Created on Thursday, 23 May 2013 Written by BOB FINNAN rfinnan@MorningJournal.com @BobCavsinsider,writer
Among the possibilities heading into the June 27 NBA draft, their options are endless. Consider:
• They can hang onto the No. 1 pick they earned on Tuesday in the draft lottery and select Kentucky forward/center Nerlens Noel or one of the other prospects.
• They can move down a few spots in the draft and pick up a team’s draft choice and perhaps a veteran player.
• They can trade out of the draft altogether, even though that’s probably not going to happen with Cavs general manager Chris Grant running the show.
“Thank God that none of us are Chris Grant right now,” Cavs majority owner Dan Gilbert said. “He’s got a tough decision. As everybody knows this year, (the draft) is a little bit different than most years where there’s a clear No. 1 pick. This year it can go several ways, so Chris and the staff have a tough job in front of them.
“I think for Cleveland it means a lot, because if we pick the right guy that fits into the young core that we’ve got right now, we can be a very good team for many years.”
Noel is ranked No. 1 on most teams’ draft board. He’s 6-foot-11 3/4, 206 pounds and is long. He has a 7-3 3/4 wingspan and a 9-2 standing reach. One can see why he led the NCAA in blocked shots at 4.4 per game.
The Cavs were the only team in the NBA last year that didn’t have a player average at least 1.0 block per game. Center Tyler Zeller was the team leader at 0.91 per game.
Noel could be added to Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson to form a decent group of post defenders. Noel wouldn’t be a starter, at least early on, but could be an energy player off the bench.
There are drawbacks. First of all, he tore his ACL in February. He said he’s been told he could return to the court in December, but even that could be pushing it.
He went through medical testing at the Chicago draft combine, but the Cavs’ medical staff would want to dig deeper into the X-rays and medical reports and get more of an idea of where his rehabilitation stands.
His weight of 206 pounds is slight for a shooting guard, much less a post player. Twenty-five pounds would need to be added once he comes to the NBA. Can he hold his spot on defense? Not at 206 pounds.
Offensively, there’s not much there. He can dunk and run the floor. Teams view him as a blank slate. Many believe he can be taught to shoot and score around the basket.
For what it’s worth, Gilbert and Grant both say the Cavs are not leaning toward anyone with the No. 1 pick.
There is a major void at small forward, but would it be a reach to take Georgetown’s Otto Porter at No. 1? Probably.
There are some who think Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore might be the best player in the draft. Would the Cavs draft a shooting guard with their first-round pick on back-to-back years? Why not? The 2013 draft is made up of few stars and mostly rotational players.
The Cavs hope Tuesday was their last trip to the draft lottery for quite some time. Of course, that would mean they’d be a playoff team.
“We feel that pressure,” Grant said. “These assets and tools give us a chance to do that (make the playoffs).”
Gilbert said it’s been three long years for the franchise since LeBron James left via free agency.
“We were hoping, regardless of what pick we got, that this would be our last lottery,” Gilbert said. “We thought originally after everything had to be reset that it would be a three-year process. You never know. It could be two or it could be four, but we thought three years.”