Jonas Valanciunas and Enes Kanter appear to be the players that the Cavaliers are trying to decide between for the 4th pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday. This, of course, is assuming that the Cavs select Kyrie Irving with the first overall pick in the draft (see the draft profile of Enes Kanter for the other scenarios). Kanter and Valanciunas are similar prospects in that they both are really tall and play center. I do endorse the idea of grabbing a center with the #4 pick and wouldn't be heartbroken if the Cavs select Kanter. That being said, I like what Jonas brings to the table a tad bit more.
Jonas Valanciunas is a 19 year old center from Lithuania and measures 7 feet tall at 244 pounds. It is quite difficult to teach someone how to be seven feet tall, so it's definitely a positive that Valanciunas already has the body of an NBA center. The things that scouts like most about Valanciunas is his hard-nosed play and relentless motor. He shows exceptional energy on both ends of the court and loves to rebound and play defense. While he lacks elite athleticism, Valanciunas does most of his damage in the painted area with his high energy and soft touch. In this sense, he breaks the mold of the traditional European big man. It'd be thoroughly inaccurate to describe his style of play as "soft". Jonas will grab rebounds, block shots, and learn to score more efficiently from the post. What more could you want from a center?
Jonas has much more experience than Enes Kanter does, which makes him a little bit less of a mystery. He has strong upside and can become a legitimate offensive threat with the addition of a more consistent jump shot. Valanciunas shows a strong ability to finish at the rim off of pick and rolls and will only become better as he matures. He is a very good free throw shooter, a huge advantage for someone that plays in the paint as much as he does. He can afford to add more muscle to his frame and once he does, Jonas can be a solid defensive and offensive center.
In the official SBNation Mock Draft, I selected Kyrie Irving and Jonas Valanciunas for the Cavaliers at 1 and 4. If it does play out that way, I'll be excited. Irving and Valanciunas both possess a good balance of potential and NBA-ready ability to get the Cavs headed in the right direction. If I have my wish, both will be playing in wine and gold next season...whenever that may be.