On Wednesday, as word broke of the New Orleans Hornets and Washington Wizards trade, there was a lot of instant analysis being done in the media and in social media outlets as well.
One of the main assumptions everyone seemed to jump to was that this trade signaled Washington’s intent to draft Bradley Beal at #3. On Twitter in particular, Cavalier fans erupted in celebration. With so many whispers out of Charlotte indicating that Thomas Robinson was the direction they are leaning, this meant Michael Kidd-Gilchrist appeared to be falling into Cleveland’s lap at #4.
Could this really be happening? Could the player so many Cavs fans1 coveted all along really be sliding down to Cleveland? A cause for celebration indeed!
I hate being the resident pessimist, but we might want to slow down on ordering those MKG jerseys2. As much as we’re all guilty of forgetting this from time to time, myself included, putting any value into “reports” of who certain teams are leaning toward drafting is foolish.
Reporters are never present for inner-front office discussions on who teams like and what order they are ranking players. The only information reporters get comes from either agents (who are motivated to hype up their players’ stock) or from team executives who are selectively choosing which bits of information to give up.
Which isn’t to say you should never believe anything. If executives lied to reporters 100% of the time, eventually reporters would stop using them as sources. Most reporters are professionals who have sources they have built up a level of trust with over the years. It’s a symbiotic relationship where both parties more or less trust the other party to achieve results that appease everyone.
So when multiple sources are saying Thomas Robinson is Charlotte’s guy, this information doesn’t need to be totally dismissed. But it should be taken with a grain of salt. Charlotte isn’t going to tell anyone exactly what their plans are. That’s important to remember. However, there is just cause for buying into the notion that as of today, Charlotte really likes Robinson and he might be their pick.
What’s more encouraging for the MKGtoCLE movement are the reports of Charlotte’s lack of enthusiasm about MKG. With a supposedly less than stellar workout for Charlotte, rumors are that the Bobcats cooled significantly on their interest in him. ESPN’s Chad Ford has said that Harrison Barnes is Michael Jordan’s #2 choice behind Thomas Robinson. Again, grain of salt here, but it just doesn’t sound like MKG is going to Charlotte. Robinson, Barnes, and Beal sound like the options for Charlotte at #2.
So that leaves Washington at #3. After acquiring Trevor Ariza in yesterday’s trade, common sense would dictate that Beal is the guy they are zeroing in on. Or that’s what many of the NBA scribes were saying anyway.
On the surface, it makes sense. Washington just gave away a great trade piece in Rashard Lewis’s only partially guaranteed contract in order to get Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. In many ways, Washington may be trying to do with Ariza what Cleveland is ideally trying to do with MKG. The idea is to pair their young franchise PGs with an athletic wing player who can use defense to help kick start fast breaks and then run the open court and finish at the rim.
That’s the idea, anyway. And in some ways, MKG and Ariza are similar players. Both are phenomenal defenders who rely on their athleticism to overcome their shortcomings with their shot. So from that standpoint, you can see why people are assuming this takes MKG off the Wizards’ draft board.
But is Trevor Ariza really a long term solution for the Wizards? Remember, the Wizards already have Jordan Crawford at SG. Crawford may not have Beal’s ceiling, but Crawford showed some real potential in the 2nd half of last season. Since being acquired by the Wizards, Crawford has averaged a very respectable 15.11 points per game. Yes, he takes a lot of shots and lacks awareness and shot selection, but these are things you can develop.
If the Wizards believe MKG is a better player than Beal, then why not take MKG, let him coexist with Ariza for a couple seasons, and then proceed with your young backcourt core of John Wall, Jordan Crawford, and MKG?
I’m not saying this is what I think Washington will do. Rather, I’m just saying that we should slow down on assuming that just because they have Trevor Ariza there’s no way they’re going to pick MKG.
I can think of multiple scenarios where MKG is gone before the Cavaliers pick at #4. Charlotte is trying hard to trade the #2 pick. Someone could easily3 trade up to #2 to get MKG. Charlotte could decide that MKG is the 2nd best player in the draft and just take him. Charlotte could draft Beal, leaving Washington to fall back on MKG.
None of this is to say the Washington trade isn’t a reason for Cavs fans who covet MKG to celebrate. I’ve made no secret that MKG is the player I want in this draft. I had given up hope, but the chances of him falling to Cleveland at #4 are exponentially higher today than they were before the trade yesterday.
The point is just to use a little caution. There was a sentiment on Twitter yesterday, not just among Cavs fans but among many national NBA writers as well, that MKG going to Cleveland at #4 was a virtual sure thing now. It’s ok to be excited about this prospect, but it is anything but a sure thing.
We don’t even know that the Cavaliers are as high on MKG as many fans and writers are. Perhaps if MKG and Beal go 2 and 3, in some order, the Cavaliers will go with Thomas Robinson who, by several accounts, have a phenomenal workout with the Cavaliers yesterday. Perhaps Harrison Barnes is the guy Cleveland really wants.
There are so many variables and unknowns involved in the draft. It’s why mock drafts, while fun, are ultimately a silly endeavor. We only know what we have been allowed to know. The final decisions teams make are well guarded secrets that teams have zero motivation to leak. All we can do is try our best to read the tea leaves.
Today, I will fully admit that I do believe this is shaping up for MKG to be drafted by the Cavaliers. But so much can and will change before Thursday’s draft. So if you are one of the fans who are on Team MKGtoCLE, go ahead and be happy about the way this thing is trending right. But use caution. All it takes is one trade, one bad workout, one injury, one off court issue, or one executive to change his mind and tomorrow it could all look different.