Two years ago, the Cavaliers had one of the best seasons in team history. They finished with the best record in the NBA and were faced with the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs and defeated them pretty handily in five games. This was almost the same as the current Bulls team, minus Carlos Boozer, Rip Hamilton and a few other pieces shifted around. Then came the dreaded second round.
After having the series tied with the Boston Celtics, the Cavaliers destroyed them in Game 3 124-95. Lebron James scored 38 points, and this is where I think he made his choice to leave, seeing what he can do by himself, and wondering what he could do with better players. But I'm not here to bring out that old skeleton, I just want to show you how much better this team can be when built correctly, not with the Single Superstar player model. For Football fans see: 2011-2012 Indianapolis Colts.
Then he left. The team seemingly imploded, but that was the moment my fandom for the Cleveland Cavaliers became the strongest. For some reason I felt that the Cavaliers could actually do what Dan Gilbert had said in his open letter to the fans. But that season had other ideas. The Cavaliers set a record for losing streaks losing 26 in a row. The streak snapped with a win against what should be the Cavaliers new best friend, the LA Clippers. In a trade that sent Mo Williams to LA and Baron Davis here, the Cavs acquired a pick. That pick would be the Next Messiah in Kyrie Irving.
This past year, Kyrie Irving surpassed all expectations by far, and should be a unanimous decision for the Rookie of the Year award. The Cavs surpassed their win total from the prior year with sixteen less games played and Anderson Varejao out for most of the year. Granted, he was out for much of the year before, but I got what only could be described as a feeling. A feeling that we will soon have a contending team.
The Cavaliers are currently slotted 3rd in the lottery standings with a 13.8% chance at that coveted first overall pick. Hey, Nick Gilbert will be carrying the torch on the Lottery day once again, so What's Not to Like? The worst pick the Cavs can end up with is sixth, so I'll list the best seven prospects, based on what Chad Ford thinks.
The top seven include, in order of the current standings mock draft on ESPN, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Brad Beal, Thomas Robinson, Andre Drummond, Harrison Barnes, and Perry Jones.
Based on this, we can automatically remove Perry Jones, because that is the seventh player, and the Cavs are guaranteed at least sixth. I'd say we could remove Barnes because the chances to get sixth are only 4.6%. So then it comes down to whether you'd rather get the big man or the wing. Well, because I consider Anthony Davis the only true can't miss prospect, if the Cavs get that number one, Davis is the only choice. But what if another team gets the first pick? So then it comes down to what I said earlier, Big Man or Wing?
In the wing department, we have Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Bradley Beal.
In the big man department, there's Thomas Robinson and Andre Drummond.
I think that the wings are better at being wings than the big men are at being big men, in regards to these particular players. Either way, picking one prevents the Cavs from choosing the other. And everyone knows about that "Third" guy that no one can ever seem to get. Just ask the Oklahoma City Thunder. Except they have high quality at all five positions, shown by how they swept the reigning NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks. Still, if the Cavaliers end up third in the lottery, Beal is my choice.
In case you forgot, the Cavaliers had acquired the first round draft pick and some loose change players from the Lakers in exchange for Ramon Sessions and some other stuff. That pick will be mid to high twenties, netting not very much in terms of impact players in the draft, unless Chris Grant can find a steal a la Serge Ibaka. But chances are, there is no such player in this draft. If all you'd need out of a big man is to be big, then it'd be easy, but big men need to be more that just a big size in the paint.
The Cavaliers also hold the 33rd and 34th pick in the second round. Trading up is easy in the NFL draft, but not so much in the NBA draft. However there are two teams that may part with a lottery pick for all three of the Cavs' later picks. They are the New Orleans Hornets and the Portland Trailblazers because they have two lottery picks, and may only really need one. The Hornets seem less likely to me because the Trailblazers are a better team. If that fails, then adding in a player like Gee could sweeten a deal with Portland to land a pick around number ten. That would be enough for a good big man prospect such as Tyler Zeller or Meyers Leonard. This team is looking better and better isn't it? Still a trade into the lottery scenario is extremely unlikely but maybe the Blazers end up with an early pick and a late pick, and decide to part with their late pick.
The more likely option would be to keep the Laker pick, and hope we good something good, a steal if you will. Fab Melo and Jeff Taylor would be good picks for a mid to late 20 pick. If the Cavs do land Davis, I think you'd have to just work with what picks you have and keep the Laker pick. That would leave a wing spot open that a guy like Jeff Taylor could fill, much like Tristan Thompson this year. Not start outright, but a great second option. But here is another reason to get the wing instead of the big man. Who would you rather replace, Anthony Parker, or Anderson Varejao? The overwhelming majority would probably say Parker.
The best choice to me, again, is Bradley Beal. With Jamison leaving, the Cavaliers need someone who can create offense on their own. There is Tristan Thompson too, who with some strengthening and practice could be a strong presence in the paint and a force for rebounds, but I don't see him as much of an offensive threat anytime soon.
Adding only a single new player to this mix is a good thing for chemistry purposes. This lineup to me seems like it would gel together great, where they compliment each other greatly. Kyrie to run the offense, Beal to score, Gee for secondary scoring and defense, Thompson for rebounding and paint presence and Varejao to do all of the crazy rebounding and ball saving and all of the other insane things he does.
I've shown you what happened to the Cavaliers and how "The Decision," was a good thing for the long run and how in just under another year, the Cavs can be great again. By no means does this mean that Brad Beal, or Anthony Davis or any prospect can do what they are projected to do, but I hope I have provided a glimmer of hope for the future, who ever we get. The bottom line is, the draft is how you improve, not Free Agents. Some of this may have been gone over millions of times, but I wanted to put everything together. Most importantly, I want to say that Kyrie Irving WILL lead the Cavaliers to the Finals in the future. People said that the Draft in 2011 wasn't deep. That's because Irving owned the entire pool of talent in that draft. Hold your breath for a second. I think Kyrie can be the best point guard in the NBA since Magic. That's Johnson if you were wondering. I'm not comparing their play style or anything, I'm talking about the results. One thing Kyrie has that no Cavalier in recent years has had is absolute fearlessness. Is Dwight Howard guarding the paint with time winding down and down by 1? No problem, Kyrie will take it right against him. Unless another team members shot is wide open he will take it himself, not pass it off.
So I guess you can call this a combination of a look at the recent past, a supporting of the future of Kyrie and a draft preview all in one. I hope I didn't ramble too much and that you enjoyed my thoughts. I started this to show what I think the Cavaliers should do with the draft, how it'd be better than the last era for the Cavs and it just snowballed. Be patient, wins will come, I guarantee it.