Cavaliers NBA Draft Preview Version 2.0

cavs-logoIt wasn’t all that long ago that I wrote the first part of my Cavaliers Draft Preview, and here I am back again with a list of seven new prospects the team could be eying in the draft in two weeks. Cleveland won a franchise-high 66 games en route to the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference this season, but were cast down in the playoffs at the hands of the Orlando Magic. This off-season and draft will be crucial to the long-term success of the franchise as we look to get stronger, younger and more equipped for playoff basketball. In common sense terms, that means more low-post players.

According to the nifty Web site, the Cavaliers ranked 26th in the NBA in points in the paint this season with 35.5 per context. For comparisons sake, the Lakers were second at45.6 while the Magic were only 25th with 36.1 per game. This will have to improve next year, as Cleveland does not have the inside-outside game like Orlando does with four shooters on the court at all times, and as a fan I am first and foremost looking to the draft for this statistic to improve. Without any further ado, here are seven more prospects Danny Ferry and company should be looking at over the next two weeks:

Tyler Hansbrough, PF North Carolina – The most enigmatic player in the draft this season, Psycho T has been one of the most sensational scorers in the college game over the past two years. The 6-9, 230 pound four-year starter for the Tar Heels averaged 20.7 points and 8.1 rebounds in 30.3 minutes per game during his senior season. He won the Naismith Award in 2008 for the most outstanding collegiate basketball player, yet many doubt his potential at the next level. My feeling about Hansbrough is that he is one of the more proven low-post players in this year’s draft, and could step in as a solid contributor off the bench immediately, which is much more than you can say about JJ Hickson right now. He will be a solid grisly low-post guy for many years to come, even if he is not a full-time starter or a go-to player.

DeJuan Blair, PF Pittsburgh – This physical bruiser was the Co-Big East Player of the Year this season along with C Hasheem Thabeet out of Connecticut, and is labeled as one of the best rebounders in the business. had a fine article on Blair’s credentials not too long ago, and gave him the award as the best player in the country thanks to his insane rebounding numbers (12.3 boards in 27.3 minuters per game). Despite his success in the college game, many scouts question his endurance and stamina, along with his ability to stay out of foul trouble, a problem that plagued him and the Panthers in the NCAA Tournament. He is still only 20 years old, but at 6-7, 265, he is an absolute physical monster in the paint, and still has a lot of potential to develop offensively. He is currently projected as a late-lottery pick, but could be one of those players the Cavs target in a possible trade.

Damion James, PF Texas – A lower-key prospect than Hansbrough or Blair, this 21-year-old Longhorn is another tough defensive-minded forward with a lot of potential. He averaged 15.4 points and 9.2 rebounds a game for Texas this season, and is currently slotted as a solid second-round pick and could be available at #46 overall in the draft where the Cavs have their second pick this year. He is only testing the waters in 2009, but with his versatility offensively and ability to bolster his already tough 6-7, 225 pound frame, he could be a very interesting prospect for the long-term. Unfortunately, he seems more like a JJ Hickson than a Lamar Odom-type player right now, and would need some more seasoning to grow into a good contributor off the bench. If Danny Ferry is thinking more long-term with Cleveland this season, he might be a solid idea, but otherwise I think the Cavaliers would be better suited looking elsewhere.

Jonas Jerebko, SF Italy – It is pretty hard to ignore the potential of this Swedish-born, Italian player who stands at 6-9, 210 pounds but is only 22 years old. His efficiency, versatility and potential are making the writers at DraftExpress drool over his strengths, but who knows if he could be another international bust a la Nikoloz Tskitishvilli, Marco Belinelli or most recently, Danilo Gallinari. The good news is that he is currently firmly in the second round, and could easily be had at one of the Cavs current selections in the draft. He would be a versatile option off the bench, and although he probably resembles an Andres Nocioni more than a Hedo Turkoglu, he could be a solid potential-laden guy who could really be a stud defensively.

Chase Budinger, SF Arizona – One of the more intriguing first-round possibilities, Budinger was the 2006 Mizuno national volleyball Player of the Year… You read that correctly, volleyball player turned basketball pro. The Wildcat junior out of Carlsbad, California pulled his name out of the drawing at the last minute in 2008, and is back in 2009 with a little more promise following a solid season for Arizona (18.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 37.6 minutes per game). Scouts are marveling over his basketball experience, versatility and explosiveness, but would need to develop more as a tough, defensive-minded player off the bench quickly to adjust to the NBA style of play. He is a solid offensive talent who shot 39.9% from three-pointers, but his lack of a position could come into question. He stands at 6-7, 218, meaning he could be a nice versatile scorer off the bench that could easily replace a guy like Sasha Pavlovic in the short-term.

Omri Casspi, SF Israel – A name I have been hearing a lot recently towards the end of the first round is this 6-8, 220 pound forward for Maccabi Tel Aviv. He is about to turn 21 years old, and has big-time mismatch potential with his long, athletic frame. The statistics are lacking on his overall game beacuse of the international style of play, but his DraftExpress profile touts his acitivity level, toughness, intensity, work ethic, assertiveness and aggressive slashing mentality as some of his strengths. Just thinking of the possibilities for him at the NBA level, he is going to need to develop his ball-handling skills to really become a bright star. Fortunately for Cleveland, Molante or LeBron will always be controlling the ball, making this less of an issue and possibily boosting his stock towards the mid-range of that first round.

Toney Douglas, SG Florida State –  I absolutely love Douglas, and although he is currently ranked as a second-round draft pick, I had to include on this list. He was an elite scorer this past season for the Seminoles, averaging 21.5 points in 36.5 minutes per game, and was one of the most efficient players in the game. In addition, he also won the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, proof of his ability to play nose-to-nose with some of the stiffest college competition in the nation. Unfortunately for his draft status, he does not project as a point guard in the NBA as he was in college, and at 6-1, 196, is very undersized to play the role as a defensive-minded shooting guard in teh league. Nonetheless, if the Cavaliers decide not to trade their second-round draft pick (#46 overall) and want to pick somebody based upon his upside, Douglas should be the way to go. He can create his own shot, and could be one of the best perimter defenders in this year’s draft.

  • Denny

    Blair = Tractor Traylor.

  • Scott

    Tail of tape: Selma Blair v. DeJuan Blair

  • B-bo

    Hansborough’s ceiling=Raef LaFrentz

  • mike

    before his injuries, Raef was pretty solid. if hansborough can end up getting 12-14 ppg, 7 boards and 2-3 blocks per game, i’ll gladly take him.

  • bridgecrosser

    Hansborough will be nothing than a garbage man in the NBA – but he can make his free throws. But a dominant college player doesn’t ensure NBA success anymore. Good energy player, 2nd big off a bench – maybe.

  • dwhit

    These guys stink. If we want to get better we better hope that we can package some expiring contracts together to send to a team that wants to save money, because there’s no way that these guys put us over the hump.

  • kevin

    gallinari a bust? the dude has been injured for almost the whole season!! He just was unlucky. And the few games he played he i thought he was very efficient at both ends of the floor.(I think he had a pretty serious argument with D-Wade who was frustrated by his defense). I hope that next year his back won’t bother him and that he’ll be able to show his abilities!

  • kevin

    dwhit, why would he talk about the ricky rubio or thabeet or griffin? He talks about the players that could be available at the 30th and 46th spot. Plus everybody knows that you can find gems at the end of the 1st round and in the second round. Of course if Danny can move up so be it, but it’d better be for a very good pick…otherwise idc

  • Jacob Rosen

    I agree Kevin, just look at the contributions of Courtney Lee for the Magic this season, as he was a late first-round pick just last season. We need several more role players to make put this team over the hump, and I think a guy like Marreesse Speights would have done the job as a great pick last year if we had traded up. Nonetheless, I am looking at the players that are most likely going to be taken by the Cavs, and not the very best prospects in the draft. Anyone you talk to that knows a thing or two about the NBA will tell you there is absolutely zero chance the Cavs end choosing one of the top five players this season. Not gonna happen ever.

  • Illmatic8

    Darren Collison, point guard from UCLA would be a very wise pick at the end of the first round. Excellent defender from a winning program with plenty of intangibles. Could be Rondo-esque, as he is long and finishes well.

  • dwhit

    Right, right my problem isn’t with the writeup per say (sorry if it sounded like I was displaying the typical woe is me Cleveland vibe in my first post).

    My point is just if we think we’re going to add one of these guys and that’s going to fix the problems that we saw with this team in the Orlando series (and against superior competition this season) we’re in big trouble.

    I’d rather see us make a play for a skilled experienced big man (Camby, Shaq, Boozer) even if that includes dealing this pick, because based on Jacob’s look at who’s going to be available I’m looking at the list and saying uh-oh.

  • Jacob Rosen

    I would say that is a more reasonable argument then. However, I think we need to start getting younger, fast. Outside of LeBron (24) here are our forwards:

    Z (34), Big Ben (34), Joe Smith (33), Wright (33), Andy (26), Jawad Williams (26), Jackson (23), Hickson (20)

    The first five on that list all might be out of town in the next year and a half, so yes we will need some big-time starters sooner or later. No matter what, we are going to need to acquire several players over the next 12 months to replace Z, Big Ben, and Joe Smith for the future.

  • mgbode

    I don’t think Blair or Hansborough will drop to us. As such, I don’t think there are any bigs worth picking that high.

    We also need athletic wings and big guards for the bench. We are a championship contender, so picking up bit-players that can fill a role is always a good idea.

    Ellington is my first choice…very smooth, great length, can score from anywhere and has all the tools you could ask for and he is already a role player, so that transition will be smooth.

    Sam Young is a close 2nd…hits 3’s, plays tough D, and rebounds

    Thornton is option 3 as he can create his own shot, great mid-range game and is a decent defender on the perimeter.

    If those options are gone (which they could be):

    I like Dionte Christmas better than Douglass, but they fill similar roles.

    I really liked Calathes, but he’ll be in Greece for a year at least and I would like to have a contributor for next year (maybe he drops to #46 and we get him there…)

    Casspi is the most intriguing to me…I just don’t have any solid info on him since we don’t get his games here. Reports read like Penny Hardaway, but who knows how much hyperbole is in there.

  • Denny

    I like Dionte Christmas, because with him on the team every day would be Christmas.

  • bridgecrosser

    And a note – George Karl would never let Hansborough (UNC connection) slide past Denver.

  • Nicko

    Tyler is white which means Utah will select him.

  • JEM

    I used to think that Hansbrough would be the steal of the draft when he was projected in the mid 20s. Now he is getting closer to where he should be.. I would be surprised if he went to the Bobcats at 12 but I am expecting the Bulls at 16.

    Hansbough last season increased his range to 20/21 feet ( 39% from 3PT range last season ) and in a few seasons I expect him to be able to knock the NBA 3 down with regularity (30+% ).. I think his ceiling is a lot higher than people think.

    Now the steal of the draft IMO will be Wayne Ellington.. This guy has the making of a big time scorer. He can drive to the basket and knock down long range shots – elevates really high on his jumper which allows him to create his own shot… Makes me wonder if he could ever develop a post fade away like Jordan or Kobe.. Not to mention that he can jump higher than Gerald Henderson whom will probably be a lottery pick ( dont know why.. He cant go left , mid range game is very erratic and is mostly a drive to the basket type of player )..

  • S-Dub

    Dionte Christmas, Darren Collison, Grevis Vazquez, Taj Gibson (I’m not a fan), Jerel McNeal, Tyler Smith, DeJuan Summers, Derrick Brown, Sam Young, AJ Price, Danny Green, Jeff Adrien, and Jermaine Taylor.

    Just to name a few. Needless to say, there are a lot of guys who can be drafted by us and be justified. Now it’s Ferry and his staff’s job to determine who this kid is gonna be.

    I came up with a trade at work the other day. Sign and trade for Charlie after signing him to about $8mill/yr. We trade Sasha and Boobie, they can use Sasha as a virtual expiring and save $3mill. The Bucks would also like to get under the cap, in the same deal they send us RJ and we send them back Big Ben. They buyout big ben at around $7 or $8, save $7mill this year and then $14mill next year from RJ’s deal. They save $10mill all together with cutting Sasha and buying out Ben, then Ben comes back an rejoins us after the ASB next year.

    This still leaves us with the Mid-Level and Bi-Annual. We still re-sign Andy at about $8-$10 per, Sign a guy like Matt Barnes or go after a Brandon Bass with the full Mid-Level and get yet another big.

    Starting 5 in ’10: Mo, RJ, LBJ, Charlie V, Z
    Bench: Delonte, Pick/Mid Level player, Fill in, Andy (JJ/Darnell), Joe Smith (Darnell/Player).

    What you think? All the numbers work too by the way. Can’t put it in the trade machine because guys are FA’s now. I think it really makes sense for the Bucks because they already have 2 max deals in Bogut and Redd, plus RJ makes $14 this year, they have to pay sessions, and they won’t pay Charlie $8/yr. Boobie is a nice piece for them and they save $10 Mill between Ben and Sasha.

  • kevin

    i dont see them trade RJ and not resign charlie V. That would be just stupid(well ok its the bucks) kidding aside, they wont trade both of them and the cavs should concentrate on trading for a “traditional” interior. It’d be terrific to get charlie V or for that matter RJ but i dont think that they are the answer to our problems. We need a BANGER!

  • Leo

    How can you compare Gallinari or Belinelli with Tsikitishvili???

  • Jacob Rosen

    Besides the fact that all of their last names end with an I? Well they were all international lottery picks that as of today, have not panned out as expected.

  • Leo

    You can use the term “bust” with players as Jérome Moïso, DeSagana Diop, Aleksandar Radojevic, Darko Miličić, Rafael Araújo or Yaroslav Korolev. But my opinion is that it’s too early to define Gallinari or Belinelli in that way. Gallinari has played limited minutes in his rookie season due to a back injury. Belinelli suffered an anke injury when finally he was playing (well) consistent minutes in his second season in NBA.