The Cleveland Cavaliers are not going to make the playoffs. I do apologize if this is shocking or startling news to you, but it's time that we face the facts. The Cavs are sitting at 9-29 and are clearly lottery bound. I don't want to start an all-out analysis of the 2013 NBA Draft -- that will come later. But I feel as though it's probably worthwhile to get some of my initial thoughts down in writing to help steer the inevitable discussion of potential prospects.
Now, this is not an exhaustive list of prospects that I like or guys who would look good in Wine and Gold, but rather, a launching point for some discussion. I haven't been able to watch a ton of college basketball yet, so there are defeinitely some big name guys that I haven't seen play yet -- keep that in mind. I want to point you guys in the right direction if you aren't used to watching college basketball. Want to watch college ball for possible future Cavs? Look for one of these guys. Make sense? Okay, here we go.
Otto Porter, forward, Georgetown:
Porter is a long, fluid small forward at Georgetown. Some scouts claim to see some Scottie Pippen in him, but that's a little overboard for me. He does a lot of things really well and has a knack for filling up a stat-sheet. He rebounds well, has great length and mobility for defense, and is a very good scorer in transition. If I had to make an NBA comparison, I liken him a bit to Nicolas Batum. Porter has improved his three-point shooter this year and is making nearly 40% of his shots from deep.
I think Porter would be a nice fit in the Cavs' offense if he is able to knock down open shots with regularity. He'd give Kyrie Irving another weapon in transition and would relegate Alonzo Gee to a reserve/defensive specialist role. Porter has the tools and upside to be a very good defender in the future. At this point, I think he's a mid to late-lottery pick.
Cody Zeller, center, Indiana:
The younger brother of current Cavaliers' center, Tyler Zeller, received a lot of hype before the year began. However, he hasn't been nearly as dominant as people expected. I still think Cody can be a very nice NBA player and would be a nice addition to the Cavaliers. He's got a very efficient offensive game, but has plenty of room to improve and add to it. From what I've seen, he hasn't been a great rebounder, but he's pretty good.
If we're looking to pair Kyrie with an offensive center, Zeller would be a good option. I think he could end up as a Brook Lopez-ish type of player. That is to say, I think he'll be very good on offense but leave some to be desired on defense and rebounding. He's most likely a top-5 pick at this point.
Nerlens Noel, center, Kentucky:
The dude with the flattop is currently my favorite prospect, I think. He's skinny and the Anthony Davis comparisons are unfair, but the kid has serious talent. Noel is a tremendous shot-blocker and has incredibly quick feet. If the Cavs are looking for a rim-protector to help deter teams from scoring at will in the paint, Noel could be that guy.
He's a supremely gifted athlete and possesses the ability to hop out onto the perimeter and guard smaller players when needed. That adds a lot of flexibility to a defense. He's raw offensively, but could get 8-10 points per game on lobs and garbage points. I think he's a bit like Serge Ibaka (without the jumper) or a young Marcus Camby. He needs to add strength and some offensive skills, but the upside is real. He'll be a top-5 pick in June.
Ben McLemore, shooting guard, Kansas:
My love for McLemore is well-documented. He's a freakish athlete and has a sweet shooting stroke. He recently had a game in which he scored 31 points on 11 shots. That's efficiency. The Cavaliers could use another scorer to complement Kyrie, and they might have that in Dion Waiters. But if the Cavs aren't too invested in Waiters, I'd be willing to take McLemore. He's really good. At this point, he's probably a top-5 pick.
Jeff Withey, center, Kansas:
McLemore gets a lot of the hype and attention for the Jayhawks (and rightfully so), but Jeff Withey has been awesome as well. He's a big dude who blocks shots and gets rebounds like a monster. If the Cavs don't take a big with their own lottery pick, a guy like Withey could be had later in the first round. I think he could be a super-sub like Nick Collison and provide awesome defense and energy off the bench.
Rapid fire time!
Here are some prospects that I haven't gotten to watch a ton of yet, but still intrigue me a lot.
Alex Len, center, Maryland
Big dude, lots of athleticism, top-10 draft pick.
Shabazz Muhammad, shooting guard, UCLA
Awesome name, great scorer, top-5 pick.
Isaiah Austin, center, Baylor
Enormous, tops of skill, needs some coaching, lottery pick.
Anthony Bennett, forward, UNLV
Having an incredible year, a bit of a tweener, top-10 pick.
LeBryan Nash, forward, Oklahoma State
Another awesome name, great athleticism, great defender, late first round.
Tony Mitchell, forward, North Texas
Freak athlete, bit of a tweener, having a disappointing season, mid to late first round.
This is by no means a complete list of interesting prospects, but it should give you a good foundation. I never recommend watching college basketball over NBA basketball, but if you do, make sure you're checking out some of these guys. I obviously missed some guys, so leave some of your favorite prospects in the comments.