This Isn’t About The 2014 Draft For Cavs

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Of course the Cavaliers are going to consider trades for the No. 1 pick. That’s not news and that’s not a Cleveland thing. Nerlens Noel has serious holes in his game – mostly anything to do with offense – and is coming off a torn knee ligament, and the Cavs have lived the youth movement long enough, so the only real development would have been to not open the phone lines.

There is the Lake Erie-sized bit of flawed logic being tossed around in the wake of the lottery win Tuesday night, though: One benefit to going with Noel over Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore is that the Kentucky power forward-center does not expect to return until around Christmas, allowing the Cavaliers to build a better roster while simultaneously positioning themselves for a high pick in the loaded 2014 draft. Yes, because if there’s one thing fans should want after years of losing it’s to angle for another season of missing the playoffs.

2013 NBA DraftWelcome to the Andrew Wiggins Effect. Wiggins is a Canadian who just played his senior season of high school in West Virginia, the son of former NBA veteran Mitchell Wiggins, and bound for Kansas. He would have, at the very least, challenged Anthony Davis for No. 1 in the 2011 draft as a junior, would have lapped the field this year, and is projected as the clear favorite to go first in 2014. Beyond Wiggins, several other major prospects could be in the next draft, from elite one-and-done freshman to returnees like Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart to international shooting guard Mario Hezonja.

The Bobcats, the Kings, the Pelicans, the Suns, the Magic – they are at least a year away from a playoff push. This isn’t that. The Cavaliers are in go mode. You take Noel if he is the best prospect on the board and then deal with the delay, not because missing months is a benefit.

Cleveland should absolutely be thinking postseason, as colleague John Schuhmann noted in his report from the lottery. It missed by 14 games in 2012-13, a pretty good distance, except that the team that finished eighth, Milwaukee, could lose important free agents, plural, while the Cavaliers are clearly in an upward trajectory. Anderson Varejao is expected back after being limited to 25 games, Kyrie Irving can be counted on for more than 59 games, and Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller will be off the rookie learning curve. Fourteen games in the Eastern Conference is not exactly insurmountable.

The draft options are a trade, to add experience, or McLemore because he grades out as a better two-way prospect, even after taking Waiters in the lottery last June. Orlando, picking second, would then take whoever is left between Noel and McLemore, or possibly Trey Burke to address a need at point guard.

If the Magic don’t take him, Burke, the college Player of the Year from Michigan, is in a precarious spot. The Wizards are third, and they have John Wall. The Bobcats pick fourth and are liking Kemba Walker enough that point guard is far from a pressing concern. The Suns will pick fifth one season after spending big on free agent Goran Dragic and taking Kendall Marshall in the lottery. The unknown in Phoenix is the view of new GM Ryan McDonough, without any track record in the job.

That scenario gets Burke to the Hornets/Pelicans at six. That, in turn, would be trouble for Austin Rivers, but there was always a question whether New Orleans reached by drafting him to be a true point when a lot of teams saw combo guard. It’s hard to imagine Burke getting past the Hornicans. If he does, there is Sacramento with its annual point-guard decision in the draft.

The Burke picture is not unlike Damian Lillard in 2012, when he went into the draft as the top prospect at the position and lasted until No. 6 because many of the teams picking at the very top were already committed. Davis was the obvious No. 1 for New Orleans, followed soon after by the Wizards with Wall at 3, the Cavaliers with Irving at 4 and the Kings at 5 a year after they spent a lottery pick on Jimmer Fredette. Things seemed to work out for Lillard.

24 Comments

  1. Amused says:

    What the heck is he talking about in the last paragraph? He writes as though Davis, Wall, and Irving were all drafted last year! Jeez, either learn to write, or to check your NBA history, or both.

    • RH says:

      “because many of the teams picking at the very top were already committed”

      referring to the fact that the teams who could have picked Lillard already had those players you mentioned.

  2. kiefy says:

    they’re picking Noel regardless. I don’t understand this article. The only reason I wouldn’t tank this year and get a sick pick in 14 is if there was a chance of losing Kyrie. Even then, he is a sick trade piece and he probably won’t stay regardless.

    I wouldn’t be so eager to take the bucks place at 8th seed in the East. Very little playoff money there and no draft prospect.

  3. st.anger says:

    trade kyrie erving and pick #1 this year’s 2013 draft to the lakers for devin ebanks and a future pick for the cavs in year 2030

  4. rel says:

    Im from cle and a huge fan i think the cavs should trade down for picks and get victor i think hes going to come to the nba and be very effective plus we can get a first round pick next year and a backup center which we do need

  5. John Wall says:

    WIzards pick was Beal, not Wall

    • J says:

      he was talking about the fact that the wizards already had a pg when they were picking 3rd

  6. TV63 says:

    Cavs have had more than enough with injuries and too much youth. It killed them this year!! Like to see them pick someone who can score more.

  7. trey says:

    i think they should go with otto porter, cause let be real they have address every position through the draft except for small foward. They got kyrie, Dion in the back court and Thompson and Zeller out front, the only thing that is missing is a wing player

  8. MIAMI1998 says:

    i still think they sould draft noel no.1 over the cavs would have a great roster with kyrie irving dion waiters thompson and noel i see the cavs in the playoffs next year at a 8 or 7 seed

  9. baboy says:

    this is the draft with the worst candidates.. there might be a lillard type that will come out but definitely no all star is coming out of this draft..

  10. Patty says:

    Good choice in selecting Noel.

  11. IslaMajeures says:

    Long overdue.

  12. rohnny says:

    cavs r at the right time.
    once they get nerlen noels, they will be somewhat complete.
    they will have anderson varejo 4 reboundings. waiters and irving
    at the backcourt w/ scoring. noels for pure defense. an experianced
    coach. I think this is the right track for the cavs. they can be a competitor
    once they find their rhythm….

  13. TDOT says:

    Wiggins to toronto!

  14. steppx says:

    problem is Burke isnt close to being a Lillard. In fact I dont think he’s the top pg in this draft..in fact I dont have him top two…which i give to Schroder and carter williams….and honestly, is burke that much better than the bigger tougher Myck Kabango? I like burke….but he’s small and there are going to be issues on defense, which you wouldnt have with Kabango. I dont think burke is soft or anything, but he IS small and not very fast. Not compared to schroder, and carter williams is six and half inches taller. — Clleveland should just take olidipo. All teams need a guy can guard three positions….and he is also a hard worker. At 19 they can gamble with a flyer on tony mitchell or someone. The point is I think, for the cavs, they made a bad coaching hire…and now will compound it by thinking ahead to 2014 and not just the draft but LBJ. ugh, im sick of STAR drama and teams creating cap space to beg STARS to play.