Ok, lets just get this out of the way here and now and put it out there for all to see and absorb – us Cavaliers fans know that we suck, we aren’t that stupid. We know we are quite conceivably the worst team in the NBA; our record backs that argument up. For some reason, be it through undying bias and love for our Cavs or maybe just us being in total “eff the whole damn league and especially LeBron” mode, we (we being us Cavs fans and some bloggers out there) picked our bunch to sneak into the playoffs. Hindsight is an incredible thing, and looking back now that claim was perhaps pretty crazy. I mean, we tried to talk ourselves into Mo Williams having it in him to lead us through the season, we argued that JJ and Andy were good enough inside to battle adequately (without little help and without factoring in health/size/form issues) for 82 games. Thing is, we then went and beat the frickin Celtics on opening night, and the whole place started to believe. Those hopes were swiftly brought back down to earth with the Toronto game, and since then it’s gone from bad, to the Miami game, to the Lakers game, to worse. It’s been dreadful, it’s been incredibly hard to take as a Cavs fan – but it’s the reality of things and we need to suck it up. I think we have to an extent, and I think our thoughts are well and truly on the future and rebuilding the franchise to the heights it reached under LeDouchebag.
That rebuilding starts with the NBA Draft this summer, where our Cavs are almost locked in stone to have at their disposal a top-3 pick. If those pesky balls bounce favourably we’ll have the number one pick, but here’s the question I pose to you; Is the number one pick that much better than the number five pick this year? Think about it for a minute. Last year, you had John Wall and everyone else. Sure, Evan Turner got some buzz about being taken number one but that was never really going to happen. The year before that, you had a situation where Blake Griffins obscene numbers in Oklahoma (plus the beat down he gave National Player Of The Everything Tyler Hansbrough in the NCAA Tournament, in a loss albeit) propelled him to the number one pick, but after him people still had their doubts about the overall quality coming out. Yes I know that right now we can’t praise that draft year enough, but if you seriously cast your mind back you’ll remember the doubters of Steph Curry and his point guard skills, the anti-Brandon Jennings articles and the red warning lights surrounding Ty Lawson and his jumper to name but a few. Those doubts no longer exist, which brings us right back to this years draft and the question I left you pondering, is there that much difference right now in pick number one and pick number five?
We all knew Wall was the special one, likewise Griffin – but can you honestly tell me who out of Perry Jones, Jared Sullinger, Enes Kanter, Kyrie Irving and Harrison Barnes (the five that spring to my mind as the general consensus top-5) who’s the clear number one pick? You can’t – nobody can. Before Irving went down I was firmly on the bandwagon of taking him and shopping Mo Williams. Heck, I was driving the wagon. Then he went down, so I began wearing my “Pick Jared” t-shirt. Then I saw Perry Jones run the floor like a guard with the height and athleticism of a Lamar Odom. Harrison Barnes’ potential is still intriguing, as is Enes Kanter who is still higher than Sullinger on Chris Sheridan’s chart – without having played a minute in Lexington for Coach Cal. After those five, you have the magnificent Terrence Jones of Kentucky, who currently lies in the top three in scoring and rebounding in the SEC as a freshman.
I guess the best way to answer the question right now is where do we feel our biggest weakness is? If you start in the backcourt, Boobie is locked into a contract that takes him through to 2013, with the last year being a team option that I’d be shocked if we didn’t pick up because Boobie is a Cavs guy through and through. Mo Williams deal extends to 2013 also, the last two years of which are worth $17 million and are player options – which you can be assured he’ll take up considering the new CBA this summer. Sessions is 2013, Manny Harris is 2012 but his play is something I’m sure that has the Cavs front office thinking. So if we take those four guys as our backcourt, it seems logical to cut loose the aging AP, who’s not exactly a diaper-dandy and who’s also an expiring contract. That’s the guard situation – you feel happy with that or would the presence of Kyrie Irving ease your worries? Mo Williams is a player teams might look to acquire, Portland are always mentioned and I read some (far-fetched) article that he’d be perfect as a Laker in the triangle as a shoot-first guard. But then again, with the cap set to shrink (if the league gets its way) who’ll want a no-defense point guard earning $8,500,000 a year?
The small forward spot for me right now is the biggest concern – our rotation at that spot at the moment consists of Eyenga-Graham-Moon-Parker-Gee. I’ll let you wipe those tears away before I continue on…. ready? Cool. Let’s say we cut Parker, Gee probably won’t be kept, Graham is a cheap option that could probably give you 12-16 minutes a night and Moon has a $3,190,000 team option for next season that if we choose to exercise I’ll walk to Cleveland and protest in the form of a hunger strike. With those things being taken into account – a small forward seems the way forward for me in this draft. The pick of the crop in my honest opinion is Terrence Jones of Kentucky, but after that you have the potential-laden Barnes, the high scoring Jordan Hamilton, the versatile Chris Singleton or the talented Kawhi Leonard. In all honesty, the last two should still be available in the twenties (rumours surfacing lately that picks late in the first round are for sale – cut Moon’s $3 million salary and use it on a pick maybe) but Barnes and Hamilton should be lottery picks. If we are that much in love with Barnes or Hamilton, maybe we strike a deal with a team picking sixth or seventh so as we can get one of the two, plus maybe a proven/emerging NBA talent? Just thinking out loud, but if the Clippers end up with the 8th pick, they end up taking Harrison Barnes but really want Terrence Jones, what about a deal involving Eric Bledsoe and Barnes for Jones plus one of our second rounders? These are the kind of things we need to be exploring, and I’m sure that come draft day our front office will have done just that (I hope).
Anderson Varejao is (like I’ve written before) our most important player in my mind, so he’s untouchable for me, even if he is making big money right through to 2015. JJ Hickson has shown recently that he can actually rebound the ball, so maybe the penny dropped when he got dropped. I still trust JJ’s development so he for me is also untouchable. Antawn Jamison is in the wrong place at the wrong time if truth be told. He should be coming off the bench in Dallas or Boston, somewhere he can contend and end his career on a high note. I think that he used up all his patience in Washington, so he’s running on empty right about now and I don’t know if we can shift his deal either. I’m not saying I want to move Tawn, because he’s our best scorer, but he’s not a piece for the future now is he? Maybe if we get onto those guys with that hot tub that goes back in time?
Providing we use our top-3 pick on a perimeter player, let’s start talking bigmen with our late first round pick (if we can acquire one this year – hint hint front office). In the twenties, you can go either way – project or finished product. By that I mean you can draft a guy who’s come out too early, or a guy who has no other choice to come out. Two good examples this year could be Jordan Williams of Maryland and Markieff Morris of Kansas. Williams is good enough to come out now and get picked, but if he waits another year and develops further and takes Maryland on an NCAA Tournament run, he could be top-8 in 2012. Morris will always be in the shadow of his more talented brother, but is still a serviceable bigman. He reminds me of former Jayhawks Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson. He’s as tough but more skilled than Jackson (a former Cav) but not as athletic but a better shooter than Arthur. He’ll get picked up and will be an NBA player no doubt, maybe even as a Cav. Looking even deeper into the second round, players like Jon Leuer, JaJuan Johnson of Purdue and Jeremy Tyler (remember him?) could all be viable options as sleeper picks that surprise you just a little. This past summer was the biggest in the history of the Cavs organisation – this summer could be just as important in getting us back up and running.