The NBA Draft is upon us, and the Cavaliers and their fans are sure to have an eventful week, climaxing on Thursday night. The Cavs hold the No. 4 overall pick in a Draft that has little locked in after Anthony Davis at No. 1 for New Orleans. After Davis, there’s another five prospects who have all consistently been rumored within the top four — the big man duo of Thomas Robinson and Andre Drummond, and Harrison Barnes, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Bradley Beal. At one time or another, the Cavaliers have been linked with all of these prospects, with a consensus coalescing around the latter three.
The Cavs, of course, will not have their pick of the litter at No. 4. It’s likely that Beal, for one, is off the board before Chris Grant is on the clock. In comes Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated, who reported yesterday that many league executives expect Grant to approach the Bobcats with a trade for the No. 2 pick:
As Charlotte continues to ponder its decision at No. 2, numerous executives expect the Bobcats to be approached by Cleveland (No. 4) about the possibility of swapping picks (if it hasn’t happened already) in order for the Cavaliers to land Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal. While Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving is known to be a huge proponent of drafting North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes, it appears Beal has shot up their big board just as he has so many others, and it’s widely believed that he won’t get past Washington at No. 3 if they don’t make a move.
The Cavs have had the luxury of working out four of these top five prospects against each other over the past week. Beal worked out against Barnes in Cleveland last Saturday, and the Gator reportedly got the better of the UNC wing. But he’s impressed everyone he’s worked out for this draft season, and if the Cavs want him, they’ll likely need to pull the trigger on a trade. The thought is that the Wizards, who many project are looking for a shooter like Beal, signaled their intentions to take the Florida two-guard with their trade for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza this week. Mike Prada, at Washington blog Bullets Forever, attempts to clear through the brush:
But this is the consequence of making a trade eight days before the draft. There are likely to be plenty of rumors that will leak involving teams looking to trade with the Bobcats to land Beal, because so many believe there’s no way the Wizards pick anyone else at No. 3. Meanwhile, the Wizards, whether it’s true or not, want to create the impression that it’s not Beal or bust. This game is fun, isn’t it?
With little consensus on how things will fall after Davis, the misdirections disguised as rumors will inundate NBA consumers throughout the week. But if the Cavs think Beal is their guy, they need to make the trade and not run the risk of thinking he’ll drop to four, which seems like a fading possibility. Obviously, this depends on how strongly he’s “their guy.”
Trading draft picks in the NBA is just not the same as the NFL. Granted, low first-round and second round picks have more value to a team trying to build like the Cavs, but you just cannot count on those slots to provide consistent NBA contributors. If giving up some of those low picks means moving up to get the guy you want, then that’s how you should proceed. The lottery picks are what make-or-break the process of building a contender.
Between Beal, Barnes, and MKG, I think the choice is Beal. Despite a subpar season shooting from behind the arc at UF, he’s considered the best pure shooter of the group and has the potential to be an Eric Gordon-type two in a Cavaliers backcourt opposite Kyrie Irving. I think one can nitpick the other two — Barnes’ noticeably underwhelming play for UNC doing his two seasons in Chapel Hill, and MKG’s shooting and offensive ability at the NBA-level. Again, that’s picking nits in a forest of varying opinion, but I think there’s less to be concerned about with Beal and he’s the most complete player of the group. If Grant agrees, then he should put together the package to get him.
Brendan is a weekend editor at WaitingForNextYear. He has been writing for the site since March of 2009. He went to college in Boston during a run of insufferable Beantown championships that only served to reinforce his Cleveland allegiance and fandom which he transcribes to you here at WFNY.