Basically I've grown tired of hearing the rumours that Chris Grant is considering passing on the best prospect in the draft and the perfect fit for his team on the basis Dan Gilbert wants to play playoffs this year. The logic in that decision is ridiculous and I severely hope it is a smokescreen. But what do I know, he's the GM for a reason.
First of all, the notion that who we select in the 2013 draft will be the difference between a playoff appearance in that picks' rookie season is wrong. Look at this past season. Harrison Barnes
and to a lesser extent Pablo Prigioni
were the only rookies that could be considered to be a key rotation player on a team that made playoffs. Now Barnes had a solid rookie season and had some good games in the playoffs, but I feel comfortable in claiming the Warriors
get there without him. They still would've had a good enough roster to make playoffs if they selected Drummond or Ross, who were the next two picks. Is there a team out there that would've made the playoffs last year if they drafted differently? The only thing close to an argument here is if Toronto selected Drummond instead of Ross, but given his injuries and Toronto's ineptness, I highly doubt it. If Grant thinks picking Porter (who I personally rate very highly) over Noel is key to a playoff berth, he better start packing his bags.
My Second point refers to the issue of Noel's knee. I'm no doctor so I wont speculate ifs and buts with injuries but I believe Anderson Varejao
is going to be 100% by season start. The Wild Thing averaged 14 points and 14 boards last season, and developed great chemistry with Kyrie Irving. With Noel not projected to come back until Christmas, for conservativeness sake I'm going to assume he comes back at the all-star break. A centre rotation next season of Varejao with Zeller backing him up is solid if not above league average and when Noel comes back it adds another dimension. With a bit more weight on him and a limited role, Zeller should be a worthy back up. You might say well we cant rely on Varejao to be fit all season and you'd be correct. But you are only covering that issue less by drafting a wing.
Basically I believe in winning the lottery and gaining the rights to Noel we have stumbled on the perfect big man rotation for the next 5 years:
2013/14 pre Noel: Varejao 30 mins, Zeller 18 mins
2014 with Noel: Varejao 28 mins, Noel 10 mins, Zeller 10 mins
2014/15: Noel 24 mins, Varejao 24 mins
By this point in time Varejao's contract has expired and Noel is ready to become the dominant centre we draft him to be. It's time we looked at Varejao's loyalty to Cleveland as an asset. Lets face it, we aren't an attractive destination for free agents. I believe he'd have no hesitation re-signing for a low-level contract AND be prepared to play as that hustle-veteran guy off the bench backing up both Noel and Tristan Thompson
. Think Chris Andersen
but a lot better and not addicted to cocaine. And lets not forget what Zeller becomes. Could be a serviceable big for insurance reasons or could become a valuable trade piece.
There are 3 keys to making the playoffs next year:
1. How we address the wings and bench through Free Agency/Trade/Pick 19
2. Improved play of Irving/Thompson/Waiters and particularly their defense
3. Health and Durability
You'll notice pick #1 has no place in those keys. Please Chris Grant, don't pass on Noel and the opportunity to nail down an elite big man rotation for years to come just to please Gilbert for one year.
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