The Cleveland Cavaliers, despite finishing the season with the 3rd worst record in the NBA, won only the 4th pick in the draft this year. What should the Cavs do with the pick? Now, I think trades aren't even worth discussing at this point, except for whether or not you want to make one. Actual specifics are hardly going to be known by anyone, even if they did read about it on Hoopsworld, that great verifier of information. So, I'll get it out of the way early and say that If the Cavs can move up to the 2nd pick or pick up a pair of lottery picks (say, #6 and #11 from Portland), it's worth it. But that's all that's worth it, to me at least. I would be absolutely fine with the Cavs keeping the pick. So, let's cover some scenarios in which the Cavs do pick at #4. (I know many will disagree with this-- and feel free to sound off on the comments-- but I don't think Andre Drummond is a real option here, so I'm going to skip him. The Cavs want to be a playoff team next year, and Drummond is a long-term project.)
That leaves the Cavs with seemingly endless options. Perry Jones III, Harrison Barnes, and Jeremy Lamb seem to be the most likely choices to be looked at by the Cavs, short of a serious dark horse coming in to the discussion in the near future. Let's go through these players.
Perry Jones III:
PJ3 was projected as a potential number one pick last year, if he had declared for the draft. He chose to stay another year at Baylor, and his stock fell. Jones struggled with consistently putting forth effort on defense, and rarely looked to establish himself on offense, despite his truly elite athleticism and speed, which is coupled with impressive dribbling skills for a man of 6 feet, 11 inches. Jones also has solid range on his jumper. All of this contributes to Perry Jones III having as high a ceiling as nearly anyone in this draft, but his lack of intensity for most of his sophomore college season has lowered his draft stock tremendously. i personally think that PJ3 would be a great pick for the Cavs at #4. He was played out of position at PF/C most of the year, where his great speed and athleticism were neutralized. He could be a nightmare matchup for nearly anyone in the NBA if he was played at SF, and I think he could grow into a superstar with the leadership of a great, young PG like Kyrie Irving.
Barnes was the first-ranked basketball talent out of high school two years ago, but disappointed during his two years playing for North Carolina. Barnes is a great mid-range jump-shooter, both spot-up and off the dribble. He has not developed great three-point shooting ability, however. He has a very fluid offensive game overall, with an efficient repertoire of runners and a middling ability to finish at the hoop, limited by his lack of elite athleticism or speed. Barnes has shown a propensity to take and make the clutch shot, with several game-winners sprinkled throughout his college career. Barnes faced great criticism during the tourney this year, however, after Kendall Marshall (his point guard) went down with an injury. Once Barnes was left to create for himself, he played terribly- shooting just over 30 percent. Now, the issue of being unable to play well without a point guard doesn't bother me. The Cavs have a great young point guard, and i fully trust Kyrie Irving to set up shots for his teammates. But I don't think Harrison Barnes has ceiling much higher than Luol Deng's. Not that there's anything wrong with Luol Deng. But if I'm Chris Grant, I want young players with superstar potential to play alongside Kyrie. I would pass on Harrison Barnes.
Jeremy Lamb burst onto the national spotlight as a freshman, playing great basketball alongside Kemba Walker to lead UCONN to a national championship. But he didn't improve as much as many expected this year, which led to a slightly disappointing sophomore campaign. Lamb played with two other guards in his backcourt who were more interested in looking for their own shot than setting up their teammates (we're looking at you, Shabazz Muhammed and Ryan Boatright), and this led to Lamb taking many ill-advised jumpers. He hasn't, as of yet, shown much skill in creating shots of his own in the paint, despite his solid dribbling skills, great height for a SG at 6'5" and outstanding athleticism. Lamb was also awful at creating for his teammates, posting only a 2.0 to 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio. However, he displayed range past the NBA three-point line, and the ability to get hot and take a game over. Lamb also has outstanding defensive potential, with his height supplemented by a wingspan reported as anywhere from 7'-7'4". Lamb faced questions throughout this last year directed at his defensive intensity, and ability to be a team leader. Jeremy Lamb has superstar potential, to be sure. Athleticism, height, the jumper, defensive ability- it's all there. But drafting him at #4 is definitely a risk, as his attitude issues could handicap him-- no one wants Nick Young. But Jeremy Lamb has superstar potential. He is definitely worth a long look with the Cavs' lottery pick. I would be very happy with this pick. He could create a thrilling long-term backcourt with Kyrie Irving.
I would personally rank them for the Cavaliers as follows:
1. Perry Jones III
2. Harrison Barnes
3. Jeremy Lamb