Coach, I called for Mike Brown to be fired shortly after the Cavs got knocked out of the Celtics in the playoffs (the first time), and I am quick to call for the Browns to move on past QB’s who aren’t going to cut it long term (*cough* Weeden *cough*). So, before you read the rest of this, know this. I do not hold the usual “hope for mediocrity” mantra that most Cleveland fans are satisfied with. I don’t want a watchable product, I don’t want a team that plays with “competitiveness” while losing. I don’t believe that any city with that attitude deserves or will ever have a long term winner. Dynasty are not built on excuses, they are produced with consistent improvement and results.
That being said, dynasties and championship caliber teams are not built overnight. They are not built with confused team philosophies, and they are rarely produced with constant turnover. This brings me to now former Cavs Head Coach Byron Scott. The official reason the organization gave for firing Coach Scott was his inability to manage an effective defense during his time as head coach. Further, looking at his abysmal win-loss ratio (he only won 27% of his games as head coach with the Cavs), the reasons for pulling the trigger on firing him were clearly in place. That being said, I think we can all agree that Coach Scott did the Cavs a favor by even agreeing to coach this team in the first place. Lebron was clearly on his way out the door, way before they even fired Mike Brown. And while fans may have not allowed themselves to believe it, the front office HAD to know, if for no reason other than Lebron’s refusal to talk deal with them. Coach Scott knew he was going to take over a league worst team when he agreed to take the job. He was given assurances that if the unthinkable happened, if the best player in the league bolted, he would be given time to coach up a young team through the draft. This is the reason the Cavs tapped Coach Scott in the first place, he has an excellent pedigree for mentoring and coaching young players. And to that end, he’s done a really admirable job. Kyrie has a ton of natural talent, but he has clearly been given guidance along the way. Dion Waiters was far from a sure thing (still is), and Tristan Thompson wasn’t supposed to be as good as he has emerged this past season. Coach Scott has one of the leagues youngest teams, and although the wins-losses aren’t in his favor, the improvement in individual and team performances are.
Lets look at facts. Most of the teams that play outstanding defense in the NBA are veteran teams. The Celtics, the Spurs, the Bulls, even the hated Heat. Even the excellent teams that are young don’t play great defense. Look at the Thunder. No one can question their ability to score, but they are extremely soft on the defensive side of the court. The Cavs have far less depth and experience, and their defense isn’t much worse than the Thunder. A lot of the Cavs defensive woes can be chalked up to inexperience and youth, and signing a few veteran free agents, while continuing to let their budding young stars grow would cover a host of failures there.
The Cavs set a 5 year minimum time frame on rebuilding in the post-Lebron era. They gave Coach Scott 3 years, and he’s done about as well as anyone could have in my opinion. The young guys love playing for him, and he clearly has their respect. Now the rumor is the Cavs are trying to bring back in Mike Brown, I suppose in hopes of his inability to connect with players being a willing scapegoat for when Kyrie takes the first ticket out of the frozen city. Because the truth is, Mike Brown may coach good defense, but he’s about as inept a coach offensively as you’ll find in the NBA. Worse, he has zero charisma, and players don’t want to play for him, nor do they often respect him. At least with Coach Scott, you had a willing mentor to young players, and a guy who they looked up to/respected.
This is the way of the Cavs though. A lot of talk from Dan Gilbert, backed up by a complete lack of basketball knowledge.
Kyrie is honestly about as exciting a player to watch as exist in the NBA. He may not be as dominant as Lebron, as efficient as Durant (yet), but man he’s fun to watch. His skill set at the point is so unique, so special that it makes him make me want to watch Cav basketball again, even if they are losing. The “destiny” storyline around how we got the draft pick that ended up being Kyrie (it was the one we got in the trade for Baron Davis, with a 2.2% chance of getting the #1 pick) only fuel an already awesome basketball tale.