Last week the NBA had the draft lottery and — lo and behold! — the Cleveland Cavaliers earned the number-one overall pick for the second straight season and third time in four years.
In 2003, they drafted LeBron James with the first pick. The homegrown superstar ended up taking those talents to Miami where he has won the past two NBA championships with the Heat.
They drafted Kyrie Irving number one in 2011. He put up strong individual numbers his rookie season, but Irving struggled to elevate the team to playoff contenders.
Last year, the Cavs took Anthony Bennett, a Canadian player who went to UNLV for a year. Bennett’s rookie season was something that he and the Cavs’ organization want to forget.
Whether you believe in luck or buy into the conspiracy theory that the league is showing favoritism towards Dan Gilbert and his team, they have first dibs on this year’s crop of young talent coming out of the NCAA. Now the question is what should they do with the pick? Here are some options.
Option #1 – Draft Andrew Wiggins
They have not been able to replace the best player in the NBA, LeBron James, at small forward. With the possibility of Luol Deng leaving in free agency, the Cavs might want to pick Wiggins for his defensive versatility, explosiveness, and for the pure athleticism that he displays. Wiggins has loads and loads of long-term upside in front of him and he will pair well with Irving. Wiggins has the tools and character that can elevate him into a franchise talent.
Option #2 – Draft Joel Embiid
If the Cavs receive good reviews on Embiid’s stress fracture in his back., he should be a viable player to select. He is listed as 7’1″ and 265 pounds and has been compared to NBA greats such as Hakeem Olajuwon and Tim Duncan. With Embiid pairing with power forward/center Anderson Varejao, Cleveland could form a potent front court and keep the ball in Kyrie Irving’s hands. Given the fact that Embiid is healthy and can stay healthy, the Irving/Embiid nucleus would certainly be something to build with for the future.
Option #3 – Trade the pick
Package the pick, Varejao and/or Dion Waiters, put a bow on it and send them to Minnesota to get the dejected Kevin Love. Rumors have it that Cleveland is attempting to bring LeBron back to his native home; what better way to entice James than to put Irving together with another established star like Love? LeBron would want to come back to the Cavs only if they are capable of winning immediately; you can’t guarantee that if you go with one of the potential draftees because there’s always a possibility that the number-one pick will not live up to the hype. Getting Love, even if he doesn’t stay in Ohio and leaves as a free agent after next season, might be a risk worth taking if you are the Cavaliers.
There are many options that the Cavs can take; I have just listed some of them. Cleveland should take a step back and diligently look at ALL of its options before making a sound decision that will improve the future of the organization.
Listen to all of the trade offers. Observe every lead that is out there on every star player who might not be locked in with his current team. Collect every nugget of information on every prospect even reasonably within draft range — and more still on those that might justify trading down.
The Cavaliers have been lucky in getting multiple number-one picks in recent years. But it will only benefit the organization if they get maximum value this time, so that they can progress for years to come on the court instead of continuing to hope for draft lottery luck.