HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 04: Jeremy Lamb #3 and Kemba Walker #15 of the Connecticut Huskies look on against the Butler Bulldogs during the National Championship Game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at Reliant Stadium on April 4, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
With the analysis on our current situation at shooting guard posted earlier this week, one can only conclude that our current situation is less than favorable. Actually, it's pretty terrible. So, how can the Cavaliers look to upgrade their talent at the shooting guard? Well, there's always the option of a trade or a free agent signing, but with the uncertainty of the state of the league, and the general unpredictability of the trade market, let's focus on the third option of talent upgrade; the Draft. I'm going to give you guys a basic feel for the prospects in the upcoming 2012 NBA Draft, and their potential fits on the Cavs. Also, I'll let you know what our chances are of getting one of these players. So without further ado, let's take a look at these potential draft picks.Bradley Beal:
Info: Height - 6' 4" Wingspan - 6' 7.5" Weight - 177 lbs. School - Florida (Fr.) Age - 18
Generally the highest rated shooting guard on scouts' boards, Bradley Beal isn't the biggest shooting guard you'll ever see. Nor is he small enough to give you images of Monta Ellis dancing through your head. Beal is an excellent shooter, with definite 3-point range, and he has the ball-handling skills to allow him the separation he needs to get his shot off. He isn't the most explosive athlete, but he does possess that extra gear that so many special players have, giving him that extra boost to get by opponents and get into the lane, where he finishes well. His tendency is to play the midrange game, seemingly a lost art in the NBA, which could give him a decided edge against NBA defender unused to guarding it. Beal has excellent basketball IQ, and solid court vision, but don't let that trick you into thinking he's a combo-guard, regardless of the fact that his size and quickness allows him to guard both guard positions, which he does very well.
Beal is currently slated to be an early first-rounder, most likely to be taken in the 5 - 15 range. Obviously almost anything could happen before the draft to change that, but at this point that is the best I can say. The only potential problem in projecting Beal for the draft is the situation he is entering into at Florida. With two well established guards in Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker, both potential draft picks, Beal may see less playing time than some of his fellow incoming freshmen, but both Boynton and Walker are skewed more towards being a point guard than Beal. Also, Beal is considered markedly more talented than either Boynton or Walker, which should grant him more opportunities at playing time if he can utilize these talents effectively.
Info: Height - 6' 4" Wingspan - 6' 8" Weight - 198 lbs. School - Duke (Fr.) Age - 19
Austin Rivers is an interesting prospect to say the least. At one time he was the top rated player in his class, all the way up to the beginning of this summer, but has recently taken a slight dip in the rankings. Rivers is quite possibly the best pure scorer in this draft, with excellent range, good but not great mechanics, incredibly smooth athleticism, and the ability to finish creatively in the paint. The only hitch in his shooting mechanics is his tendency to hold the ball out in front of his face while gathering for his shot, but it's a minor problem than can easily be corrected, and it hasn't hindered him in his performance so far. Rivers is also a very capable defender, but he does lack motivation to defend to his full potential at times. Again, an easily correctable problem. River has all of the skills to be an All-Star in the NBA, if not an All-Pro caliber player, but there is a reason he has slid recently.
Rivers does not appear to be the best teammate. He tends to pout when he faces adversity, and oftentimes becomes upset when teammates don't pass him the ball or when a ref makes an undesirable call. This can easily be attributed to him being a young guy, but the problems do appear to be a bit more extreme in his case than with most others. Hopefully Coach Krzyzewski at Duke can straighten these problems out, as Duke isn't exactly known for fostering divas. Regardless, Austin Rivers might have the highest ceiling of anyone in this class, and is almost definitely in the top 3 as far as scoring and killer instinct goes. He's currently projected in the same range as Beal for the draft, 5 - 15 in the first round. Depending on his performance at Duke, he could climb back to being a potential number one pick, but he isn't likely to fall past 15.
Info: Height - 6' 5" Wingspan - 7' 1" Weight - 185 lbs. School - UConn (So.) Age - 19
The dark horse of these three shooting guard prospects, Jeremy Lamb has a significantly different game than either Bradley Beal or Austin Rivers. Lamb is more of a traditional catch-and-shoot shooting guard, with good, but inconsistent at times, 3-point range and a solid midrange game. He lacks in the ball-handling department and is only average at best in terms of creating his own shot, but he's very good at utilizing screens to create space. Where his true strength and intrigue lies is in his defensive potential. With a reported 7' 1" wingspan, good lateral quickness, and the ability to close out quickly on his man, Lamb could be a devastating defender in the NBA. He shows good tenacity on the defensive side of the ball, and is capable of defending both guard positions, as was shown in the NCAA Tournament against both Brandon Knight and Shelvin Mack. His only detriment in the defensive category is his lack of strength. Lamb is rail-thin and he has rather narrow shoulders, leaving not much room to add strength.
Despite this, his length and athleticism make him a very intriguing prospect. His second year at UConn could see him rise all the way into the top 10 of the 2012 NBA Draft, or see him fall into the second round depending on how well he adjusts to his new role. With Kemba Walker departing for the NBA, Lamb will be expected to take on a larger role in the offense, and he only really blossomed in the NCAA Tournament, leaving a large amount of room for speculation as to whether or not he can continue his success. He is reportedly a hard worker and he has excellent basketball IQ, so it's relatively safe to assume he won't regress completely, but he could be a disappointment or a surprise after this upcoming NCAA season.
So what are the Cavaliers' chances of acquiring any of these prospects? Well, it's incredibly speculative to say where the Cavs will end up drafting, seeing as how there may not even be a season, but we can assume certain things. For one, the Cavs will probably not make the playoffs. Also, they will probably end up drafting at the very least in the top 10 if not the top 5 or even number 1 overall again. If the Cavs do have the 1st or 2nd pick, they would most likely choose Harrison Barnes, the small forward out of UNC, but if they pick after him or Michael Gilchrist, another small forward out of Kentucky, then they would be in range of any of these three shooting guards.
So, the Cavaliers will most likely have the opportunity to draft a potentially franchise-altering shooting guard to fill the current dearth of talent at the position, but the question remains as to how badly the Cavs will perform this upcoming season, Shammgod willing there is a season. Maybe they suck enough to draft first overall again, maybe they surprise people and nearly make the playoffs. Sad that nearly making the playoffs in the East would be a pleasant surprise, isn't it? But on a team that will be starting Christian Eyenga, Manny Harris, or Daniel Gibson at shooting guard next year, I'll take anything I can get. But seriously, a good shooting guard would be nice.