The Cleveland Cavaliers are currently slated to have four chances to improve their roster in the June 28 NBA draft. Cavaliers fans are both excited and nervous, knowing the enormous rewards and risks of the event. Hit a home run with the first pick and find a valuable contributor with one of the remaining three, and the Wine and Gold will be relevant nationally again. A top pick that goes the way of a Luke Jackson, and, well -- best not to think of it.
So who is available out there? Is the draft really as strong as people have been saying?
Over the next couple months we will be analyzing some of the top players (and DBrimstone is already doing a nice job of this) in a variety of ways. Here, I will give you my top 30 players from the Cavaliers perspective. What do I mean by that? Kendall Marshall may be a top 15 player in the draft, but because Cleveland is blessed with the presence of Kyrie Irving it is hard to see them considering Marshall in the top 15, were they to draft there. The needs of the team matter. So let's get to it.
One note: these are not comprehensive scouting reports. We will get more detailed looks at these players as move toward the draft. I gave mini-reports for the top 10, and then with the work DBrimstone and I have done, added selections of those posts where they fit in.
1. Anthony Davis, University of Kentucky - The consensus among scouts and analysts is that Davis is a true game changer for whatever franchise is lucky enough to obtain him. The Cavaliers have a 13.8% chance of getting this pick. This is a guy who already has a chance to play his way onto team USA this summer for the Olympics, plays incredibly hard and smart, and appears to have unlimited upside. Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan comparisons are not hyperbole.
2. Bradley Beal, University of Florida - The draft gets interesting right here. The Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs. Bradley Beal debate is going to be incredibly fun over the next couple months. There will be a full post breaking down each players games in comparison and how they would help the Cavaliers as we get closer to the draft. For now, before workouts and interviews, I have Beal rated a little higher. But it is close. Beal has a more refined offensive game, rebounds incredibly well for his position, is quick, is a Cavaliers fan, defends, and has a great team first attitude. He would look great with Kyrie.
3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, University of Kentucky - An incredible human being, by all accounts. A leader in the locker room, a hard worker, a tireless defender, an incredibly talented wing with an NBA body. An unparallelled finisher in transition, can guard multiple positions. Very limited offensively in the half-court. Struggles shooting the basketball.If he develops an offensive game (and he is young and certainly can), he will be an all-star.
4. Harrison Barnes, University of North Carolina - If we fall out of the top 3, the debate will turn to Harrison Barnes v. Andre Drummond. I would be happy with either, but right now I am leaning towards Barnes. Excellent shooter and scorer, competent defender, is athletic (though not as much as people wanted him to be coming out of high school). He played with a lot of talented guys at North Carolina and wasn't consistently asked to be their go-to guy, though he struggled at times when they did ask him for that. Has a smooth, fluid game. Reminds me a little bit of Rudy Gay - he is a bit more skilled at this point than Rudy was, but doesn't have the breathtaking jumping ability.
5. Andre Drummond, University of Connecticut - A lot of Andrew Bynum here. The good news is, Bynum turned out to be a pretty productive player. The bad news is, it took him a long time to put it together, and he still seems to be figuring it out. Drummond should be a defensive force immediately, and he dunks with authority. At times is a dominant rebounder. At times is invisible.
6. Thomas Robinson, Kansas University - I don't really want him. Plays the same position as Tristan, and I am not as sure about Tristan playing Center as some of the people on here think. He just isn't big enough to guard those guys. Robinson was a late bloomer at Kansas, but had an impressive season. He isn't an athletic freak. He rebounds and scores. Has the needed size. He is strong and is a pretty good defender. He will be a good power forward.
7. Perry Jones, Baylor University - I think he has been playing the wrong position. They have him at PF but I actually think he might be a SF. If the Cavs end up at 5 or 6 and think Jones is a wing, the pick wouldn't bother me at all. He is a good rebounder and defender. He actually plays hard, but Baylor didn't really put him a great position to succeed. Has top 5 talent.
8. Jeremy Lamb, University of Connecticut - Excellent shooter, great length to be a solid defender in time. He is a proven winner, and has shown he can get his shot and play with a solid score-first point guard. Didn't have a great sophomore season, but after seeing UCONN play around 10 times last year, I am fully prepared to blame this on Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright, guards that were way more interested in their own offensive games. I could actually see Lamb hold his own in individual workouts against some of the SG's and work his way back into the discussion with Beal or MKG, but its hard to say.
9. Terrence Jones, University of Kentucky - I think with some of these college super-teams like North Carolina and Kentucky have put together, there just aren't enough shots to go around, and unselfish play gets guys a bad rap as being passive. Jones had a great NCAA tournament, has a ton of talent, and an NBA body. Would he fit in with Tristan? Probably not entirely. I just like his game.
10. Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State University - NBA body, perfect size for a PF. Had some off-court issues early on in his career. Pretty skilled. At a higher profile school would get more attention probably. From DBrimstone:
One of the things I like most about him is his shooting percentage's over those three years. His FT% went from 53%, to 65%, to 78%. This tells me he puts in work and it has results. His midrange jumper has improved considerably and he even made 6-13 from 3 this year. This could qualify him as a stretch 4/5 in the future which could really open up Kyrie's driving lanes. He can finish too on cut's, offensive rebounding, and alley-oops quite well. It does sound like he relies on finesse a little too much though. On rebounding, he's very very good.
11. Tyler Zeller, University of North Carolina
12. John Henson, University of North Carolina - me:
Things that I really like: He is very versatile, and guards multiple positions. He works incredibly hard and rebounds well. He blocks shots. Chad Ford compares him to Andrei Kirilenko.
Things that are worrisome: He has to put on some weight. like, a lot of it. The NBA is a man's league and while he will have the quickness to guard 3's in the NBA, he doesn't really shoot the ball well enough to play a wing position in the NBA. If he wants to be a 4 he will have to be able to assert himself, and at 210 pounds that will be difficult.He doesn't make free throws.
13. Quincy Miller, Baylor University
14. Dion Waiters, Syracuse University - From DBrimstone:
While he's a bit smallish, he's athletic and very explosive. Not super fast in the open court but he's got a great first step and excellent slashing ability. When he's in the lane, he's got a very good handle, one of the slickest looking spin moves I've ever seen in a highlight video that only shows his good stuff, and quite a bit of bulk. He absorbs contact well and can beat up his defender with his physicality. Sounds like he's got a bit of a mean streak too. He doesn't have the most consistent jump shot but it's pretty good. His 3 point % was 36, up from 32.9 as a freshman. While it's not what you'd like it to be, it improved and on more shots too.He doesn't force many bad shots and he's at least an adequate passer who doesn't turn the ball over a whole lot.
15. Jared Sullinger, Ohio State University
16. Terrence Ross, University of Washington - me:
Things that I really like: You can't teach size, and i really like Ross's height. He is a good shooter, defends, and showed a lot of improvement this year when he got extended minutes. He is a good rebounder, getting over 6 a game. He is athletic, though I don't think he will be in any dunk contests. He isn't the most efficient scorer but he does attack the basket.
17. Austin Rivers, Duke University
18. Meyers Leonard, University of Illinois
19. Moe Harkless, St. John's University - me:
He played 36 minutes a game on a team that went through a lot of turmoil with Steve Lavin going through health issues. He rebounds, grabbing almost 9 a game. He is an athletic guy, and Chad Ford wrote that if he had a jump shot he would be a lottery pick. He is 18 years old, and has plenty of time to develop a functional shot. Plus, with Kyrie and possibly Brad Beal, Jeremy Lamb, or Harrison Barnes, to go with Alonzo Gee, three point shooting won't be something we absolutely need right away. In the meantime, he is already a great finisher. He was the Big East freshman of the year.
20. Royce White, Iowa State University
21. Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt University - me:
He is a very athletic guy, who produced in a reasonably tough conference. He averaged 16 points a game, and was a relatively efficient shooter for a wing with almost 50% shooting. He has worked to improve after a few years in college of having a three point shot that was non-existent.He shot over 40% this year from beyond the arc. He will be an excellent perimeter defender, rebounds enough, and he plays hard.
Things that are worrisome: He is a bit old at 22, doesn't create his own shot, and when he tries to he turns the ball over a little too much.
22. Fab Melo, Syracuse University - me:
He could be a competent big guy who defends well. He can run the floor well. He clearly made Syracuse a better defensive team, but playing in a zone offense its not entirely clear how well we can guard individuals. He would hopefully understand rotations from working in that environment. He shot a respectable 63% from the free throw line this year, and had an above average PER despite doing most of his damage on the defensive side of the ball.
23. Evan Fournier, France
24. Will Barton, Memphis
25. Doron Lamb, University of Kentucky - DBrimstone:
If we ended up with Davis or MKG I'd love to land Lamb. He was Kentucky's leading scorer in the tournament who can drive and shoot very efficiently. He's got a nice little floater he uses in the paint, and shoots 47% (holy crap) from 3. He's even got a good mid-range game. He's probably not gonna be an elite scorer on the next level but I think he'll be one of those guys that can score in enough ways that defenses have to respect him, opening up the floor for the true scorers.
26. Kendall Marshall, University of North Carolina
27. Damian Lillard, Weber State
28. Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure - from DBrimstone:
He is a physics major (?!!?!?) who chose to got o ST. Bonaventure because of their new science facilities. Thankfully, he's not 100% nerd. In his 4 year college career his basketball IQ has improved tremendously as have his post moves. He started off only being able to dunk and now he's got what draftexpress.com calls a "very refined post game." He's even added a perimeter game too. He didn't shoot a 3 his first 2 years, then he shot 26% as a junior, and then 43% as a senior. His offense will be his biggest draw as he's very proficient on that end of the floor. Not to mention that he didn't start playing basketball until his junior year of highschool.
He's an average rebounder and not a very good defender though. Not to mention he's not all that large, though that can be helped. That is about all the bad I have to say and it can be done in 2 sentences
29. John Jenkins, Vanderbilt University
30. Darius Miller, Univesity of Kentucky
Others: William Buford, Draymond Green, Festus Ezeli, Jared Cunningham