July 24, 2014

Cavaliers NBA Draft Talk: Could position logjams force offseason trades?

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)

  • Yerfdog

    i still think i would take harrison barnes over williams

  • http://gooddoctorzeus.blogspot.com DocZeus

    No way. Harrison Barnes would be a quality fallback plan if we miss out on one of the top 2 draft picks but at this point, he’s far too one dimensional. Derrick Williams can score in the post, shoot threes exceptionally, is very athletic and defends. He’s going to be special at the next level. He’s the pick if we don’t land Irving.

    Barnes will be quality but if he’s going to go to get to his level, he’s most certainly going to have to say another year in college and work on his game some more.

  • JM

    Just wondering what the plan is if these guys decide to stay in school?

  • jeff p

    I kinda disagree with the premise of this article. The cavs are a 14 win team, they do not have “logjams” at any position and clearly need the best player available. A team like the lakers have a “logjam” and shooting guard with all-star Kobe Bryant…Ramon Sessions and Baron Davis don’t represent a log-jam to me.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Kirk

    Good point, JM, but I think Sully’s the only one of the top 5-10 guys who’s coming back.

    Jeff, no disagreement on choosing the best player available, regardless of position. But, when you have a guy, like Sessions, who would be sitting the bench in all likelihood and playoff teams would take him as a key bench cog, I think that’s a waste. You can’t play three point guards, unless one is going to be a shooting guard. None of them have the size for it. So, the point of this article is trading a potential position of strength for one of incredible weakness.

  • jeff p

    I agree, Kirk, if we were only talking about next season. I think the plan the Cavs should be going for is a 3-4 year type plan…and by then the likes of Davis and Jamison won’t be on the team (among many others in all likelihood). I guess if you are hoping the team returns to contention next year, then I’d agree that you don’t want to overlap where you have competent players already, where anything besides someone like Ryan Hollins at center would be a vast upgrade. From that perspective, someone like Kanter is a possibility. Also, our next worst position is probably SF/SG and I think Barnes would be good in that regard.

    I personally see D Williams game as working effectively as a SF/PF type player like Rashard Lewis. I don’t see any reason he can’t be effective even if he doesn’t truly fit a position. He’s a better rebounder than Lewis in that regard anyway.

  • Valpo2010

    If Williams can play the 3, he’s the obvious choice as far as I’m concerned. With the second pick, I’d look for a 2/3 hybrid to play behind Williams at the 3 and Eyenga/Gibson at the 2. As for getting another big man, I really like Oakland’s Keith Benson. He has all of the post moves to be a successful C at the next level. He has some issues on defense, but those can be taken care of by putting on some weight.

  • JM

    That is true Kirk. I heard about Sullinger possibly staying, that’s why I was wondering.

  • s-devo

    the trade exception should also come into play this summer, hopefully it’ll allow us to upgrade at SF or C, maybe even both

    i dont think itll be a logjam with baron, ramon and irving – byron scott said at the time of the baron trade that he wanted to play the 2 together – they could both start next year

    as of right now without any draft picks or without the the trade exception our starting lineup in 2011/2012 is:
    C- Varajao
    PF- Hickson
    SF- Jamison
    SG- Sessions
    PG- Davis

    then the 2 high picks give us a PG and SF both of which would come off the bench
    Jamison gets trades midseason, hopefully by then the SF is ready to start
    Hollins will either get traded in the offseason or next season, he has a player option for next season

  • Yerfdog

    harrison barnes is a great athlete who can also shoot from long range.. i think he has the most upside of anybody in the draft…. and brandon knights stock must be rising quite quickly judging by his performance so far this March.

  • Shamrock

    You probably can’t go wrong with either Williams or Barnes but I personally like Barnes. I’m not high on Irving I just think he’s to risky for a team like the Cavaliers. I’d much rather have Kemba Walker or Jacob Pullen. I’m guessing either could be around with the Clippers pick so that would mean Barnes or Williams at the Cavaliers pick. I just dont think the Cavaliers can afford to develop guys like Irving. For me the others have much more developed games. If you get a PG move Sessions. Your stuck with Davis now.

  • tsm

    I like Irving the best, but would be happy with Barnes or Williams. From what I read, he was being compared to Wall before he got hurt. We need to keep in mind that we will be a lottery team again next year, and probably have one of the worst records so we will again get a top pick. This would give us 3 of the best young players to go with the few we decide to keep. Lighty in the 2nd round (not our 2nd selection) would not be a bad pick, since I could see him becoming a defensive stopper.