In what has become a lost season for Cavalier fans, the lone beacon of hope has been the pair of lottery picks that the team will have in the upcoming June draft. With the Mo Williams-Baron Davis trade and the corresponding Clipper draft selection, the team currently holds the first and eighth best chances at winning the NBA Draft Lottery. In this “weak” draft class, there is a group of players that are all pretty close together in terms of talent. Depending on how the ping pong balls bounce and how the numbers come up, the Cavaliers could have some tough personnel decisions to make.
If the Cavaliers are fortunate enough to land the top overall pick, I feel that they have two legitimate and equally attractive options. They are Duke freshman point guard Kyrie Irving and Arizona sophomore forward Derrick Williams. Ironically enough, their two teams squared off on Thursday night with Arizona coming out on top and Scott had a recap of those fantastic performances here. Both selections would create the possibility and in my opinion, the absolute necessity of a trade.
If Irving becomes a Cavalier, the wine and gold face a dilemma with their top draft pick, Baron Davis, and Ramon Sessions all demanding playing time. Davis is virtually untradeable with his contract (for the record, I’ll never say never after the Cavs unloaded Larry Hughes), so that leaves Sessions as the primary trade bait. Ramon has done nothing but raise his stock this season after a down year in Minnesota after which he was acquired along with Ryan Hollins for Delonte West and a second-round draft choice. He has been arguably the most improved player on the team from start to finish, averaging 12.7 points and 5.3 assists in 27 minutes per contest. The guard from Nevada’s jumpshot range has improved slightly, and his ability to finish at the rim has rebounded from a hideous run in the early and middle parts of the season. Nevertheless, Sessions’s greatest asset always has been and always will be his ability to drive and draw a flurry of fouls. In my opinion, a contender would highly value Sessions as a consistent backup point guard and bench piece. I believe Sessions is either a starter on a bad team or a key backup on a good team, and drafting Irving would make him the odd man out.
With Williams, it’s not as definitive. Some scouts believe that he can become a small forward at the next level with his 6’9″, 241 pound frame, while others think he is best suited as a power forward as he has been playing at Arizona for two seasons. If he can play the three spot, the Cavaliers have no logjam, although if he is a four, then the Cavaliers have a big time numbers crunch. The Cavaliers currently have Antawn Jamison, J.J. Hickson, Samardo Samuels, and Luke Harangody that all get minutes at that position. Both Hickson and Samuels have played center, but it’s not their natural position and the team also has Anderson Varejao at that spot. I feel that Jamison will be traded next season at the trade deadline to a contender, but until then, the Cavaliers would have a serious minutes crunch. To me, it seems that either Hickson or Varejao may become expendable. If it’s Andy, J.J. could move to the position where he’s improved his rebounding and limited his jumpshots, center. If the Cavaliers take two big men with their first two picks (think Enes Kanter or Marcus Morris with the later pick, depending on where it falls), trading one of these guys is almost a requirement.
If general manager Chris Grant does indeed pull off a summer trade, he should be looking for a high-scoring shooting guard or small forward in return along with more draft picks. Currently, the only longterm small forward we have is Christian Eyenga, and he is clearly a bench defender and role player at this juncture. At shooting guard, the team has Daniel Gibson and Manny Harris as young players under contract for next year. Gibson in my estimation is another name that will come up in trade rumors this offseason as well.
Finally, if there’s one thing I’m almost certain of is that come the end of June, the Cavaliers roster will have a much different makeup than it currently does. Adding talent while keeping financial and contractual flexibility is the name of the game for the Cavalier organization in the near future.
(Photo: MCT via Cleveland.com)