After suffering through their season of discontent the Cleveland Cavaliers hit the jackpot on Tuesday night in the NBA Draft lottery. The Cavaliers ended up with the number one pick in the draft courtesy of the Los Angeles Clippers who sent the draft selection to Cleveland in a February trade. The Cavaliers also acquired the fourth pick in next month’s draft with their own selection. Cleveland has four picks overall in the two rounds of the NBA Draft and if they play their cards right they can rapidly speed up the process to make them contenders once again in the Association.
Unless he suffers a catastrophic injury before June 23, Duke point guard Kyrie Irving is a lock to be the first player taken by the Cavaliers in the draft. Although Irving told media members that he is not LeBron James, he does have the skill-set to make him a star in the NBA. The guard has great court vision, can run the offense and is an excellent passer. He also has shown he has the ability to put the rock in the hole. Irving will have a great mentor withe Cleveland in veteran Baron Davis, who can pass on the knowledge he has learned during his career in the Association.
With the acquisition of Irving it gives the team two players with huge upside as power forward J.J. Hickson showed that he has the potential to be a future All-Star this past season. Hickson and Cleveland head coach Byron Scott butted heads early in the campaign and Hickson found his butt pretty much nailed to the bench. However he got a chance to redeem himself when Antawn Jamison was lost for the year due to injury and he made the most of his opportunity. Hickson racked up quite a few double-doubles for the Cavaliers the last couple of months of the regular season and most likely will be in the starting lineup at the beginning of the upcoming campaign.
The two biggest gaps on the Cavaliers roster are at the small forward and center slots and it will be intriguing to see how General Manager Chris Grant and Team Owner Dan Gilbert decide to fill those needs. Chances are that Arizona forward Derrick Williams will be selected before the club’s second pick in the fourth slot. Williams would be a player that could supply some of the offense it lost at the small forward position when LeBron James left for Miami last summer. It would be quite surprising though if both Minnesota and Utah decide he is not worthy of their picks.
A player that Cleveland could have interest in is Kawhi Leonard out of San Diego State. The forward who stands 6’7′ and weighs in at 225 averaged a double-double for last season with 15.5 points and 10.6 boards per game and could be a nice fit for the team. The club also may turn to Europe with their fourth pick as there are quite a few big men who have declared for the upcoming draft.
There is also always the possibility that Cleveland could package their second pick in the first round plus their two second round picks to acquire a player from another team in the Association or to try to strike a deal with the T-Wolves or the Jazz to move up to the second or third slot. Another tool that the team has at their disposal is the 14.5 million trade exception they got when James went to South Beach. They have until July 1, to utilize that to help improve their roster.
For the second time in less than a decade the Cleveland Cavaliers have the number one pick in the NBA Draft. The last time they chose James with the pick and the team’s fortunes turned around. We will soon find out how well they do this time as they look to bounce back from a very bleak year.