After having a full day to soak in the 2012 NBA Draft I can see the pieces of the puzzle coming together. The rebuild is in full steam now with two more young players in the fold. My thoughts:
THEY’RE REALLY HAPPY
I think most Cavs fans felt that initial jolt when #4 was announced. The results of our mock draft based craziness when it comes to drafts reared it’s ugly head. REACH!! WHO?? I’m Done!!! We all saw it on twitter or heard it in person. Basically nobody, and I mean NOBODY, had Waiters slotted to us therefore it was a crazy thing to do right? Well, don’t tell that to Chris Grant or Byron Scott because they’re acting like that dude in Die Hard 3 riding out of NYC with dump trucks full of gold. Based off of what they’re saying and the insight in the great article by Brian Windhorst, who was in the Cavs war room, it appears the Cavs had a plan and executed it to a tee. My own initial reaction was about 10 seconds of disappointment followed by happiness. I wanted Barnes because I wanted the Cavs to think scoring. They clearly had that mindset but just had Waiters way over Barnes on their board. I also was high enough on Waiters to tweet a few days before the draft that I could see him winning rookie of the year. I just had no idea he’d be in play for us at #4. It seems, on the surface, the Cavs came away with two young players at extreme need positions that they were targeting all along.
ON DION WAITERS
I love a lot about this pick but have questions also. I guess my only gripe is not sitting down and interviewing this kid. If I’m Chris Grant there’s definitely questions I want answered but I’m not going to focus in on that right now because I’m feeling pretty optimistic about this pick overall. First off, I love that he truly loves basketball. I love the story of him almost collapsing in tears after the Buckeyes ended his season this March. I love that when he was dealing with family tragedy after family tragedy he took to the courts. His Mom said he was out there all day and night rain or shine playing basketball. He has a bravado on the court that leads people to refer to him as “a pit bull” or say that he “doesn’t shy away from anyone.” He brings a playground toughness to our team that we don’t have. He’s physical and he thinks he can destroy anyone. I get the feeling we’re going to love rooting for this kid because on top of his mentality he has loads of talent. According to Draft Express he shot 47% from between 17 ft and the 3 point line. He shot 36% from 3 point range (better than Beal) and is a nightmare in both transition and in pick and roll. But his overwhelming strength is, scouts say, that nobody can keep him out of the lane. I can already feel myself berating NBA officials on his behalf.
ON TYLER ZELLER
Moving the two 2nd round flyers to move up 7 spots into the teens in my mind was more than worth it. Selecting Zeller felt pretty ho-hum however. He’s not the type of player that will have you jumping up and down but it won’t worry you much either. What I really like is the fit with the current makeup of our roster. We had no legit center that Scott could remotely trust. We had no big man to space the floor and pull bigs out of the lane for Kyrie and now Waiters. Kyrie had no pick and pop partner. Zeller has the potential to adequately fill all of those holes. I believe he’ll be a capable rebounder and defender in the NBA but he could flourish if he can hit 15-17 footers and the Cavs would too. So hopefully he has that same “I should get up 1000 jump shots a day” attitude that Dion Waiters was displaying at the presser. My guess is he does.
WE STILL HAVE ANDY
If you told me we came away from this drafting having picked at #4 and with Tyler Zeller I would’ve guessed we moved Andy to get back into the late lottery. Honestly I would’ve been good with that. I’ve thought all along that it was time to move Andy as long as we feel we have a potential replacement in place. The fact that he’s still on the roster AND we have a young center to groom is amazing. He’s clearly our biggest trade asset so I believe Grant, rightfully so, will always keep his ear open to offers for him. In the meantime I’m extremely excited to see how the Cavs, with their new core, could fare with Andy still on the roster. I know he has to stay healthy and that’s an unknown but can you imagine Andy’s offensive rebounding stats with not one but two perimeter guys attacking the hoop all the time? He was playing such great basketball before he got hurt. It was an unfortunate godsend at the time because we needed this high pick but now it’s time to win (more later) and Andy has been paying winning basketball for a long time now in this league.
iT’S TIME TO WIN
The young core has officially been assembled now. Nobody could know now if it will wind up with the ultimate prize in hand but if it does these are the players that will have a huge say in it. Assuming the Cavs keep Alonzo Gee around we have 5 young players that could very well be our future and they play one through five. Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson, and Tyler Zeller are 20, 21, 25, 21, and 22. The youngeons are complimented by a couple veterans in Andy and Boobie Gibson, assuming they pick up that option, who have a wealth of playoff experience and have been a part of a lot of wins in the wine and gold. If Andy were to stay healthy that group of young talent could see itself in the playoffs this year. If Kyrie continues to ascend it’s hard to argue that’s not at least a possibility. I was firmly in the whatever happens happens camp regarding the Cavs wins/losses prior to last year. This year it’s time to win. I’m sure many will contend that we need one more trip to the lottery. Sure that’s a good way to continue to infuse talent but it might also kill our opportunity to do anything with the hoards of cap space we’ll have next offseason. I don’t expect we’ll spend a whole lot this offseason. If we sign our rookies, pick up Boobie, and resign Gee we’ll have a cap number of roughly $42 million. That gives us an extra $16 million in space this offseason. If we don’t do much in this weaker FA class this year we’ll have that number, minus whatever we have to spend to fill out the roster, plus we’ll add back in Luke Walton’s and Boobie’s expiring deal to give us another $11 million in space. We could have $27 million in space for next summer’s FA bonanza when we will actually be mandated by the league to do some serious spending. It’s just my opinion that a team with a ton of money to spend, a young superstar at PG, 2 or 3 other players in the rookie/soph game, and a short playoff appearance can out recruit the fact that it snows here. I’ll take my chances with that over sucking another year and rolling the dice in the lottery because frankly, as a Cavs fan, I just want to get back to where a Cavs loss really and truly pisses me off.
But for now the rebuilding train continues. Next stop Free Agency....