Holding onto optimism as a Cleveland sports fan is a dangerous proposition. After winning the lottery last season, seeing the Cavaliers pick Kyrie Irving, and watching him blossom into the runaway Rookie of the Year, cementing his status as a franchise PG worth building around, things were feeling good in wine and gold country.
So heading into last night’s lottery, a certain quiet, reserved confidence set in. Nick Gilbert was representing us with pride again while Joe Haden, Josh Cribbs, Bernie Kosar, and Kyrie Irving were all coming back to try to replicate both the luck and results of last year’s lottery.
And I believed. Not that the Cavaliers were going to win the lottery 1 . But I believed the Cavaliers were going to get the #2 pick, or #3 at worst. I really believed and dreamed that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was going to be a Cavalier.
As the envelopes were sequentially revealed last night, one by one we saw nothing but chalk. Spots 14 through 5 incredibly all went according to plan. There was a certain relief that 4th was now the worst the Cavaliers could do, but still, hope grew. “This is happening,” I told myself. The Cavaliers are getting a top 2 pick. Then the 4th envelope opened, and rather than seeing the Hornets logo, we saw the Cavaliers logo. The Cavaliers fell out of the coveted top 3 and now need help to get MKG or Beal.
Oh, Cleveland sports….how quickly you give and how quickly you take away. It’s not that the 4th pick is all that bad. Getting 5th or 6th would have been much, much worse. Now, even if Anthony Davis, MKG, and Beal go 1 through 3, the Cavaliers will have their pick of the leftovers. That’s better than being forced to settle on leftovers.
No, the reason this is so crazy is the irony that by winning a coin toss, the Cavaliers lost the lottery. Oh, Cleveland sports, you cruel, cruel temptress. When the Cavaliers and Hornets finished the season with the same record, a coin toss was used to decide the order. The Cavaliers sent Nick Gilbert to get it done, and he did. The Cavaliers won the coin toss, giving the Cavaliers the inside track to one of those top 3 picks.
In reality, winning that coin toss cost the Cavaliers a shot at Anthony Davis and chance to give this team two franchise players who would so complement each other’s skill sets. It was oh so close to happening. But in reality, the Cavaliers now find themselves on the outside looking in.
So where, exactly, does that leave the Cavaliers? Well, we know the Hornets are taking Davis. They will not trade that pick. Not with a new owner coming in and looking to build a fresh, exciting new identity. Putting Davis out there with Eric Gordon, Jarrett Jack, Gustavo Ayon, Jason Smith, and perhaps any combination of Carl Landry, Chris Kaman, and Marco Belinelli 2 gives the Hornets a nucleus to work with. The Hornets were one of the hottest teams in the NBA at the end of the season, they have an incredibly smart young coach, and it’s now easier to sell this team to the local fans there.
The Bobcats at #2 are a wildcard. Make no mistake, they need a SF in the worst way, and MKG is the no-brainer pick there. But Michael Jordan marches to the beat of his own drum, and he might do something incredibly stupid. Michael Jordan once drafted Kwame Brown on the basis of potential and theoretical upside. Might he do the same now for Andre Drummond? Or will continue his affinity to Carolina guys and reach for Harrison Barnes? It’s possible. But I think it’s ultimately unlikely. At some point, in the face of constant harsh criticism, Jordan has to take the safe pick and go with MKG. Doesn’t he?
The Wizards at #3 are also a little tricky to read. They have some size with Nene, Kevin Seraphin, Andray Blatche, and Trevor Booker, but that size didn’t help them on the boards at all. The Wizards could really use someone to provide some interior defense and rebounding as well some consistent post scoring. If MKG slides to #3, I believe the Wizards would take him in a heartbeat despite having Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton there already. Pairing MKG with John Wall is too enticing to pass up. If MKG goes #2, though, I’m not so sure Beal is the pick there at #3. Jordan Crawford showed some signs of life last year at the 2, and you could argue PF is a bigger need, particularly with Blatche’s stunning regression. Having Robinson grabbing defensive boards and kicking out to Wall to start the break the other way is an intriguing prospect.
For the Cavaliers at #4, what they do will so heavily depend on what Charlotte and Washington do. I see no scenario where MKG falls to #4. As much as I like Thomas Robinson, I don’t see the Cavaliers picking him. This means at #4, it’s either Beal or else you take a gamble on someone like Barnes, Drummond, or Jeremy Lamb.
This is why the #4 pick is so unfortunate. The Cavaliers do not control their own destiny to get Beal. If the top 3 go chalk Davis, MKG, and Beal, the Cavaliers must decide which project to gamble on. The most likely candidate will be Harrison Barnes, due to a combination of factors such as positional need, raw talent, and upside. But Harrison Barnes is no sure thing. And missing on this #4 pick would be a disaster.
There will be plenty of time to discuss scenarios between now and draft night, but I’ll leave you guys with this thought. In my opinion, the best way to get MKG is to work out a draft night trade with Charlotte. The Cavaliers have to hope the Bobcats decide they prefer Beal or Barnes or maybe even Drummond over MKG. The Bobcats can then draft MKG at #2, the Wizards take either Beal or Robinson, and then the Cavaliers select whichever player the Bobcats want at #4. From there, the Cavaliers work out a trade with Charlotte. Offering up the extra 1st round pick and one of the 2nd round picks might be enough to entice a team with such a lack of talent. That’s the hope, anyway. So here we are again, stuck with nothing but hope. Nobody ever said being a Cleveland fan was easy.
Image Source: (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow /SPECIAL TO THE PLAIN DEALER)
- although that would have certainly been nice [back]
- all 3 are unrestricted free agents, and it would be tough to image New Orleans resigning all 3 [back]