Next Wednesday, in New York City, 14 ping pong balls are going to be placed into a lottery style hopper. A series of 4 number combinations are going to be drawn, and those numbers will determine the selection order of the 2012 NBA Draft. With nothing else of substance going on with the Cavaliers right now, most fans are left with just their dreams of how the lottery might play out for our beloved wine and gold.
The lottery isn’t quite as important this year for the Cavaliers as it was last year. Last year, with 2 lottery picks and a complete lack of talent on the roster, the lottery felt like a do or die scenario. Now, the Cavaliers already have their franchise player, which alleviates much pressure.
Never the less, the lottery will be important in determining how quickly Cleveland can get this thing turned around. Win the lottery and add Anthony Davis with Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, and Alonzo Gee along with the other 1st round pick and two high 2nd round picks, and you might not 1 win the NBA title, but you’ll have a chance to compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Fall to the 6th pick, though, and you can almost certainly bet the lottery will be in the Cavs’ future the following season as well.
I’ve written time and time again this season that I think the Cavaliers need a top 3 pick. In my mind, there’s a clear line of separation from Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Bradley Beal 2 and the rest of the draft class. I like Thomas Robinson, Jeremy Lamb, and Harrison Barnes enough, but I want no part of the Andre Drummond project. Bottom line, while this lottery isn’t life and death, it still holds a lot of significance to the Cavaliers rebuilding efforts.
Everyone knows Anthony Davis is going #1 in the draft. That’s an obvious no-brainer. It will be interesting to see what happens at #2, though. By most accounts, the man most teams covet at #2 is Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, or MKG as he is commonly referred to.
As noted in yesterday’s edition of While We’re Waiting, Brendan Bowers wrote a phenomenal article for Slam on MKG working out in Cleveland in preparation of the draft. In every interview I’ve ever read with MKG, in every TV appearance I’ve seen, I have never walked away feeling anything but impressed with what I have seen and heard. This kid is a legit talent and he has the character and values to fit right in with the type of team the Cavaliers seem to be trying to build.
In almost every way, MKG seems like the ideal, if not perfect, fit for the Cavaliers. A high school teammate of Kyrie Irving’s, there’s a natural connection and friendship there, not to mention a comfort level that would undoubtedly help MKG grow and develop his game in tandem with the Cavaliers’ franchise player. Furthermore, if you look at MKG’s game, it’s exactly what the Cavaliers need. An absolutely ferocious open court threat, MKG would bring a level of athleticism and ability to work in open court, ideally on the receiving end of Kyrie Irving assists. MKG also would give the Cavaliers another defensive presence on the wing, something the team sorely lacks right now.
MKG would be able to step in and start at the 3 for the Cavaliers from day one, allowing Alonzo Gee to return his role coming off the bench, a role in which he helped the Cavaliers have one of the NBA’s best bench units in the early part of the season 3 . You hate to get your hopes too high, but after reading Bowers’ profile of MKG, I can’t help but feel like this is the player the Cavaliers must get on draft night 4 .
Unfortunately, even if the Cavaliers’ front office agrees with this point of view, they might not be the only ones. Just a quick Google News search of ‘NBA Draft Lottery’ and you’ll find links to articles making the case for teams such as the Wizards and the Pistons and others to do what it takes to land MKG. The cat is out of the bag on MKG and as teams learn more about MKG, his story, and his character, more and more might be jumping on the bandwagon.
We saw this happen in the NFL Draft with Robert Griffin III. The RG3 hysteria took over the draft and before long the Browns and the Redskins were tripping over themselves trying to convince the Rams to trade the pick to them. RG3 hysteria could soon become MKG hysteria.
Trades for top 3 draft picks aren’t all that common in the NBA. When they do happen, they usually happen on draft night, such as the 2006 draft when Chicago used the #2 pick on LaMarcus Aldridge, and then traded him to Portland after the Blazers selected Tyrus Thomas with the #4 pick. I’d be surprised to see an RG3 style arms race before the draft, but on draft night, depending on who has the #2 pick, I think we might see several teams trying to make a move to take MKG.
The parallels to the NFL draft are everyone. Andrew Luck was the obvious #1 pick in the draft, but RG3 was the player teams fell in love with the more they got to know him. Similarly, Anthony Davis is the obvious #1 pick, but I suspect MKG is about to become the apple of many GMs’ eyes.
The NFL draft was unique in that the Rams had the #2 pick and couldn’t afford to draft RG3 seeing as how they are already paying Sam Bradford an insane salary. With no use for RG3, the obvious thing for them to do was trade down.
When you look at the teams most likely to land the #2 pick, you don’t see any teams already set with a star SF. The Bobcats, Wizards, Cavaliers, Hornets, and Kings could all use MKG. If the Nets land the #2 pick, their need for a SF will depend on whether they re-sign Gerald Wallace. Wallace has a player option for next season and has made it known that he plans to opt out and test the free agent market. Some think this is just a ploy to get the Nets to give him a multi-year deal and that he’ll be back with the Nets either way, either on his 1 year option or else on a new deal.
Either way, the Nets would be the most likely team interested in dealing the #2 pick if they land it. The Nets gave up a lottery pick (top 3 protected) to get Wallace, so they’re motivated to bring him back. If they land the #2 pick, they could be in prime position to maximize return on the #2 pick if they were to trade it to the highest bidder among teams pining for MKG’s services.
A lot of this is putting the horse in front of the cart as it is all conjecture until the lottery results are revealed. And it’s entirely possible that MKG will have some subpar workouts and turn off teams. But I don’t think that’s likely. I think MKG is about to become the “it” player of this draft. And there could not be a more perfect player for the Cavaliers. It’s a natural fit and makes all the sense in the world. Watching Kyrie, MKG, and Tristan Thompson all grow and develop together would be a dream scenario.
I try not to be too greedy. Last year I was desperate for the Cavaliers to get Kyrie Irving. It was a dream come true landing that top pick. Getting the ideal dream player two years in a row is a lot to ask. But in a sports city accustomed to heartbreak and loss, we’re used to having nothing but our dreams. And when I think about my perfect Cavalier dreams, I can’t help but envision a court with Kyrie Irving and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist reunited and returning the Cavalier brand of basketball to something fun and enjoyable to watch. And in time, perhaps that just might evolve into a Championship brand of basketball. It’s really a beautiful dream.
- definitely won’t [back]
- there’s a huge difference between Davis and the other two as well [back]
- before all the bench players either became starters, were injured, or traded [back]
- assuming they don’t get the #1 pick [back]