July 28, 2014

Cavaliers Should Be Watching What Minnesota Does With #2 Pick

Predicting what teams will do in the draft is hard enough on its own merits. When it comes to trying to guess what a mercurial and enigmatic GM like David Kahn of the Minnesota Timberwolves will do in a draft makes things even more difficult.

Yet, if we are to give any consideration to what the Cleveland Cavaliers should do with the #4 pick in the draft, we must try to ascertain which players will still be there when they are back on the clock. When it comes to the Timberwolves, the general consensus seems to be that they will take Derrick Williams with the 2nd pick, leaving the Utah Jazz to take Brandon Knight at #3 and giving the Cavaliers their pick of foreign prospects at #4.

I’m just not sure that’s how it will play out, though. The Timberwolves have shown that they don’t tend to draft according to need and are unafraid to stockpile players at the same position. Their history with PGs is well documented, but if you look at the 3 and 4 positions on their team, they already have a bunch of similar players who could or should be playing the same position. Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph, and Martell Webster are all under contract at least through the next season. So perhaps they will still take Derrick Williams, the other consensus top 2 player in this draft. That’s the safe move.

When it comes to center, though, they only have Darko Milicic and Nikola Pekovic. Neither player is a difference maker and neither one should really be anything more than a bench player who gets spot minutes here and there. Pekovic has a little potential to grow as he had his moments last year in his rookie season. But is Pekovic a guy the Timberwolves are content to slot in as the center of their future? It’s possible, but I would think a guy like Enes Kanter could alter those plans.

In many ways, the thought of Kanter going to Minnesota just makes so much more sense than Derrick Williams. The only way Williams makes more sense is if their team scouts are absolutely certain that Williams will be a much better NBA player than Kanter. Otherwise, Kanter is a tantalizing prospect for any team that needs a center.

This is why I believe that the Timberwolves are going to take Enes Kanter with the #2 pick in the draft. Initially, this might excite some Cavs fans who dream of pairing Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams together, assuming that Utah will still take Brandon Knight. However, if Derrick Williams is still available for Utah at #3, that changes things for them.

With Al Jefferson and Mehmet Okur already there, selecting someone like Kanter or Jonas Valanciunas doesn’t make much sense, which is why most mock drafts have them taking Brandon Knight. However, if Williams is there at #3, it’s hard to see the Jazz passing on him. Andrei Kirilenko is a free agent and CJ Miles has a $3.7 million team option, and that’s about all the depth they have at SF. If they believe Williams can play the 3, then I believe they would select Williams over Knight in this scenario.

Now, if you buy into the Cavaliers’ love affair with Valanciunas, then no harm done, the Cavaliers can take him at #4. However, if you are of the belief that Kanter is the better prospect than Valanciunas, then this is a nightmare scenario.

I strongly belong to the 2nd party, which is why I am desperately hoping the Timberwolves are able to trade their pick to a team that wants to draft Derrick Williams. If that happens, perhaps teams desperate for Kanter will try to trade with Utah at #3, and I’m sure the Jazz would be willing to listen, but the odds of them getting a deal done aren’t all that strong. In a weak draft, you’re really going to need some pretty decent compensation for moving out of the top 3.

My perfect scenario is for the Timberwolves to either pick Williams or else trade the pick to someone who will, and then the Cavaliers take Enes Kanter with the #4 pick. It’s not so much that I’m sold on Kanter as it is that I think that not only is Valanciunas not a good prospect, but I also don’t believe he will be an NBA center. I’ve seen absolutely nothing in his videos that shows me the ability to play center in the NBA. He looks like a power forward and plays like a power forward. And if that’s the case, I don’t believe he will be near as good as JJ Hickson is, and therefore I just don’t get why the Cavs are so high on Valanciunas.

Obviously, the Cavaliers have spent some serious resources on scouting overseas players and they have seen more of Valanciunas than any of us have. But when I weigh what I have seen of Valanciunas with what I have read about him from other scouts and “draft experts”, I have my doubts.

To be sure, there are more than a few experts/scouts who like Valanciunas more than Kanter, but most of those seem to be the ones who are concerned about the lack of tape on Kanter. The majority of the scouting reports I’ve read also seem to see Valanciunas as a PF, and they almost all see him as a project whose success will ultimately depend on coaching and his ability to fill out his body.

My point with all of this is not to necessarily cut down Valanciunas, but more to express why I have such doubts as to the legitimacy of the Cavaliers preferring Valanciunas to Kanter. For much of the season I heard a lot of talk about the Cavaliers really wanting Kanter in this year’s draft. So did Valanciunas’ play in Euroleague last year change their minds? Or is it possible that the Cavaliers are leaking this information to discourage teams who want Kanter from trying to trade up above Cleveland?

Similarly to how I feel about NFL draft rumors, I rarely believe information that is leaked during draft season. Teams will always try to use misinformation to their benefit, and if you really want Enes Kanter at 4, and you believe that under status quo he will be there, then the best thing you can do is say you’re going to draft someone else so other teams won’t be as desperate to shake things up before you. These leaks are often transparent and I highly doubt most other teams buy into it, but it’s a practice that still occurs all the time.

So it’s wise to take any rumors with a grain of salt, but if Valanciunas is the guy the Cavaliers want, he will certainly be there at #4 no matter what. But if Enes Kanter is actually the guy, then we may have to hope for the Timberwolves to find a trading partner who will take Derrick Williams. It will be fascinating to see what the Timberwolves do with the #2 pick, that much is certain, and the results of their actions can have serious implications of the options Cleveland has at #4.

  • WayneEmbrysKids

    there’s no nightmare scenario. They got the #1 pick. Just take the next best available player at 4.

  • Ohrly

    The next best player available at 4 might be a PG though. I don’t see them taking Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker after just selecting Kyrie Irving.

  • Harv 21

    Also possible that if Grant views the next big group of guys as being of relatively equal talent and risk, and if he has a crush on an under-the-radar European, Cavs might trade down.

    Maybe some team’s fallen in love with the Lithuanian and wants to shoot us a conditional #1 next year and a decent young starter that fits our system better than theirs. We might end up with two more picks in next year’s (presumably) stronger lottery.

  • Biff

    Is there any scenario in which the Cavs try to acquire the 2nd pick without giving up the 4th, thus filling the hole at SG and ensuring that Kanter is there at pick 4? I’m not saying they would or they should, but I just wonder if there is a package of assets out there whereby the Cavs could do that. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of one. Minny has no use for Hickson, the Cavs don’t have any other real pieces, and Kahn can’t just acquire future picks because he won’t have a job when it’s time to use them.

  • WayneEmbrysKids

    i dont care if the pick is redundant. This draft is about best player available.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew

    Well, to me, picking a player who isn’t best available is a nightmare. In my opinion, Valanciunas is nowhere near the 4th best player in this draft. So a scenario where the Cavaliers draft him is not good. Not in my opinion, anyway.

  • mike

    off topic, but why havent the clippers gotten more ridicule for giving away a lottery pick that became #1? i dont care how weak they thought the draft would be, they still basically gave away a pick that became #1. why not wait until AFTER the lottery to make such a trade? imagine a foundation moving forward of Irving, Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon, Aminu, and DeAndre Jordan?! yowzers! i suppose it is personnel moves that like which is why they are the clippers. their problem.

  • the_spivack

    If Minny picks Kanter and then Utah goes with Williams I would really like the Cavs to trade down and go for Donatas Motiejunas. This dude has great hands, great range for a big man and some really good ball handling skills.

  • Roosevelt

    Here’s what’s going to happen:

    The Cavs are going to take Irving with the number one pick. He will be a solid piece for years. The Cavs will choose a bust with the 4 pick. That is inevitable – every single player who’s being mentioned with in the top eight or so is going to be a bust. The only one who looks to have elite athleticism, of the type that EVERY star in the NBA has, is Biyombo – but he learned how to play basketball in like the last two years. The teams that make out the best are going to be the ones who are not tempted by the unknown, and draft a high-upside, low experience American one and done player.

  • http://serandez.blogspot.com Ezzie

    If the Cavs truly believe that is the scenario, and everyone’s confident about the Jazz taking Knight or someone other than Kanter, then it wouldn’t be a big deal for the T-Wolves to trade with the Cavs in exchange for one of the Cavs’ second rounders. They both get who they want, and the Wolves get an extra pick out of it.

    Wouldn’t you trade #32 (?) for Williams over Kanter or whomever? Wouldn’t the Wolves take it if they want Kanter anyway? They can sell their fans on such a trade easily (we already have Love, Rubio), and it lets them add depth.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    “every single player who’s being mentioned with in the top eight or so is going to be a bust.”

    Thats it…call off the draft. It obviously won’t be worth holding…

    “Is there any scenario in which the Cavs try to acquire the 2nd pick without giving up the 4th.”

    I’m told that it’s essentially a complete certainty that the team will not enertain trading up to the second spot. Not only do they not view Williams as being worth the move, they do not want to sacrifice any of the flexibility they’ve been afforded over the last 12 months.

  • Roosevelt

    “Thats it…call off the draft. It obviously won’t be worth holding…”

    It’s worth holding for the American players. The Europeans are being hyped because the draft is relatively weak, but which one of them can you say with confidence will be better than Scott Pollard?

  • http://serandez.blogspot.com Ezzie

    If they aren’t trading up to #2, then I’m guessing they’re looking at trading down if whomever they want at #4 isn’t going to be there or isn’t worth the #4. Gilbert made it sound like this was a pretty decent likelihood.

    I still wonder if Washington will package 6 and 16 to get a big guy they really want to pair with Wall.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com DP

    @Roosevelt
    Depends. Where do they stand on telling kids to do drugs?

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew

    I actually think Valanciunas will be better than Pollard. I just don’t like him with the #4 pick overall. I think Kanter and Vesely will both be better than Valanciunas, and maybe Biyombo too.

  • bobby

    Whats wrong with Williams that doesnt make him worth moving up? he shot over 50% from 3, efficient FT, and can drive the hoop and finish. Even if he is too slow for playing 3 all the time, which I really doubt, then he can get time at 4 when JJ needs rest or they go small and have JJ at 5.

  • sealedhuman

    I strongly disagree with the first paragraph. I predict, with certainty, that Kahn will make a nonsensical decision with his draft pick.

  • mgbode

    this is the fun crazy portion of NBA draft season.

    unless we trade up, and I doubt we do, then Derrick Williams will be gone.

    honestly, Jonas youtube videos should scare anyone, but who knows if those are indicative ‘highlight’ videos or not. they are not promising though.

    kanter looks the part and the little videos we have help him, but again, he hasn’t played competitive ball in awhile. who knows though.

    vesely struggles with shooting and SFs who struggle with shooting have a tough time in the NBA (see the Hawks struggles with uber-talented Josh Smith because he can’t shoot. then again, he likes to shoot anyway). Kawhi and Singleton are 2 other SF candidates with similar issues, but with seemingly higher defensive abilities (at least at present).

    doubt we take Knight (or Kemba if we have to include him) as we have 3 PGs and while only Irving is likely in our long-term plans, Irving IS our long term plan.

    Boyimba and Faried are defensive only players who will contribute next to nothing on the offensive end (at least initially). Teams have picked guys like that in the top5 before and I couldn’t see either being any worse than a Shelden Williams pick, but there’s really no reason to do it especially since it’d be near impossible to field a competitive lineup with them and AV in it at the same time (so bye-bye AV).

    only other guy in consideration would be Alec Burks who is the only SG in the top10. he’s of course considered a fringe top10 guy by most, but I like him a bunch and he played PG for Colorado as a Billups-style guy. He needs to work on his spot-up shooting (not good for a NBA SG), but he is intriguing and I wouldn’t be upset if the Cavs called his name.

    alot of questions. no answers before draft day. good times.

  • mgbode

    @sealedhuman – and with the 2nd overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select….

    Kemba Walker, PG, UConn

    :)

  • architrance

    Anybody else think the economic uncertainty of next year will force some teams into making some irrational personnel moves this offseason that the Cavs can try to take advantage of? There must be some teams out there desperate enough to dump salary and include more picks.

    A couple of teams come to mind: Wiz-Rashard Lewis owed $46M, Jazz-Al Jefferson still owed $30, again Pistons-Rip owed $25M, Charlotte-Tyrus Thomas owed $34M.

    Do you think the Cavs can package either Jamison or the trade exception and gain another big pick this year or next?

    I’m hoping a team will become Colon for Sizemore, Philips, and Lee desperate!

  • mgbode

    @architrance – don’t forget Lee Stevens!

  • architrance

    Lol. Aka “The Icing”

  • WayneEmbrysKids

    I say take Knight if he’s still there at 4. I dont care that it gives them too many point guards. He’s the best bet at 4 after Irving, Williams, and Kanter.

  • mgbode

    @WEK – only if we get Jay Wright to coach the team and get to play in the Big East.

  • dwhit110

    The #4 + #32 + the trade exception for Josh Smith. Problem solved.

  • Cody

    I love how MULTIPLE people say that this draft is the “weakest” one in a very long time… ok? How about we discuss this in about 3 years. For gosh sakes we haven’t seen any of these kids play a minute of professional ball. Who knows, maybe Kryie Irving will surpass John Stocktons assist record? Or Alec Burks will be the next Brandon Roy (- injuries)… the bottom line is we are unable to tell who will be good and who won’t…

    Finally note: Monta Ellis went in the 2nd round… jus saying

  • 6thCity

    Since we’re all hanging out on the speculation limb here why not throw this out here- if Enes and Williams project strongly as gone at 2 and 3, leaving questionable centers, defensive guys, and “redundant” PGs at 4, why not entertain not taking Irving at 1… I know, I know but… Would Williams at 1 and Knight at 4 (presuming Irving at 2 and Kanter at 3) not be the most talent for our buck? I don’t know but I think it’s worth mentioning. Crazier things have happened.

  • A.C.

    Technically Williams and Knight could be a better duo than Irving and Valanciunas/Leonard etc. However, there is a strong possibility of Kanter being available at #4 and if they think Irving is the best player in the draft, they would be stupid not to take him.

    If Williams goes #1, Irving would likely go #2 (yes another PG). Then the Jazz would be left with Kanter and Knight at #3, and most people right now have them pegged to take Knight. So under this scenario we would end up with Williams and Kanter; definitely good but we lose out on both of the top PGs, which would be terrible.

  • mgbode

    @cody – while technically correct, see post #18. this draft has way more ??? and top level guys that stayed in school. that’s why the perceived value is lower.

    scouts do get things correct alot of the time.

  • Hype

    Too bad we did not get draft picks #2 and #4. Then the Timberwolves would have made our minds up for us selecting the #1 Pick.(Sarcasm)

  • saggy

    @6th city: i agree 100 percent with your idea. i have been saying that for a while. plus, call me crazy, but I think Kemba will have the best career out of those 3 pg’s. dude is just clutch. reminds me of a smaller D-Wade. and FWIW, i called that D-Wade shoulda been the number-2 pick in that draft.

  • http://www.outskirtspress.com/stopnowletsgo Marvin

    Please Please Please take Derrick Williams witht he first pick. With the 4th pick, we will have a choice of guard in Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, or Brandon Knight. One of them will be there.
    No foreign players! It takes too long for them to get used to the physicality of the US game.
    Ask Detroit how they are liking that Darko pick years ago.

  • Sundance

    Almost everyone agrees that Irving is the best PG available and will most likely be the number one overall selection. That said, who we decide to select with the number one overall pick will have a significant impact on who will be available for us with the fourth overall pick. So the first selection must be well thoughtout. The media does not care about how the first pick impacts the fourth, but we had better be astute or we may not get all that we could have from our rather enviable position. We must decide what is right for the Cavs, not follow what the national media dicitates. We all know how much they LOVE Cleveland.

    We must factor in the very real probability that Minny may very well trade the second overall pick. And depending on who moves up will also impact who will be left for us at four.

    First, we must determine what we need (what don’t we need, lol).

    I believe our most pressing need is a young, intelligent PG that is a leader and has no fear taking it to the hoop. The draft has three nice guards, projected to go in the first top 10 picks, that could fill that role.

    We truly need a SF. But because of the strong projected 2012 draft we may find that this is not the draft to make such a selection with our first two picks. I think our trade exception might help land us a veteran SF until we can select our future SF in the draft next year.

    We also need a quality SG, but again this is probably not the draft to make that selection with our first two picks because of the limited selection of NBA ready SG.

    We have got to get a true big man. I love Andy but he is NOT a center. And we won’t even discuss Hollins.

    If it is fair to say our top two priorities are a quality PG and a true Big man then, we need to look at two lottery picks and find a way to make that happen.

    The best big in the draft is Kanter. The JVs boys and the others are all going to be projects than for no other reason then they will get pushed around by other big men until they pack on some meat ( ie. Manute Bol).

    Because there is only one NBA ready big man and three quality guards (of which I believe Irving is just above the other two) perhaps it makes better sense to take Kanter with our first pick. This secures us the best big man in the draft. Kanter has been playing professionally since he was 16 years old. He is far beyond all other bigs with his maturity, basketball intellect and NBA readiness.

    Now, if we do this we of course lose a little control over who we get for our fourth overall pick. But even so if we get stuck with Knight or Walker life would not be so bad. I would much rather have one of those two with the best big man on the boards than have Irving with another project big that may or may not ever be NBA ready.

    Yes, we lose a quality PG in Irving, but Knight or Walker are not bad options. And we guarantee ourselves of a true power center. This will help out JJ tremendously. It will allow Andy to come off the bench once again with his pumped up energy.

    We must think beyond just the first pick. Being proactive like this allows us to better dictate who will be left on the board at number four overall.

    I hate the idea of taking Irving and then hoping, waiting to see who is left. If however we take Kanter number one, then we know for sure that between K. Irving , D. Williams, B. Knight and K. Walker TWO of those guys will still be available. The key is that there is less of a difference between the three guards than there is between the top four big men. We have got to be smart. Our second pick is the key. Making the right choice helps us to turn the corner and become a team on the rise.

    And for all of you that say “we are taking Irving no matter what” That’s cool, but I bet if we had a hypothetical two on two matchup of your team of Irving and whomever else you get stuck taking with the number four pick against my team of Kanter and either Irving, Williams, Knight, Walker (choosing the best one of the two that would still be remaining in the draft) hands down my team would win.

  • mgbode

    @Sundance – in the NBA, it’s all about having the best players on the floor though. you take the BPA at #1. never try to ‘play the draft’ to get something at a later pick, too many variables and you’ll outsmart yourself instead of just taking the BPA.

    and the NBA isn’t a 2on2 league, it’s 5on5.

  • Sundance

    @mgbode – Thanks for updating me on how many players play the game, lol. It was merely an example. Please forgive me if I confused you.

    Insight is a good thing. If better insight helps us make better selections how can you fault that? Who we take at number one without a doubt impacts the second, third and fourth picks in the draft.

    Either we are going to be proactive or as you suggest be reactive. I believe a proactive approach is always the better alternative.

  • mgbode

    @sundance – how is it being proactive to pass on the best talent at #1?

    the only way you ever consider that is if your scouting board shows 4 players all nearly identical in value. then, you play the odds on how to get the best 2 of them. if one of them is in any way ahead of the other players, then you just take them and not worry about ‘playing the draft’

    worst case, #4 busts, but if you still got the best player in this draft, then you have the best building block for the future you could have had. especially if that is a player that will have the ball in his hands on every possession.

  • Jake

    Lets say we go Irving at #1, and the Wolves go Kanter. What would it take to trade up one spot with the Jazz and get D-Will? Sessions? Jamison? Hickson? Vjao? I think the best way for the Cavs to compete and build a playoff contender is to go get a young dynamic duo. Kyrie and Big D will do that for Cleveland. And a trade is a possibility cuz the Jazz are thinking PG, so if the Cvas dangle an interesting offer, they might move back one and get the guy they thought they would get in Knight or Walker, along with whatever they get from the Cavs. How possible is this?

  • Joe

    There is some concern with Irving’s toe injury and there is also concern about Kanter’s knees… that is just too much risk for two top-5 picks in a draft.

  • chuck

    I say take irving #1, if kanter or Williams are not available at #4 take Kawhi Leonard with the #4. Live with the big’s we’ve got or go after someone like NeNe as a stopgap.

  • Joe

    @Jake: T’Wolve might want Kanter just as much as Williams, and there was talk of them trading out of the #2 pick. So its possible that they would trade the #2 pick to us for the #4 plus a 2nd rounder.

    @Sundance: Me, I wouldn’t even want Kanter at #4. With him sitting out a year and having knee issues, even #4 seems a little high. If you want to control who you get at #4, you could take Williams #1 and then you would still have a PG at #4 in either Walker or Knight. My preference would be Walker, because he has better stats than Knight, and even better than Irving – more points, assist, rebounds, and blocks, with fewer turnovers. He also has more quickness, but his shooting is of course not as good as Irving (but not bad by any means).