When we first started talking about the NBA Draft on this site, the Cavaliers were positioned to have a draft pick in the 8-12 range. At that time, I was talking about the possibility of Cleveland selecting Bradley Beal. With the draft just one day away, the Cavaliers have the 4th pick in the draft and would have to trade up in order to draft Bradley Beal. Things change pretty quickly.
I won't act like I'm the one who discovered Beal -- after all, he was the Gatorade National Player of the Year as a senior in high school and was one of the top recruits in the country. He was highly regarded for his flawless shooting stroke, leadership, aggressiveness, and competitiveness. There were questions about his size and perhaps his position in the NBA. At the combine, Beal measured just under 6-foot-5 and most of those questions were answered. He has legitimate shooting guard size and great athleticism. A max vertical leap of 39 inches and a 6-foot-8 wingspan is pretty ridiculous. Although he didn't shoot the lights out in his one season at Florida, he consistently climbed draft boards and has basically cemented himself as the consensus #2 player in the draft.
Despite all the reports about the Cavaliers coveting Harrison Barnes or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, it has become rather clear that the Cavs would love to get Beal. The only problem is that there's essentially no chance that he falls past the Washington Wizards with the third pick. Therefore, the Cavs would have to make a move and trade up to the #2 pick in order to get their guy. We're basically working off of rumors right now, but every indication is that they would have to give up either the 24th pick or both of their 2nd round picks to get the deal done. I get the sense that most readers on this site don't want to give up any further assets to get Beal when they can easily just sit back and take either MKG or Barnes at number four. That means it is my job to try to convince you otherwise, or at least make you think about all of the possibilities.
When you talk about Beal as a prospect, the first thing you'll hear about is his shooting ability. He's been touted as the best shooter in the draft and frequently draws comparisons to Ray Allen, one of the best shooters ever. The only problem is that when you look at Beal's stats, they don't exactly match up with those comparisons. Beal shot just 33.9% from behind the arc during his freshman season. That's not ideal for someone who is supposedly an "elite shooter." Despite this low figure, experts and scouts still believe that Beal possesses that brilliant shooting stroke. It's important to remember that scouting goes beyond the college statistics. Ray Allen may have never shot that low of a percentage in a season, but I'm willing to bet that during his career, he's had a 37 game stretch in which he shot that percentage. The truth of the matter is that 37 games really isn't a very large sample size. When you consider all of the other factors that go into scouting Beal, the 33.9% from three shouldn't scare you away. It's the beautiful mechanics, the great balance, and the flawless repetition that convinces scouts and GMs that Beal will likely never shoot 33.9% again.
Beal wouldn't be the second ranked prospect if all he could do was shoot, right? Of course not. The reason GMs and scouts have fallen in love with Beal over the course of the season is the fact that he does virtually everything well. He attacks the rim and has shown the quickness and explosiveness to do so effectively. He works hard on every possession and makes a concerted effort to rebound. In fact, Beal led his team in rebounding while at Florida -- as a guard. He has shown terrific leadership, maturity, and a willingness to work to improve. In recent interviews, Beal acknowledged the fact that he needs to improve on his ball-handling skills. That kind of self-awareness can go a long way towards developing a great NBA player.
All in all, I simply believe that Beal is the most complete prospect after Anthony Davis. There are very few holes in his game. He does virtually everything well and would be able to contribute immediately to any NBA team. How would he fit on the Cavs? Pretty perfectly, if you ask me. He provides the ability to score the ball and create for himself. He can assume some of the ball-handling responsibilities which allows Byron Scott to open up the playbook some and use Kyrie Irving off the ball. Assuming that Cleveland brings Alonzo Gee back, Beal would fill the biggest hole in their roster at shooting guard. His shooting ability would spread the floor and open up more lanes for Kyrie to drive to the rack. Ultimately, a Beal-Irving backcourt could be among the absolute best in the entire league for the next five years.
Here's how the Cavaliers starting lineup projects with Beal:
PG - Kyrie Irving
SG - Bradley Beal
SF - Alonzo Gee
PF - Tristan Thompson
C - Anderson Varejao
There's not really any doubt in my mind that Beal would be the best player for the Cavaliers to draft --however, he won't be there at #4. Thus begins the big debate. What are you willing to give up to draft Beal? How much do you value the 24th pick in the draft? Would you be willing to part with those two second rounders? It's a tough question. Again, I'm just speculating here but I believe that eventually they get a deal done. We've heard too much about the Cavs-Bobcats swap and I think it's relatively inevitable. I could easily be wrong, but it's just a gut feeling.
We've got just under 36 hours before the NBA Draft and there is sure to be many more rumors and speculation about what the Cavaliers will do. Will we stay put at #4 and take MKG or Barnes or will we tag Bradley Beal as our guy?
Keep up with all of the chatter by following me on Twitter @conradkaczmarek and feel free to email me with any questions or comments at ConradFTS@gmail.com.